Name: FO Ronald Betts
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 03/20/1971 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Home City: Australia
Service: .
Unit: 9 SQDN
Service: .
Short Summary: Shot in the head by enemy fire while flying a Bushranger gunship on an armed helicopter support mission.
Aircraft: UH-1

Additional information about this casualty:
The 9 Squadron unit history states that two Bushrangers were despatched to provide air support to troops pinned down by machine gun fire from a VC bunker complex. On their attack runs the two helicopters were met by heavy gunfire, the Iroquois captained by Plt Off Ron Betts taking several hits. One round entered the cockpit, striking Betts in the head. The copilot took control of the gunship and returned to base immediately in the hope that prompt medical assistance might save his captain's life. Sadly this was not to be and Betts was declared dead at the hospital.

I would like to comment on the information that is listed here concerning the death of Ron Betts.

1. P/O Betts was not the captain of the aircraft on this occasion. F/O Dave Freedman was the captain.

2. More than one round hit Ron. I counted 8 hits on his side.

3. The aircraft took 23 hits from ground fire. I know this as I counted them myself and still have the list of the positions on the aircraft that was hit. The armourer with me actually retrieved some of the bullets that rattled around inside the fuselage. I had a piece of damaged electrical loom but have since lost it.

4. The aircraft was flown to an Australian Army fire support base and not back to base as stated here. This is where myself and the armourer were sent out to so as we could dis-arm all of the weapons onboard and to access the damage inflicted by the VC ground fire. Another of the squadron slicks came out to get us and the weapons/ammo from 383 which were then flown back to Nui Dat. This aircraft was flown by the late "Lofty" Lance who was killed in June 1971 whilst carrying out a re-supply mission.

I will never forget the dreadful sight and the smell of blood in the port seat area where Ron Betts was sitting when he gave his life for Australia.

From: Dennis Pearce, Ex Engine Fitter, 9 Sqdn Vietnam

The following from the Eulogy delivered by the President of 3 RAR SA, Robert Whelan

David Paterson was born in Port Adelaide on 24 January 1945 to parents Matthew and Dorothy Paterson. He had an older brother Peter.

David was posted to Woodside, South Australia, where David & Christine Paterson's daughter Sarah was born on 12 September 1970. David was part of 3 RAR's advance party and arrived in Vietnam on 12 February 1971.

On 20 March 1971 David was commanding a half platoon patrol from 8 Platoon, 3 RAR, in the eastern part of Phuoc Tuy Province, north of the town of Xuyen Moc. In the early afternoon the patrol heard sounds to their front. They moved into open formation and moved forward to investigate. They enemy were well concealed and in bunkers and opened fire from a range of 10 metres with automatic rifle fire, (AK-47), a hand held rocket launcher (RPG) and a satchel charge. David was mortally wounded and Privates Alan Gould and Martin Macanas were seriously wounded in the initial contact. David ordered those around him to leave and of his wounds soon afterwards.

RAAF helicopter gunships were called in to support the patrol and the co-pilot of one, Pilot Officer Ronald Betts, was mortally wounded whilst doing so and died at Fire Support Base Beth.

Bob Wood, 3 RAR, Vietnam 1971

This record was last updated on 03/19/2014

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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