Helicopter UH-1B 63-12915

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1B tail number 63-12915
The Army purchased this helicopter 1064
Total flight hours at this point: 00001965
Date: 01/31/1968
Incident number: 68013144.KIA
Unit: B/1/9 CAV
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
for Close Air Support
While Enroute this helicopter was Unknown at UNK feet and UNK knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: YD865223 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QYD865223)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 02 KIA . .
The helicopter made a Forced Landing. 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 Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, UH1P3, 03128 (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

War Story:
I have been in contact with the kin of my crew chief, SP4 Richard F. Delgado and one of them noticed that on the Virtualwall website, that Richard is listed as being lost on 31 Jan 68 with Mr. Gary Hanna in UH-1B tail number 63-12915. Here is the problem - Delgado was my crew chief and my co-pilot was WO1 William R. Lee. We were shot down that morning. Both Mr. Lee and Mr. Delgado were killed after capture. My problem? I have no idea what the tail number of the ship we were flying was so do not know what the error is. I do know that Mr. Hanna was not with us. Was Mr. Hanna in 915 or was that my ship?? Please correct to the following: WO1 William R. Lee and SP4 Richard F. Delgado were lost in the same ship on the morning of 31 Jan 1968 and are now listed as POW's. KIA, bodies recovered. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the door gunner, who also escaped with me. It was our first flight together and I never saw him again.

Excerpt of letter to Ms. Cecillia Luna 10 Apr 09:

As you may know we were assigned to the B Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, the reconnaissance unit of the 1st Cavalry Division. On the morning of January 31st we were assigned to do a recon of some bridges in Hue, a major city in northern RVN. Aboard the helicopter were myself, the co-pilot, Mr. William Lee, your Uncle (SP4 Richard Delgado) who was our Crew Chief and our Door Gunner, whose name I still haven't learned to this day! Unfortunately no one knew that the NVA and Viet Cong had taken the city during the night in what became infamously known as the first day of TET, 1968. The morning was overcast with low clouds and in order to find Hue we flew toward the coast and let down over the water, picking up the Perfume River and following that into the city. At the first major bridge we came under intense enemy ground fire, severely damaging the helicopter. Immediately climbing back into the clouds we headed southwest. Shortly thereafter the aircraft became difficult to control and we made a descent through the cloud cover into a rice paddy / field. The only people we saw were an old farmer working the paddy with a small boy and a water buffalo. We set up a defensive position around our ship while we waited for the rescue ships to arrive (we did get off an emergency call after we were hit). Within 15 minutes or so, enemy mortar shells began to fall around us and we took cover in the rice paddy. Our ammunition was soon expended and we were overrun by the Viet Cong. I cannot begin to explain what was in all our minds! There were 30 to 40 enemy soldiers, probably a company unit. One group gathered us together and were playing with us while another group placed explosives on our ship. When the explosives were detonated they caused a number of unexpended aerial rockets to go off which caused considerable activity as everyone ran for cover. When it was over we had inadvertently separated into two groups about 100 to 200 feet apart. Later, as the Viet Cong were moving us toward Hue, I heard helicopters coming and as I turned to see where they were, I saw the Viet Cong shoot Mr. Lee and your Uncle. The door Gunner and I dropped for cover. The Viet Cong were shooting at us, the helicopters and on the run at the same time. Of course the helicopters were shooting at everything moving. Sometime later a helicopter set down near us and we were airlifted to Hue Phu Bai, a US military base a few miles distant. In the hospital I was assured that all the crew were okay and I returned to our unit 4 or 5 days later to find that your Uncle and Mr. Lee had been killed.

From: William H. Babcock

This record was last updated on 05/01/2009

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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