The Coronado Historical Association will welcome CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.), President of the Helicopter Association Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS), to speak about plans to place CDR Clyde E. Lassen, USN (Ret.) SH-60F Memorial Medal of Honor Display Aircraft at Naval Base Coronado (NBC) at the Coronado Historical Association’s next Wine & Lecture on Thursday, June 8, at 6 pm.
June 19, 2023 is the 55-year anniversary of when CDR Clyde E. Lassen and his crew rescued two fallen aviators after being shot down in their F-4J Phantom Jet over North Vietnam. Lassen at the time was a 26-year-old LTJG flying from the deck of the USS Jouett (DLG-29). In honor of this anniversary, NHAHS and the USS Midway Museum have joined forces to support this project to bring credit to CDR Lassen and his crew as well as pay tribute to the thousands of personnel that pass through the gates of the Master Helicopter Base supporting 23 helicopter commands, 80 tenant commands and the Naval Aviation Depot, which is the largest aerospace employer in San Diego.
The aircraft was used in the 100th Year Centennial Celebration of Naval Aviation in 2011 and painted with the Lassen Medal of Honor paint scheme to recognize Lassen’s heroic actions. Later in 2012, this same aircraft was featured at the Disestablishment Ceremony of HS-10 commemorating what was the Navy’s H-3 Sea King Fleet Replacement Squadron for 52 years of service. After that ceremony in 2012, the helicopter was transported to Tucson, Arizona where it was stored in the Davis-Monthan Air Force Boneyard.
On April 3, 2023, the display project was approved by the Honorable Meredith Berger, Under Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and the Environment, and on April 24 the aircraft was craned onto a truck and transported back to NBC, arriving “back home” on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 after 11 years in the desert.
The plan is to refurbish the aircraft at the USS Midway Restoration Hangar and make the engineering modifications to the airframe to mount it on a stanchion across the street from the VADM James B Stockdale, USN (Ret.) Memorial Medal of Honor A-4 Skyhawk as soon as the funds can be raised to support the project. While the Navy and the base support this effort, the project is being fully funded by charitable donations to the NHA Historical Society. The timing of the placement of the helicopter and dedication ceremony depends on completing the funding for the project; however, the hope is to have the helicopter mounted as soon as possible.
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.), President of the NHAHS will share CDR Lassen’s Rescue and the “helicopter on a stick” project at CHA’s Wine & Lecture on Thursday, June 8. Tickets are available at coronadohistory.org, by calling 435-7242, or in person at CHA Store. The event will be at 1100 Orange Avenue. There is a reception at 5:30 pm followed by the program at 6:00 pm.