Over the past few years, we have covered the exploits of the 138th Aviation Company Memorial, an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the small band of U.S. Army aviators in the 138th Aviation Company who performed highly secretive, and certainly hazardous, signals intelligence missions throughout the Cold War, including numerous combat operations in Vietnam and Desert Storm. The organization successfully obtained and refurbished a representative aircraft, a rare variant of the Beech RU-21A Ute (67-18113), for their planned memorial which they had hoped to erect at the B-52 Memorial Park within the grounds of Orlando International Airport. However, a lack of finances has forced the group to change their plans. The following adapted press release relates these developments…
Desert Storm Warbird Has A New Home With the Valiant Air Command in Titusville, Florida.
After nearly five years of diligently trying to raise funds to place an ex-U.S.Army Beechcraft RU-21A Ute on display next to B-52D 56-0687 at Orlando International Airport, (MCO), it ultimately became clear to the Board of Directors of the 138th Aviation Company Memorial, Inc. that the effort was taking far longer than anticipated to achieve. In the interest of the aircraft’s preservation therefore, the hard decision was made to donate the aircraft to the Valiant Air Command’s Warbird Air Museum in Titusville, Florida.
The RU-21A is the last remaining example of the codenamed “Cefirm Leader” Special Electronic Mission Aircraft System that was developed just as the Vietnam War ended. When the system was retired in 1994, it sat in a salvage yard for 20 years until the Veterans of the 138th Aviation Company, with the help of Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Virginia, saved it. The aircraft will now be the centerpiece of a display that is hoped to help educate the public of the role that these secretive aircraft played in providing Signals Intelligence products for our nations defense.
Once current conditions related to the Global Pandemic abate, work will begin on restoring the aircraft to its former glory and a formal “rollout” ceremony will take place, followed by a reunion of Veterans of the 138th Aviation Company. In the meantime, the aircraft will be available for viewing for visitors at the Valiant Air Command’s museum when they reopen to the public.
Dreamworx Aviation, an aircraft transportation company with over 20 years of experience in aircraft recovery and transportation. helped move the aircraft from its temporary home at Orlando Executive Airport to her new home in Titusville.
About the 138th Aviation Company Memorial Inc.:
The 138th Aviation Company Memorial Inc is a 501(c)3 (Pending) Non Profit organization committed to building a memorial dedicated to those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country as members of the 138th Aviation Company. The unit was originally formed in 1966 and served with distinction in Vietnam, and in 1974, was redesignated as a US Army Reserve unit. In 1990, the Reservists of the 138th Aviation Company were activated and deployed from Orlando to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After 25 years at Orlando International Airport, the unit was deactivated in 1999 but in 2004, the unit was reactivated once again, now known as the 138th Military Intelligence Company flying the Northrop Grumman E-8B Joint STARS aircraft out of Warner Robins AFB, Georgia.