Last South East Asia Huey retired from federal service

The Bell Model 204 (prototyped as the XH-40) first flew in 1956 and entered service with the military as the HU-1 (which quickly became “Huey” in milspeak), transitioning to the UH-1 Iroquois designation in 1962, with the first “slick” medevac ships assigned to the 57th Medical Detachment arriving in South Vietnam the same year. With more than 16,000 of these iconic medium lift helicopters built, the Huey became the defacto symbol of the Vietnam conflict.

Enter the obligatory Apocalypse Now- Ride of the Valkyries clip here:

It should be remembered that the last searing image of U.S. forces leaving Saigon in 1975 was centered on a Huey.

Evacuees are helped aboard an Air America helicopter perched on top of a building in Saigon. Photograph: Hugh van Es/REUTERS

Evacuees are helped aboard a CIA/Air America helicopter perched on top of a building in Saigon. Photograph: Hugh van Es/REUTERS

While a number of Hueys remain in service with the military (59 UH-1Ns are used by the Air Force for Minuteman ICBM security, 37 TH-1H trainers are still in the air, the Army keeps 53 UH-1Vs in various Guard units, and of course the Marines have 107 advanced UH-1Y Venoms in regular fleet use), the Pentagon divested themselves of Vietnam-era UH-1s some years ago.

Which brings us to last week’s final flight.

In 2000, a pure former Army Bell UH-1H Huey S/N 69-15533, which clocked 419 hours in 1971 as a “Dolphin” with the 174th Assault Helicopter Company (she took 2 hits during Lam Son 719), was transferred from service with the FBI to the Border Patrol. Then when Border Patrol became part of CBP after 9/11, was transferred to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations’ (AMO) office as N7247J.

N7247J, Bell UH-1H CN 69-15533, At Grand Prairie

N7247J, Bell UH-1H CN 69-15533, in her white and blue AMO livery At Grand Prairie via

Parked last week, she has an impressive 6,900 flight hours and 2,466 cycles on her 47-year old airframe that are documented.

The popular 174th Dolphin nose art by WO1 Richard Machina, June 1967. Photo by Jim McDaniel. Huey gunships in the 174th were termed 'Sharks" and carried P-40 Warhawk Flying Tiger-style sharkmouth designs

The popular Vietnam-era 174th Dolphin nose art by WO1 Richard Machina, June 1967. Photo by Jim McDaniel. Huey gunships in the 174th were termed ‘Sharks” and carried P-40 Warhawk Flying Tiger-style sharkmouth designs

She is the last UH-1H in Homeland Security and DOJ long ago moved to more modern platforms, leaving DHS the antiques.

The FBI’s Surveillance and Aviation Section (SAS) flies 120~ aircraft but they are mostly sketchy little Cessnas screened by front companies for opsec purposes and a handful of marked planes for liaison purposes.

As noted in a press release from CBP on the event of N7247J making its final flight in El Paso:

It was a crucial platform for law enforcement operations along the Southwest Border, and over the last decade, was directly involved in the seizure of approximately 4,000 pounds of marijuana. It was also deployed to conduct vital missions during Hurricane Katrina.

During its tenure, AMO crews have operated the UH-1H to perform tactical and utility missions, including the insertion of agents into otherwise inaccessible terrain, external “load” operations, fast rope and rappel, search and rescue, air crew rifle operations, and aerial patrols.

She will be sold as surplus at auction.

A few Super Hueys remain in AMO’s flying museum, refitted with AH-1F Cobra engines, though its not clear if they are Vietnam era or not.


N7247J, Bell UH-1H SN 69-15533, on her last flight over the wilds of El Paso

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “Last South East Asia Huey retired from federal service”

  1. Mr. Steve Dollmann says :

    Elder Model Bell Helicopters interest me. I appreciate the news reel notation of moments where a ship comes out of service and like to hear when they go back to service as well. I would like to hear more from this writer on preserving the Legacy air-craft around the world.

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