Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-00745
The Army purchased this helicopter 0167
Total flight hours at this point: 00000203
Date: 01/09/1968 MIA-POW file reference number: 0979
Incident number: 68010910.KIA
Unit: C/7/17 CAV
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Recon mission for Armed Escort , Other Aircraft.
While Enroute this helicopter was at Level Flight at 0200 feet and 080 knots.
UTM grid coordinates: AT955308
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
causing a Fire.
Systems damaged were: UNK
Casualties = 04 DOI . . Number killed in accident = 0 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
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. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: 0979, UH1P3, 00905 ()
Summary: May have overflown turn point on way to the OA. Shot down by heavy AW fire. Crashed and burned completely.
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered
G SSG NEWTON WARREN EMERY BNR
G SP4 SECRIST FRED JASON KIA
AC CW3 PHIPPS JAMES LARRY BNR
P CW3 RAMOS RAINER SYLVESTER BNR
On January 9, 1968, the crew of a UH1C (tail #66-00745) consisting of WO1 James L. Phipps, aircraft commander; WO Rainier S. Ramos, pilot; SP4 Warren E. Newton, doorgunner; and PFC Fred J. Secrist, gunner, were on a gunship-cover mission about 20 miles west of the city of Tam Ky in Quang Tin Province. LT Williamson, the pilot of another helicopter, was flying as scout in front of WO Ramos' aircraft when he received a call from WO Phipps indicating that he had been hit, was on fire, and was going down. LT Williamson stated he would follow the aircraft down. He saw smoke training from Ramos' aircraft, but did not sight flames until the aircraft impacted on the ground. The helicopter hit and exploded (the estimated impact speed was between 65 and 80 knots). The senior officer of Troop C, 7th Sqdn, 17th Air Cavalry arrived and made several passes over the downed aircraft. Heavy automatic weapons fire from the north and east of the downed aircraft was received on the third pass, but it was noted that the downed aircraft was gutted by fire and explosions. At no time was any evidence seen that suggested that the crew had been thrown clear of the crash. During the first 45 minutes of the on-scene observation, the munitions, consisting of 2.75 rockets and 40 mm grenades were exploding every minute or two. The senior officer remained in the area for about one and one-half hours. On January 20, a recovery operation was initiated and the remainder of the aircraft was located in the bottom of a large trench. About three sets of remains were recovered, but only one set (that of PFC Secrist) was subseqently identified. Newton, Phipps and Ramos were not declared dead, but Missing In Action, indicating that there was still the possibility that they were thrown clear of the aircraft and captured by the enemy.
VHPA members Don Williamson and Jack Burden provide the following details: Jack says that it is important to remember that the battles associated with Tet of '68 started about one month earlier in this part of I Corps because the 2nd NVA had become very aggressive since right after Christmas and had been pushing towards the Coast. The Americal folks were still pretty new in-country and were giving up ground in "no man's land." Most of the time C Troop would stage out of Hawk Hill as it supported the 1/1st Cav based there. Hawk Hill was about a mile from the ocean, west of QL 1 and about halfway between Chu Lai and Da Nang. Most every day C Troop would send teams looking to see how far the NVA had advanced in a given sector. The Americal instructions were for C Troop not to fly into NVA Country because the Division was not in a position to provide the extensive support that even a downed bird could generate. C Troop had a different operational configuration than either A or B Troop. We would take our Lift with the Blues and several sets of Guns and Scouts to Hawk Hill. We didn't fly a C&C per se. We would send out one or two mixed teams (one LOH and one UH-1C Gun) to recon by themselves knowing that the rest of the troop was literally standing by for them. If a team made contact or wanted to put the Blues in, then we would try to pull the other mixed team into the same general area to minimize the risk of having two birds down in two different areas. It was really neat when one team would find something and ask for Gun support; because most times we would send four Charlie Models to answer the call. That was a real "heavy, heavy team" and usually did a bang up job on the bad guys! Billy Williams and I were Majors and used to take turns directing the operations from Hawk Hill or in a C&C when we got into a fight. I was on the hill on the 9th. Don continues. I was the ranking officer and the leader of the mixed team on the 9th. We had been briefed and given an AO on the west side of FB Ross and another little outpost just beyond it. They were the last friendly positions and most everything to their west was NVA Country. We called that a "no fly line" because of the Division support policy Jack just described. I remember spreading out the maps on some sand bags and we all talked about our route to the AO. Naturally, running a map and flying a LOH low level doesn't make much sense; so I gave my maps to Phipps and Ramos. I still believe we missed a turn and flew west too far. Anyway, I remember passing over a small pond and receiving fire. I broke and called the Gunship to warn them about the fire. I hadn't even made a complete circle yet when I heard them say that they were taking fire and had been hit. They continued flying on the same heading, so I finished the circle and climbed up behind them. I told them I was "right on them" so if they needed to land or whatever I was in a position to support them. Anyway, they kept flying straight and flew right into the side of this mountain doing at least 90 knots!! We had just refueled and rearm. Brother, what an explosion and a fire!! I made several passes hoping to see someone get out but they really didn't have a chance. On my second pass I was REALLY RECEIVING FIRE. I called for help and remember talking with everyone that evening. They all agreed it was the WORST FIRE they had ever received. Jack finishes the story. When we received Don's call, we launched everything we had a Hawk Hill. I was calling back to Chu Lai and coordinating things; but was really desperate to get out there. One ACT of the 1/9th Cav was living at Hawk Hill at the time. They came over and looked at the crash point on the map. They agreed it was certainly bad guy country but said if our troop was going in (meaning putting the Blues on the ground); that they would go as well. At first I really felt good about this and was ready to commit both troops. Finally, I displaced some poor Gun pilot and flew out there in Greg Ross's gunship. They must have picked the base camp for a heavy weapons units of an NVA Regt; the fire was really bad!! It didn't take long to realize that we would doom both troops if we tried to go in there. Their ship was still burning like mad when I got there with ammo, especially WPs going off. I made a couple of passes at about 50 knots about 20 feet over the site but certainly saw nothing that was encouraging at all. We tried to go back the next day but it was still too hot. There was a small OP about 300 meters up the steep hill from the crash site. About a week and a half later, these friendly called us to say that the area was secured. I took a special team in to inspect the site. We found some human remains and the team was pretty positive they had identified four left legs. Even so they were officially carried as MIA for many years; but I have no doubt that they died.
This record was last updated on 08/06/1999
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