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  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Charlie Miller/Senior Airman Ken LaRock
  • 445th Airlift Wing
A Joint Force effort of both Active Duty and Air Force Reservists worked together to honor Vietnam POWs by restoring a 1980 Corvette in the likeness of the Hanoi Taxi, an aircraft that flew POWs home from captivity.

Maj. Richard Webster, is a pilot and former member of this Wing, and has a 410 horsepower Corvette. His is no ordinary Corvette however. His car is a restored 1980 model with an elaborate patriotic paint scheme displaying the Hanoi Taxi, the last flying C-141 Starlifter, the POW-MIA logo, a bald eagle, dog tags and barbed wire.

"This car will display the legacy of both the POWs and the aircraft that brought them home," Maj. Webster said. "We will use this car to honor all of our service members who have served this wonderful country."

The show car is a "looker" without question. Aside from the gorgeous hood, its body is painted white-over-gray just like the Hanoi Taxi and the license plate reads "60117", the tail number from the plane. And for those of us with the 445th and those that are aware of the proud heritage of the C-141, this Corvette is unmistakably an appropriate tribute.

"I've been fortunate to meet a number of former Vietnam POW's and I want to keep their stories and heritage alive," said Maj. Webster who is the Air Force Material Command's B2 Training System Program Manager.

With the Hanoi Taxi displayed outside of the National Museum of the Air Force, the major and his team decided to honor these American heroes with the 35 Anniversary Corvette. They plan on having a photo display around the car and are requesting photos from service members in uniform alongside the car. The photos will become a permanent part of the display. Signatures from Vietnam POW's will be on the rear window of the vehicle.

"Rebuilding this vehicle in the likeness of the Hanoi Taxi is one way of showing gratitude, and brings our heritage to younger troops, and people who may not know of the Vietnam POW stories," the major said.

On July 4th 2008, The Corvette won Best of Class at the Centerville Americana Festival. The car is being inducted into the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Veterans Day weekend and then it will lead the Veterans Day Parade through town. Many Veterans will be present to witness the event.

There were about a dozen military volunteers who worked on the restoration, some active duty Air Force and some Reserves.

Both Webster and 445th member Technical Sgt. Eugene Mullen did body work on the car with Mullen painting the body. Master Sgt. Roland Stinnette did the graphic design and air brushed the intricate artwork on the hood and rear of the car. Sergeant Stinnette has done elaborate art on other cars having learned his craft from his father Harold Stinnette, who owns Stinnette Signs in Dayton.

Maj. Webster said that parts from three 1980 corvettes were used and that the only thing that's not original is the new intake and carburetor.

The car was a complete frame-off restoration completed in less than a year with the help of an all Air Force Team. It was broken down and rebuilt at four different garages in the Dayton area. While Maj. Webster and Sergeant Mullens and their group were doing body work at one shop, Master Sgt. Stinnette and his group were painting in another shop. The project was completed after duty hours and on weekends.

The first bolt was turned on the vehicle on Memorial Day 2007, and was rolled out on Memorial Day 2008 at Mr. H. Ross Perot's ranch in Texas.

For more information on this corvette, check out