Chellis initially thought McLean's price was "too much for a plane that can't fly," but his attitude changed when he realized that he might have flown on this particular Huey. "If that's an aircraft that I flew in Vietnam, I might just give him $175,000 for it."
Fred Allison, historian at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., said there were roughly 75 Hueys like McLean's in Vietnam at any one time, in a rotation, and they would fly in a variety of roles.
"It was almost omnipresent," Allison said. The Hueys rescued wounded fighters but also provided fire support for missions on the ground, he said.
"That became almost a dominant role, and they were called 'Huey guns.' And they were much loved by Marines for that."
McLean says he won't let the Huey go to just anyone.
"Like anything else, you become sentimentally attached to it," McLean said. "If somebody wants this, and I don't like them, I won't sell to them. You put a lot of sweat and time and money into it. It has a lot of history, and it's become part of the family. When you look to sell, you've mainly got to like the person you're selling it to, and feel good about them. If you don't feel good about it, you'll regret it the rest of your life."
And though he knows finding any buyer might be a tall order, he still dreams about what he would like to see his labor of love become.
"That would be awesome if someone could get this and restore it and get everything recertified," McLean said. "I would love to go for a ride. It's something you'd remember the rest of your life."