More detail on this person: From smoke inhalation in a house fire. His trailer caught fire with
him in it. His autopsy indicated he died of smoke inhalation. There were two state Fire Marshall's
who came to the scene. They concluded that a contained unit, electrical space heater malfunctioned
in a crawl type space under the trailer, smoldered, then probably had a "V" flash fire, into the
trailer wall, at the top of the 3 stairs into his trailer, thus blocking his escape route. His body
was found in the kitchen area near a tiny kitchen table with a window above it. There was nothing
left of his trailer except a small corner of a wall, the frames of the built in appliances, the
trailer frame itself. They believed the fire started around 5 am on Saturday morning. His pick up
truck was also totally engulfed and demolished. Only the basic frame is left. Pretty much all that
was left were ashes.
As most of you know, Bill had become an alcoholic and many people- friends, family, and caring people-offered their kindness, their support, their help in hopes he could/would help himself. And I am grateful to all of you who extended that care, concern and help.
Jack and I had recently taken Bill to his Viet Nam helicopter troop reunion in late August. It was one of the most awesome experiences of our lives. These men who fought the war, saved each others lives, and depended on one another daily have a brotherhood like nothing we have ever seen, felt, or experienced. Bill came alive again for the 4 days that we were there. His trooper buddies had already formed an "Intervention Team" and were waiting for him. The loved him as he was, but they also worked constantly with him while there and in the two weeks that he spent with us following our return from the reunion. He had promised his Intervention Team, and us, that he would go for a complete VA physical, including testing for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Agent Orange, and a nerve disorder. One of his "A" Trooper team buddies was to be at Bill's this very week, and another would have been there next week to assist him in getting his medical life in order. Another one of his Trooper buddies on his Intervention Team told me that Bill had told him on Thursday before the fire that he would go for help with his alcoholism.
So as you can guess, we are very saddened by his accidental death, when we thought he might just have a little window of hope for a different life.
We are truly in shock with this terrible and tragic situation. My husband Jack and I have found your caring, love, support and concern very uplifting. You are providing us with the sanity to go through what we must yet accomplish. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. My brother, Bill, loved you and "The Troop" meant everything to him. I thank you on his behalf.
From: Bill's sister, MaryAnn
I flew Bill's front seat in the Cobra and Scout Recon underneath him. He was one of the coolest and best pilots I ever flew with. At least I got to see him again at the Montana Reunion after 35 years. I saw him as though it was 1970 again rather than the wearing down with age that life hands out to us all.
The 9th Cav Apache Troop Headhunters do not leave anyone behind or alone. And that includes the last day when one of us is above ground.
From: CW3, US Army Retired, Louis J. "Rocket" Rochat, III Apache Red X-Ray, Apache 16
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association