CHARLES WORTH MILLARD
CHARLES W MILLARD
An American Hero
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. Army helicopter CH-54A tail number 64-14205
There are three accounts of this incident: First Account - On April 19, 1968, SP6 Philip R. Shafer was crew chief on a CH-54 helicopter carrying a bulldozer to Landing Zone Tiger located in the A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. Other crew members included aircraft commander MAJ Arthur J. Lord, pilot CW4 Charles W. Millard and flight engineer MSGT Michael Werdehoff. Approximately 1.5 kilometers from the landing zone eyewitnesses reported an explosion in the cockpit of the helicopter, which caught fire and crashed at the base of a cliff, exploding. There were no signs of survivors. The crew was initially reported missing in action and after the war was declared Dead-Body Not Recovered. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on their fate. Second Account - On April 19, 1968 three Army helicopters were shot down in the A Shau Valley of South Vietnam. All three were making supply runs to Landing Zone Tiger in Quang Tri Province. Five men survived the three crashes, and nine men remain missing. The CH-54A 'Flying Crane' on which MAJ Arthur J. Lord was aircraft commander, CW4 Charles W. Millard pilot, MSGT Michael Werdehoff flight engineer, and SP6 Philip R. Shafer crew chief was carrying a bulldozer into the recently re-secured LZ Tiger when the aircraft was hit and crashed. All the crews were classified Missing In Action. Thorough searches for the 3 helicopters were not immediately possible because of the enemy situation. Third Account - I don't recall how many Cranes left Da Nang that morning. All cranes were overnighted there and we would have to take them to Red Beach at daylight for missions. Some of us lived on the airbase and some at Red Beach. Sometimes we would just solo the ship to Red Beach and turn it over to another crew. I was in 418 and picked up the CO, MAJ Richard Cardwell. As I recall, he hadn't been on too many missions and wanted to see what Camp Evans was like. Little did he know. We were just sitting around drinking coffee and the Cav began to leave for the valley. We began to hear reports of fierce fighting and many downed aircraft. Arty personnel were put on LZ's but needed engineer equipment to prepare their firebase. We continued to sit around until close to noon and the word came down that a backhoe and a bulldozer was needed. Two cranes would go without gun ship support, there being none available. So off we went. I was flying 418 at the time. 205 loaded the bulldozer, not sure of the size or weight, but the Cav had some great little dozers that weighed about 13,000. I’m not sure about this one. The sky was very overcast. We climbed over the overcast and were vectored west, then south. Radar at Evans said they 'believed' they knew where to let us down, and when we cleared, just go left down the valley. The LZ was at the end of this range on a slender ridge or finger. 205 was leading. As soon as we dropped down the gunfire started and the cockpit chatter was noisy. The gunfire never stopped. Some of the tracers were really big, like a yellow bowling ball. I don't remember, either I or the Major saying anything until we saw 205 overshoot the LZ and make a right turn for another approach behind us. Lucky for us, we sighted the LZ further out than 205 did and their misfortune probably helped us make the approach. One of the crew members said that 205 was coming back but they were behind us a ways. Then he said, “Sir, she's blown up.” The CH-47 that had crashed was still burning, lying on the side of the hill right in our flight path. I made the LZ, and it seemed like an hour of hovering while the load was let down and released. MAJ Cardwell then grabbed the controls, sayyin I've got it, and he could have it. You know the crane held the record for vertical climb, but nothing could have kept up with us then. We climbed straight up until we got on top and then headed home. It was a silent trip back to Evans. Some crash information mentions 205 crashed at the LZ. 205 was a few hundred feet up in the middle of the valley. Later in the week when the weather cleared we couldn't even see evidence of a crash. My flight records for that day show 2.8 hrs but that included time flown from Danang and back. After that day, I took a couple days off, but was back in the valley on 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 of April and then into May. I do not remember the crew chief on 205. I know I flew with them but my memory is gone. I believe the flight engineer on my ship quit after that flight. There is one humorous side note: The Cav as you know was in terrible shape for aircraft. One day we had more cranes available than the 228 BN had Chinooks. The big boys asked the Marine Corps for help and a major led a flight of three CH53's to Evans. Boy, did they look sharp. Clean pressed flight suits, all shaven, smelled good, the works. At the briefing, they were told where they would be flying and what they would be hauling. All was well until the Major asked where he could pick up his gun ships and what their frequencies were. Ah, the bad news: no guns available. The Marine Major said they didn't fly without guns and he left the briefing, gathered his crews and flew off. Someone said something that night because the next day he was back with his three 53's and they worked just like the rest of us and did a good job as I remember. They just needed an attitude adjustment. (From Ted Jenkins, 478th Avn Co ‘67-’68) [Taken from vhpa.org]