Aaron Demko is a US Marine corps combat veteran who deployed to Iraq twice. Aaron always had admiration for the Vietnam Veterans so when he had the opportunity to get his hands on a Huey he decided to restore the bird to flight.

He has sent us photos of the rebuild process and we are bringing Dustoff pilot Phil Marshall into the bunker to give us some insight into the rebuild mission Aaron has taken on.

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TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

okay good evening vietnam welcome to lz bunker this is a veterans live show we have a great show it’s named the ue restoration next door this is a story about a marine named aaron demko from land cancer pennsylvania who decided to restore a ue in his front yard aaron sent us a story of pictures so he would share with you dust off pilot phil marshall is here he was he served in vietnam we’ll talk about the u.s restoration in just a moment but first i’d like to let you know that this program is brought to you by fallen ever forgotten the vietnam memorial book fall neverforgotten.com for more info or to purchase your copy okay let’s start with the talking nam segment let’s put up the topics on the screen okay sound off the ue is known as the workhorse of the vietnam war what else would you nickname this legendary helicopter okay chas bluemole a savior from above

like let’s go that’s the end of the show very good jazz okay next colin milligan all-around workhorse multi-role hero amen to that man amen thank you colin okay chaz warframe choppers life love the infantry grunt brought food ammon carried out the wounded and the dead brothers and no happier sound when they were coming in to take us back to base camp and i really had those pilots with the bravest guys setting those choppers down to get a wounded brother in the middle of a buku gun fight all right buku i haven’t heard uh said that in a little while thank you okay robert whittaker nothing better than the sound of them coming in to get you amen long as you’re well okay thank you robert robert duran they saved many a life at the risk of their own true true heroes amen to that okay i’m going to say one thing here the uae did so much it brought in reinforcements it brought in replacements they activate that evac the dead and the wounded and brought in mail food ammo and just the sound of that ue so that’s like almost 10 things that the magnificent machine did now i’m going to bring up dust off pilot vietnam more hero phil marshall in how you doing phil

what we’re here i thought i was supposed to be on

well welcome back on the show just doing our job oh yeah yeah yeah thanks thanks ronnie yeah we were just doing our job that was what we were trained to do well let me tell you give me a helicopter how cool could that be well we’re going to give you a hell it’s like giving a kid a new corvette we’re going to give you a helicopter in pieces tonight so you could tell us what’s going on okay all right all right yeah well yeah this guy just this guy uh aaron decided to put this thing together in his front yard or a side yard or whatever you want to call it yeah so that’s great i i’m sure the homeowners association appreciates that hopefully where you visit one of those controlling entities you know but okay let’s put the first photo up on the screen all right all right okay aaron demko i don’t know obviously uh one second phil we’ve worked on this for four years absolute work in progress i am an individual not an organization or anything like that i have funded the entire restoration myself there are several guys who help me greatly with it mainly with helping me source parts okay and there’s a picture of two of the guys i don’t know which one aaron is so uh there you go aaron demp car i was an infantry marine lifted 20 years ago did two combat deployments to iraq i’ve always had a great admiration for the vietnam vets and what they went through the adversary they faced the adversary adversity they faced when they came home etc i found myself able to buy this helicopter and jumped on it to commemorate the vietnam war and our veterans thank you so much for that aaron phil what do you got here uh well that well that’s the engine it uh the aircraft appears to be a d model delta model uh that would be 1100 horsepower uh like lycoming engine turbine uh so that uh that looks to be the original engine in the aircraft okay there you go okay aaron demko this is how i received the helicopter next picture nice okay all right so that’s the helicopter on the right there you go yeah just just to give you an audience an appreciation uh what we call the greenhouse that green tinted plexiglas on the roof that you can see in the picture brand new those greenhouse lenses windows are over two thousand dollars each wow one on each side yeah now what did those greenhouse glasses uh do uh it was just uh sun protection it just tinted the sunlight yeah yeah gotcha here’s your helicopter yeah yeah uh now like i say that is a d model uh yeah that was uh i was hoping that might have been one of the aircraft that i flew in vietnam because our desktop helicopters had that school bus yellow tail cone on it that’s a fiberglass tail comb but we didn’t have any d model in our unit and uh looking up in the vietnam helicopter pilots association database that number does not show up but you know there were quite a few uh aircraft that went to germany went to different places all over the world but of course most of them went to vietnam that’s fine okay

