Veterans win helicopter back after it was taken from VFW post in Alexander County

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — A group of veterans in Alexander County has won a court battle over an antique helicopter. The veterans refurbished the Vietnam-era helicopter at their post south of Taylorsville, but they say it was taken from their property one day without their permission.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty has closely followed every development in the case. He found out they moved it back to the VFW post in Taylorsville on Saturday. But to get to this point, they had to go to court, where their attorney says the judge sided with them.

The veterans wanted families across the area to see that military chopper up close, so they kept at their post. But one morning, they said the man who donated it took it right off their property and back to Montgomery County.

Dale Chapman served during the Vietnam War. He showed Faherty where the UH-1 Huey helicopter was sitting when it was taken from the VFW in the spring of 2020.

“It hurt us quite a bit because we spent a lot of time,” Chapman said.

Two years later, a victory in court will bring the chopper back.

The veterans showed Faherty where the helicopter was sitting when it was taken from the VFW. It was donated back in 2018 and they spent more than nine months refurbishing it. They collected parts from the North Carolina Forestry, the Army Aviation Museum in Atlanta and the Vietnam Pilots Association in North Carolina. They shared photos with Channel 9 of their hard work taking the helicopter to parades over the next year and half -- and then suddenly, it was taken away from them by the man who donated it.

“He was wrong. He was wrong when he took it,” said Vietnam veteran Bill Johnson. “He knew he was wrong.”

“This man would not have wanted that helicopter back if we had not fixed it up,” Chapman said.

The veterans say Jim Henry was the person who donated the helicopter. When Faherty called him on Sept. 2, he said he had no comment. A judge in Alexander County ruled in the veterans’ favor, ordering Henry to give the helicopter back to them by the next weekend.

And on Saturday, the vets were reunited with the aircraft.

“I was so tickled when she said that, ‘ordered it back to us,’ that somebody fought for the veterans in the county,” said Iraq veteran Terry Harrington.

“I sure am ready to go to court and they ain’t gonna win,” Henry told Channel 9 this earlier this year. “They’re gonna spend a bunch of money for nothing. First of all, they got nothing in writing.”

The veterans said they hoped once they got the helicopter back that they would be able to take it to parades across the area. The first event may be the apple festival in Taylorsville in October.

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