Chinook Crash

If you would like to add your memories to this thread please email them to David J.
A  memory of another Chinook Crash from Dr. Jay Kaufman.

Hi. I was not present for this  Chinook  crash, but was present when another went down in spring 1970, outside Phu Bai, with a lot of troopers burned badly. I was a doctor with Bravo Co. 326th Medical Battalion, 101st. What stays with me, 50 years later is that, when I bent over one of the men, who was not going to make it, he noted that I was a captain,  saluted me and said “All the Way…”
Welcome home.
Jay Kaufman, MD

I was the CH-47 Captain of the “other” Chinook that left Da Nang on that mission that day.  We would have flown together but I had an instrument malfunction that day and decided to take a different route along the coast.  I ended up doing a modified instrument approach into the airfield.
 
In doing research about my time in Vietnam and this story, I came across this Chinook Crash thread about that day.


I remember having a beer that evening and some folks came in, telling me that 866 had not come in and started asked questions about what I knew.  In fact I did not know anything. I never heard his ‘may-day’ call (too many mountains between us I guess) and to my knowledge he had landed and was at his home ramp.  

I do recall thinking I would have a better chance of finding Phu Bai by following the coast north bound and homing “in” on their NDB (Automatic Direction Finder) signal – (the green pointer in the RMI below).
I had a stuck RMI (Radio Magnetic Indicator – which means that it did not turn when I turned the A/C) so I could not tell which direction the aircraft was headed except for having to use the Magnetic Compass. 


Anyway – it is nice to know that there are still good folks out there that still do remember.
159th Aviation Battalion – Motto: “PRESS ON”

Jim Ratley USA CW4 (Ret)


So I was a pathfinder on a fire base outside Camp Eagle, pathfinders were air traffic control of helicopters some times in the field and other times on a fire base.  I get this call from Da Nang  from a chinook pilot that needed to get back to camp Eagle and he wanted a weather check for our location.  I informed him that it was so fogy that you could not see to fly. He said that the brass wanted them back, they were in Da Nang on R&R, I again urged him not to attempt the trip and that he would not make it.  remember that he called me Corregidor.  Corregidor, Corregidor he said. Later on that night the base captain beat on my hut door wanting to know if I had talked to this Chinook and what I had told them and so I repeated y story, the captain said he never made it.  My memory tells me that there were two ships and not just one, but I could be wrong.  I was in Vietnam the summer of 1971, don’t remember the name of the fire base. Bruce Gorrell


My name is Kim Crumb.  I was a SP-4 with Mortars FDC Echo Co. 1/327th at the time of the crash.  We’d been flown from Eagle to Da Nang by Chinook. I should mention that on the trip south we flew out over the water at one point through a wide gap where a mountain ridge ran to the sea, dropped away, then picked up farther out.  We could look up at the ridge top as we passed through.  It was turbulent and a little unnerving. There were three Chinooks waiting to fly us back to Camp Eagle.  The day of the crash, a bunch of us from Echo Co. were supposed to load onto the #2 Chinook.  I had eleven months In Country and another Short Timer and I had pretty vivid nightmares the prior night about our ride north crashing into the mountain ridge. We tried to get rides with Echo’s trucks, but they had already left. Because of the weather, the nightmares we shared with other Short Timers, and a few other things, we got spooked and a number of us refused to saddle up, finally disobeying a direct order, locking and loading on our cherrie CO.  I think it was our XO who cooled things down by allowing us to go on the second sortie, which never happened.  We thought that because of our refusal to board, the mission would be stopped until the weather cleared.  Instead, the guys from Alpha loaded in our place.  The three Chinooks lifted off into the weather and our assigned ride was the one which disappeared.

After word came down that ‘our ride’ hadn’t arrived.  The rest of us were trucked back to the barracks.  Our weapons were taken, we were paid, and turned loose for a couple days at Freedom Hill and Gunfighter Village to “cool off, “ while transportation was arraigned.  We were finally flown north on Air Force C-130s.  Back at Eagle, there was a memorial service a day or so after we the day we arrived. Soon after that the wreckage was found.

