History has been preserved with the installation of a newly restored Vietnam-era Iroquois helicopter as the gate guard at the main entrance to Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane.

Iroquois A02-085 was hoisted from the garden at 16th Aviation Brigade’s headquarters and transported to RAAF Base Amberley late last year where a specialist team in the RAAF History and Heritage Branch refurbished the helicopter.

The helicopter was placed at its final landing pad on January 28.

Iroquois A02-085, originally a UH-1D variant of the “Huey”, was delivered in late 1966 to No. 9 Squadron (RAAF) stationed at Vung Tau Airfield, Vietnam.  

Following its last flight in Vietnam in early 1968, A02-085 returned to Australia to receive the UH-1H upgrade.

Warrant Officer Michael Downs, of RAAF History and Heritage Branch's Static Display Aircraft Support Section, said this was the first helicopter refurbished by the unit.

“We mechanically sanded the aircraft to expose the best surface before priming, vermin proofing and environmentally sealing the external surface with a weather-resistant, high-gloss coating,” Warrant Officer Downs said.

The team of 12 reservists also installed counterweights to offset the removal of crew seats and other interior fittings inside the fuselage, re-balancing the centre of gravity, and constructed panels and brackets to support the static display of the aircraft. 

“The cooperation between Army and Air Force was fantastic,” Warrant Officer Downs said.

“We had a common goal and worked really well together to make the aircraft safe for display and looking resplendent in its new paint scheme.”

David Howard, left, Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Wheadon and Rod O’Connor in front of Iroquois helicopter A02-085 after it was unveiled as the gate guard at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane. Photo: Corporal Nicole Dorrett

In addition to serving in Vietnam, A02-085 deployed on several campaigns with Air Force, including the United Nations Emergency Force (1976-79) in Ismailia, Egypt, and the ANZAC Contingent to Multinational Forces and Observers based at El Gorah, Sinai (1982-86).

Transferred to Army Aviation in January 1990, A02-085 served predominantly with 171st Operational Support Squadron - 1st Aviation Regiment before being retired in 2004 after amassing a staggering 11,194.9 flying hours. 

Gallipoli Barracks is home to the 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, 7th Brigade, 6th Brigade, 11th Brigade and 16th Aviation Brigade. 

At the installation of the gate guard, Commander 16th Aviation Brigade Brigadier David Hafner spoke about the importance of reflecting upon and preserving the corps’ history.

Former Iroquois pilot Captain Bradley Wheeler described the new gate guard as “a fitting tribute to a hardworking aircraft that now, 17 years later, has a new lease of life”.

David Howard, a former Iroquois maintainer and Army Articifer Sergeant Major said: “It was great to see the aircraft undergo some restoration and it was also a lot of fun being involved in the process of moving then reassembling the aircraft on site”.

Personnel from the the Static Display Aircraft Support Section of the RAAF History and Heritage Branch apply the first coat of primer paint during the refurbishment of the Army Iroquois A02-085 at RAAF Base Amberley. Photo: Corporal Nicci Freeman