Former Navy Man Reunites with Squadron To Restore Historic Helicopter

Published 03/01 2013 09:25PM

Updated 03/02 2013 08:11PM

The images may sound and look like an any other helicopter, but this type of chopper is anything but ordinary to Gail Williams.

"It was kind of a shock because I didn't really expect to see it," said the Comanche resident.

In fact, he was able to pinpoint the exact one he worked on while he served in the U.S. Navy more than two decades ago.

It was while he was surfing the internet one day that he saw it displayed on a museum's website and just knew it was the one.

"To see it now is kind of like seeing an old friend that needs some help," said Williams.

But it didn't look exactly the way he remembered it, it was deteriorated, and Williams knew something had to be done.

So he used Facebook to find many of the crew who served alongside him in the Persian Gulf and "Project 342" began.

"It will never fly again, but were going to make it look like it can be rolled out to the taxiway, that's our goal," said WIlliams.

They've been working to restore the chopper, painting it and giving it the same love it gave them so many years ago.

Williams has only seen the transformation through pictures, but soon, he'll see it face to face.

"I think its going to be rather emotional because I haven't seen this thing in over 25 years," said Williams.

So after a long journey Williams will get the chance to see his faithful companion in all its glory. 

Williams will head from his home in Comanche to Alabama to work on the chopper later this month.

They're hoping to finish it then and have it ready for the next generation of pilots to be inspired by.
The Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light Three Six was stationed at the Mayport Naval Air Facility in Jacksonville, FL.
That squadron has been since decommissioned. 

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