Vietnam Veteran and his Helicopter Reunited
Nate Shaffer and Bruce Campbell at their assigned positions
Nate Shaffer has restored a Hughes OH-6A Cayuse helicopter. Shaffer, 63, rode in the military helicopter as a door gunner with Charlie Troop 1/9th, 1st Air Cavalry while serving in Vietnam.
The restored helicopter will be dedicated May 19th 2012 at 10:00 am at Motts Military Museum in Groveport Ohio.
Pat Bieneman and his wife Carol was on-hand Saturday for the dedication of ZIT. He posted a report of the event in his blog.
May 1970, Nate Shaffer re-upping 2-months for Charlie Troop 1/9th Scouts, 1st Air Cavalry Division
October 1970, Nate Shaffer (door gunner) Bruce Campbell (pilot) Rae Bailey (observer)
The OH-6A (Loach) along with it’s pilot, observer and door gunner armed with a M60 machine gun, worked in cooperation with the larger Cobra (helicopter gunship) to form a Pink team. It was agile and could fly up to 150 mph.
1970 990 ZIT, ? (observer) Barney Vestal (pilot) Nate Shaffer (door gunner)
Nathan “Nate” Shaffer
Charlie Troop 1/9th Scouts door gunner 1970
With the help of John Hairell, Robert Wisler, Gary Roush and the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Nate found out the 990 left Vietnam in 1972. After that it served with 5th Army Reserve in Chicago for a short time, then to a National Guard unit in New York. Then Boarder Patrol in Texas. Sometime later it went to Border Patrol in Arizona, after which Border Patrol became Homeland Security.
Proof that N 6186Y is 990 ZIT
In 2008 Nate traced 990 ZIT to Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Nate’s children, Misti Wilson and Ben Shaffer, arranged for Nate to go out to Fort Huachuca as a 60th birthday present. The trip resulted in a reunion of the former war bird and it’s door gunner. Nate was offered the opportunity to take a ride in the helicopter for old time’s sake, an offer he happily accepted.
The helicopter was later transferred to the Department of Agriculture in Utah, where it was eventually retired. It flew as late as 2011.
Now that #990 was located, Nate continued to track it’s travels, and when it was regulated to the ‘bone yard’ for unused aircraft, it became available for claim by organizations wanting to obtain that type of machine.
Nate learned ‘his’ helicopter had been donated to Motts Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio, located just outside of Columbus.
Transporting the helicopter to it’s new home became a problem, because the military aircraft transports which are able to handle the helicopter are all serving overseas.
Nate volunteered to drive to Utah to pick up the helicopter and bring it to the museum, but first make it presentable before delivery. That was an offer gladly accepted by Motts Museum.
10/17/2011 Picking up 990 ZIT at Parowan, Utah at the airport
Packed up and ready to move
10/19/2011 Picking up main rotor blades from Kevin Grant and Phil in Wichita, Kansas
10/20/2011 Arriving home Spencerville, Ohio
The helicopter was taken to the home of Bob Dresen, a long-time friend of Nate’s, where the duo began the challenging process of making the helicopter look as it had in Vietnam.
Looking at Nate and the helicopter, Dressen remarked “I’m sure glad you weren’t in the Navy and didn’t serve on an aircraft carrier.
As word of the helicopter’s arrival got out, friends began to show up to look at
and help reconstruct the stripped helicopter.
10/21/2011 Starting to work on restoring 990 ZIT
10/21/2011 Working to restore 990 ZIT
Floor of 990 ZIT being replaced due to removal by government at Davis-Monthon A.F.B.
Parts of the floor that had been removed
Making a pattern for the floor (Note where cardboard had come from)
Starting to repair the floor
Working on the main rotor
L to R Nate Shaffer and Art Fleck working topside
Sanding 990 ZIT prior to painting
L to R Bob Dresen and Art Fleck
Some of the sanding discs used for removal of paint
Holes in the engine cowing that need to be repaired
L to R Bob Dresen, Roger Dillon and Art Fleck
Door for 990
Tiz Shaffer removing plexaglass from doors; she was Nate’s girlfriend (now wife) while he was in the service. He named the helicopter ZIT, TIZ backwards.
L to R Nate Shaffer and Ted Croft building up the floor
Masking off Plexaglass
Nate Shaffer Painting
Back to the original
Floor installed and primed
Masking off to paint white
Nate Shaffer painting white
George McManus laying out crossed-sabers
Darlene Dresen laying out lettering
11/08/2011 Getting ready to deliver to Motts Military Museum, Groveport, Ohio
11/08/2011 On the way to Motts Military Museum with motorcycle escort
Escorted by a contingent of approximately ten smiling friends on motorcycles, Nate and #990 hit the road bound for the helicopter’s final landing in Motts Military Museum. Trailing the convoy on his Harley is Bob Dresen, who played an instrumental role in the refurbishing of the helicopter.
11/08/2011 At Motts Military Museum
Nate Shaffer and Warren Motts Military Museum Director
L to R Bruce Campbell (Charlie Troop Scout Pilot) Nate Shaffer and Warren Motts
L to R Nate Shaffer and Bruce Campbellat their assigned positions
L to R Congressman Steve Stivers, Nate Shaffer and Warren Motts
Congressman Steve Stivers and Nate Shaffer
Mission Completed-990 crew and escort
The tail rotor and main rotor blades are on. ZIT looks like she did in Vietnam over forty years ago. Ready for the dedication May 19th.