Veteran From Inola Helps Restore Helicopter Used In Vietnam War

An Inola veteran is using a restored helicopter to help honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Mike Schneider said this helicopter has inspired countless people and even helped them reconnect with former squadron members.

Wednesday, May 17th 2023, 5:23 pm



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An Inola veteran is using a restored helicopter to help honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Picked out of a boneyard in Tucson Arizona, this U-H-34D "Choctaw" was destined to be used for parts. That's before Mike Schneider and his late business partner found out it had a story.

"This one had everything with it, documentation and all, and he finds a bullet hole repair. And I said, 'well this thing has combat history,'” Mike said.

Mike said it had seen real action in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968 where it served with Marine Corps Squadron HMM-362, known as the Ugly Angels.

"The patch that's underneath this seat right here is a bullet hole that's basically dressed up but it's not," said Mike.

It was recovered from a crash site in the jungle with scars that told its story.

"Basically it's become a flying memorial to the 33 members that were killed in Vietnam in HMM 362," Mike said.

Mike and others put thousands of hours of work into restoring the bird to flying condition, and it was perfect weather to take it up for a quick flight.

Mike said this helicopter has inspired countless people and even helped them reconnect with former squadron members.

"It brings out the experiences that these guys had in Vietnam that they never did talk about when they got out," said Mike.

Mike and his son Jesse take it all over as part of their YL-37 Foundation and hope to keep it around for years to come.

"Knock on wood, we're hoping another 10 years. We'll keep it going as long as we can," said Mike.

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