The UH-1 Huey helicopter arrived in Lebanon last year from Nashville and was restored and housed at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center before its move to the museum. Conrad Construction Co. workers assisted in both moves.
Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland said the helicopter, which is a loan from the state of Tennessee, would be the focal point of the museum. He said the UH-1 Huey helicopter was used to fly U.S. soldiers in Vietnam from 1966-68, and the Tennessee National Guard later used it from 1980-85.
The state acquired the helicopter and used it as a training aid most recently, McFarland said.
According to McFarland, former Wilson County sheriff and current Commissioner Terry Ashe flew in an UH-1 in the Vietnam War as part of the 48th Assault Helicopter Co. attached to the 101st Airborne, which is based out of Fort Campbell, Ky. The 48th AHC was active from Nov. 6, 1965 until Aug. 23, 1972 and participated in 16 campaigns in the Vietnam War, according to military historians.
The particular UH-1 was active in Vietnam from 1966-68, when it was sent back to the U.S. to replace the engine with a heavier engine. It never returned to Vietnam, McFarland said.
In combat, it was able to fit 13 people, by weight. However, if there was equipment to be shipped, then fewer people could fly in the machine.
Visitors to the museum will be able to go into the helicopter, put on headsets and talk back and forth as if they were riding in the machine. The engine components will be removed and only enough power to light and work the console and headsets will be used.
Correspondent Angie Mayes contributed to this report.