Helicopter CH-47A 66-19006


Information on U.S. Army helicopter CH-47A tail number 66-19006
Date: 12/26/1967
Incident number: 671226091ACD Accident case number: 671226091 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: C/228 AVN
This was a Accident incident.
The station for this helicopter was Bien Hoa in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 8 . . Injured = 25 . . Passengers = 28
costing 1412037
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
AC W2 PE OBRAY
P W1 JL CLIFTON
CE E5 RL HAWK
G E4 AS LYNN
FE SP4 CAMPBELL WILLIAM H III KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
CPT BERDY MICHAEL EDWARD, AR, PX, KIA
SP4 KYLE BARRY STUART, AR, PX, KIA
E4 GOODWILL, PAX, D
E6 MCGUIRE, PAX, D
E4 COMERFORD, PAX, D
E4 GAYLOR, PAX, D
E6 DECKER, PAX, D
E4 JAMES, PAX, D
SGT VUGA STEPHEN MICHAEL, AR, PX, KIA
E4 CLARK, PAX, D
E6 TEACHEY, PAX, D
E6 DAVIS, PAX, D
E5 JOINER, PAX, D
E5 ATKINS, PAX, D
E6 COLEY, PAX, D
1LT VAN ZANDT THOMAS MILTON, AR, PX, KIA
E6 BAKER, PAX, D
E6 FOSTER, PAX, D
1LT LIGONS DARYL LEE, AR, PX, KIA
CPL RUSS JAMES LEE JR, AR, PX, KIA
E6 HOFFA, PAX, D
E4 TEAGUE, PAX, D
E4 KELLY, PAX, D
E4 WIGGINS, PAX, D
E6 FRUEND, PAX, D
SSG FORD ALLEN D, AR, PX, KIA
NO NAME, PAX, D
NO NAME, PAX, D


Accident Summary:

An eye witness stated that the aft rotor assemble left the aircraft while the aircraft was terminating an approach for landing then the forward rotor system also left the aircraft. The aircraft came to rest upright and two small fires were extinguished.


War Story:
 It was O dark thirty when the runner came around waking the flight crews, On Dec 26, 1967. I was just a door gunner at that time. For some reason we were a stand by A/C. I believe the mission called for three hooks on that morning. I don't know if the FE and CC even knew what the mission was to be. At present time I cannot recall the names of the FE and CC. As the FE and CC readied the hook for the pilots. I unlocked the conex container that held the 60's. After inspecting them one more time I hoisted them over my shoulders and carried them over to the ship.

Locking them into place and getting the ammo out and ready to feed into them. It was about this time that the pilots arrived and did their pre flight. With the preflight out of the way everybody took their position. The pilots settled into the seats in the cockpit and the CC took his position out front. As I plugged into the inter com. I heard the soon to be very familiar words. Ready on the P chief? The word came back ready on the P sir. I could now see the other hooks firing up. the blades slowing starting to turn. Then came the words from the cockpit ready on one? With the answer ready on one sir. The whine of the turbines starting to grow and then leap to life. Once more the word from up front. Ready on two? Ready on two sir, came the reply. Number two engine also lit up with no problems. Two of the three mission birds were now all fired up. But the third bird was not starting. For some reason the APU would not start. One and two to flight came the word from up front and with those words the six blades began to spin faster.

This FNG had no clue what was about to unfold in the next few hours. The flight was now ready to take off leaving the one hook sitting in the revetment unable to come to life. The commands soon started to come ramps up ready in the rear sir. Clear right sir. Clear left sir. The fat lady lifted up and backed out of her parking spot at An Khe's Golf Course. A slow peddle turn and the nose dropped and off we headed towards the Bong Son plains. After the short trip LZ English was now in sight and we would make a quick stop at the POL to top off the tanks. I don't think the FE or CC had a clue as to what the mission was to be. Word came back that we were cleared for the POL. As the Hook settled down the ramp lowered and out the back I went. A little JP 4 for a thirsty lady. After topping off the tank I headed back to the window. Plugging back into the intercom I caught the last of the conversation. It was to be a three ship extraction. Charlie was not in the area and there would be no gunships.

