Kent County Veterans Honor Lives by Restoring War Helicopter - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Kent County Veterans Honor Lives by Restoring War Helicopter

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. - Thousands of veterans who fought in the Vietnam War will tell you that no one appreciated them when they returned to American soil.

Now veterans say that perception is changing, and a group of Kent County vets have found a way to honor those who gave their lives, and risked their lives, for others.

"We were very dedicated to our country, said Paul Davis, who serves as the president of the Delaware Vietnam Veterans of America.

"Over 58,000 never came home," said Davis, who served in the U.S. Army from 1963-67.

Davis and veteran Joe Startt Jr. say the Vietnam War is a war they will never forget.

Startt nearly died.

"I was wounded in 1970 by friendly fire. I had a collapsed lung, two broken ribs, my knuckle was blown off.," said Startt, Jr. who is the president of the Kent County Chapter 850, Vietnam Veterans of America.

Startt served in the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division.

Startt and Davis praise the brave troops who flew a UH-1 helicopter, "Huey," into war zones to rescue the injured.   

"They saved so many lives. They're (pilots) responsible for bringing our guys back home," said Davis.
 
Startt was rescued during the war and brought back home on Huey.

For nearly three years, these veterans fought to acquire one of only a handful of Hueys that still remain. Hundreds of thousands were built. Their fight paid off because one of those helicopters sits in a building in Leipsic, waiting to be refurbished for display.

"Once I seen it, it brought back a lot of memories. My last ride was horizontal and I want to sit vertical up in this thing one time," said Startt.

A red painted cross on the nose of the helicopter is what touches Startt the most.
 
"It means a lot to me. The 28 that died in our chapter, that we have in our memorial, their last ride was on this and I'm very fortunate. My last ride I got to come home. They got to come home different than I did," said Startt.

"We all believe in angels, we believe in afterlife, and those angels were these helicopters; the guys who flew these helicopters were very courageous," said Davis.

It's a helicopter Startt finally got to sit upright in.

"I love it. Oh my goodness. It's a dream come true. It's just amazing," said Startt.

The goal is to place Huey at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park this spring.

These veterans are trying to raise enough funds in order for the Huey aircraft to be dedicated by March 29 in Dover.   

For more information on how you an help, visit www.delawarevva.com or call Paul Davis at (302) 697-8384.

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