COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/CNN) – A veteran received a christmas gift that was five decades in the making. Frederick McCarthy was reunited with the same exact helicopter he flew during the Vietnam war.
“Something about the smell of JP4 and cordite and all of that just amazing,” explained McCarthy.
Despite the pouring rain McCarthy slowly inspected the helicopter that he flew on countless missions during the Vietnam war.
It’s been 53 years since he flew the B-model Huey.
He became a warrant officer and army aviator at 20 years old.
“That was absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done and scared to death half the time but such a stretching experience for my life.”
After his tour he went back to the United States and his Huey went on to Germany
McCarthy never saw the helicopter again but it eventually also made its way back to the U.S…
“A friend of mine who is a pilot said do you know that your old helicopter is at Fort Jackson and I said this can’t be true.”
He says seeing the helicopter reminds him of his fallen brothers during the war and makes him proud of his service.
“I always thought you know if I have to give my life, I’m giving it for a noble cause so I feel really strongly about having done that, and it was a game changer for me.”
McCarthy continued to dedicate his life to public service after his time in Vietnam.
He went on to be a kindergarten teacher, principal, superintendent, mayor of a city, and college professor.
Officials say McCarthy’s B-model Huey was brought to Fort Jackson in 1977.
It is on display in front of the Basic Combat Museum.