Information on Vietnam Air Force helicopter CH-34 tail number
Date: 10/18/1965 MIA-POW file reference number: 0174
Incident number: 65101805.KIA
Unit: 219 VNAF SQDN
UTM grid coordinates: YC895105 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PYC895105)
Casualties = 04 KIA . .
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: JTF-FA Case 0174, SOG P:35 ()
Summary: Crashed in bad weather returning to Kham Duc. Had been the C&C and rescue ship for the first ever SHINING BRASS insertion.
Loss to Inventory
AC 1LT PHAN LONG KIA
CP 2LT NGUYEN TUNG KIA
CE SGT LUA KIA
Passengers and/or other participants:
MAJ THORNE LARRY ALAN, AR, PX, BNR
SYNOPSIS: Larry Alan Thorne was born Lauri Allan Torni on May 28, 1919. As an adult in Finland, he joined the Finnish army where he attained the rank of Captain. His valor earned him the equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Mannerheim Medal. He was so successful as a ski troop commander that the unit patch carried his initial "T" with a lightning bolt through it. At the end of the Winter War, Torni joined the German "SS" to fight the Russians. When the Continuation War began, he returned to Finland and again commanded his ski troops. Following Finland's second defeat to the Russians, Torni was imprisoned by the communists as a war criminal. He escaped prison three times and made his way to the United States where he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private. Throughout the late 1950's, the budding U.S. Army Special Forces had been building a controversial force to conduct unconventional warefare. These unconventional warfare warriors had to be able to master critical military skills needed to train and lead guerrilla warriors, to be inserted anywhere in the world by any means of transportaion, to survive the most hostile environment, and to take care of themselves and others under the pressures of harsh combat conditions and isolation. At the same time, these individuals had to be independent thinkers, able to grasp opportunities and innovate with the materials at hand. In order to control and lead irregular fighters, they had to understand people, languages, and foreign cultures. Most important, the Special Forces warriors had to posses the intelligence, knowledge, tact, and acumen to successfully transform ordinary civilians into an effective military threat to a strong and cunning occupation army. In addition to recruiting rugged individuals possessing these attributes from regular army formations, the Special Forces attracted a proven lot of hardy, versatile volunteers from Finland and other European countries through the Lodge Act, Public Law 957 of the 81st Congress, sponsored by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Regardless of his background, each SF volunteer underwent strenuous physical conditioning, including paratrooper training, and was extensively tested to determine his best skills and abilities. He then received comprehensive instruction in his specialty area. Thorne was selected for the Special Forces and ultimately led an important mountain rescue mission to a crashed USAF plane in the middle east. The plane was carrying classified equipment and three earlier attempts to reach it had failed. Next, he went to Vietnam, he and his 7th Special Forces A-734 established the camp at Tinh Bien in April 1964 near the Delta's Seven Mountains area, which bushwacked so many Viet Cong that it becamse a serious thorn to the VC lifeline into Cambodia. In a second tour of Vietnam, attached to Headquarters Company, MACV, Special Detachment 5891, the Vietnamese Air Force CH34 helicopter on which Thorne was a passenger crashed about 25 miles southwest of Da Nang. When rescue workers went to the site, they recovered the remains of the Vietnamese crew, but found no sign of Larry Thorne. He had simply disappeared. Thorne's photo is maintained in a pre-capture photo group shown to defectors for POW/MIA identifications purposes, yet Thorne was classified killed in action the day after the crash. His remains were never found. Men who served with him believe that Larry is still alive. They gather to toast his health every year. No one, they say, is better equipped to survive than Larry Thorne.
On or about 26 July 1999, the US/Vietnamese Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTF-FA) conducted a field excavation to attempt to locate the remains of Larry Thorne. The search site is located about ten miles south of the old SF camp at Kham Duc. The US and Finnish ambassadors to Vietnam plus a Finnish party of authors, cameramen, and a relative of Larry's accompanied the search party. Michael G. Eiland, a Vietnam Veteran and now with the US State Department, was also with the party. He states that there was a great deal of scattered wreckage plus some remains. One of the rotors was in a tree about 25 meters off the ground. It was a very steep slope and to work the team had to cut steps and string ropes for handholds. The team worked several days. They found the barrel and receiver of a Swedish K. Since RT Iowa were armed with Ks, it is likely that Larry carried one. The human remains were taken to Hawaii for the identification tests. In response to a FOIA request, the following information was provided to Mike Law of the VHPA. During the investigation JTF-FA recovered two dog tags with Vietnamese names on them. The team also recovered wreckage that can be correlated to a CH-34 helicopter which is the same type as Case 0174. The team did not recover any data plate or other items that could equate the tail number of the helicopter. The VNAF aircraft loss record shows this loss and reports the aircraft was from the 219th Helicopter Squadron that was stationed at Da Nang. This unit had replaced the 83rd SOG helicopter unit. The pilot of the helicopter was Lieutenant Long Phan, the co-pilot was 2Lt Tung Nguyen and the crew chief was Sergeant Lua. That is all the information that is available from the files. Submitted by Joe Hartsell to Mike Law October, 1999.
This record was last updated on 10/11/1999
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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021
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