Bergen County








POSTED ON 2.2.2015

Final Mission of 1LT Thomas M. Newman

At 1915 hours on the evening prior to the accident of March 20, 1969, the 335th Assault Helicopter Company closed home station, Bear Cat RVN, after being released from their mission. The 335th AHC had been notified that their aircraft would have to be dispersed on the night of March 20, 1969. Major Riley dispatched 8 UH-1H aircraft at 2130 hours from Bear Cat. The plan was to return to Bear Cat by 0545 hours, March 21, 1969, change crews as required, eat breakfast, and depart at 0700 hours, in time to meet mission report time. The eight ships departed Bear Cat in two flights, one of six ships, and one of two ships, at 2130 hours. By 2230 hours, March 20, 1969, all eight aircraft were shut down in "l" shaped revetments at Blackhorse. Between 0445 hours and 0505 hours on March 21, 1969, the crews were awakened by other crew members or by the sound of the lead aircraft cranking up. At approximately 0515 hours a ground communications check was initiated by Alpha flight lead, WO Knoblacuh. He then called Blackhorse tower for hover and line-up instructions for a flight of eight. Alpha lead received instructions, acknowledged them, and moved out to his position. Chalks 2 and 3 of Alpha flight moved out in order and took up the ip positions. Aircraft 380, belonging in Bravo flight from position assignments on March 20, 1969, hovered out in front of Bravo lead, and then remained as Chalk 4 in Alpha flight. Bravo lead then assumed the fifth position, and Alpha lead, which was on tower frequency, was unaware that he now had a flight of four. The rest of the line-up was accomplished without incident and at 0522 hours, Blackhorse tower cleared Alpha lead and a flight of eight (8) for takeoff to the east on Runway 11. Alpha lead initiated his takeoff and climb out still unaware that he had a fourth aircraft. At approximately 1000 feet indicated altitude (Blackhorse field elevation is 820 feet) he experienced a thin wisp of cloud or haze, and noticed low-hanging clouds to the northeast, or to his left. At this time he executed an abrupt 20 to 25 degree right bank and transmitted to the flight to "come up a loose, loose vee of three". Alpha chalks 2, 3, and 4 observed Alpha lead make his turn and began to turn and move out to their formation positions. Chalk 2 experienced haze or clouds and intermittent IFR (instrument flight rules) weather conditions. Chalk 3 could partially see the running light on alpha lead, but as he slipped left (east) to gain his position in the "vee", he also experienced intermittent IFR weather conditions, and did not break out completely until he reached 2000 feet indicated altitude. Aircraft 380, Alpha Chalk 4, moved to pick up his position centered behind lead to form a diamond. He did not begin a climb and attempted to descent below the level of the clouds until his pilot and crew members yelled "Trees!", and at a position not more than ten feet above the tree tops he initiated a normal climb. Simultaneously Bravo flight took off with no apparent separation between the flights. Bravo flight established a trail formation carrying out to the east for separation. Bravo lead entered a wisp of clouds or haze, and turned left, probably inadvertently, past a 90 degree heading so that his ground track and that of the tree ships behind him was in fact 050 degrees from the east end of Runway 11. He initiated and maintained a climb of 1000 feet per minute, 40 lbs. torque, and 60 knots indicated airspeed. Bravo Chalk 2, Chalk 3, and trail aircraft 385, continued on this ground track. Chalk 2 was climbing slowly at a rate estimated to be less than 300 feet per minute, and Chalk 3 was following him. Chalk 2 then transmitted, "Chalk 2, I’m in trouble, watch me…", he must have encountered, unexpectedly, the same IFR conditions the five previous ships had entered. Approximately one minute and twenty five seconds after liftoff, aircraft serial number 66-16928 turned right and crashed on a 210 degree heading. Alpha flight proceeded to Bearcat as a flight. Bravo lead began circling midway between Bearcat and Blackhorse, attempting to contact his aircraft. Bravo trail continued alone into Bearcat with UHF radio problems. At approximately 0535 hours or ten to fifteen minutes after takeoff, Bravo lead, aircraft 654, called Blackhorse tower and said he had found one aircraft, thinking he knew where 354 was, but was still missing one. The tower informed him of a report by a perimeter guard that a ship had crashed east of the compound. After searching through more intermittent IFR cloud conditions, Bravo lead located aircraft 928 at approximately 0630 hours, March 21, 1969. Lost crew members included aircraft commander 1LT Thomas M. Newman, pilot 1LT Thomas E. Jones Jr., crew chief SP4 Franklin D. Ashley II, and gunner PFC Robert E. Pierson. [Taken from]
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POSTED ON 2.1.2014
POSTED BY: Curt Carter

Remembering An American Hero

Dear 1LT Thomas Mcknett Newman, 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

Curt Carter
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POSTED ON 5.27.2010

We Remember

Thomas is buried at Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines, IL. AM/10 OLC ARCOM
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POSTED ON 12.7.2005
POSTED BY: Bill Nelson

Never Forgotten


"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you....and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.....Be not ashamed to say you loved them....
Take what they have left and what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own....And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle hero’s you left behind...."

Quote from a letter home by Maj. Michael Davis O'Donnell
KIA 24 March 1970. Distinguished Flying Cross: Shot down and Killed while attempting to rescue 8 fellow soldiers surrounded by attacking enemy forces.

We Nam Brothers pause to give a backward glance, and post this remembrance to you, one of the gentle heros lost to the War in Vietnam:

Slip off that pack. Set it down by the crooked trail. Drop your steel pot alongside. Shed those magazine-ladened bandoliers away from your sweat-soaked shirt. Lay that silent weapon down and step out of the heat. Feel the soothing cool breeze right down to your soul ... and rest forever in the shade of our love, brother.

From your Nam-Band-Of-Brothers
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POSTED ON 4.30.2003
POSTED BY: Natalie Stoller

Never Forgotten

Dear Soldier-

Out of all the decisions a person makes in their life, the one you made was perhaps one of the most hardest. This decision cost you your life, but it has helped pave the way for men and women as we fight yet another war. Thank you for your sacrifice. God Bless you and your family.

-Natalie Stoller-
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