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STEVEN LOUIS MARTIN


is honored on Panel 23W, Line 29 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • Final Mission of WO1 Steven L. Martin

    Posted on 5/9/15 - by wkillian@smjuhsd.org
    On May 31, 1969, a U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C (tail number 66-00720) from the 135th Assault Helicopter Company was operating in the Dinh Tuong Province (IV Corps) when it was shot down while supporting ARVN troops in contact. Three of the crewmen, aircraft commander CAPT Dennis M. Phillips, crew chief SP4 Byron B. Bowden, and the gunner, an Australian named LAC Noel E. Shipp, were killed on impact. The pilot, WO1 Steven L. Martin, survived the crash with serious burns, was evacuated, and later succumbed to his injuries. The following is an account of this incident: “The AO was located near the city of Cai Lai about 20 km NW of Dong Tam, the 9th Division's base camp, across the river from Ben Tre Island. There had been two eagle flight lifts of ARVN grunts and the fire teams were to provide close air support. The two gunships on station in the AO at the time came under heavy fire. One of the co-pilots was wounded. The damaged aircraft all headed for Dong Tam to include the two gunships. (CAPT Dennis M. “Mike”) Phillips and I immediately cranked-up and beat feet to the AO. It was mass confusion by the time we arrived on station. The ARVN had mingled with VC and now they both were shooting at whatever aircraft they could. (Yes, you are reading this correct.) As the slicks dropped off the ARVN in the LZ, they would turn and fire at the aircraft. (Must have been something about being left in a hot LZ that pissed them off, it was easy to blame the chopper crews.) There were no Americans on the ground, yet our C&C aircraft advised us that we were to hold our fire and only to provide cover for the slicks on their way out. But by the time we got to the area, we figured out our own rules of engagement. Our slicks were being shot up by the ARVN and we were taking fire from VC, who were all over the place. Of course, one of the C&C's back-seaters was the local ARVN colonel. Mike spotted Charlie first and immediately rolled in. The ground fire was tremendous, so we decided to come in from a different angle on the next run. As we circled to get in position, a large group of VC started running across a semi-open area. Mike broke hard right and dove the ship toward them. By the time Mike was set up on his run, most of the VC were in the tree-line firing up at us. However, there was this one who appeared determined to take on a Charlie Model gunship all by himself. He stopped, turned and began firing directly at Mike. I cannot say if Phillips was hit or not, but the aircraft flew straight into the ground taking out the one lone standing VC. I can say that the aircraft was repeatedly hit by the people in the tree line and very possibly by the lone VC. I did not hear any radio call. The aircraft and door gunners were firing all the way down. No one can ever say for sure, but it would be hard to believe that a gifted and seasoned helicopter pilot such as CPT Phillips would fly into the paddy unless mortally wounded. The aircraft hit extremely hard on the chin bubble and just seemed to crush flat to the ground at that point. No bounce, just sort of crushed like clay. The fire was a terrific ball that immediately engulfed the entire aircraft. As I orbited the crashed chopper, we watched in disbelief as a figure stood up and walked out through the boiling flames. I rolled around and then giving myself enough space for a 'flying approach,' we were able to land close to Mike's chopper. By the time we landed, just moments later, the aircraft and whatever was in it, was a burning black heap in a pile. Like I said, the burning figure, (WO1 Steven L.) Martin, just walked out of it. He didn't bump into anything or even climb over nothing--there was nothing left. I know that the gunner and crew chief were burned in the crash with Mike. The ammo on Mike's aircraft was cooking off and exploding now, not to mention that there were still a lot of bad guys shooting at us from various positions in the tree-line. I was seated in the cockpit on the right as AC and I had landed my ship next to the crash on my side. I sent my door gunner out on the left to lay down a covering fire. He had the M-60 going to town with a 100 round belt draped over his shoulder. While the gunner suppressed, the crew chief ran out to the burned pilot, it was Martin, the Peter Pilot. His Nomex was completely burned away. Nothing was left of his uniform or his boots except a small band around his waist where there had once been a belt and part of his flight helmet. There were no ears, eyes, hair, or facial features left. When the crew chief removed Martin's helmet, he was to find that the foam liner had melted to his head. Martin appeared to feel no pain. I would pull the collective up under my armpit and pop the cyclic aft then forward in order to get the skids off the ground for a few moments. My Pete and I continued to fire mini-guns every chance we found targets to keep Charlie's head down. I'd kick pedals and swing to the new target. I even fired off a few rockets from this modified hover. This modified hover consisted of pulling the aircraft off the ground and firing our weapons until the main rotor RPM would bleed off. I remember the deafening noise in my helmet even with the radio headsets over my ears. I had all the radios going, the noise of the ammo blowing up, the firing of our weapons and that damned low RPM warning buzzer continually going off. I had my hands full trying to get the aircraft up at a hover that I was unable to take the time to reach up and pull the circuit breaker. You must remember, I was only able to get the aircraft to hover for a minute or two, because the gunner and crew chief were not on board. Once they were back on board and with the extra weight of Martin, hovering was out of the question. I tried bouncing along trying to pick up airspeed, but it was no use. I could see that we would not clear the tree-line and so I set it back down. We had a little bit of an open area behind us, but we could see bad guys all over the place. We did consider throwing stuff out in order to get light but then I heard CAPT Nesby come on the air. CAPT Richard Nesby heard one of our calls and came to the rescue. He had been flying a spare slick down to the AO when all hell broke loose. CAPT Nesby landed and we transferred Martin to his ship, an empty UH-1H model. We then followed him out, putting fire all underneath him until we both cleared the tree line. CAPT Nesby made a bee-line for the Dust-Off pad at the 9th Division MASH unit at Dong Tam and I returned to the rearm and refuel point. In a crash and burn fire such as this one, the burns on the skin of a human body are bad enough, but it's the damage on the inside that will do you in, with the heat from the fire searing the inner tissues of the lungs as the victim tries to breathe. The lung tissues react by generating mucus, which slowly fills the lungs, causing a condition much the same as pneumonia. The medico's at the MASH tried their best, but it was not enough, and Martin died. [Taken from vhpa.org]
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  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 2/22/14 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear WO Steven Louis Martin, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

    With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

    Curt Carter
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  • We Remember

    Posted on 6/14/11 - by Robert Sage rsage@austin.rr.com
    Steven is buried at Resthaven Gardens of Memory, Wichita,KS. DFC-OLC AM-15OLC PH
  • God Bless you all

    Posted on 9/26/05 - by Gloria Shipp gloriashipp@optusnet.com.au
    I remember all the crew who died that day along with my husband Noel Shipp (RAN)Every day I remember them
  • Friend!

    Posted on 8/15/99 - by John Kreps jkreps@bigfoot.com
    I went to flight school with Steve and he and I became the best of friends. We did a lot together and I miss him so much. He always made us laugh even when things were not going right. It has been over 30 years and to this day I can still hear his laugh and sort of rough voice. There have been very few days that I have not thought of him. I attended his funeral and one of the amazing things of that day was, when the long, very long motor cade was moving down the highway, cars on BOTH sides of the road stopped and people actually got out and held there hands (or hats) over their heart. Steve was buried facing the airport as he was always leaving home by plane. I will never forget his kindness and friendship, nor his love for his mother. Those few precious years that I knew him are safley tucked in a special place in my heart.
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.

All of these photos will be showcased in The Education Center at The Wall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the effort to collect these photos and ensure their faces will never be forgotten, visit www.buildthecenter.org.