here are photos going through the restoration i did 100 of the work out of myself with jeff biles helping me install the main components it was transported to my location for free by brooklyn’s towing ola pennsylvania they liked the idea of what i was doing and wanted to help and that’s sweet thank you so much for brooklets trucking there and uh i i guess they’re putting it on here right yeah here we go

they’re bringing it yeah we got a condor here there we go got a lot of stuff to do in the front there looks like some uh this is from aaron some parts found in north carolina and installed mainly cowlings what’s a cowling an animal covers the covers the engine cover transmission cover yeah yeah that was like the parts make it look pretty what’s that that’s an antenna yeah i think that’s the uhf antenna but i could be wrong that’s at the back of the tail no kidding i figured it was like a step or something okay what’s this yeah no that’s that’s a no step item and this here uh that’s the transmission uh the main rotor shaft you can see at the top of the picture that’s that’s where the rotor blades are attached uh and at the bottom left that’s the input quill that’s the input from the engine uh that goes into the main transmission and then what you can’t see underneath that is where the drive shaft that turns the tail rotor is attached but uh the bottom left that’s uh that’s supplying uh power from the engine to the transmission and the main rotor blade that’s that’s a crazy piece of equipment that’s really good yeah yeah it’s uh it’s heavy okay yeah so more paint on the nose okay death before dishonor very nice first calf okay first to the knife yeah there you go yeah yep good cross section got the nice little uh booties on the floor down the bottom there what do you call those things that we used to stand on yeah he’s done a very nice job with it what are those little pods those little uh skids that well the sketch you mean yeah that’s it there’s a skin yeah yeah the the skins yeah they uh yeah they have a little bit of flexibility to absorb the landing we used to love stepping especially for new pilots we used to love stepping out on those things get the hell out of the helicopter get you guys out of there okay absolutely there you go aerodynamic 42 degree gearbox installation and drive shafts there you go yeah that’s that’s for the tail rotor uh critical piece of equipment there i would rather lose an engine than a tail rotor okay you know your business you lose the tail rotor you’re probably going to crash you’re probably going to crash and if you lose the engine

uh you just put it down on the ground no big deal look okay great all right from 1500 serious seriously yeah the main rotor continues to turn like a pinwheel and uh you only have one chance to put it on the ground but yeah you can put it down just as nice and easy uh unless like like i say unless you’re a new pilot and a little you know not quite skilled yet gotcha okay new pilots aren’t allowed to fly the aircraft okay next accept the flight school next okay thank you here we come some material work crew sees installation new chin bubble glass installed starting to look like something now you’re not kidding yeah uh court that’s that’s the part you’re familiar with there uh i tell you what i am thoroughly impressed he has done one heck of a job with this aircraft that’s uh that’s museum quality there yeah very nice i hope he doesn’t hang heights on it at christmas though let me ask a question yeah that’s clear that’s clear glass is that yeah that’s the shim bubble oh that was like normal yeah that’s the shim bubble when you’re when you’re coming in hot yeah when you’re coming in hot and landing uh you’re looking down through that chin bubble you’re looking through your feet at the ground you can’t see it through the windshield so you can see the ground for when you’re coming in for a hot landing gotcha i wasn’t paying much attention to that you can uh you can see the pedals in there yeah that’s all right you uh like i say you had you had better things on your mind i was a passenger i was in the back that’s what i’d say yeah you you weren’t worried about getting on the ground you were worried about getting out of the aircraft there you go amen to that all right next picture aaron demko transmission is installed a guy drove by one day and stopped things and said really admire what i was doing thought it was great offered to help said he had a crane company he came by and put the transmission in for free didn’t charge a cent god bless that man thank you very much yeah it doesn’t surprise me crane man yeah look at that thing now what do we have hanging here yeah that’s that’s nutrient yeah that’s the transmission assembly going in and uh if you look at that bulbous thing that’s about halfway up on the left side yeah yeah that big black bulb there that’s the starter do you have a starter generator that’s a standby generator as well as a starter and then you’ve got another generator down on the engine okay what do we see here yeah uh same thing uh different angle but uh yeah that’s dropped into position there wow yeah okay here we go new glare new windshield glass installed getting the pilot co-pilot station together getting the original gun mounts installed installation of the main rotor hub blades and stabilizer bar we use the bell helicopter field hoist to do this oh i wonder where he got that