Once more came the words ramps up ready in the rear. Clear left. Clear right. The flight of three was cleared for departure. It was a short trip to the PZ. Smoke was popped and ID'd. As we approached the PZ I could see the three groups of Grunts ready to board.

As I would become us to the hook settled down and the ramp was being lowered before she was all the way settled down.

No sooner had the ramp hit the dry rice paddy then the troops started loading. As the last Grunt walked up the ramp. The Fe hit the lever and as the ramp started coming up the words Ramps up ready in the rear sir, came the word from the back another look around and I punched the intercom button. Clear left sir. About the same time the CC was clearing right. The lead bird lifted off with us bringing up the tail end of the formation.

Soon we're up to altitude and heading off without passengers. Once more I don't recall the time of the flight, nothing sticks out that would make it eventful at the time. Just three hooks flying in loose formation.

Pretty soon we're nearing our destination and start dropping down from alitudle.I now see that we're at an Air Force base. Directions are given and we will be landing in a marked off area in a dirt area. Sure enough there the Air Force truck with the follow me lights we land and park in a dirt area. The grunts are still onboard as we shut down. Here comes a bus and the pilots tell us to get on the bus also. What about my 60's? I was told when I signed for them if they got lost or what ever it would come out of my pay. Not to worry their will be a guard there. The Grunts are told to leave their packs on the hooks.

We're going to the Bob Hope show. We're ushered to a section for the Cav. Shortly after getting into our places I hear short blurbs coming over the loud speakers. Capt so and so report bla bla bla xray tech bla bla bla report. Just a few short blurbs and I pay no mind to them, and for the next hour or so we watch as act after act is put on for us.

The show is now over and we head out towards where we left the lady. As we get close to where the bird waits I now see in the back ground just behind and off to the left is the remains of a Hook sitting on a little knob of dirt. Its forward transmission laying out in front a scene of destruction.

There in masking tape on its side in big letters spell out the words. MERRY XMAS. C Co's Crimson tide 66-19006 sits in total destruction.

Now the earlier message from the loud speakers comes clear in my mind Capt so and so and all Medical techs and xray techs report to their duty stations. That's what that was all about.

Out of 28 passengers and 5 crew members 8 died including the FE William Cambell.

One of the bell cranks hit the aft area of our rear pylon. After an inspection and calling the 15th TC back at An Khe. It was decided that the ship would be flown back to An Khe and another hook would be dispatched to pick up our passengers.

The grunts gathered their gear we cranked up and lifted off heading back to the Golf course for repair.

Bill Scott, Aircavbco@aol.com B Co 228th Avn Bn 1st Air Cav 67 - 69 FE Longhorn 039 January 2002

At the time I was Sergeant Ronald A. Stringer (later Sr.) stationed at Phu Cat Air Base in Binh Dinh Province. We were located West of Highway 1, about ten clicks North of Highway 19 and 20 clicks North of the port city of Qui Nhon (Qui Nhon Air Base was located there) .

On 12/26/1967 my rapid response team (RSAT) was assigned to provide security to Bob Hope while he was on stage for the Operation Holly show. Bob Hope was my personal responsibility and I was to be positioned behind the opening to the stage.

About 30 to 45 minutes (maybe even longer) before his aircraft was to land; 1st Lt. Charles Wagner drove up in a jeep and told me get in. As we drove off he informed me a helicopter had just been shot down and crashed near our landing zone. One of our sentries in an observation tower had reported the crash and ground fire to our CSC.

Lt. Wagner told me we were to interview any witnesses we could find; to determine if it was actually ground fire that brought the helicopter down.

We had difficulty getting to the crash site because of all the troops walking down the hill to the stage. Luckily, one of our ambulances came up behind us and with its siren the troops parted for it. We let the ambulance pass us and followed it to the crash site. This area (in the SW section of the base) was formally used as a landing site for C7A aircraft, but abandoned when the permanent concrete 10,000 feet runway was completed.

The first thing I saw was "Merry X Mas" written in chalk on the side of the Chinook helicopter. I didn't learn until just a few days ago (1/24/2021) that it was actually written with tape and the helicopter's serial number was 66-19006.

