Veterans museum in Halls receives rare prize

Veterans museum in Halls receives rare prize

Posted: Friday, December 9, 2011 5:01 pm

FedEx Custom Critical is delivering a CH-46 U.S. Sea Knight Marine Corps helicopter from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., to its new home at the Dyersburg Army Airbase Veterans’ Museum in Halls.
A ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Halls airport to welcome the historic Vietnam-era helicopter, which is one of only two that will be made available for public viewing.
FedEx Custom Critical donated manpower, expertise and funding to move the historic helicopter, which at 45 feet 8 inches long, 16 feet high and15,000 pounds, required special care.
The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter is a combat veteran of every major conflict since it was introduced in 1965, carrying Marines in war zones from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Now being replaced by the MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, most are heading to other countries to continue flying, leaving only two helicopters available for museums in the U.S.  
“Getting this CH-46 helicopter is a huge win for the Veterans’ Museum. Moving it is no small feat,” said retired Marine Lt. Gen. John Castellaw.
“A tremendous team of industry, private individuals and the Marine Corps donated time and money to help get the aircraft from Tucson to Tennessee at no cost to the government.
“Retired Congressman John Tanner kicked it off by suggesting we contact FedEx Corp. CEO Fred Smith for help. A Tennessean and a Marine with a company specializing in such tricky moves, he immediately agreed to donate transportation and logistics expertise. Without the help of FedEx and local community leaders, we would not have this helicopter.”  
The Veterans’ Museum in Halls is located on the site of the Dyersburg Army Air Force Base, where B-17 “Flying Fortress” crews received advanced training.
For most, it was the last training stop before entering active combat in the European theatre of operations.
Congressman Stephen Fincher, Tanner (born on the airbase when it was an active U.S. Army field) and Marine aviation legend Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle will deliver remarks at Saturday’s ceremony, as will Maj. Gen. Ray “Hondo” Fox, the senior CH-46 pilot on active duty.
The ceremony is dedicated to all veterans who served our country, according to a news release.
A volunteer team of six FedEx aviation maintenance personnel (four former Marines and one former Air Force) took three days to disassemble the helicopter under the leadership of FedEx aviation maintenance managers Bill Cusato and Steve Sobczak.

Published in The Messenger 12.9.11

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