yeah the ue was designed to be even have the engine and or transmission replaced in the field if we went down rice paddy or or whatever you know if the aircraft was salvageable you could conceivably replace the engine or transmission if that was the problem but normally the aircraft would be stripped and they would pick it up with a chinook or a sky crane uh you know much quicker uh but uh the design of the huey was field expediency field uh maintenance in the field and so i’m sure every unit probably every helicopter you you know have one of those cranes but it was much much better to have uh a chinook or whatever uh pick it up and take it back to base that was great of course he didn’t have a chunk there so yeah right okay so what have we got here again oh just uh what is that oh can we back up please he’s painting it you’ve got he’s got it taped off to paint it oh i see it and what’s what’s on the bottom in the center there the little wheel uh that ends the uh tow bar that’s the tow bar to move the aircraft you you attach wheels to the back of the skids yeah and that’s the toe bar to move it yeah no kidding well check this out man this is great okay yeah yeah first of the night

even have windshield wipers huh yeah oh yeah but you didn’t use them because it would scratch the plexiglas yeah i thought so i never have it yeah no you didn’t use them uh the crew chief the crew chief that was responsible for the helicopter threatened many helicopter pilots with uh you turn the wipers on sir you polished the scratches out

that was just about the first thing keith told me when i got in country there you go good for you all right here we go this is now talking yeah what does that mean what is that thing in the middle uh no it’s a light it’s a white it’s a red uh map like so to speak yeah those were pretty rare uh you didn’t see very many of those in the later models just mostly the early models uh yeah uh all the instruments are there uh yeah again i can’t express enough how how impressed i am with his restoration it it is absolutely museum quality yeah this uh so with so many gauges like why i mean come on you know even uh looks like more than a well 747. if you can yeah if you can go back if you can go back to that last picture um you’ve got your uh pilot uh sits in the right seat and the co-pilot sits in the left seat however in vietnam the aircraft commander sat in the less seat because you have better visibility in the left seat if you notice the instrument panel is offset to the right because there’s more instruments over there flight instruments for for night flying and flying in bad weather and so on but the small gauges down the middle are your temperature your oil pressure your transmission instruments your engine instruments uh fuel gauge and things like that but the the larger instruments on each side are the flight instruments designed to keep you from crashing or doing something stupid i guess uh and then the pedestal in the middle you’ve got at least three if not four radios there uh you could have at least four radios going at once uh usually it was just two or three but one pilot uh might be monitoring the co-pilot might be monitoring the guns or or the fast movers while the aircraft commanders monitoring the guys on the ground uh things like that whoever’s actually doing the flyings when talking to the people on the ground and then if you’ve got any air support then that’s usually what the co-pilot’s doing uh you don’t have to be listening to all four radios at once one or two is all you can do usually yeah it’s amazing that uh yeah we had a one inch the brigade commander was on the the division uh division commander was on brigade commander was on the cap the ceo was on in the infantry and the chief to chief medic or medical doctor on the same time there was like not a good situation after what happened but yeah i i can remember that and uh okay so here we go little m60 what is it yeah m60 uh uses uses the same ammunition as the uh the m16 oh yeah five point five six oh yeah yeah okay gotcha okay there you go and uh yeah wow yeah go ahead did not this is a serious serious restoration

yeah getting the rotor blades ready to put on wow that’s like a this is a lot of precious kind of detail yeah he’s using the field voice to uh to put the rotor head on oh wow there you go and um yeah rotor blaze boy those uh those have seen some wear but uh paint nice shiny paint will make them look like new there you go looking good up there now and now look we changed seasons before the other picture was in the yeah there’s not something you’re going to do overnight we uh we spent a couple years restoring our aircraft each one oh no kidding wow okay now yeah getting the flight controls hooked up and functioning coming up here’s a video sit tight and there you


