Vietnam War Helicopter is a Kalamazoo Man’s Healing Work of Art
Steve Maloney's 'Take Me Home Huey' honors the American Heroes who fought in Vietnam and continues the discussion about PTSD. Hear more from his co-author.
Artists work in many different mediums: paint, pencils, ink, marble, music, wood, metal, a wooden stage, film, and many others. This sculptor worked with "found items" to create a remarkable piece of mixed-media art that also became a documentary film, an original song, an educational website and a much-needed measure of healing for Vietnam Veterans.
How does a guy who owned a clothing store on S. Burdick help heal those who suffered trauma half a world away in Vietnam? After a time working for Gilmore's department store, Steve Maloney opened his own clothing store called Steven Maloney's on S. Burdick in Kalamazoo. He was the first to sell designer Giorgio Armani in Kalamazoo. If you shopped the downtown mall between 1968 and 1972, you may remember the place. Maloney used that clothing store ethos and eye for design and later became an artist.
His crowning achievement, Take Me Home Huey, was made from a UH-1H Huey helicopter. These choppers were ubiquitous in Vietnam and to the wounded soldiers who needed a ride to safety and medical care, they were a Godsend. Steve Maloney found the shell of one shot down over Vietnam and reconfigured it as a sculptural tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. As the helicopter toured the country (you may have seen it here at the Air Zoo in 2015), veterans came to Steve and expressed their profound thanks for helping them face memories long submerged.
Take Me Home Huey grew from this sculpture to a documentary film, an original song and an educational website that helps deal with PTSD. The book, not only has stunning pictures of the project from start to finish, but tells the story of the men who flew choppers just like this. In fact, they tracked down the actual pilot and crew of Huey #174- this very airship, and reunited the men for the first time since Vietnam.
Sadly, Kalamazoo artist Steve Maloney passed away on February 23, 2021, but his work lives on. Maloney called Take Me Home Huey "the proudest thing I've ever done." I had the chance to talk with award-winning documentary writer and producer and Maloney's co-author Clare Nolan about the book. You can listen to the interview and see video of Steve Maloney and his work on Take Me Home Huey below.