Thank you for your service as a Hospitalman with the 1st Marine Air Wing. Semper Fi. Thank you for the lives you saved. It is so important for us all to acknowledge the sacrifices of those like you who answered our nation's call. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.
Remembering An American Hero
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
Final Mission of U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-34D tail number 150563
On February 24, 1967 Major Albert B. Ayres was the pilot of 563. The rest of his crew consisted of aircraft commander 1LT Charles G. Mason, crewmen CPL Roger A. Castle and SSGT Paul L. Vernon, and medic HN Edwin E. Cooper. Weather limited the flying in the Phu Bai area to MEDEVACS, one emergency troop extraction, and search and rescue missions. Normal operations conducted in the Dong Ha area were twelve (12) medevac missions. MAJ Ayres, the lead flight on an emergency MEDEVAC, experienced inadvertent IFR conditions. Major Ayres waved the approach off and was attempting to return to Phu Bai when contact was lost between him and his wingman. His aircraft was later found crashed on a ridge line at YD 559299 with all crew members aboard receiving fatal injuries. A reaction team and the squadron flight surgeon were lifted to the crash site to examine wreckage and return the crew to Phu Bai. One member of the reaction team was killed and one member was wounded by enemy fire upon entering the crash site. Personnel inserted later reported they found what appeared to be four bullet holes in the remaining parts of the fuselage. Bodies of the crew were returned to Phu Bai. Major Carroll, who was flying the SAR mission and the insertion of the reaction force at the crash site, received hostile fire after dropping personnel into the zone. He was in an orbit above the zone when he received hostile fire and experienced one hit to the main rotor blades. (Research by Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMCVietnam Helicopter Association) Two personal narratives RE the crew of 563: SSGT Vernon relieved me on this mission as I argued with SSgt Gouladi that I only needed 3 more missions for my air medal. He insisted that I work to repair some trucks for an inspection. Gouladi said that as soon as the work was done I could finnish the 3 missions. Someone was looking out for me! I've always felt sorry for Vernon as I heard he had a wife and kids. I flew with these guys for about a month and they were great Marines. (Submitted by Cpl David Dessecker, Regular Door Gunner); 1LT Charles “Bud” G. Mason was a fairly new pilot and the fact that he was new actually saved my ass about a week before this incident. MAJ Ayres was somewhat a hot dog and great pilot to fly with in any type of conditions. We were flying convoy escort and MAJ Ayers got bored and decided to fly above the Perfume River at 3 feet elevation and 60 mph just for fun. Ayres asked Mason if he wanted to take over the controls and he said yes! Mason took the bird up to 200 ft and leveled off at the exact time the engine died. Now we were over a rice paddy and in full auto rotation in a controlled crash into 2 ft of paddy water. Had we continued over the river at 3 feet, we would have gone end over end with no chance of survival. I don't believe that MAJ Ayres just crashed his aircraft as I was told just after the incident that they were hit by ground fire and went down. (Submitted by Dave Dessecker, Door Gunner) [Taken from vhpa.org and popasmoke.com]