i saw those rotor blades kind of tilt yeah yeah the best way to explain an airplane fly is because the bottom of the wing is flat and the top of the wing is is curved and that requires the air to go faster over the top and that gives you lift but a helicopter uh the rotor blades are turning at constant speed as the engine is the engine’s turning 6600 rpm and the rotors are turning about 300 rpm uh tail rotors going about five to seven times faster than the main rotor but uh but you get all of your lift from changing the angle of attack of those symmetrical blades and so that’s what he’s doing there the blades are taking a bigger bite out of the air each time they go around right or as they go around

taking delivery of the 253 sorry t-53 turbine engine delivered from florida to pennsylvania for free wow this the whole united states is taking care of this this is wonderful 250 000 to overhaul that engine according uh to faa specs wow if you wanted to make it pliable again yeah gotcha okay here we go what are we looking at now well that’s the intake yeah or is that the exhaust i can’t that’s from that angle that’s got to be the intake yeah that’s the intake there you go remember you’re talking to a pilot you’re not not a not a crew chief i got you what’s this big silver uh what’s this big silver can here that’s the hydraulic reservoir i’m sorry engine oil reservoir hydraulic reservoir is up top of the transmission but that’s the engine oil reservoir okay take around in that reservoir and you’re uh you’re gonna lose all your oil real quick okay here we go we’re installing the engine here with this little uh lift dropping it right in there wow yeah

now you got two things here what’s on the ground the engine yeah that’s the engine on the ground the transmission on the trailer i got you okay wow well okay now okay now if you look in that picture the transmission is in the aircraft so he’s got an extra transmission there and and can’t tell if the engine’s in there or not but uh that main rotor blade rests on the transmission so he’s got an extra transmission and and perhaps an extra engine it’s hard to tell hey why not with that everybody everybody should have something extra right also ronnie you can see the ground handling wheels on it

you can see the ground handling wheels on directly underneath the transmission yeah right so so we can move it from the backyard in the front yard again okay what do we got here

oh goodness heart telling uh engine mounts or those tripods um some duct work there at the bottom but the the tripods are the engine mounts that’s where they’re actually uh mounting the engine to the frame the aircraft okay nice aaron demko says and here’s the final slide i have to date this is a video of the ue as it stands today the helicopter is very close to being complete it’s missing the fuel cells and some electronic components it is otherwise totally complete let’s go to the video this is amazing


look inside them

that’s terrific i have a few questions phil yeah where was the gas tank sure i was going to tell you that did you realize you were sitting on three or four fuel cells when you were in that aircraft no because i usually sat on the front i don’t need yeah yeah well about one about one inch below your butt was about a hundred gallons of fuel oh thanks and then and then there’s another there’s another 100 gallons underneath the engine okay that’s yeah we forgot to tell you that sorry okay so that long thing we saw that was turning there was a link between the transmission and the yellow that’s tailwinder driveshaft okay yeah taylor that’s the driveshaft of the tail rotor yeah yeah my second life we’re going to be a huey mccabe

we uh the story goes that uh a mechanic left a hammer in the tray underneath that drive shaft and it eventually rubbed through the drive shaft and caused the tail rotor failure to cause the aircraft to crash so that yeah yeah yeah unfortunately there were some accidents yeah yeah well you know anyway yeah it’s amazing how the twelve thousand uhs they went to vietnam they had about fifty percent got were destroyed yeah didn’t come back yeah yeah yeah we we lost as many uh we lost as many to bad weather accidents and and other accidents as we did to enemy fire yeah i can imagine yeah as dustoff 40 of our missions were at night oh there you go i didn’t know that yeah yeah that was fun that was fun

