- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) - The Vietnam-era Bell Huey, which has been in the city’s corporation yard since the traveling replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall visited in June, made its trip to Groton through Bristol’s city streets Tuesday for a new paint job.

The Huey’s rotor blades were dismantled Oct. 24 then the pieces were lifted by crane onto a flatbed truck donated by D’Amato Construction, said Tony D'Amato, who helped arrange the transportation.

“We don’t have any hesitation helping out veterans or any organization in town that needs our help,” D'Amato said. “Especially veterans. Both my grandfathers were veterans.”

D’Amato, Tony Savino, who is on the board of the Windsor-based U.S. Secret Army Special Guerrilla Units, and Pat Nelligan, a veteran and current Army reservist, worked together to ensure the transportation went smoothly. Paul Maghiny, a local firefighter, drove the truck during the half-day trip to Groton.

The Huey, which was donated to the city from the aviation division of Hartford Vocational Tech School, will be the centerpiece of the city’s National Vietnam Memorial on Downs Street, Savino said.

“The Huey is a very integral part of the Vietnam era,” Savino said. “It was a good aircraft to get for this monument.”

Mayor Ken Cockayne said he is happy to see the process of building the memorial proceeding.

“This is huge for Bristol,” he said. “It’s great that this is coming into the city, and seeing that helicopter high up on a pedestal will be great for residents and visitors.”

The memorial will be built on the site of Trudon & Platt Trucking, at 15 Downs St., which shut down 50 years ago.

In addition to the Huey, information will be on display to tell the story of the Hmong warriors, who tied up thousands of communist forces along the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the controversial war.

The Huey, which took three major shots during the Vietnam War, will return to the city in the spring with an authentic paint job.

Currently, it is painted in the 1980’s-style glossy finish, Savino said.

The original color is olive drab green.

When it’s ready to come up in the spring, D'Amato will also be ready.

“We’ll do as much we can to get this memorial off the ground,” D'Amato said. “It’s important.”

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Information from: The Bristol Press, https://www.bristolpress.com

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