The Huey

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter

The Huey helicopter is special to me. It’s special because it was special to the men fighting in the Vietnam War. It was their ride home. It meant salvation from whatever hell and painful death awaited just feet away from their faces.

The Huey was home.

I can’t help but align its symbolism to dire situations in my own life. During my time in the newspaper industry, especially towards the end, I applied feverishly for jobs, desperately hoping to get out before Charlie blew me to pieces. I waited, day after day, sending resumes left and right like flares in the night, but nobody came. I never got my Huey ride home. [Translation: I was let go from a shitty job before I could jump off to a better job.]

Working as a reporter for a money-starved and morally-bankrupt news outlet was like a fight down to the last man; and every fight felt like I was a step closer to being killed myself. Now, in a totally different place, on a totally different hill, it feels like a familiar battle; a case of deja vu, where I am pitted against enemy forces, all closing in on my position. And, once again, I pop my flares, when Charlie isn’t looking, hoping that some bird will finally spot me and take me home.

It’s difficult to explain my connection to Vietnam, because, really, there is none. I’m not an American, nor did I serve in the Vietnam War. Hell, I wasn’t even conceived for another decade well after the war ended. I’m simply fascinated by it. Its complexity, horror, societal and cultural impact throughout the world, the sheer magnitude of human greed and human spirit… it’s all there.

In the strangest way, this fascination formed into a kind of a coping mechanism. We all have them; regardless of what they are. The “battle” may be a certain challenge in my own life; it’s not on a literal battlefield, with bullets whizzing by my head, but when I look at the twists and turns I’m thrown on a daily basis, it almost starts to feel like I’m in a fight for survival.

That’s, again, where the Huey comes in for me. An act of kindness on behalf of a stranger, the prospect of a better job, the opportunity to see an old friend, the chance to go to a home where I feel welcome and loved… that’s my Huey… and it’s worth staying alive for.

Find your Huey and hang on. It’s only a matter of time before those air-snapping blades come hovering over the horizon, ready to take you home.

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