The weather was foggy on the ground and the ceiling was low enough that the Chinooks disappeared into the weather almost as soon as they lifted off.

For over 40 years I’d had recurring nightmares about the crash, usually one or twice a week, no doubt helped along by what the counselors and VA shrinks call a case of survivor’s guilt.   What finally stopped the nightmares was a series of Dream Therapy sessions offered last year at the local VA clinic.

Kim Crumb
Echo C0. 1/327th
Vietnam Jan-Dec ‘71


At 1115 hours, 28 Nov 1971, C Co, 159th Avn Bn, 101st Abn Div (ABL) received a mission from the Battalion Operations Center (BOC) to provide two aircraft for an administrative troop move from LZ 401 at Da Nang to Corregidor Pad at Camp Eagle. The company operations officer, assigned CW2 Jerald W. Carter and WOL Joseph J. Savick in CH-47, 68-15866 (Playtex 866) to take the DT-2 mission.
WOL Savick had just returned from a 32 day emergency leave on 27 november 1971 and was assigned to fly with CW2 Carter, the aircraft commander, in order to complete an AC currency check. Preflighted earlier that morning and departed Liftmaster Heliport at 0830 hours to start a mission at Mai Loc. CW2 Carter and WOL Savick flew the aircraft for the mission at Mai Loc. Upon arrival at Mai Loc, it was discovered that the loads were not ready so the aircraft returned to Liftmaster after refueling at Corregidor. Cpt Smith briefed CW2 Carter on the DT-2 mission and at 1230 hours on 28 Nov ’71 Playtex 866 with a crew of five departed Liftmaster Heliport for LZ 401 at Da Nang to begin the mission. The original PZ time for the mission had been 1200 hours but due to bad weather the mission was put on a hold status.

At approximately 1220 hours, the battalion flight operations officer, Cpt Robbins instructed “C” company operations to launch their aircraft and attempt the DT-2 mission. The weather at 1235 hours between Phu Bai and Da Nang was observed to be ceiling 600 broken, visibility five miles in light rain and fog. The weather for Phu Bai had been forecast to be intermittently 300 scattered, 800 overcast in light rain, fog and drizzle. Load of 29 PAX (Passengers) and departed for Corregidor at 1310 hours.

At 1328 hours 28 November 1971, Hue Approach Control received a called from Playtex 866 stating that he was declaring an emergency and that they were on the LKS 130 bearing. Attempts by Hue Approach Control to reestablish contact were unsuccessful. GP was notified by the 159th BOC of the emergency call from Playtex 866 and at 1350 hours the 101st Division was notified.

At 1410 hours 28 Nov ’71, a ramp check was initiated for the aircraft in the Phu Bai and Da Nang areas. Results of the ramp checks were negative. The 159th Avn Bn dispatched an OH-6 at 1340 hours to begin searching for the aircraft. At 1436 hours 28 Nov ’71, the 196th LIB [Light Infantry Brigade] at Da Nang dispatched two aircraft to begin the search and at 1440 hours the 11th CAG [Combat Aviation Group] was notified and put two aircraft on standby. At 1545 hours, recovery control center at Monkey Mountain, Da Nang, reported negative contact with the lost aircraft. The Coastal Surveillance Center at Da Nang was notified at 1600 hours and at 1620 hours 28 Nov ’71, RF/PF (Regional and Popular Forces) Units between the Hai Van Pass and Phu Bai were instructed to be on the look out for Playtex 866. The USS Epperson (DD-170 Destroyer) was directed to proceed to the area of the downed aircraft at 1920 hours and assume search pattern. Two VN Navy junks and two VN Navy coastal craft also assisted in the search and rescue effort. Search and rescue efforts were hampered for the next four days by low visibility cloud cover, high winds, and rough seas.

