Name: 1LT Michael John Welch
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 01/25/1972 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Age at death: 26.7
Date of Birth: 05/07/1945
Home City: Danville, IL
Service: SC branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: B/7/1 CAV
Major organization: 1st Aviation Brigade
Flight class: 71-20
Service: SC branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 02W-100
Short Summary: Observer training new pilot. Received wounds to leg and head. Dead on arrival at Binh Thuy Navy hospital.
Aircraft: OH-6A tail number 66-07881
Country: South Vietnam
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: observer
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 09/15/1971
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - non-aircrew
The initial status of this person was: no previous report
Length of service: *
Location: An Xugen Province IV Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: WQ310810
Additional information about this casualty:
There was a CPT that was with Welch. The CPT was injured badly but survived. I know that I have some data at home Marietta, Ga.), including unit memorial service bulletins. It was late morning as I recall, a typical beautiful day, before it got oppressively hot. It was to be Mike's last flight as he was headed home to CONUS, his wife was pregnant and due to deliver soon. Mike was training a new "AC" aircraft commander. We were flying a "VR" (visual recon)with 2 Cobras flying top cover over a heavily forested area. Looking for enemy (NVA/VC) forces. VR area was on the fringes of the U Minh Forest/ Jungle an area well know for heavy enemy activity. I was the B 7/1 CAV AH-IG IP (Dutchmaster 37)and serving as AC and gun lead that day. The LOH was in a left turn, low level typically 25-50'AGL with the sun reflecting off the canopy from time to time. There had been no enemy contact up to that time when in the next second he was gone. Into the trees. Only a small blue puff of smoke in the trees identified the site where the aircraft went down. I was told later but can not confirm if it's true that Mike suffered a round to the armor chest plate, the "chicken plate" that at the time was not fatal but the recoil back against the seat back then forward against the cyclic instantaneously putting the aircraft into the trees. We put in suppressive fire away from the LOH. It was a very dense forested area, we were barely able to see the aircraft, just a portion of the "V" tail. We continued to provide top cover and suppressive fire, rocket and guns 2.75"FFAR/20MM/7.62Mini Gun( as rescue and extraction procedures began. Mike was quiet, serious, smart, athletic (HOOCH BASKETBALL) and a "good stick". Extremely tragic, even more so since this was to have been his last mission before going home. I have been to the VN Memorial on two occasions to remember and reflect on his loss in addition our other pilot losses. I dedicated a plaque to my GA. Tech ROTC Detachment (Atlanta) in honor and remembrance of both Mike and Ron Rueppel one of my AH-1G pilots. And hopefully for our future ROTC officers to remember their ultimate sacrifices made by those who have preceded them. Hope this gives some detail to this tragic loss that day, as best as I can recall. It's been over 30 years but it's still just yesterday. It was very difficult to lose a LOH that I was flying top cover for, particularly one we would have given our lives gladly to protect. Or to trade places with, even today. Bost, Joseph MR, Joseph.Bost@dcsengr.hqusareur.army.mil
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
married male U.S. citizen
Religion: Roman Catholic
Burial information: RESURRECTION CEMETERY, DANVILLE, IL
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: officer
This record was last updated on 04/26/2002
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Date posted on this site: 05/26/2019
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