Name: WO1 William Joseph Cahill
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 10/18/1970 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 21.5
Date of Birth: 04/14/1949
Home City: Haverhill, MA
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: C/1/9 CAV 1 CAV
Major organization: 1st Cavalry Division
Flight class: 69-47/69-49
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 06W-007
Short Summary: Shot down after discovering COSVN HQ near Phouc Vinh. In charge of class 69-49 at Rucker, broke his leg - arrived in VN later.
Aircraft: OH-6A tail number 67-16193
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 100B = Utility/Observation Helicopter Pilot
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: vehicular accident
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: pilot
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 05/05/1970
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - pilot
The initial status of this person was: no previous report
Length of service: *
Location: Binh Tuy Province III Corps.
Additional information about this casualty:
Twenty-nine years ago today I was asked to go out and do a last light NDP recon for a unit SE of Phuoc Vinh. I figured it was going to be a typical Romeo Foxtrot, but yes sir, yes sir, three bags full and we pulled pitch. On the way to the aircraft I asked my Scout why he wasn't wearing his chicken plate? Response "Why, there ain't nothing out there to shoot at me!" Once we arrived on station the little bird descended, IDed the friendlies and started his VR. A short while later he said "24, I think somebody just shot at us?" "Well, did they or didn't they?" I asked. "I'll go back and check it out." He returned to the area and marked the position with his burning aircraft. My good friend, Bill Cahill, was killed 29 years ago today, along with his crew, Sgt. Rae Bailey and SP6 Doug Strait. They had discovered COSVN and they paid the ultimate price. The following day, Barney Vestal's observer Cpl. David Bryant was killed at the same location. If ya'll have a spare minute or two today, please spend it in silence as you remember our brothers. RIP, Randy Zahn Cavalier 24 18 October 1999 Randy, Bill Cahill, a fellow Bostonian, was someone who has symbolized for me all that was tragic about Vietnam. A incredibly cool and handsome trooper, he had everything in the world going for him. His death and the death of his crew was a horrific experience for all of us-29 years ago today-I can feel the emotion in my throat and eyes as I type this. I have been to the Wall and looked up his name. My wife and children know the name of Bill Cahill as if he were a brother-in-law and uncle. I have some really good pictures that have immortalized him in our family's memory. There are days I try to do the right thing, just to honor Bill Cahill and to live for him through my life the life he was not able to have. Sometimes what we remember about those incredibly stressful events may not be the same way others saw those same events, and that may be the case with Bill Cahill's death for me. What I remember of that afternoon was that I was in a Lift Bird flying on that same mission. I had on a board, because I was told to take them with me, a Canadian Film Crew along with the usual six Blues. I remember Bill going low and reporting, exactly as you have remembered, and then taking the hit. I remember watching him go in. Then here is where you might differ with me, or I may have events confused, I remember that as he got out of the helicopter the blades flexed down and did exactly what you might imagine. I further remember seeing the gooks surround the downed bird and then all hell break loose. With the Blues on board (including, as I recall, Blue himself) and going crazy over what they had just witnessed, I swooped over to a nearby field and dropped off the Canadian T.V. crew, about whom I did not think about again until just last year, and then came back to insert the six Blues. What they found in addition to Bill and the crew chief, was that the gunner (or maybe it was the crew chief and the gunners body was found with Bill's) had been dragged away into the tunnel complex. And maybe here my memory is adding together a couple different missions, but as I recall it we returned and got CS gas in those big canisters loaded into a Huey and dropped them over the tunnel entrances trying smoke out the gooks. In the end the 1st Cav staged a big operation that searched through the tunnel complex (including finding a several story medical hospital) and surrounded miles and miles, working into the center trying to reclaim the missing c-trooper whose fate has been an unresolved question for me ever since. That is my recollection. I am very open to correction. None the less, I appreciate your reminder to all of us. If I had a bottle of Rosie Matuse wine-I would drink it to Bill Cahill's memory. I remember writing a letter to his family telling them what a winner their son