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Memorial Day

The unknown helicopter

The unknown helicopter

Jeff Houlihan first noticed the helicopter in 1977, perched on top of a 40-foot steel tower at Rialto Municipal Airport. He could tell it was a Huey, used in Vietnam, but no one could explain how it got to the top of the tower. He could tell it had received enemy gunfire — it was spattered with bullet holes — but no one could find the flight records for its years of service.

"This is a forgotten Vietnam veteran," said Houlihan, curator of the March Field Air Museum. "This aircraft is as forgotten and deserving as a soldier. It has a story, like every other aircraft here, and we're waiting to find the story."

A military brat who grew up on...