Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Heather M. Stur

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Andrew Wiest

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Kyle Zelner

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Andrew Haley

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. John Curatola


After World War II, the U.S. Army fought for relevance and resources following the emergence of the Air Force and a national emphasis on nuclear capabilities. During this period senior officers like Generals James Gavin, Carl Hutton, and Hamilton Howze became vocal advocates for the development of an Army air arm which included increased troop mobility. Meanwhile, U.S. helicopter manufacturers convinced Army generals that rotary-wing aircraft were the future of Army aviation. In doing so, corporations such as Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky Aircraft helped brand the Vietnam War the “helicopter war.” During the Vietnam War, the helicopter transported and resupplied troops, provided aerial fire support, and evacuated the wounded, and their ubiquity across the Vietnam landscape made the helicopter a lasting symbol and sound of the Vietnam War. By the end of the war, the helicopter was no longer just another flying apparatus. It embodied Army aviation and represented the Cold War military-industrial complex. This dissertation looks at the promotional culture of the helicopter industry and Army aviation to explore how the military-industrial complex and advertising made the helicopter ubiquitous in both combat operations and the popular memory of the Vietnam War. Helicopter advertising campaigns and corporations’ efforts to win military contracts were central to the creation of the Vietnam War as the “helicopter war.”

Available for download on Tuesday, January 01, 2030