At 0840 hours 2 Dec ’71, an OH-6 pilot from the 2nd Bde Aviation section reported sighting wreckage at coordinates ZD 009-003 that appeared to be the lost CH-47 aircraft. Search elements were notified to discontinue search at 1200 hours and rescue operations continued to be hampered by bad weather. The elevation of the crash site was approximately 650 feet and throughout the search and rescue operation the crash site was shrouded by clouds.

At 1650 hours 2 Dec ’71, D Co 2/502 was airlifted from Camp Eagle to a position approximately 2500 meters east of the crash site. At 1030 hours, the accident investigation board with Graves Registration and EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) proceeded to the vicinity of the crash site by vehicle and locked up with D 2/502 at 1300 hours 2500 meters east of the crash site. The rescue party cut their way through the mountainous jungle terrain and arrived at the crash site at 0830 hours 5 Dec ’71. The aircraft was completely demolished and there were no site at 0830 hours 5 Dec ’71. The aircraft was completely demolished and there were no survivors. The aircraft was located in a creek bed approximately 650 feet up the side of a mountain. The aircraft had hit a 50 degree slope with great impact causing the fuel cells to rupture and a flash fire resulted.

The official investigation showed that the Chinook had taken a single hit, creating spalling, or loss of adhesion, causing it to fall apart.

This single disaster would go down in the history books as the second worst helicopter crash during all of Vietnam.


Thirty-four men were killed in the crash:

A Co, 1st Bn, 327th Inf Rgt

SP4 Joseph A Aubain, San Juan PR
PFC Vincent Bernal, Mitchell NE
PFC John H Hare, Louisville MS
SP4 Joel S Ivey, Southern Pines NC
SGT Terry G Kugler, Cullman AL
1LT Robert J Ladensack, Phoenix AZ
PFC George P Martin, Monterey Park CA
SP4 Alphonza Mason, Newark NJ
SGT Robert D Maynard, Blaine WA
PFC Steven J McDonald, Ketchum ID
CPT Martin K Niskanen, South Paris ME
SSG Daniel E Nye, Albany NY
SP4 James E Palmer, Halifax VA
SP4 Brinsley B Ramos, Washington DC
SP4 Ronald K Sweetland, Bloomingdale MI
PFC Gary D Wilson, Eureka CA
PFC Robert L Wynn, Chicago IL

C Co, 159th ASHB, 101st Abn Div

CWO Jerald W Carter, Daleville AL
CWO Joseph J Savick, Akron OH
SGT Michael A Crawford, Henryetta OK
PFC Willie J Oaks, Beattyville KY
SP4 Raymond A Trujillo, La Puente CA
HHC, 1st Bn, 327th Inf Rgt
SP5 Ronald D Carleton, El Monte CA
SP5 Billy R Coffey, Dallas TX
SSG Howard L Colbaugh, Atlanta GA
SP6 Will R Dantzler, Heidelberg MS
SP4 Richard E Garretson, Anderson IN
SP4 Archie T Lucy, Mobile AL
CPL Michael O Maybee, Fowler MI
SP4 Oscar Paulley, Louisville KY
SP5 Roy K Stewart, Bemus Point NY
SP4 William D Thompson, Auburndale FL
SSG Carl L Thornton, Gainesville GA
SP5 John E Windfelder, Philadelphia PA


I just found your website by accident, as I was doing some other research. I was the first one on the crash site. I am Sergeant J. L. Hodges, D Co. 2/502nd Infantry (aka, “Dog”, Radio Call Sign, ” Doc Holliday”). Can you tell me where you got this info on the crash? I would like to face this, after all these years. One of my best buddies from NCOC was on this chopper. We policed it up. Bad mission, but we were all proud to do it. They described this in the Stars and Stripes as a ” Herculean Effort”. No body knows just how bad it really was.
James L. Hodges (Lonewolf)

My name if Mike Carretero. I am a Vietnam Veteran and was with Alpha Co. and HHC from Jul ’70 thru Aug ’71. I was home stateside when I heard about the crash of the Chinook that killed so many from Alpha Co.

