Information on U.S. Air Force helicopter HH-3E tail number 67-14710
Date: 06/09/1968 MIA-POW file reference number: 1206
Incident number: 68060910.KIA
Unit: 37 ARRS
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Rescue and Recovery mission for Rescue of Persons
While in PickUp Zone this helicopter was at Hover at 0100 feet and 000 knots.
UTM grid coordinates: YD235100
Count of hits was not possible because the helicopter burned or exploded.
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (14.5MM)
causing a Fire.
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 04 DOI . .
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: 1206, 07119, Unit History ()
Summary: Shot down while trying to rescue Marine A-4 on the Hellborn 215 mission.
Loss to Inventory
AC LT RITTICHIER JACK COLUMBUS RR
CP CPT YEEND RICHARD C JR RR
FE SSG HOLDEN ELMER LARRY RR
RS SGT LOCKER JAMES DOUGLAS RR
The 3d ARRG unit history states this aircraft and crew, based at Da Nang, were lost due to hostile ground fire while attempting to recover a Marine A-4 pilot on the Hellborn 215 mission. The aircraft was observed crashing in flames and all personnel on board were killed. USCG LT Hittichier, the only U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot killed in Southeast Asia during the war, was the pilot of this aircraft. From Bob Dubois, pilot of Trail 33, watching the event later wrote: "Jolly Green 23 went into a hover over the A-4 pilot and turned to the west. The PJ was on the wire being lowered when Jolly Green 23 reported he was taking heavy fire. I saw fire coming out of the left side near the engine and I told him he was on fire and to get out of there. He started to pull out and I advised him that there was a clearing 1,000 meters north if he had to set down. He said he was going for the clearing. He was in descent but still above the height of the trees along the edge of the clearing when the main rotor stopped turning. Jolly Green 23 hit the ground and burst into flames that consumed anything that looked like an aircraft." Vietnam War MIA's Identified The remains of four servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors. They are U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jack C. Rittichier, Barberton, Ohio; U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard C. Yeend, Jr., Mobile, Ala.; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Elmer L. Holden, Oklahoma City and U.S. Air Force Sgt. James D. Locker, Sidney, Ohio. Rittichier, on a pilot exchange program with the U.S. Air Force, was the only Coast Guardsman missing in action from the Vietnam War. On June 9, 1968, Rittichier and Yeend were pilot and co-pilot, respectively, of an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter that departed Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, on a search and rescue mission for a downed U.S. pilot. At the rescue site, Rittichier reported his aircraft had been struck by enemy fire. Before he could safely land, his aircraft stalled and exploded in a massive fireball. There were no survivors. From 1989 through 1992, U.S. officials received information about the crash site from various Southeast Asian sources, including refugees seeking settlement in the U.S. The reports suggested that some of the individuals may have seen or had access to materials collected from the crash site. Throughout the 1990s, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting investigated the crash at many locations in Vietnam, all with negative results. But in May 2002 a joint team operating in Laos received information about the crash of a large helicopter at a site near Ban Kaboui, Laos, about 15 kilometers from the reported wartime loss location. In late 2002, another team surveyed the suspected site and uncovered wreckage and crew-related items that correlated to a Jolly Green Giant helicopter. Then in January and February 2003, the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI), conducted an excavation where human remains were recovered and later identified by CILHI as those of the crew.
This record was last updated on 06/16/2009
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