SEWARD WILLIAM HENRY

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Name: MAJ William Henry Seward
Status: Remains Returned from an incident on 03/06/1968 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 30.9
Date of Birth: 04/11/1937
Home City: Atlanta, GA
Service: regular component of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Unit: HMM-165
Service: U.S. Marine Corps.
The Wall location: 43E-034
Short Summary: Shot down during extraction of a recon team. Pinned in cockpit by armored seat & burned with aircraft. See Lopez & refno 1077.
Aircraft: CH-46A tail number 151909
Service number: 077885
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 7562 = Pilot CH-46 Qualified
Primary cause: SVN-BNR
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - pilot
Length of service: 10
Location: Thua Thien Province I Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: YC456958

Additional information about this casualty:
One of Our Own has Come Home MAJOR WILLIAM HENRY SEWARD, USMC I heard from an old friend last night. He is a fellow aviator, a Marine and a helicopter pilot. He has been away for awhile involved in combat overseas. Actually, he has been away for a long time. He has been away since 6 March 1968. His name is William Henry Seward but almost everyone calls him Bill. Or Major. His sister, Mary Charles, calls him Billy. Major William "Bill" Henry Seward was lost on a CH-46A mission in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Republic of South Vietnam on 6 March 1968. He was in the process of inserting a six man reconnaissance team into a remote location when the aircraft he was piloting came under intense small arms fire and crashed. MAJ Seward and one of his passengers, LTC Robert Lopez, were trapped in the aircraft and killed. Due to the intensity of the enemy assault, only the rear cabin crew and passengers were evacuated. Two hours later a recovery team arrived on the site, found the aircraft, and determined the personnel to be beyond recovery at that time. Major William "Bill" Henry Seward and LTC Robert Lopez were later reported as "Killed in Action, Bodies not Recovered." And that is the way the record stood through the next twenty-six years. William Henry Seward was born on 11 April 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Mary and Charles Seward. Mary Charles Seward McDonald, Billy's younger sister, loves to tell the stories of her "Big Brother" doing background checks on her potential dates and watching over her social contacts during their time at Southwest High School in Atlanta. As the older brother, Bill had great influence on his sister's social activities. Mary Charles remembers that Billy was very selective with regards to her potential suitors. She insists that her Mother would always accept Billy's judgment when it came to the boys Mary Charles should date or stay away from. When Billy said no that was the end of the discussion. In spite of his success in academics and athletics as a member of the first class of Southwest High School in Atlanta, Billy Seward was fascinated with everything aviation. He spent much of his free time constructing model airplanes. Even as a member of the first graduating class of Southwest High School in Atlanta, Billy continued to build and fly his models. One of his favorite models was a powered glider with a six foot wing span. He entered it in a competition for free flight and was assured he would have won if his aircraft had not traveled so far that no one could find it to prove the distance it had flown. In addition to his aviation aspirations, he was an avid baseball player. After graduation from high school, Bill attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Along the way he became interested in the U.S. Marines and Naval Aviation. Eventually, Bill Seward was accepted to Naval Flight School. He went to Pensacola, the home of Naval Aviation, in 1956 and became a Marine Aviator and helicopter pilot. Bill married Patricia McGee in 1959. Together they shared assignments from Pensacola to Cherry Point. Their first child, William H. Seward, Jr., was born as Bill and Patricia traveled between assignments to be joined two years later by Charles M. Seward. The Marine family was well on its way when Bill received his first assignment to Vietnam. Bill served his first tour of duty in Vietnam and returned safely to join his expanding family in Meridian, Mississippi. Eventually the family returned to Pensacola. Then it was time to return to Vietnam for Bill's second tour. Bill was now a Major, one of the "Old Guys" of the Marine Aviation Community. He had his dream of flying in the palm of his hand, a wonderful wife and two great, growing sons. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 was activated on the first of July 1965 at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana, California as part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In September of 1966 the "White Knights" deployed to the Republic of South Vietnam, where they were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Air Wing. From October 1966 to August 1969, the Squadron flew from Ky Ha, Hue/Phu Bai, the USS Valley Forge, the USS Tripoli, Marble Mountain area near Da Nang, and from the USS Tarawa. On March 6, 1968, MAJ William Henry Seward was the Flight Leader of two HMM 165 CH-46A Helicopters teamed with two Vietnamese CH-34 Helicopters. He was working with U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lopez of Seattle, Washington. LTC Lopez was with the 5th Special Forces Group, Special Forces Military Assistance Command (Vietnam). Somewhere in the far west of the Ashau Valley, MAJ Seward and his flight were tasked to insert a reconnaissance team into "classified coordinates." It was reportedly the second insertion mission in the area and was approached with security concerns. The mission required the employment of a hoist to insert the ground forces through the triple canopy trees which were over 100 feet tall into a small opening on the side of a mountain. Previous teams had reported seeing North Vietnamese Army (NVA) (Russian AN) aircraft flying down that part of the valley at night delivering supplies and picking up wounded NVA or allied prisoners. While hovering above the 100 foot canopy, the aircraft received intense small arms fire and went down on the side of the mountain. The co-pilot, crew chief and gunner were extracted and rescued from the crash site. MAJ Seward and LTC Lopez were assumed to have been killed as a result of the crash. Post crash fire prevented the recovery of remains at the site that day, and follow up recovery actions were not successful in recovering MAJ Seward's or LTC Lopez's remains. Due to circumstances surrounding the crash site, the eye witness accounts, and reports of survivors of the crew of "Yankee Whiskey 17," MAJ William Henry Seward was listed on the Marine Corps' rolls as "Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered." (KIA-BNR) And so it remained for 26 years. In July of 1993 the 24th Joint Field Activity Team investigated what was referred to as (REFNO 1077) in Phu Thuong Village, Tua Thien-Hue Province. The JFA was a joint United States/Socialist Republic of Vietnam operation developed to investigate possible MIA sites. The teamed interviewed one witness who provided first hand information on the crash site. The witness, Mr. Hoc, stated he was searching for aircraft crash sites to salvage metal in 1983 when he discovered a helicopter in the reported location of MAJ William Henry Seward's aircraft. The witnessed showed the team the location of the aircraft where he had located and reburied one piece of human remain. He retrieved one long bone fragment and turned it over to the team. Mr. Hoc also reported that an eyewitness to the actual firefight in 1968 was present when he found the aircraft. Mr. Nguyen Hai Hieu was subsequently interviewed. He stated that he was bird hunting in the vicinity and actually saw the helicopter shot down. He observed several individuals in the post crash aircraft, three of whom appeared to be Americans. In August 1994, during the 31st Joint Field Activity Team investigation, a follow up search of the original crash site and recovered more remains, articles from the aircraft which could be identified as belonging to a CH-46A Helicopter including the aircraft data plate of MAJ Seward's aircraft. The additional recovered remains were escorted to Hanoi where they were selected for repatriation to the United States. Custody of the remains was transferred to United States Officials at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi on 4 October 1994. They were sent to the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. On 28 February 2000, the Scientific Director of the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory determined the remains to be that Major William Henry Seward. This was certified by the Commanding Officer o the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory on 2 March 2000. Every returning Vietnam Veteran has a personal homecoming experience. Some had wives and children awaiting our return. Some had parents and siblings or that special sweetheart. But some of our brethren never had the opportunity to experience a homecoming. They are the ones we left behind. Major William H. Seward, United States Marine Corps, Naval Aviator and a combat helicopter pilot did not come home. Major Bill Seward was an MIA. One of our own was not to have his homecoming. SEWARD, WILLIAM HENRY MAJ US MARINE CORPS VIETNAM Date of Birth: 04/11/1937 Date of Death: 03/06/1968 Buried at: SECTION 34 SITE 674-A ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY Arlington, Virginia In 2000, Major William Henry Seward, United States Marine Corps, came home. He is at rest with his comrades and we have him back among us where he belongs. He is with friends who care for him, family who love him and a nation which reveres his memory. One of our own has finally had his homecoming. As Paul says to Timothy, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. They shall grow not old As we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them. Nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, And in the morning, We will remember them! -- Lawrence Binyon

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Protestant - no denominational preference
Burial information: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, VA (GROUP)
This record was last updated on 11/29/2005


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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