Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D tail number 66-16061
The Army purchased this helicopter 0267
Total flight hours at this point: 00000213
Incident number: 680102033ACD Accident case number: 680102033 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: C/3/17 CAV
The station for this helicopter was Di An in
Number killed in accident = 1 . . Injured = 2 . . Passengers = 0
Source(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Army Aviation Safety Center database.
AC W1 TL METCALFE
P W1 WM MCELROY
CE E4 E PINCKNEY
G PFC NICHOLS ERNEST JAMES JR KIA
PP WO1 JACOBUS WILLIAM THOMAS KIA
Aircraft involved were UH-1C 66-686, UH-1D 66-16061, and UH-1D 66-16036. Aircraft 686 was on a night approach to an unlighted dusty airfield with nine aircraft parked with blades tied. While terminating approach, 686 went IFR in dust and flew between 061 and 063. 686's tail rotor struck main rotor blade of 036 knocking off 686's tail rotor causing it to spin right. Tail boom then struck tail boom of 061. Flight terminated with 686 lying on left side 180 degrees from direction of landing and right of 061.
A number of helicopters from different units were arriving at Katum Airfield during the night of 01/02 Jan 68 in response to the attack on FSB BURT. UH-1C 66-00686 and others from the 68th AHC departed for Katum at 0305H. On arrival they found the airfield to be uncontrolled with numerous aircraft coming and going. On its fourth attempt (first 3 waved off due to traffic and/or heavy blowing dust) UH-1C 66-00686 made an approach to the southern end of the runway, lost visibility in blowing dust, and collided with UH-1H 66-16061. UH-1C 66-00686's main rotor chopped through 66-16061's cargo compartment, killing NICHOLS instantly, fatally injuring JACOBUS, and inflicting lesser injuries on several others who were sitting in 66-16061. Jacobus's legs were severed and he died later that day in a hospital. He was one of the pilots of 66-16036. LAKIN was thrown from 66-00686's door gunner position and and 686 subsequently came to rest on top of him. Another helo, UH-1H 66-16036, was struck by 0686's rotor blade but no injuries resulted.
An eye witness account follows:
This concerns Helicopter UH-1D 66-16061. My name is William A. Marcrander CW2 ( med ret). As way of explanation, my family is interested in setting a published record straight. The incorrect record is published in the VHPA database. The information that is reported states that the AC was W1 T. L.Metcalfe. I was the AC in 061 and at the time of the accident I was sitting in the left seat of 061. I was AC of 061 from the time it was picked up at the Bell plant, for the 6 months we were trained at Ft. Knox and to my knowledge the only AC who flew that aircraft in combat Vietnam. As a result of this accident on 1-2 1968 I became 100% disabled and medically retired from the Army.
For the record, W1T.L. Metcalfe was sitting in the cargo compartment and received only a minor injury. WO1 John Kappas, one of the pilots in C /3/17 CAV evacuated me, Jacobus and Nichols to the 1st Evac in Saigon. He saved my life and has remained a lifelong friend and could testify if necessary to my status as AC on 061 at the time of the accident.
Please let me know if there is anything that can be done to correct this detail in the database. As far as I know everything else about the accident summary and war story is accurate.
Thank you for your attention in this matter. From: Bill Marcrander, October 2020 EDITOR'S NOTE:
To attempt to resolve the witness report differences in this accident, the editor submitted a FOIA request of the accident report from Fort Rucker, AL. As expected, all of the names of those who survived were redacted. The report appears to assign Bill Marcrander to 66-16036. It clearly assigns WO1 William Jacobus to 66-16036 and gunner PVT Ernest Nichols to 66-16061. See page 14 of the PDF below. Bill Marcrander may be listed with a broken arm on page 45 with 036. It is the only reported injury that fits him. This page also shows that the pilots of 66-16061 had no injuries. The second file is the cover letter for the FOIA request. Please note that these URLs are case sensitive. https://www.vhpa.org/reports/19680102Report.pdf https://www.vhpa.org/reports/19680102Letter.pdf It is always possible that the accident investigation board got the crews mixed up, however, the editor's experience working with these records for the past 30 years is that generally they are the most accurate of all of the data we have collected.
This record was last updated on 12/15/2020
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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023
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