was. I will add Bill's and his crew's names and Vestal's crew chief's name to the prayers for the departed when I celebrate communion tomorrow morning here in Colorado Springs. Here's to Bill, Rae, Doug and David. May the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Don Armstrong 46 Walker, I have been perusing the mail about Bill Cahill, etc. and will add the following. I had been out in that AO only a few days before on what i thought was a Golf Foxtrot. Saw some signs and shot some artillery on a couple of sites. That area had some old bunkers in it (another story re Barney) and was probably the best camouflage job I ever saw the gooks do. I left the area thinking something was there but couldn't find anything to hang my hat on. I had only been on the ground at Phuoc Vinh a little while when the Down Bird alert came in. I cranked my bird and flew to the site. I don't remember who the high bird was. I could see the flames at the crash site an started working the area. The grunts were trying to cross a stream to move to the site and lost a guy by drowning. It was dark by this time and I remember thinking the grunts were nuts for moving in the dark. I would fly over them and give headings to them. As they moved they began to encounter booby traps all over the place. I flew until about midnite that night with a high born and also the Huey with the Zeon lights. He ruined my night vision a couple of times and seemed to be in the way most of the time. The grunts finally stopped and we called off the mission. We returned the next morning in full force and put the blues on the ground to link up with the rifle co. This was about 0600 and then we began to VR the site. The bad guys were waiting for us and I remember me and 16 were flying circles around the area and taking fire continuously. I think we had four pink teams there. The jungle looked like it had Christmas lights in it with all the muzzle flashes. Chuck took some hits and we landed at a FSB and I was teasing him about being a magnet ass when his CE found two bullet holes in the bottom of my aircraft. I remember watching a high drag bomb go right into the door of one of the big tunnels that day. I do not remember anyone getting to Cahill's bird until later that same day and my memory is that there were no bodies to be found, only footprints some were Ho Chi Mihn slicks and some jungle boots. I have to stop for awhile but will send the rest of the story later. Ron --------------- Later on the day after Bill went down and the Blues were linked up with the grunts, they were moving into the tunnel complex and as I was flying around them there was a huge explosion and a big mushroom cloud rose out of the jungle. I got on the horn and called the grunt commander, call sign, Painful Hovel 77 and he told me someone had kicked a 20mm ammo can full of detonator fuzes and he had wounded everywhere. The high bird called medevac on guard and soon a Huey from the 227th, call sign Fat Albert showed up and went into a hover hole to get some people out. He was cutting brush on the way down and was concerned about getting his ass in a crack for blade strikes. We told him we would take care of that and we did. He pulled guys out with seat belts because he couldn't get all the way down. He made at least two trips to 15th Med with wounded and we finally got a medevac in with a hoist. Fat Albert got a DFC for his efforts. Later that day, Birdman was my CE and we caught a dude laying on his stomach getting a drink and Birdman shot him with his chunker. Later still, I was following some trails out of the area and was looking at some old bunkers when Barney relieved me on station. I remember telling him to be careful around the bunkers because I thought the bad guys were hiding in them as they tried to E&E. We threw a WP in one and beat feet for PV to get fuel. I was in the CH-47 POL at PV with about 3/4 tank of JP4 when I heard 13 was down. We scrambled and I nearly rolled my bird getting around a 47 that had just landed. Barney, Bill and I were very close and I thought I had lost both of them. I found out later that when 13 got hit it was Bryant who had bought it. He had only one or two days left in country when he got killed. He lost his best friend the day before in Cahill's bird and wanted to get his licks in before he left.. Barney got hit from one of the bunkers we had been looking at. He went down in the middle of some friendlies. Ron Beyer, Cavalier White (Scout platoon leader) Bill was the first to solo in Class 69-45, Flight A-4 in primary at Ft. Wolters, TX. From: CW4 Timothy E. O'Malley, USA Retired Class 69-45, Flt. A-4 Alumnus
Web site(s) refering to this casualty:
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
single male U.S. citizen
Religion: Roman Catholic
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 01/17/2012
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Date posted on this site: 05/26/2019
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