Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17254
Date: 03/13/1968 MIA-POW file reference number: 1085
Incident number: 68031321.KIA
Unit: A/1/9 CAV 1 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: YD601383
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: 1085 ()
Loss to Inventory
P 1LT PEDA ROBERT CHARLES RES
CE SFC GUBBINS EUGENE KIA
G PFC MOORE LARRY JAY KIA
P CW3 WATSON JIMMY LEE BNR
Passengers and/or other participants:
SSG EVANS CLEVELAND JR, MC, PX, BNR
SSG HEITMAN STEVEN WAYNE, AR, PX, BNR
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: On March 13, 1968, SP5 Heitman, Sgt. Evans, passengers, WO Jimmy Watson, pilot, SFC Eugene Gubbins, PFC Larry Moore and Lt. Peda, crewmembers and 4 unidentified passengers of the 101st Airborne Division were aboard a UH1H helicopter (tail #67-17254) which proceeded north from Phu Bai airfield on a logistics mission to Camp Evans, Republic of Vietnam. Evans was on the aircraft on the first leg of a journey to Da Nang, to visit his brother, who was stationed there. About 3-5 miles southeast of Camp Evans, the helicopter was hit by enemy fire and was forced to land. All 10 persons exited the aircraft and split into two 5-man teams in an attempt to evade to friendly lines. Lt. Peda and the four 101st Airborne personnel walked into Camp Evans at 2000 hours. An intensive search was initiated, but failed to reveal any trace of the aircraft or the 5 missing. On March 28, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division found 2 bodies in a shallow grave in the area of the crash site. They were later identified as those of SFC Gubbins and PFC Moore. The fates of the other 3 remained a mystery and the three were classified Missing in Action.
Jimmy Lee Watson was a WO-1 in A Troop. He flew guns for about six months and was transferred to the maintenance section. SFC Gubbins was the A Troop maintenance NCO. SP4 Moore was the parts specialist in the maintenance section.
On 13 March 68, Jimmy flew Jerry Cogdill to DaNang to catch a flight home (DROS). Jimmy was shot down on his return trip from DaNang to LZ Sharon. The squadron searched all night and the next day for the aircraft and the other personnel. The aircraft was never found. On 28 March, SFC Gubbins and SP-4 Moore's bodies were found in shallow graves. An infantry company working in that area found the bodies. Jimmy was carried MIA for many years and promoted to CW-3 during that time period.
1LT Bob Peda, A troop scout pilot, was flying co-pilot with Jimmy that day in a brand new huey h-model. Bob escaped along with some 101st troops (paxs). They ran about 9 km to the gate of Camp Evans. About three weeks later Bob and SFC Otto See, scout platoon sgt, A troop died in the same OH-13 inside a Special Forces camp that had been over run by NVA tanks. One special forces sgt managed to escape.
From: Al Tyre
POW/MIA documents now available on-line through the Library of Congress tell a different story. There is a lengthy JTF-FA message from 27 Sep 1997 which covers excavations undertaken to recover the remains of the three missing men (WATSON, EVANS, and HEITMAN). Part of the message describes the testimony of three men who participated in the incident - as VCs. All three tell more or less the same story: The helo landed in their village and 10 men got off. Five of them headed toward a US base (probably Camp Evans) while the other five stayed with the helo. The village militia (read VC) was mustered and attacked the five troops who stayed with the helo. After a firefight which forced the US soldiers from the helo, two soldiers (GUBBINS and MOORE) were killed in one location while the other three continued on and established a defensive position in a Vietnamese cemetery, where they were killed. The first two (GUBBINS and MOORE) were buried together in one spot, while WATKINS, EVANS, and HEITMAN were removed from the Viet cemetery and buried in separate graves a short distance away - but none of the graves was far from the village. Two weeks later US soldiers recovered GUBBINS and MOORE but did not find the other graves. None of the VC say anything about what they did with the helicopter itself.
The 1997 excavations were successful in finding additional remains attributable to GUBBINS and MOORE, but did not locate any of the other gravesites, which are in an area subsequently disturbed by cultivation and construction of irrigation ditches. They also found data plates which could be attributed without doubt to UH-1H tail number 67-17254.
The testimony of the three VC guys strikes me as very reasonable. The five men who stayed with the helo had their personal weapons as well as the Huey's machine guns (the VC say they captured 2 .45 cal pistols, 2 M-60 MGs, and 4 M-16 rifles, which sounds about right) and no doubt would have felt secure. The five on the march knew they had only a short way to go and presumably had their personal weapons.
From: Ken Davis
This record was last updated on 06/12/2008
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