Helicopter UH-1C 66-00523


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-00523
The Army purchased this helicopter 0766
Total flight hours at this point: 00001038
Date: 09/29/1968
Incident number: 68092929.KIA
Unit: ACT/11 ACR
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Recon mission for Armed Recon
Unknown this helicopter was Unknown at UNK feet and UNK knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: YS442910
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 = 01 KIA, 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 Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, UH1P3, 27301 (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
AC WO1 HARRIS JERRY LEE KIA
P WO1 ROLLINS WILLIAM PAUL KIA
CE SP5 SHEPHERD BLAINE JOSEPH KIA
G SP4 MATUSKA JOHN JAMES KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
ABRAHAM DENNIS, AU, PX, KIA


War Story:
On Sunday, September 29, 1968, a U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C (tail number 66-00523) from 1st Squadron “Blackhorse,” 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was operating in Long Khanh Province (III Corps) where it was performing a routine morning aerial recon of the road going east out the Blackhorse basecamp. This road was heavily used by convoys going in and out of the camp. The enemy was well aware of this and frequently mined the road or set up ambushes at vulnerable spots on it. The low level aerial recon was necessary to spot mines or superfluous movement before trucks started rolling down this road each morning. The crew included aircraft commander WO1 Jerry L. Harris, pilot WO1 William P. Rollins, crew chief SP5 Blaine J. Shepherd, and gunner SP4 John J. Matuska. A ground soldier in the Australian squadron working with the Blackhorse, Dennis Abraham, had made friends with Matuska and Shepard at the Enlisted Men’s club and asked if he could tag along, as he rarely rode in a helicopter. Pilot Rollins approved the Aussie’s request. Later that day, the same crew with their extra passenger did a second aerial recon just as twilight was setting in. The purpose of this recon was countermortar as the Viet Cong liked to set up nighttime mortar attacks while it was still light. When the crew did not return after a reasonable amount of time and radio contact could not be established with them, a group of three helicopters were sent out to look for 523. The aircraft searched a couple hours with no success, giving up on account of darkness, returned to base then resumed in the morning. Again, they were unsuccessful in locating the missing aircraft. Three days later, the aircraft was located by a scout helicopter. The crashed helicopter was in the bottom of a ravine in very heavy jungle. A squad from the troop’s Aerial Rifle Platoon (ARP) were inserted about a half-mile from the crash site in the only suitable LZ they could find. This sector was considered a “hot area” of enemy activity. The trees and undergrowth were so thick that the only way to get to the crash site was by wading in a stream that was chest high in some places. A C&C aircraft hovered overhead and guided the team to the crash site by radio. Passing around a bend in the stream they located the aircraft. It had slammed nose first into the side of the ravine, and was sitting in the water, deeper in the front than the rear. The ARP’s set up a defensive position around the downed aircraft. The lifeless crew were still strapped in the helicopter and had their CVC helmets on except the Australian who also was strapped in. Dead for three days, the bodies were bloated and a gruesome sight to behold. It appeared that all had died from broken necks on impact. A regimental CH-47 Chinook helicopter was called in to airlift the wreckage out. While waiting for the Chinook, another squad of ARP’s arrived with body bags, and the dead crew and passenger were removed from the aircraft. Removing them was a struggle. Also while waiting for the lift aircraft, the troopers discovered their legs were covered with leeches. All of them dropped their pants quickly to discover as many as 15-20 leeches from the waist down. Cigarettes were used to remove them. The bodies were floated downstream to the LZ and loaded on a lift ship to their base camp. Again, leeches covered the ARP’s. At the regimental mortuary it was noted that the only wound on any of the deceased was a bullet hole through pilot Rollin’s temple. It appeared that what happened is he was flying real low when a single round struck and killed him instantly and everyone else on board died on impact. [Taken from armyaircrews.com and the book American Warrior by J.C. Bahnsen Jr.]

This record was last updated on 07/30/2015


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