I am happy to see that you found the 327th web-site and sent your email to the 327th mail call. Several months ago I tried to find a web-site for the 502nd so that I might find someone who may have been with the unit that found the down Chinook.

I keep a list of all of the 1/327th vets that have visited this site and also other Vietnam related sites. I have also conversed with a couple of Vets who were on that Chinook but at the last minute were taken off by the first sergeant to pull other details before returning to Camp Eagle.

I will be glad to give you any additional information regarding the crash. I would also like to learn more about what happened and also why it took so long to find the crash site.

Here are some additional sites that contain information pertaining to the Chinook crash:

http://www.virtualwall.org/dm/MaynardRD01a.htm

http://www.armyaircrews.com/chinook_nam.html

Regards,
Mike


Thanks for the response on the crash. I will answer your question up front about finding the crash. It was the worst weather conditions I had ever seen. Fog was so low, all aircraft were grounded. Rain was intense, and it was cold in the mountains. They started a massive campaign to find the aircraft,assuming the worst, but the weather hampered everything. We also had no ground troops in that area to begin sweep patrols. They crashed in literally no-mans-land.

Also, the crash was hidden by thick vegetation, and could not be seen from the air. The spotter helicopter only saw a depression in the jungle on the side of this mountain. We were briefed at Camp Eagle, and deployed from there in CH47’s. There was a group of ARVN’s holding the LZ for us. We had to land at the bottom of the mountains because of the weather, and the roughness of the terrain. We had also been warned that one of the NVA units had been on patrol in that area. So our speculation going in, was that they might beat us to the crash site, and kill any survivors, and/or, booby-trap the bodies and wreckage. We also planned on them booby trapping and setting ambushes for us by any route that we may take to get there, which they did. We took a gamble that the depression in the jungle was in fact the crash site, and went in to 7 days of absolute hell. We moved as fast as we could, all of us hoping in our hearts that we would find the bird landed soft, and all would still be alive. Every man worked so damned hard to hurry and get there, it was our conversation, and charge, as we left Camp Eagle to find these brothers, and bring them home.

I can’t tell you how absolutely crushed and startled we were on the day we found the site. I felt like a lost dog standing in the middle lane of a crowded freeway. I know the looks of my men, and the absolute sorrow at that moment.

My squad stood in silence and reverence at the two bodies layed out at our feet. Young boys, not any older than we were. One, I stood and stared at, as I noticed his beard was just a few black hairs, here and there. Just a boy just like me and I couldn’t take my eyes off the grimace of shock, pain, and horror frozen on his face. It was like a Halloween mask, but it was real. One hand was raised up, as if asking for help. I got my radio, and called the Captain of our unit to let him know we had located the crash, and that it didn’t look good. The Captain called back, and stated that the main element was coming forward. I had purposely refused to let my point man go with us, as he was newer in country, and I really needed my “Old Timers” with me.

The main element came forward as we began to clear the crash area for ambush and booby-traps, which we had already run into, and other enemy activities. We were frozen in fear, as we knew this was the horrible thing we had dreaded, and now the hard work lay at hand. Getting this cleaned up, and getting the dead on their way home, and getting all the living out alive seemed impossible at that point. An explosion above us rocked the dead silence of the jungle. The point man I left behind had walked point for the main element and stepped on another booby-trap. He was hit really bad, but was alive at medevac. I have not the space nor time to relate the recovery mission, but it was just plain horrible.

This mission will live in my memory forever. The only thing that I can say positive about it is in military
terms, we accomplished our mission with some of the best soldiering I had ever witnessed – and we brought our comrades home. Mission accomplished.