phil do you have some photos phil

i i got some photos yeah okay let’s bring them up what do you got here well we we restored a b model uh gunship and the reason i say we this is american huey 369 out of peru indiana we purchased this aircraft it had sat for 25 years out in minnesota or something somewhere like that uses a training aircraft and it was a absolute not a wreck but it it was poor for poor shape but but we knew that it had served in vietnam for six years when the average huey only lasted six months and we knew the history of the aircraft uh in fact during one six-month period it was shot down four times recovered and and repaired put back in the air but uh yeah but as far as we know this is the only flying b model huey with uh many guns and rockets uh and uh we there it is today actually that was last year but we fly it today at veterans events we’ll be at kokomo uh indiana with it this year we have the gathering which is uh at our museum site near peru indiana and uh that’s what it looks like when it’s restored back to flight it’s served with four different units and uh we’re very very proud of that puppy uh i’m a kid even though i’m a dust off pilot i’ve been allowed to apply it that’s great so when is the kokomo yeah when is kokomo coming up uh kokomo is about an hour north of indianapolis on route 31. uh it’s one of the largest vietnam veteran reunions in the country and now uh the sandbox guys are having their reunion there a few days ahead of the vietnam veteran so the iraq and afghanistan veterans so uh maybe we can get aaron out there uh to see our birds and uh

yeah when is that um oh gosh uh our gathering is the second weekend of august okay uh kokomo i believe is in september but if you if you look up uh i think it’s howard county veterans reunion or just go to our website americanhewy369.com and it’ll be on the events tab that i’m pretty well i’ve got my calendar right here you big selly why don’t you look um what do you got zach kokomo is uh the weekend of 17 18 and 19 september okay so that’s uh yeah and howard county is a few miles outside of kokomo but everybody calls it kokomo because that’s where it used to be yeah sure um but uh yeah but we will have all three of our restored aircraft but uh the b model gunship uh was our most recent restoration and from the pictures you can tell it was not very pretty but it’s a beautiful lady now no no no that’s it that’s what it’s all about man you guys do some great job the love of your equipment i mean you had to love what you were doing and the equipment you had helped that wasn’t made made you do it i mean he got you through it oh yeah yeah the heli was is an amer amazing aircraft absolutely amazing it uh we to survive we learned just what that aircraft could do and then some uh we did stuff with the bill helicopter didn’t design into it but but sometimes that’s what we had to do to survive but yeah absolutely amazing aircraft and and the statements at the beginning of your show tonight absolutely are are correct um i had as some of your viewers might know i’ve put together now 16 books documenting our rescue missions and that’s not just the huey any any helicopter in vietnam but uh in my interviews with i got one right over my throats there’s one right over my shoulder here oh okay all right thank you oh yeah i see it okay and and i had one i had one guy say uh i knew you would come uh another guy couldn’t believe that we were 19 20 21 years old he said i thought you guys were a lot older than that i said well we tried to grow mustaches and we would have our visor down so you you know we could have been anybody but he couldn’t believe that we were 19 20 21 years old just like you guys were but uh i think the neatest compliment i’ve ever had about about the huey and and and the cruise and and i’m not taking any credit for it i was just a bus driver i got my medic and crew chief to the accident scene but uh one one guy told me he says we were probably braver than we should have been because we knew you guys uh we could depend on you guys you helicopter cruise and that one boy that one hit me in the heart that they they trusted us that much uh we were kids just like you guys were yeah well you grew up pretty quick just like the rest of us right oh yeah oh yeah but no regrets best thing ever happened to me well that’s puberty that is that was the first best night 50 years ago phil yeah i know i know you mean the puberty or the growing up

okay yeah flying helicopters in vietnam was amazing absolutely we go we’re gonna go to the we’re gonna go to the q a phil get ready all right bring it abroad let’s all right i’m ready okay first question or comment good evening kilo my favorite aircraft of all time yeah i’m into that mine too yeah of course i’m prejudiced my dad was in the 82nd my uh uh uncle 101st donna keiki cardella very good donna thank you and thank them for our service

no for their service sorry kilo 19. those you would probably slay down a legacy that set the standard for future of army aviation amen to that yeah we we kind of learned the hard way uh one one out of ten vietnam helicopter pilots didn’t come back and two more out of ten were wounded right that’s nuts yeah but we wouldn’t have traded places with you guys on the ground for nothing oh yeah yeah uh i don’t think i came flying around either

i’d rather be on the ground somewhere hugging mother nature all right that’s what i say you didn’t watch three places in the past no no kilo before you go you have to send us your name and a phone number or something or your email because the battleship new jersey is having this big thing going down there in camden on the canon new jersey on uh august 14th i’d like i’d like to come down here and talk to you meet you and see what’s going on okay kilo all right good night before we can get you out uh yeah we get you out to one of our helicopter events there you go okay alan millen three-quarter ada airborne 82nd airborne division thank you alan uh aerial defense artillery maybe you got me yeah that sure know about the 82nd hey phil i’m done lieutenant yeah that’s lieutenant dan how you doing i’m going to see him here in just a couple of days good for you all right next yeah

