I'm proud of our Vietnam Veterans
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, Sir
Crash Information on U.S. Air Force helicopter CH-3E tail number 66-13295
Crew members included CAPT James P. McCollum (KIA), CAPT William H. Taylor (KIA), SGT John E. Albanese Jr. (KIA), SSG John L. Coon (KIA), SGT Robert A. Fink (KIA) and SGT Thomas F. Buhr (KIA). The following was extracted from the Department of Air Force Report of Death - Case #2 dated 21 Jan 1969. Circumstances: These six personnel comprised the crew of the lead helicopter #6613295 in a flight of three CH-3s which departed Nakhon Phanom at 0654 hours, 23 May 68. The flight, escorted by two A-1Es, was on a classified ordnance delivery mission in the vicinity of Khe Sanh. Upon arrival in the target area, all aircraft descended through a cloud break to locate the target. The terrain of the area consisted of rugged mountains and dense jungles, and the low cloud ceiling prevented the flight members from locating the target. Temporarily aborting their mission, they began their ascent through the clouds, while maintaining radio contact. The number two and number three helicopters reached the top of the clouds, the two pilots gave their positions, and a report from the lead helicopter revealed that it was still in the clouds. Moments later, one of the escort pilots observed an explosion under the clouds. Since the lead helicopter was still out of sight and all efforts to make further contact with the crew were unsuccessful, the escort aircraft descended through the clouds to search the area. However, clouds prevented their locating the crash site, and further attempts to contact the crew of the lead aircraft were to no avail. Search was continued by the remaining flight members until they were forced to depart due to shortage of fuel, leaving other aircraft in the area to search. At no time had hostile ground fire been noted, nor were there allied artillery strikes into the area. Search Efforts: Numerous aircraft arrived in the area. When the cloud cover cleared, a smoldering wreckage was seen from the air and several parts of a CH-3 helicopter, which were widely scattered, were noted. Portions identified in one area were rotor blades, horizontal stabilizer, and the fuselage section aft of rear doors; and 150 meters up a 30 degree hill were the forward portion of the fuselage, nose, and main gear. The impact point was located on the slope of a 5700 foot mountain, about 500 feet below the peak. No signs of survivors were observed, and no beeper signals were heard. The helicopters could not go into the area due to severe turbulence which precluded lowering a man to examine the crash site. During the next three weeks, attempts by Marine ground forces to reach the crash site were unsuccessful. Supplemental Information: A message from the 366 Combat Support Group, Da Nang dated 11 Jan 69 stated that a ground party had reached the crash site on 2 Nov 68 and five remains were found. A copy of the Report of Processing Remains, dated 15 Jan 69 concluded that only the remains of Captain Taylor could be identified. Six separate remains were accounted for but the remains of the other five individuals should be interred as a group burial. Discussion: Not only were six separate remains recovered but it is also safe to assume that the large amount of ordnance being carried on the helicopter would have exploded at the time it crashed, thereby precluding any changes of survival for those aboard. (Taken from vhpa.org)