Sikorsky Aircraft created the H-34 family of medium-lift helicopters to serve multiple roles with different branches of the military. The primary missions of the UH-34D variant with the U.S. Marine Corps included personnel transport (12 to 16 troops), combat assault, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and cargo transport. They also gained national fame as the recovery helicopter for the early Mercury space flights.
Seahorses became an icon of the Vietnam ground war and were in service with the Marines from 1957 until 1974. Hornet’s exhibit, Bu.No. 150553, entered service in August 1963. It served in Vietnam from late 1965 through 1967 and was damaged by hostile fire during seven of its combat missions. The aircraft was a donation from the Pima Air Museum in 2003 and has been restored to its USMC HMM-363 squadron appearance.