Sorry I rambled on. I guess I just needed to spill a little. Thanks for your help, and interest, and thank you for your service to our wonderful country.
J. L. Hodges
Thank you for your response. I can only imagine what the scene looked like when your guys got there. We had a similar incident happen to Alpha (ABU) company on Christmas Eve also. We had 12 guys killed from a friendly fire incident when a 105 round landed in our 2nd platoons NDP. Nine guys were killed at the site and 3 guys died from their wounds later. Needless to say the ABU’s had their share of bad luck.

I was wondering if you were able recover all of the bodies or if some were burned beyond recognition. We had heard several stories that they may have been hit by an RPG, but don’t know if anyone really knows for sure. Also, you said you had a buddy that was on the chopper. Do you still remember his name. I know there was a Daniel Eugene Nye who was a Sergeant and also Robert Dee Maynard and Terry Gus Kugler.
Mike Carretero

We recovered all that was left of the crash. Most bags were just parts and fused mush. Some had been burned by the fire, some not. Because of the impact, some were just fused into unrecognizable pieces. The rain washed a lot away. There were only a few bodies in tact. The crash investigators thought that they got hit by an RPG, because there was evidence that they broke up in the air, before impact, and there was graphic evidence of that. They did not hit all in one piece. That’s why the conclusion of pilot error on the part of some of the investigators was totally false. Also the two crewmen that I found were up the hill @ 300 feet from the crash, still in tact, and had no flight gloves, or helmets on. They fell, one backward and one sideways, as if they were making their way up the hill to the top and fell over and died. I would have liked to have seen if they were shot by NVA patrols before we got there. I did not get to check further, as they were bagged by others. I do know that we all talked about some of the damage to the craft being from rifle fire.

The investigation was really hampered by the weather, the terrain was extremely steep and very, very
dangerous area, combined with the total demolition of the craft itself. I believed, and still do, that they were flying low, and the NVA took advantage, and just opened up on them with small arms fire. I think that is what caused the spalling, and break up of the craft before impact into the mountain. I think that they had just enough time to declare an emergency when the rifle fire hit, and spalling began.

My buddies name was Robert Dee Maynard. He joined me, and James Walker in NCOC class 504 – ’71, at Fort Benning Georgia. We were like the 3 musketeers. I had known James all my life, and we just met Dee at NCOC. Great guy, good soldier, good friend.

I am going to do a video on this operation, and the crash. I am going to document the whole story, once and for all. Thanks for your correspondence, and I am very sorry about the friendly fire incident you had to endure. Those things are just really hard to deal with, no matter how many years go by. God’s blessings to their families, and to all of you, who knew them.
Jim


Sorry to hear you lost your buddy Robert Maynard. At the time that your Company was going to the crash site, did you know that Robert was in that craft? Do you have any pictures of Robert. If you have a scanned photo, if you will send it to me I will forward it to Dave Markham and they will post it on the 327th web site. They do a good job of trying to post as many pictures as they can of the Vietnam Veterans on the web-site.

Also, if you need any help, I will be glad to provide any assistance that I can. I know there were at least three guys who were on the craft and were pulled off by the 1st Sergeant to pull other duties. Two of them have found the 327th and I have conversed with them often. One of them has also contacted the 1st Sergeant and his buddy that were taken off the craft. He has also contacted the family of Sgt Terry Kugler that was also killed on the Chinook. I think that it would be great that you document what happened. Incidents like this need to be documented for historical reasons.
Regards,
Mike


Sorry for the delay in writing. I did not know that Dee Maynard was on the craft until about three years ago when I started checking things out. Someone from a helicopter website had e-mailed me the list of persons aboard. I was shocked to find that he was in that mess. I do not have any photos of him, as James Walker had the camera the day we took photos. I have not heard from him since NCOC. Dee would have a photo in the graduate book for NCOC class 504-71. I didn’t get one. Thanks again for all the help and support of our fallen brothers.
Jim


Both “Top” Clark & I have been trying to reach Mike for a long time. We used to call/mail each other every Xmas. I had not heard from him so began to call. The last # I have is: xxx-xxx-xxxx which says “disconnected”. His last address: 4842 West Ave L2 Quartz Hill 93536 does not come up as his for a telephone # per the operator. His work is his own business: The upholstery Factory 44753 Sierra Hwy Lancaster CA 93534. He moved to Quartz Hill in 1996.

