Huey helicopter won’t be moved to Vietnam Wall of SWFL

A Vietnam War symbol on display in public will not be relocated. We spoke to people on both sides of the decision.

Punta Gorda City Council rejected the proposal to move a medivac Huey helicopter on display from outside the Military Heritage Museum to the Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida.

Bill Akins has difficult memories from his time in Vietnam. He knew many of the people whose names can be read on the memorial.

“You try not to dwell on the names,” Akins said.

Akins was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He spent four years flying in and out of combat on a Huey helicopter.

“Ninety-nine percent of the names that are on this wall got their last ride in that Huey,” Akins said.

A sign next to the chopper read it was a temporary site, and a permanent home would be at the Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida, but that arrangement will not take off as planned.

“We envisioned it going right next to the sidewalk here,” said Dick Carr, who was a general in the U.S. Air Force. “There are three stakes here would outline where the Huey was going to go.”

Punta Gorda City Council rejected Carr’s proposal to move the helicopter to the wall.

“It’s not a park for memorabilia,” Councilwoman Nancy Prafke said. “It’s a park for solemn respect.”

Punta Gorda Mayor Lynne Matthews is a member of the Military Heritage Museum’s board of directors. She’s one of three council members who voted against moving the Huey to the wall.

Akins respects council’s decision but doesn’t understand it.

“The Huey and the Vietnam go together, you know, peanut butter and jelly,” Akins said.

 

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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