HORNBERGER JOE K
WO1 Joe K Hornberger was a potential member who died during training before going to Vietnam on 05/28/1967 from Mid-air
Fort Knox, KY
Flight Classes 67-1 and 66-23
Served in the U.S. Army
This information was provided by Greg Ross, Charles Oualline.
More detail on this person: Joe K. Hornberger died on 5/28/67 (DDT) in the same UH-1H with Dennis
L. Knoll. I witnessed the accident at Ft. Knox. The two UH-1Hs destroyed were #66-16032 and
#66-16055. The other two pilots were injured but obviously lived. I don't remember which ship
Hornberger & Knoll were flying. 10 of 11 men aboard their ship were killed; 1 of 10 was killed in
the other. All who lived were injured and/or burned. The two meshed main rotor blades.
From: Charles E. "Chuck" Oualline, July 2000.
Joe K Hornberger and Dennis L Knoll were flying aircraft serial number 66-16055. PFC Terry Knoll was
also killed..According to the technical report of the US army aircraft accident Form 2397-3.
From: Jay Stankiewicz
Stories from the Vietnam, told by the people who experienced it
"The Incident at Dorret's Run"
I, too, along with my wife, was in the crowd on the day the rotors of these to aircraft made contact
and crashed. I was a Spec4 and was given two tickets to this "Fire Power Demonstration." It was on
the Sunday before Memorial Day on a very hot afternoon in late May. The event opened with ATTACK,
ATTACK, ATTACK coming over the loudspeakers. I am unsure of the number, but I think it was 5 M60
tanks came up over the berm in front of us firing down range. There may have been some APC's as
well. Then two Air Force Thunderchiefs (I think) buzzed the crowed and dropped napalm out in the
valley. It was deafening. We could feel the heat as the wind carried it in our direction.
An LOH may have preceded them, then the two UH1B's appeared in the distance. There was a slight
flash when the rotors collided, then one crashed on its tail, while the other crashed on its nose.
The one crashing on its tail immediately burst into flames; only 1 GI survived. In the other one,
there was only 1 fatality. All of the survivors were injured. There is additional information about
the heroism demonstrated that day by the survivors on this site for the 3/17Air Cavalry unit from
which the choppers flew. northwestvets.com/spurs/317honor.htm
The crowd was in shocked, realizing immediately that this was NOT part of the show. All medical
personnel were called out of the crowd, and dispatched to help the wounded. But, any survivors were
aided by those still able in the two two aircraft. A chaplain said a prayer and the crowd was
dispersed. We returned to the OD Army buses and returned to the area on the post where we had
parked. It was a somber ride. The memory of this has been seared in my mind for 47 years.
It took me over a year to get it, but I requested through one of our state's senators, a copy of the
accident investigation into this incident. It is about an inch of documents. Any attempt to provide
pictures was rather futile as they had been copied too many times to yield any details. I did not
want to see pictures of the deceased, but the position and condition of the aircraft would have been
of interest. However, there are copies of the testimony given during the formal hearing to try
assess what happened.
There are a lot of redactions (out of respect for the deceased) but two things emerge from the many
documents. 1) the pilots had a limited number of hours of flying time after competing their training
(at Fort Rucker, I am assuming). 2) they tried to determine who ordered them to fly parallel when
the training and operational protocol is to fly in echelon-slightly behind and to the side.
Who was in charge and who issued the orders for the pilots to fly side-by-side and at the exact same
altitude is not clearly revealed. It appeared to be a public relations officer who thought it would
be more dramatic to have the Hueys split to the left and right of the grandstand. Unfortunately,
they never got that far.
Other data and research reveals that there were 5 Soldier's Medals awarded for heroism that day
because of the actions of pilots or crew members of the two LOH's and two Huey gunships who
immediately landed and rescued survivors from the crashed and burning aircraft. They also flew
injured survivors to Ireland Army Hospital which reduced the impact of the injuries by getting them
to medical care as soon as possible.
This Memorial Day (2017) will be the 50th Anniversary of the accident. I wish there was at least a
plaque or monument to 10 soldiers on Dorret's Run to honor those who died that day--in the service
of their country but in a senseless sacrifice. I have never forgotten that day.
Burial information: Manila Cemetery, Manila, AR
This information was last updated 01/09/2018
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