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Name: WO1 Barry Frank Fivelson
Status: Remains were returned on 02/11/00 from an incident on 02/15/1971 while performing the duty of Pilot Passenger.
Age at death: 20.9
Date of Birth: 03/19/1950
Home City: Evanston, IL
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: C/159 ASHB 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Flight class: 70-29
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-106
Short Summary: Sling load of gasoline hit & exploded while landing in wrong LZ causing the A/C to break in two.
Aircraft: CH-47C tail number 67-18506
Country: Laos
MOS: 100C = Cargo Helicopter Pilot
Primary cause: LAOS-BNR
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: explosive devices
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: passenger
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 12/15/1970
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - non-aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: XD369437

Additional information about this casualty:
I have a bit of personal knowledge on this incident. Barry Fivelson and I were in the same Class 70-29 at Ft Rucker. After graduation, Barry and I both attended the Chinook transition course and we were room mates. We both went to Vietnam together, and we both ended up in the 159th ASHB. Barry was assigned to C Co, and I went to B Co.

Shortly after Lam Son 719 began, the 1st ARVN Div asked for a liaison officer (LNO), to be based on Lang Vei. I dont remember if I was the first one that got this job, but get it I did. I remembered the job as lasting two weeks, but it may have only been one week. Since relaying the next days missions from the 1st ARVN to our people at Khe Sahn was just about the last thing in the world I wanted to be doing at the time, the job probably seemed longer than it actually was. Other than Lang Vei being hit by the biggest bunch of NVA rockets I saw in my whole tour, the duty was dull. I did my LNO time and hitched a ride to Khe Sahn to brief my replacement, who turned out to be Barry Fivelson. Barry and I talked for a little bit, then he hitched a ride to Lang Vei and I wandered around Khe Sahn taking pictures and waiting for a ride home from one of the B Co Chinooks at the end of the day.

On February 15th, I was flying missions with B Co. I heard the call go out on guard that a Chinook had just gone down. We knew that it was not a Varsity (B Co) aircraft, because we were all flying trail formation together at the time. Only 159th Chinooks, A Co (the Pachyderms) and C Co (Playtex) were flying with us in Laos, to the best of my recollection, so we knew it had to be a 47 from our battalion. I heard our battalion commander, LTC Newton, on guard as he went to the crash site. The gunship that had made the original radio call to report the crash was also on guard. He was telling LTC Newton that he should get out of the area as it was way too hot, and that there were no survivors from the crash anyway. It was my clear impression that both the battalion commander and the gunship were looking at the crash site from the air. I dont know why there are different stories about finding or not finding a crash site right after it happened. There must have been dozens of aircraft in the air that heard the same guard transmissions while all this was going on.

By the end of the day we had heard that the crashed CH-47 was a Playtex aircraft, but no one knew who was flying it. When we got back to Phu Bai, I called C Cos officers club and asked to speak to Barry. The guy on the other end of the phone only said that Barry wasnt there, but his voice told me everything I needed to know. I got a jeep and drove over to C Co where I made them tell me if Barry had been flying the downed Chinook. It turns out that Barrys LNO duty at Lang Vei was over that day. Instead of waiting around Khe Sahn to hitch a ride home at the end of the day like I had done, he grabbed a ride in the jump seat of one of the Playtex aircraft that was headed for missions in Laos. That is why he is listed as a passenger.

After such rotten news, I went back to B Co. As I climbed the stairs to my hooch, I noticed a rotating beacon in the paddies out to the east of our perimeter. Turns out the beacon was the crash site for an A Co CH-47 that crashed on a maintenance test flight. I found out later that the pilot was CPT Gerald Wicks. He was also in the transition class with Barry and me. Two class mates dead on the same day.

From: Ben Brown

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Jewish
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 01/21/2011

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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