Crash Information on U.S. Army helicopter CH-21C tail number 55-04220
Crew of U.S. Army helicopter CH-21C tail number 55-04220 included aircraft commander CW2 Lawrence C. Hammond, pilot CW2 Raymond C. Wilde, crew chief PFC Boyce E. Lawson, pilot passenger 1LT Charles M. Fitts, and SP5 James D. McAndrew. Passengers included 1LT Lewis L. Stone and CAPT Donald B. Toth. The aircraft, a CH-21C Shawnee helicopter from the 57th Transportation Company from Tan Son Nhut, South Vietnam, crashed near a hut on an island in the middle of one of the branches of the Mekong River, about 55 miles Southwest of Saigon near Tan Hiep. There were no survivors. The photo shows the caskets containing the bodies of the seven American killed in the crash of January 11, 1963, which were loaded aboard a plane three days later for shipment home. [Taken from vhpa.org; image from kichbu.multiply.com]
"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 heroes 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 heroes 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
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Mary Frye – 1932