JOHNNY MACK JONES
JOHNNY M JONES
Remembering an American Hero
Dear 1LT Johnny Mack Jones, 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
Final Mission of U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 69-15715
On the evening of April 23, 1972, CAPT Kenneth J. Yonan accompanied his ARVN counterpart to a water tower located on the northwestern edge of the Tanh Canh base camp compound near Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam. CAPT Yonan was an advisor assigned to Advisory Team 22, MACV, and was assisting the ARVN 42nd Regiment based there. At about 0530 hours on April 24, CAPT Yonan was still in the water tower when Viet Cong attacked the camp perimeter. Although tanks fired at and hit the water tower, two other advisors spoke to CAPT Yonan after the firing and Yonan reported that he was not hit and planned to join the other advisors when it was safe to do so. Radio contact was maintained with Yonan until 0730 hours. The other U.S. advisors began escape and evasion operations from the beleaguered compound. Team 22 Advisors MAJ George W. Carter, MAJ Julius G. Warmath, and CAPT John P. Keller, were extracted by helicopter. The aircraft was a UH1H from the 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group (serial #69-15715) and was flown by Lt. James E. Hunsicker. WO Wade L. Ellen was the co-pilot of the chopper, and SP4 Charles M. Lea, and SP5 Ricky V. Vogle were crewmen. Other persons extracted included 1LT Johnny M. Jones, from the 52nd Aviation Battalion; SP4 Franklin Zollicoffer, from the U.S. Army Installation at Pleiku, and Sgt. Walter H. Ward, unit not specified. The helicopter departed to the northwest from Dak To, but was apparently hit by enemy fire, as it crashed and burned on a small island in the Dak Poko River about 500 meters from the end of the dock to the runway. Because of the rolling terrain, personnel at the airfield did not see the aircraft impact. A pilot flying over the wreckage reported that the helicopter was burning, but they could see no survivors. It was later discovered that five people did survive the crash: Warmath, Keller, Vogle, Ward and Lea. According to their statements, Hunsicker, Ellen, Zollicoffer, Jones and Carter were all dead. Two other Team 22 MACV Advisors, LTC Robert W. Brownlee and CAPT Charles W. Gordon, and their ARVN interpreter, SGT Cao Ky Chi, were in a bunker near the airstrip approximately 4 kilometers to the west of the base camp when they were forced to withdraw under heavy enemy attack. They proceeded south of the compound across the Dak Poko River, but LTC Brownlee became separated from the others as they were advancing up a hill. SGT Chi and Capt. Gordon called out to him, but received no response. From the top of the hill, Sgt. Chi heard the enemy call out to someone in Vietnamese to halt and raise their hands. SGT Chi believed the Viet Cong were speaking to LTC Brownlee. Gordon and Chi evaded capture and eventually made their way to safety. A Vietnamese who was captured and subsequently released reported that he had talked to another prisoner who had witnessed LTC Brownlee's death. He was told that LTC Brownlee had killed himself with his own pistol when communist soldiers told him to raise his hands in an attempt to capture him. Additional hearsay reports of his suicide were reported by another ARVN source. Yonan never caught up with the others. For three days, helicopter searches were made of the area with no success. Ground search, because of the hostile threat in the area, was not practical. In April 1988, the Vietnamese 'discovered' the remains of CAPT Kenneth J. Yonan and returned them to the U.S. in a spirit of stepped-up cooperation on the POWMIA issue. In addition to the reports regarding Brownlee's death, a South Vietnamese soldier reported that he observed the capture of one 'big' American from the camp. Another report described the capture of a U.S. Captain stationed at the camp. [Taken from vhpa.org]