Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Marine Corps helicopter from Vietnam evacuation on display in San Diego

May 1, 2010 |  8:52 am


On the 35th anniversary of its most famous mission, Marine Corps helicopter Lady Ace 09 was honored Friday at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

A ceremony was held for the unveiling of the newly restored CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter that evacuated U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin and his staff from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon as North Vietnamese troops swept into the city.

The helicopter has been in the collection of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum on base since 2004. For the ceremony it was repainted and markings restored so that it looks as it did on April 30, 1975.

As it lifted from the roof before dawn on that chaotic morning, a coded message was flashed to President Ford that Martin and his staff were safely on their way to the flag ship Blue Ridge. Martin had refused to be evacuated until hundreds of Vietnamese loyal to the U.S. were rescued.

The helo is on display at the museum along with 30 other Marine aircraft.

Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Newly restored Lady Ace 09. Credit: Marine Corps