COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Vietnam veteran has reunited with the same helicopter he flew more than fifty years ago.
United States Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frederick McCarthy, also known as Fred, served in the Vietnam War as an aircraft commander in 1967 and 1968.
Both of McCarthy's parents were Army officers. His mother was a Nurse Lieutenant while his dad was a Lieutenant Colonel during World War II.
The helicopter McCarthy flew was a B-Model Huey. Without anything on it, the helicopter weighs around 4,500 pounds.
"I was the aircraft commander at 20-years-old. I had a co-pilot or pilot and there was a crew chief that flew with us all the time and a door gunner. They really did a very courageous job."
While serving in the Army, McCarthy flew 1,300 hours of combat missions.
The pilot now lives in Seattle and recently traveled to the East Coast. While in Charleston talking to a fellow pilot, McCarthy was told the helicopter he flew was on display at Fort Jackson.
"It's really a déjà vu experience, it's going to bring back a lot of feelings to me," said McCarthy.
One of the things the pilot loved to see about his old aircraft is that it still has the viking symbol placed on the nose cone. His call name when he served was "Viking 2-3."
"It's hard to believe i'm back here after 53 years of living and now this particular helicopter has been returned to the United State of America."
The pilot thought it was amazing and important for his family to see the helicopter he once flew. They all traveled with him to Fort Jackson to see the aircraft at the Basic Combat Museum.
McCarthy says seeing his old helicopter is like seeing a girlfriend he hasn't seen in half a century.
"You get to develop such an affinity with your aircraft. There's a hundred switches and gauges in the cockpit, three different radios, you can tell where everything is just by feel."
The pilot believes it's important to remember the ultimate sacrifice many made while protecting our country. Traditionally when he speaks about his experience with the Vietnam War, he says the Pledge of Allegiance while naming some of the people he knew who died in combat.
"It's a great aircraft and it's really restored nicely and it will be something that my grandkids will remember. Whenever people come here, they'll remember the importance of the Vietnam War and how many people gave their lives and what good people they were. They were great people."
While it's hard to imagine the things that McCarthy saw and what he's continued to deal with since he served in the Vietnam War, the pilot says he would do it all over again.
"I'm very proud of what I did... I always thought if I have to give my life here, I'm giving it for a noble cause. I feel real strongly about having done that."