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 CH-46A tail number 152500
Operation Hastings (15 July – 3 August 1966) began with a series of combat assaults by 2nd & 3rd Bns, 4th Marines. LZ CROW, about 10 km N-NW of Cam Lo, was barely large enough for 4 CH-46s. The first landings went OK, then one landed long in the trees, one was shot down, and two had a rotor disc collision in the LZ. A reaction force from 1st Plt, E Co, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines was sent in on CH-46A 152500 to protect the downed aircraft while the 3rd Bn, 4th Marines went about their affairs. The element aboard 152500 included infantrymen, Corpsmen, and engineers from A1st Eng Bn whose job it was to see about clearing the LZ. The HMM-265 history states that at 1815 on 15 July 1966, EP-171 was hit by heavy enemy 12.7 automatic weapons fire and subsequently crashed. Both pilots and the gunner survived, with minor burns sustained by the pilots and second and third degree burns by the gunner. Both pilots performed in an outstanding manner while maneuvering the burning aircraft toward a landing site. The crew chief SGT Robert R. Telfer died despite the efforts of the gunner, SGT Lucius, to save him. The official USMC Vietnam History for 1966 contains a photo of this aircraft taken from LZ Crow by photographer Horst Faas (1933 – 2012), a German photo-journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner best known for his compelling images of the Vietnam War. The photo clearly shows flames coming from the aft and smoke from the cockpit area while the CH-46 is still at least a 100 feet in the air. On page 165 this history quotes COL Vale, the Infantry battalion CO on the ground at the time: The last helicopter (152500), carrying reinforcements from the 2d Bn, 1st Marines, came under ground fire from the ridge on the south side of the valley. The pilot tried to land in the LZ, but as he slowed down and hovered, the smoke got into the flight compartment and he had to move forward to keep the smoke out. As a result, he overshot the LZ and after moving over the CP tried to set down again. By this time the helo was rolling and barely remaining airborne. The pilot had to move forward again and then crashed on the edge of the area in which the CP and 81 mortars were set up. Thirteen men died and 3 others were injured in this event. PFC Michael A. Gooden was aboard the aircraft and died of burns received in the crash. He is miscoded in the CACCF as a ground casualty. CPL William J. Lilly and HN John N. Morris are the two men killed on the ground. They too are miscoded in the CACCF, but the other way around--as passengers. The names of the other passengers on 152500 include CPL Orson H. Case, HM3 Andrew P. Chamaj, CPL Paul R. Chambers, PFC James W. Cherrick, 2LT Ronald K. Cullers, PFC Michael A. Cunnion, HM3 Mark V. Dennis, CPL James M. Reid, PFC Carl W. Schloemer, SSGT Herolin T. Simmons, and PFC Gerald E. Stubstad. In addition to the 15 men killed in the crash (1 aircrew, 12 passengers, 2 on the ground), three other Marines died in the ground fighting (Parts of this report provided by Ken Davis) [Taken from vhpa.org; image from kichbu.multiply.com]
William is buried at St John Cemetery, Norwalk,CT. PH
Thank you Corporal Lilly
Your Spirit is alive--and strong, therefore Marine, you shall never be forgotten, nor has your death been in vain!
Again, thank you Corporal W.J. Lilly, for a job well done!
REST IN ETERNAL PEACE MY MARINE FRIEND