I will keep trying…I’m worried…He just dropped out of sight. On another note: 1st SGT James Clark, who was ABU “Top” 1971-1972, is in Durham NC Tele # xxx-xxx-xxxx. I have been down to see him twice. I have quite a bio on him for the 101st net. I have also talked to Jim Storrie 1970-71. And, finally found Brian Graham. Brian & I were on the Chinook that crashed into HV Pass 11-28-1971. “Top” pulled us both off just as the ramp was raising. We pulled bunker guard instead of making the trip. I have also found the relatives of SGT Terry Kugler. Terry died on that ship. I knew him well. I spoke to his nephew, who was 7 years old when he died. I am making a Company trip to GA at the end of this month & am going to try to arrange to stop in Birmingham AL to see him & his family. If you reach Mike B. have his ass call me…OUT
John “Dutch” F. Lescher


UPDATE – I spoke to Injun on several occasions. It was great. I have some great photos of him in the bush & am sending them to him. I spoke to Top Clark the other day. He informed me that Cpt. Niskannen’s mother died. I spoke to his father about Martin. That was rough. He is very old & loves to hear from people who knew Martin & served in Vietnam. I sent him a card with some photos of Martin. Mike, my collection of photos is unique. The only one better would be from Terry “Doc” Walker, if we can find him. I would like to get them all out to the viewing public-How do I do that? Just got some mail from a guy that lives in Mansfield OH that knew Cpt Niskanen & Major McDonald. He was TOC RTO. He was looking for info on the crash of Nov ’71. I have been collecting military uniforms & have a mini museum at our VFW. It has really gained the interest of folks coming in. All for now – DOUBLEDUTCH-OUT.
John “Dutch” F. Lescher


I remember Nov. 28, 1971 and think about it often. Myself and some others were supposed to be on that Chinook with those guys. We missed the T.O (take off) so they trucked us to Phu Bai in Duce 1/2’s (took some sniper fire on the way). I always thought they went down in the South China Sea. I just found out the exact story last mo. Just thought I’d send this.
L. Berben


I had the honor and privilege of taking CWO Carter and CWO Savick on their last helicopter flight on Dec 6th, 1971. I flew their remains from the crash site North of the Hai Van Pass to the Mortuary Pad at Da Nang. 34 American soldiers perished in the crash of the CH-47 Chinook they were piloting.
Mike Pate – Kingsman 15 B/101

Chinook Crash – 1971

Like Mike Carretero, I served with D 2/502. Our squad wasn’t told what was happening and were put under restriction with no calls and couldn’t leave our platoon area. Then, We were loaded on a chinook and taken to the base of the mountain about 2 clicks from the crash site. We were told to expect a hot LZ which thankfully didn’t occur. At this point we began our trek up the mountain. About 1/4 of the way up our squad was sent back down to meet up with Grave Registration on the highway. We gathered the body bags and other things that they brought and went across the rice patty and back up the mountain. They wanted us to double time as much as possible to get them to the site ASAP. We were held up when we heard a booby trap go off on a LZ. Our medic beat feet to the area. Later after the LZ was cleared we set up a perimeter to stay there for the night. Grave Registration didn’t bring any food so we shared what we had with them. We slept in the body bags which had a curious smell but they were warm and dry. The next morning we went to the crash site and our squad helped with the perimeter. I was walking point and finding AC parts and human remains. At this point I really didn’t think about much of anything but doing my job.

They brought in a sky crane to lift what was left of the AC and then we finished up and went back to the LZ. To get back to Eagle they brought in a Chinook to transport us. Prior to landing we had to wait in line for the LZ and I remember thinking, Are we having trouble with the chopper?

In retrospect it saddens me to think of all of those lives, gone in an instant.

