Final Mission of CAPT Richard W. WatsonPosted on 5/13/15 - by firstname.lastname@example.orgOn June 3, 1969, a U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A (tail number 67-16049) from F Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division was shot down near Quang Ngai City. Crew members pilot CAPT Richard W. Watson and gunner PFC Paul W. Miller were fatally injured. The following is an account of events on the ground after the crash: [CAPT Richard W.] Watson was the LOH [OH-6A] pilot and [PFC Paul W.] Miller the crew chief. I lost [SP4 Harry J.] Italiano (my machine gunner) and [CPL Mitchell H.] Sandman (the assistant gunner). I don’t think they got but a couple steps off the bird before they were cut down. I was the first off the bird, the gunship following us in (I think it was piloted by Wiggins), it fired its 40mm around the area as I jumped off and ran to the LOH crew. It was surreal, cannon exploding all around me, but that kept the NVA heads down and that’s what saved me. I checked out Watson and Miller, they were close together, burnt and obviously dead. I then saw a third man, a big fellow, and went over to him. It looked like he was wounded in the neck and maybe the stomach. He was laying on his belly face down, arms outstretched. I thought he was dead but then he moved his hand, clinching his fist, I think making a sign that he was alive but too afraid to move or get shot. The NVA had been taking target practice with him. Then I received fire from the bushes and emptied my magazine into the bushes. While I was changing magazines I was hit in the left side (I presume by an AK-47) that bowled me over. It was like a sledgehammer hit me (at the hospital the opening was 8 inches long but fortunately did not penetrate the stomach). I knew I was too exposed and could not drag the wounded man back to the ditch where the rest of the team had gathered (the C&C pilot had to leave us, he was shot in the foot and was afraid his bird would be shot down on top of my men in the ditch, so he told his peter pilot to get out of there. I met the pilot in the hospital in Japan). I ran back to the ditch zig-zagging and firing behind me and yelling at my men to cover me, hoping that would take the fire off the guy laying there. If I had tried to drag him to the ditch, I would have been too slow and we both would have been killed (although my Silver Star citation says I dragged him to the ditch, I did not). Just before I got to the ditch I remember thinking, "Ha-ha, you bastards, I made it!" Just then at the edge of the ditch I was hit in the lower right leg by another AK-round, the bullet coming through the left and out the right, smashing the tibia and fibula. I tumbled into the ditch. SGT (Michael G.) Scherf crawled to my position and I told him to take a boot lace off one boot and wrap the legs together as my wounded leg was throbbing with bones sticking out and it hurt like hell. He did that which helped stabilize the bad leg. He looked at me and assured me he would get us out of that mess, but his head was apparently too high up, just above the lip of the ditch and he caught a round in the head, put his hand to his head like he had a headache, and slowly lowered his head on my feet and died. That left me, my other squad leader, Randy Backovich and my RTO. They were at the other end of the ditch about 8 feet away. At that time aircraft were dropping 500 lb. bombs all over the place. Apparently Division had radio intercepts of a radio frequency coming from our area that only a regiment or higher would have that kind of radio. We were never told of that intel before our mission on the Tra Bong Road, which was only about 500 meters away. By now the NVA were evading, some tracks (APC’s) finally came in from the road and picked us up. I was dusted-off by the road along with the five dead. I don’t remember seeing the other wounded man on the dust-off, but he must have been there. I just kept staring at my men, thinking I could have done something different. After surgery one of the orderlies pointed to a guy across from me and said he was brought in with me. He was tall and muscular and had swabbing wrapped around his neck and, I think, his stomach. He looked like a tall Scandinavian, very handsome. He was already trying to sit up although in much pain. I admired the guy, he had real guts. Sure would like to locate him some day. I’m sure he was from the Aero Platoon with Blue Ghost. It all seems like yesterday. When I was over checking the downed crew, Backovich, my other squad leader had his eye on that M-60 that was lying out in the open by Italiano and Sandman and jumped out of the ditch to get it. When he reached it a NVA was coming out of the bush with the same idea in mind. Backovich ripped him with his M-16 and grabbed the M-60 and brought it back to the ditch. The RTO was a guy by the name of Zimmerman, who was a dissertation shy of getting his PhD in Chemistry when he was drafted. I remember asking him earlier "which professor did you piss off?" I finally located him last year; he is living in Texas and he’s doing what he always wanted to do: consulting. (Submitted by D.W. Taylor) [Taken from vhpa.org]MORE
Remembering An American HeroPosted on 11/29/13 - by Curt Carter email@example.comDear Captain Richard Wayne Watson, sirMORE
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
If I should die...remembrances for CAPT. Richard Wayne WATSON, USA...who made the ultimate sacrificePosted on 2/4/12 - byIf I should die, and leave you here awhile, be not like others, sore undone, who keep long vigils by the silent dust, and weep...for MY sake, turn again to life, and smile...Nerving thy heart, and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine...Complete these dear, unfinished tasks of mine...and I, perchance, may therein comfort you.MORE
Salute to a Fellow Tar Heel VeteranPosted on 8/14/11 - by Jim and Tom Reece firstname.lastname@example.org MORE
We RememberPosted on 1/15/05 - by Robert Sage email@example.comRichard is buried at Arlington Nat Cem.
Capt. Wilson you served with my fatherPosted on 1/12/04 - by Paul C Miller firstname.lastname@example.orgI would like to say, thank you Capt.Wilson for your heroic efforts while flying the chopper that my father was in durring the time you all went down. Although I never knew you or my father Pcf. Paul W Miller, he was your door gunner that fateful day in June 3 1969. I want to honor you and say that I am so greatful of what you guys did out there for our great country. It is men like you that means so much when we think of FREEMDOM! I just found out about you and my dad, recently, I always wondered if there was anyone remaining from your divission, The Blue Ghost, that are still alive today. may you rest in peace forever and God bless. I will never forget you and my father and all the other men and women that served and gave up their lives for our country.MORE
In Honored Remembrance of Captain WatsonPosted on 12/23/02 - by Michael Robert PattersonRichard Wayne Watson, Captain, United States ArmyMORE
Richard died when his helicopter crashed into the land. His body was recovered. Richard was born on September 10th, 1944 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Captain Richard Wayne Watson, Troop F 8th Cavalry, 23rd Infantry, OH-6A Helicopter Pilot, 67-16049.
Shot down near Quang Ngai City, Province of Quang Ngia. Reported shot by Viet Cong on the ground after the crash.
Captain Watson is buried with his father, Paul C. Watson, Brigadier General, United States Air Force, and his mother, Jane Watson, in Section 46, Grave 1360, Arlington National Cemetery.
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