May 25–SIMI VALLEY — The aircraft and submarine rolled by truck into the morning fog Wednesday at the Reagan Library, bearing witness to profound tragedies.
In one, a U.S. Army helicopter was shot down during a medical rescue mission in Vietnam, resulting in the deaths of two airmen. In the other, a U.S. Navy submersible sphere was the first to ferry the RMS Titanic discoverers to an ocean graveyard of 1,500 souls.
"This is awesome, just awesome," said artist Steve Maloney, watching the 47-foot-long Huey — now a mixed-media artwork to honor casualties of the Vietnam War — being hoisted into the Simi Valley library rose garden. "It’s the proudest thing I’ve ever done. A way to honor those veterans who never got a welcome home."
The "Take Me Home Huey" chopper, wrapped in the graffiti-like logos used by U.S. airmen and their faraway longings for Mom’s apple pie and other tasty bites from home, will be on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, 40 Presidential Drive, through Memorial Day.
The 35,200-pound titanium submersible sphere known as Alvin that was used 32 years ago to survey the newly discovered shipwreck over 1,000 acres of Atlantic seabed will be included in "Titanic at the Reagan Library" special exhibit from Saturday through Jan. 7.
The "Titanic" exhibit at the Reagan Library reunites hundreds of Titanic artifacts not seen together since the "unsinkable ship" struck an iceberg and went down under a starry sky on April 15, 1912.
It also showcases the 1984-85 hunt for the famous wreck by Dr. Robert Ballard as well as the making of the 1997 "Titanic" blockbuster by director and explorer James Cameron.
Out of respect for the dead, library officials say none of the items on display were salvaged from the wreck itself, a resting place deemed sacred by the nation’s 40th president, who designated the wreck as an international maritime memorial.
"Every artifact in our Titanic exhibit was either retrieved at the time of the sinking, was recovered from the top of the ocean during the recovery mission, or was carried off the ship by survivors," said John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan foundation that runs the library, in a statement.
The artifacts include the sheet music for "Narcissus" found on the body of Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley, who refused to stop playing as the great ship sank.
They include the pocket watch found on the body of John Jacob Astor IV, the richest passenger on the ill-fated liner, days after it sank. Or his wife’s life vest she wore to safety.
They include movie props from the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, including a Hollywood lifeboat and a miniature diorama of the broken ship made by director Cameron, a perfectionist for historical detail.
And they include Alvin, the 9-foot-wide ball that carried Ballard and his crew of two down 2 1/2 miles to view the sharp bow of the Titanic not seen since it sank beneath the waves."This is a very difficult object to get here," said Randy Swan, […]