Lt. Wagner stayed near the crash site and I ran up pass it; repeatedly shouting, "DID ANYBODY SEE THE CRASH? DID ANYBODY SEE WHAT HAPPENED?"

About 5 or 10 minutes later; I believe it was a Lieutenant (possibly a Captain) stopped and told me he was third in line behind the Chinook. While he didn't see the actual crash; he informed me that it appeared to him the helicopter "threw a rotor." I grabbed him by the arm and we rushed down to where Lt. Wagner was so he could tell him what he thought might have happened.

Unknown to us were the radio transmissions going on between CSC and the tower sentry; believe one of our SAT teams had been dispatched to the tower to interview him. I later learned the sentry said he saw something come up from the ground and struck the helicopter (more on point this later).

As Lt. Wagner spoke with the pilot; he was asked where the rotor might be if that was what had happened. He stated (and I'm not exactly positive about the pilot's words) it would be located a few hundred feet from the crash site. CSC was contracted and directed the dispatch SAT teams (how many I don't know) to find the rotor; described as a long flat metal tube. Lt. Wagner had attained the pilot's name and unit; thanked him and told him to go on to the stage location.

The two of us continued to ask for witnesses; stopping when the rotor was found.

I was driven back to the stage and rejoined my team; going over last minutes details with them and that I would (if possible) let them rotate up to back stage too.

Later I learned that Bob Hope's aircraft was given the approval to continue to Phu Cat; as there was a possibility it would be diverted to a stand-by location, to put on a show there instead of with us.

During the show; some of the survivors of the crash were brought to the stage. They were positioned at the left of center stage. An aide to Bob Hope informed him of the crash and that the survivors had just arrived. Bob Hope stopped the show and went down the stairs at center stage to greet them. I ran around the left side of the stage to keep him in my sight.

As he spoke with the men; he said, "I hear you guys had a tough time getting here! I hope the show's worth it!" He shook hands and spoke with some of them, but I wasn't able to hear what was said.

It was during a after actions report meeting that I learned the tower sentry had seen the rotor separate; but as it happened so fast, it appeared the rotor was going up and not down. (Sometimes our brains don't accurately interrupt what our eyes see)

In 1974 I was the district manage in Washington, DC for Better Homes and Gardens book division. I called on department stores and book stores. My buyer for Woodward & Lothrop's headquarters' store informed me Bob Hope was going to be signing his The last Christmas Show book. Previously I had told her I met Bob Hope in Vietnam; knowing this, she reserved a ticket for me to have a book signed (I still have it and show it often to others).

Two weeks later as he signed my book; I mentioned I had been assigned as his bodyguard at Phu Cat Air Base (by the way Phu Cat is misspelled in the book on page 249 as Phuket). He apologized that he didn't remember me; as he's had thousands of military bodyguards during the years.

I mentioned that he stopped the show when the crash survivors were brought to the stage; "I remember that!" he said. "Do you remember what you said to them?" I asked. "Probably sometime about them having a tough time getting there and hoped the show was worth it!" he replied.

A month or so later; I was back at Woodward & Lothrop and the buyer informed me that after the signing; Bob Hope told her he wished he had more time to speak with me.

The 1967 Operation Holly show included Bob Hope, Phil Crosby (Bing's son), Barbara McNair, Madeline Hartog-Bel (Miss World), Elaine Dunn, Earl Wilson, Les Paul and his band and who could forget Raquel Welsh!

I have been to the Wall several times to honor Lowell Crawford (a boyhood friend, all the way through high school); James Laird (high school classmate); Frank Quinlan (my brother's boyhood friend and all the way through high school); and Jimmy Kemp (our first casualty).

I've always wondered who the 11 who died on the helicopter were (now I've learned that it was 8 who died that day 12/26/1967). I'm going to continue to try to discover their names, so they can be honored.

My wife and I have been married 50 years and after a terrible experience with the VA in Illinois; my appeal was approved after we moved to Missouri in 2013. I've joined a Vietnam support group in Columbia, MO and meet every Tuesday morning. I always schedule my VA appointments so I can attend as often as possible, as it is an hour and a half drive each way.

From: Ron Stringer January 2021

This record was last updated on 01/28/2021


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021


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