Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 66-17010
The Army purchased this helicopter 1167
Total flight hours at this point: 00000718
Incident number: 681019121ACD Accident case number: 681019121 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 82 MED DET
The station for this helicopter was Soc Trang in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 4 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 1
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory
P CPT COTTMAN ROBERT LEE KIA
P WO1 GROTH DENNIS ARTHUR KIA
CE SP5 SALUGA STEPHEN JOHN III KIA
MD SP5 DOOLITTLE RONALD LOUIS KIA
Description of the accident: At approximately 0430 hours on 19 Oct 68, CPT Cottman, WO1 Groth, SP5 Saluga, and SP5 Doolittle departed Soc Trang, Vietnam, airfield in a 82d Med, Det. (helicopter ambulance) UH-1H aircraft to evacuate an urgent American casualty from XS103105 in the vicinity of Tam Binh. Pick-up was accomplished and the aircraft proceeded to the 29th Evacuation Hospital, Can Tho, Vietnam to discharge their patient. At approximately 0445, a call was made from the aircraft to PFC Aljolson Shepherd, radio operator in the admissions and dispositions office of the 29th Evacuation Hospital stating that "dust off" 87 was bringing in one ambulatory patient, negative litter exchange, ETA 18 minutes. the aircraft arrived at the 29th Evacuation Hospital helipad, approximately 8 minutes later. The aircraft landed with the search light and/or landing light on and facing the a&d entrance door. PFC Franklin W. Gabel, litter bearer on duty at the 29th Evac. Hosp., approached the helicopter to assist the off loading of the patient. The patient was assisted out of the aircraft by either the medic or crew chief. As the patient was helped off the helicopter, the medic or crew chief motioned PFC Gabel to come closer and the crew member asked PFC Gabel, "what time is breakfast?". PFC Gabel answered "6 o'clock". The crew member nodded and yawned. PFC Gabel escorted the patient to the emergency room. The aircraft turned on either the search light or the landing light, picked up to hover, turned left, 180 degrees and took off. The search or landing light was turned off as the aircraft cleared the hospital fence, (approximately 50 meters). Aircraft appeared to climb to 150 feet upon departure and headed toward the Song Hau Giaug (Mekong) River, approximate heading 350 degrees. A C-130 aircraft was on short final to runway 240 at Binh Thuy Air Base. The pilot of the C-130 was contacted and he stated he did not see any aircraft while on short final. SSG Charles B. Sattler, control tower operator at Binh Thuy Air Base, states he observed an aircraft depart from Binh Thuy Naval Base. (from his point of observation at night, it would be difficult to determine if aircraft was taking off from the hospital pad or navy helipad. SSG Sattler states, "the object appeared to be in a doubtful attitude or in an aerobatic maneuver from the time I noticed it to the time of impact". SSG Sattler states, "the C-130 was over the landing threshold or on the runway, when I noticed the object depart from the adjacent base". Major Smidt, PFC Gabel, SFC Harrel, LT Copeland, SP4 Acker, members of the 29th Evac. Hosp. state an aircraft was on approach to Binh Thuy Air Base as Dustoff 87 was departing, the two aircraft seemed to converge, Dustoff 87 continued to turn right and lose altitude until it crashed into the Mekong River vicinity coordinates WS312512. A dull or muffled explosion occurred as the aircraft struck the water, a ball of fire arose.
This record was last updated on 04/14/1999
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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017
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