The RSL has fallen $200,000 short of the money they need to cover the cost of housing one of six Huey Iroquois helicopters in Australia.
Although they don’t normally ask for help, the Port Pirie branch is calling on state or federal governments to help cover the shortfall.
RSL president Haydn Madigan said they would be in “significant debt” if they are not successful in securing any grants.
“It is a great attraction,” he said. “It will be visible through a glass window that will be able to be seen from The Terrace.”
The Port Pirie branch learnt they would be receiving the helicopter in October 2012.
Mr Madigan said he had spoken to politicians from all sides, and both the Labor State Government and Liberal Federal Government.
“We had Jack Snelling (State Labor Minister) up here,” he said.
“He told us money was really tight, and he probably wouldn’t be able to do anything.
“Two weeks later, he announced he’d given the Norwood RSL $1.2 million for a new clubroom.”
The Port Pirie RSL has raised $250,000, much of which has been donated by the Port Pirie and surrounding areas.
State Opposition Leader Steven Marshall visited the RSL last week and was “positive” according to Mr Madigan, but has yet to commit to funding under a Liberal Government.
It is a great attraction. It will be visible through a glass window that will be able to be seen from The Terrace.Port Pirie RSL president Haydn Madigan
More recently, the Port Pirie Regional Council ruled out contributing money to the project, but they did offer to assist the RSL with grant funding applications.
But Mr Madigan said he had explored all possible avenues to find grant funding at both state and federal level.
The specific figure the RSL are looking for from the Government is $100,000.”
“I am disappointed the council wouldn’t put money in,” he said.
“But I am more disappointed from the political side of things.”
Mr Madigan said both the State Labor Government and Federal Liberal Government had said “money is tight, and they can’t do it”.
“If we had $100,000 that would make life so much easier,” he said.
“We get the feeling in Adelaide they will look after it, but in Port Pirie they won’t do it.
The Huey Iroquois helicopter will bring tourism benefits to Port Pirie, Mr Madigan believes.
“The Huey is the symbol of the Vietnam war,” he said.
“It will be a very emotional visit for a lot of Vietnam veterans.
“They will be sitting where they sat, and I can see it being a teary experience for them.”
He said the RSL would be putting signs on the highway to promote the helicopter.
Lots of war veterans in Adelaide are supplying them with pavers and promising to come and visit.
For Haydn himself, being a Vietnam veteran, the helicopter will also hold a special place in his heart.
“Whenever I hear a helicopter coming in to Port Pirie to pick up patients, it reminds me of Vietnam every time I hear it ,” he said.