Take Me Home Huey by Steve Maloney and Clare Nolan

At nearly ten-by-twelve inches in size, Take Me Home Huey: Honoring American Heroes Through Art (Take Me Home Huey Publishing, 216 pp. $45) by Steve Maloney and Clare Nolan offers a new historical dimension of the American War in Vietnam. The book explains why and how Steve Maloney took a wrecked and abandoned UH-1H Huey helicopter (#174) and turned it into a unique piece of art to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the conflict: a symbol that celebrates brotherhood, dedication, and self-sacrifice among American service personnel..

Co-author Clare Nolan’s expertise in high-stakes drama storytelling greatly enhances the book’s military value. She has written documentaries and created multimedia productions about war and space for National Geographic and Discovery television channels.

Maloney’s artistic career involves repurposing found objects—especially things originally designed to move. Recognition of his artwork began in 2001 with exhibitions in museums, galleries, and traveling shows, following a successful business career. He had served as a member of the 156th Signal Battalion of the Army National Guard in Michigan from 1963-69. This background, coupled with a fascination with helicopters, focused Maloney on his commemorative goal.

Take Me Home Huey vividly recollects Maloney’s quest for the “perfect canvas” for his project. To start the search, he interviewed American Vietnam War veterans. He tells us what they taught him in two chapters that detail wartime helicopter missions, with an emphasis on the shoot down of Huey #174 in 1969. He cleverly charts the aircraft’s 30 years of service that ended two decades before he found its frame in a scrapyard in Arizona in 2014.

The book comes alive in many ways. Opening its huge pages to double-truck photographs of Hueys and of soldiers in danger and pain made me feel as if I were gliding through a time warp into the past. The dynamic images gave me rushes of nervous appreciation for crewmen and grunts whose survival depended on helicopters.

In equally detailed chapters Maloney explains how he enlisted help from many veterans and well-wishers to find Huey #174 and the parts he needed for its reconstruction. He repeatedly reconfigured the design of his paint job to match veterans’ memories. Thirty-six pages of double-spread photographs show the Huey from different angles. Drawings, slogans, and lists cover the airframe to symbolize and grunts’ dreams and needs from long ago.

When paraded before the public, the Huey #174 has reunited men who had not seen each other for decades. New feelings and truths arise and old feelings are reborn. The flood of emotional impact generated by the helicopter motivated the authors to also discuss PTSD and art therapy as a way to help combat the emotional trauma of war. At every opportunity, they champion veterans’ welfare and sense of community.

Huey #174 spent two years traveling to 29 venues in 11 states from November 2015 to November 2017. By then, the project also included original music and songs, poems, films, and a PBS documentary. At least a million people viewed it in person.

In 2019, Huey #174 became a permanent part of the collection of the Palm Springs Air Museum in California.

The Huey’s website is takemehomehuey.org/sculpture

—Henry Zeybel

Freedom Is Your Destiny by Daniel T. Eismann

Physical warfare, spiritual warfare, and miraculously recovering from health challenges are the central issues in Freedom Is Your Destiny (Desert Sage Press, 318 pp., $14.99, paper) by VVA life member Daniel T. Eismann, a lawyer who serves as a Justice on the Idaho Supreme Court. 

This well-executed volume is a must read for anyone interested in Eismann’s topics. This decorated, two-tour Vietnam veteran Huey crew chief has written a detailed account of life aboard a UH-1, as well as pre-flight and post-mission maintenance.The organization of the chapters with transitions from riveting combat missions to biblical histories of Jesus and his apostles are generally well done. 

There are twenty-six chapters, many of which are worthwhile. The one disadvantage in this book, though, is the lack of an index. 

I recommend the chapter called “Blessed Are the Merciful,” featuring the OR Nurse Annie. It’s the one I enjoyed the most. Some chapters contain opinions that are open to discussion, but not this one. “God has anointed certain people with the Motivational gift of mercy,” Eismann writes. Annie embodied this biblical reference.

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Daniel T. Eismann

“Enjoying the Battle” is the title of the chapter devoted to the author’s health issues and those of his daughter and their “miracle” healing. This will resonate with all Vietnam veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, as well as with families who have experienced traumatic illness. 

The final.chapter, “Going Home,” focuses on.the Freedom Bird Vietnam veterans longed for. The author also.mentions the spiritual requirements for attaining the freedom flight to heaven. These requirements will likely be evaluated in various ways by readers.

 
—Curtis Nelson