I am going on an honor flight in a couple of weeks and will look up the crew and men lost that day as well as the friends I lost in country.

PFC Richard T. Henage

101st
D 2/502                1971-72
1/502                   1972

Just found the “Chinook Crash” story and needed to make a few comments.

My name is Joseph Poole and I was a Spec 5 with C Company 159th Av Battalion 101st Airborne Div. from Oct 8, 1970 to Oct 8, 1971.  I was the flight engineer on a CH47 helicopter tail number 548.  A roommate of mine, Hollis Burch, had decided to extend our tour of duty for 6 months as we both had 18 months left in the Army once we left Vietnam.  We went and talked to the officer in charge of this in our company and was ready to sign the papers when he asked where we wanted to go on our 30 day leave.  I said I wanted to stay here and take my 30 days after I finished my 6 month extension.  He said due to Army regulations that I would have to leave the country for 30 days and they would send me anywhere I wanted to go.  I said I would not leave and come back so I declined to extend.  Hollis signed and went home to Florida for 30 days.  He returned just before I DEROSed and said he wish he hadn’t went home because it was so hard coming back.

I left country on Oct 8th and took had 30 days leave before reporting to Fort Hood Texas.  While there I heard of the crash but could not find out which company the helicopter was from (no internet back then).  After I completed my time in the Army I got married and moved back to South Carolina.  In 1975 I saw a guy at the plant I was working at wearing a 101st Airborne army shirt and asked him when he was in the 101st.  He said he wasn’t that it was his brothers shirt and that he flew on those big helicopters in Vietnam.  He didn’t know much about it but said his brother would be starting work next week and I could ask him.  When he came to work I found out that he was in B company 159th AV at Phu Bai from Dec 1970 to Dec 1971.  I asked him if he knew what company the helicopter that crashed was from and he said it was from C company.  Each company had about 16 helicopters so I didn’t think he would know the tail number but I asked him anyway.  He said yes he remembered it because it was his sister ship.  His ship was 549 and it was 548 that crashed.  From what he heard it was said that it crashed into the side of the mountain due to bad weather.  I cannot remember any pilots that I flew with that ever tried to fly over Monkey Mountain.  They would always fly out over the South China sea and up the coast from Da Nang back to Phu Bai.  I thought they might have been new pilots since a forth of the company rotated every three months.  I’m sure I had flown with Warrant Officers Cater and Savick although all WO’s were called Mister (last name).  I do know Michael Crawford as he was in the other flight platoon.  We played guitars together a time or two and I kidding him about being from Oklahoma (Okie from Muskogee).  We also played on the I Corp champion softball team.  He was the shortstop and I was the second baseman.   He would have been the flight engineer on that helicopter not the crew chief (flight engineer is in charge of the helicopter and works the hole (hook that carries the loads) while the crew chief is his assistance and mans one of the door guns).  Sp4 Trujillo (I don’t know him) but being a Spec 4 would have been the crew chief and PFC Oaks would have been the door gunner.  Not sure where the call sign Playtex 866 comes from as none of our choppers had that high of tail numbers that I remember.  Could have had something to do with the pilot or mission is my guess.

Had I extended my tour of duty, if that indeed was CH47 tail number 548 I would have been on that flight that day.  The officer who wouldn’t let me stay in country saved my life.  I am trying to enclose a picture of me and 548.  The warrant officer standing in the door is nineteen year old Mr. Maas, pilot.  After spending a year in Vietnam and flying in support of the ARVN during Lam Son719 incursion into Laos he returned to Fort Hood, Tx. My wife and I saw him once in a store there and I kept calling him Mr. Maas.  My wife wanted to know why I called him that since he was just a year older than me.  I explained he was a warrant officer and that was his title.  I heard on the news a few months after I left Ft. Hood that a Huey helicopter crashed during training exercise and all those aboard were killed.  When they finally released the names he was the pilot on that helicopter.  What a shame.