I'm proud of our Vietnam Veterans
Thank you for your service as a Flight Qualified Infantryman with the 1st Cavalry. We remember all you who gave their all. It has been too long, and it's about time 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, Sir
Last Mission of U.S. Army helicopter CH-47A tail number 66-19080
There are two accounts for this incident. Account #1: U.S. Army helicopter CH-47A tail number 66-19080 was hit while hovering over UH-1 (probably 66-15052) for sling recovery. Crashed and burned. Pat Murphy wrote: the last time I saw Mac (McGee) was the morning of April 25, 1968. He stopped in at my tent to say hello, and to tell me how glad he was that I was OK after the crash of my chopper, Crimson Tide 109. He then went on a rescue mission as FE of Crimson Tide 080. They were shot down with four dead and two wounded. Lost that day with Mac was Linden D. Eiler (gunner), Jerry D. McManus, and Joseph Burkes. McManus and Burkes had just gone along as extra crew for the rescue. The CE, named Dazzell (or something like that), and the pilot, MAJ Matthews, our CO, were wounded. Rarely has a day gone by in my life that I have not thought of McGee and the others. That was 30 years ago, and I still miss them. I'll never forget them. May they rest in peace. A Huey Cobra had been shot down, and they needed a Hook to run a rescue mission. Ron Turner was sick, so they needed someone to take his place as FE on 080, too. Dowda and I were still on bed rest. Others were busy with their own aircraft. Mac would go. He had been crewing for some time and had the experience. He had just been taken off flight status, and assigned to maintenance, because he was one of the best mechanics in the outfit, and they wanted him working on all the ships. He climbed aboard 080 along with the CE, who was named Dazell, I think. Four maintenance guys went along as extra crew to help with the rescue equipment. The C. O. would ride in the left seat, and Major Vickers, the XO, was in the right seat, I believe. The gunner was Linden D. Eiler, Jr. As they approached, a .51 cal. machinegun had been hidden in the trees, and Charlie was waiting. Before any gun escorts could react, 080 was down. The C.O. was wounded by the .51 when a bullet glanced off his chicken plate and went through his arm. Dazell was struck in the buttocks, and the bullet passed through his scrotum. They were the lucky ones. Mac and Eiler never had a chance. Eiler was immediately riddled at his gunner's position, and Mac, well; he never had a chance to exit the plane either, from what I heard. Two maintenance men were also killed while trying to get out of the ship. Four dead and two wounded. They told me that 080 had several hundred bullet holes in her fuselage from nose to tail. Couple of additional details: 080 was pre-rigged for A Shau Valley rescue missions by removing the hook and rigging the rescue winch with a jungle penetrator down through the hook hole. It also had a ramp mount for an M-60. There were medics and extra gunners on stand-by to go with her if a mission was called. 080's regular Crew Chief was Bob Schweitzer and he was on KP so Dan Dazell filled in as the CE. Ron Turner was the regular Flight Engineer but was on sick call and Bolen McGee filled in as FE. MAJ Matthews and Dazell were both WIA. They were both evacuated to USS Sanctuary hospital ship together. Dazell remembers talking to him before they had surgery. One other thing Dazell confirmed for me: they were shot down on their 2nd trip to the Huey Cobra's crash site. First trip confirmed the Huey Cobra was destroyed and pilot's bodies were burned. The second trip was to recover the bodies. The other pilot was the XOMaint Off (we think MAJ Anthony Vickers). Bolen McGee (C228th FE) was KIA. Also two gunners: Eiler and McManus (C228th) were KIA. Two other guys that we are not sure were gunnersriggers (MOS 57H20) Burkes and Campbell (unit unknown) were also KIA. Total of 5 KIA and 2 WIA. 080 was also KIA... She had to be slung out and ended up at Red Beach (Reported by Jim Ketcham); Account #2 All the information about the crash of 080 on April 25, 1968 is not accurate nor complete. Joseph Burkes and Ronald Campbell, I didn't know. I really don't think they were on 080 that day, but they could have gotten on after I got off. There is a lot written about them so it is quite possible they were there. When the grunts brought the bodies back 2 or 3 weeks later, they never mentioned other bodies. Spec 5 Ron Turner was FE and got sick and left 080 just before it took off the last time before it got shot down (it had been to the crash site