kilo guess hydraulics aren’t required to move controls oh absolutely they are absolutely yeah it’s it’s worse than driving your car when the power steering goes out uh when you lose the hydraulics uh you you can move them without the hydraulics but it almost takes both pilots absolutely you got to have hydraulics yep yep so uh um we didn’t we didn’t point them out in the aircraft they’re absolutely there yep yeah if you lose the hydraulics you can fly it i hope he intends to make it yeah airworthy it looks absolutely beautiful yeah it does we uh we uh we spent 1.25 million dollars to get that b model back in the air so so unless aaron’s a millionaire or got a friend yeah 1.25 million or thereabouts 1.4

1.25 down to one million that’s enough and that was good yeah that was that was all with donations that was all donations all right yeah okay thank you we got you man get ready for that okay next hey phil john raymond john raymond yeah uh another american huey 369 uh guy uh he and i roommated uh here a month or so ago at an event uh john’s one of those non-veteran volunteers just loves the aircraft loves the organization um couldn’t ask for a better guy to be a part of the organization and uh a new guy he’s an fng he’s only been involved with us for a year or two but uh uh like i say uh a true patriot uh did not serve but a patriot and uh yeah i consider him a good friend already sounds good to me okay mr marshall can you tell us a funny flying story oh my goodness um last time i remember i forget what it was but go ahead uh well one that i haven’t told you before uh one of my medics just told me here within the last year or two uh there was some flooding in northern i-corps and they had to go get some guys that were that were stranded and and in the water and everything and of course guys that uh were

living in the jungle so to speak was not unusual to run across a wild animal of time maybe a tiger or something like that elephant but uh when uh when our dust-off crew was picking up these guys out of the water the aircraft was down in the water the skids were in the water and the water was running through the aircraft and the medic tells me that he takes a look out his side of the aircraft and there is a snake that is looking him in the eye and he said he was never so scared anything in combat as he was with that water snake staring him in the eye and uh so yeah we went we went through uh a little bit of everything with that but uh uh probably uh the uh oh gosh i have to think for a minute uh when when i first got the country my first flight uh was an eye-opener uh the guy i was replacing it was his d-rose flight to go home so here i am on a brand new fng worn officer helicopter pilot and i’m just along for the ride and uh the aircraft commander uh only had a couple months to go as it was but they tied smoke grenades to the to the skids and uh after we took off the crew pulled the pins on the smoke grenade so here we are trailing uh uh all kinds of colored smoke behind and we start doing uh 360 just spinning in the air and next thing i know the whole cockpit the whole inside of the aircraft fills up with all these four or five different colors of smoke and uh and again like i say i’m just along for the ride i’m thinking what have i got myself into uh and then the aircraft commander like i say we got a few hundred feet of altitude he just dumps the nose and we go screaming down towards the hooches and uh pulls up at the last section and the second and then we were gone and uh the nice thing is one of the other pilots has got all of that on a movie and i’ve got a copy of that movie my first light in vietnam and again i’m thinking this this is not what i signed up for well there you go like you made me laugh yeah okay what’s going on here nick what do you say last comment all right one more comment aaron demko oh oh aaron’s on there thank you aaron and you give me your address you give me your address dude and i’ll send you a vietnam book with all kinds of dust-off rescue missions in it uh yeah fine job sir fine job thank you very much phil see you in the future thanks for popping on the show again oh anytime you got my pleasure my pleasure yeah you have a great thing going here on you and matt and uh appreciate the invitations my pleasure you’re one of the best man thank you eighth dust off guys oh thanks a lot thank beautiful thank you america my pleasure yeah yeah i yeah i’d do it again absolutely do it again the heartbeat amen all right thank you okay matt

all right well thank you very much everybody for watching tonight we appreciate it appreciate your uh attendance it’s some nice stuff for me i have from that vietnam war yes sir very much appreciate it says aaron dempco on the bottom in the meantime just want to welcome you back next week god bless you and welcome home