PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – “1968: The Year That Rocked America.”
That’s the theme of an exhibit opening next month at the Heinz History Center.
Today, Vietnam veterans installed a symbol of that era.
The Huey helicopter was the workhorse of the Vietnam war.
Minnesota historian Jay Erickson teamed up with local veterans at the Heinz History Center, to reconstruct a chopper that once rescued their comrades, under enemy fire. They share a bond forged in combat.
Former crew chief Steve Price recalled a good friend lost.
“He got shot down in one of these. They never recovered his body. And he’s on the wall now in [Washington, D.C.]. And every time I go to the wall, I look at his name and make an etching and stuff. We graduated from Westinghouse in 1966,” Price said.
The Huey is the centerpiece of the new exhibit.
“There was unrest on campuses across the nation. Don’t trust anybody over 30. And there was a lot going on in arts and culture too. Rock and roll, movies,” Heinz History Center President Andy Masich said.
It was the year of the cult classic “Night of the Living Dead,” filmed by Pittsburgh’s George Romero, and the nationwide launch of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, with Pittsburgh’s own Fred Rogers.
But the story of the ’60s still come back to Vietnam.
Jim Puhala was the pilot of a chopper shot down by enemy fire.
“We managed to get everybody out of the helicopter, but shortly after that it exploded,” Puhala said.
Support helicopters answered their call.
“We were on the ground for maybe 45 minutes, before they could get down and pick us up,” Puhala said.
“1968: The Year That Rocked America” opens on Feb. 2.