prior to this and had just sat down before it left again). SP5 Bolin Pondexter 'Dexter' McGee took his place. McGee had gone out the first time on 080 as a helper. He and the battalion medic had gone down the jungle penetrator and confirmed the deaths of the crew on the downed chopper. On the last flight out, McGee was killed. He was a short-timer and should not have been out there. He had been an FE and had already quit flying because he was so short. He only volunteered because we were so shorthanded, and he loved flying. He was killed. PFC Bob Schwitzer was crew chief and was on KP, so I took his place as crew chief on 080 for the first flight out. I got sick after the first trip, also, and left 080 when the FE, Ron Turner, left. That is when Spec 4 Dan Dazell took my place as crew chief. Dan got shot in the upper leg area and was evacuated along with Maj. Vickers to the hospital ship (I don't recall her name). They were out of anesthesia and gave them the choice of waiting until the next day or operating that day without any pain killer. They both got operated on without pain killer. (Dan was taller than me. If I had been there, I would have been hit in the lower abdomen just under my bullet bouncer and would have had my guts torn out. I am always thankful, yet very sorry, Dan took my bullet). Spec 4 McManus was gunner both times 080 went out. He was so short that he should have been in Ahn Kha signing out of the Cav, but we were shorthanded, and he volunteered for one last mission. He was killed. There were 4 mechanic volunteers who went out on the rescue mission. They were Smith whom we called Smitty (thus I can't remember his first name), Leslie Edwards, Dale Eiler, and Kenneth Delp. They were all awarded the Bronze Star for their service that day. I went to AIT with Edwards, Eiler, and Delp, and we were all friends. I knew Smith from AIT but he was in a different class so we were not close friends until he started crewing in Vietnam. Their memories are etched into my mind, and I am not mistaken about any of this. Smith and Edwards got banged up a little in the crash but made it back alive. Eiler and Delp both got killed. Eiler (most called him Eiler or Dale) was a PFC and was awarded corporal stripes after he was killed. Delp is not listed on the wall in the correct year. It seems he is listed as dying in 1965, but his date of entry into Vietnam is correct, January to March of 1968. So, it is obvious that someone made a mistake. (I have written to people about this, and it seems that there is still an uncorrected mistake concerning Delp). The AC was Maj. Jerry Matthews our CO (retired Col. Matthews), and the pilot was Maj. Tony Vickers, our XO, and maintenance officer (retired LTC Vickers). Maj. Matthews was hit in the high, upper arm. The bullet sliced his arm like a knife. After they patched him up on the hospital ship, he came back to the company for a few days before he went home. He has since died. Maj. Vickers was left at the crash site 'till nearly dark with only a 6 shot .38 with him. General Tolson came by and picked him up in his Huey on his way back from the Valley and got him out before dark. 080 did not get shot down in the A Shau Valley. It was in the foot hills to the east. It was in a very dry, brushy raven. There was neither jungle nor any of the glamorous stuff like triple canopy I have read about. It was just an ol', dry, dirty place that 080 should never have gone back to. The downed crew was burned completely up the first time we went out, and most of their chopper was gone, also. There were no bodies to bring back and no chopper to sling load out, thus I don't see why Campbell and Burkes would have been on 080 since they were sling load specialist and not assigned to Charlie Company (I don't think they were in the 1st Cav but only assigned to it), but they could have been on 080 and we were just not told about them. Even when Smitty and Edwards came back, they never mentioned them either. The Cav left the bodies from 080 out there for 2 or 3 weeks. Then, the grunts went out and secured the area, and we sent in a Hook to sling loaded 080 out, There were 3 ponchos with 4 bodies in them, McGee, Eiler, Delp, and MacMannus. There was no mention of any other bodies, but like I say, they could have been on the hook and taken to their company and not left at ours. I would send a picture of 080, but I lost everything in the Katrina flood last year, but you can go to the 228th web site and might find a pic or find someone who has one. (Reported by Mel Chappell, SP5, CE 047 &485 & FE 480, C Co, 228th, 1 Cav, 1968-69) [Taken from vhpa.org]