Information on U.S. Army helicopter CH-47A tail number 66-19053
The Army purchased this helicopter 0267
Total flight hours at this point: 00001138
Date: 10/20/1968 MIA-POW file reference number: 1306
Incident number: 681020071ACD Accident case number: 681020071 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 243 ASHC
This was a Accident incident.
UTM grid coordinates: BP661790
Number killed in accident = 0 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
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. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: 1306 ()
Loss to Inventory
AC CW4 DEITSCH CHARLES EDWARD RR
P CW2 KNIGHT HENRY CLAY RR
CE SSG MELDAHL CHARLES HOWARD RR
G SFC STANTON RONALD RR
FE SSG BRIDGES JERRY GLEN RR
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. SYNOPSIS: On October 20, 1968, CW3 Deitsch, aircraft commander; WO1 Knight, pilot; SP5 Meldahl, crewchief; SP4 Bridges, flight engineer; and SP4 Stanton, door gunner, departed Dong Ba Thien Airfield, South Vietnam, in a CH47A helicopter (serial #66-19053) on a resupply mission to Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam. The CH47 "Chinook" helicopter was one of the workhorses of the Army's air fleet. As a cargo lift, the Chinook could carry up to 28,000 pounds on its external cargo hook, and is credited with the recovery of 11,500 disabled aircraft worth more than $3 billion. As troop carrier, the aircraft could be fitted with 24 litters for medical evacuation, or carry 33-44 troops in addition to the crew. On one occasion, a Chinook evacuated 147 refugees and their possessions on a single flight. The Chinook could be outfitted for bombing missions, dropping tear gas or napalm in locations fixed wing aircraft could not reach. The big bird could carry a large cargo of supplies. Deitsch radioed at 0700 hours on October 20 that his aircraft was over the Ninh Hoa Valley. That was the last anyone heard of the CH47. At about 0800 hours, it was determined that the helicopter was overdue. An intensive search effort was made, but no wreckage was ever found of the CH47, and search efforts were concluded on October 28. Villagers were later canvassed throughout the Ninh Ho Valley, and literature was distributed asking about the crash of the Chinook, but no new information was ever discovered.
The aircraft was last heard from 30 min after takeoff at 4000 feet altitude aircraft commander reported the weather to be good. No further word has been heard from the aircraft.
CLOSURE FOR VET'S FAMILY ---------------- Military funeral for Vietnam soldier from Massillon ends `mission' Remains of MIAs discovered in 1994 BY MARK NIQUETTE Beacon Journal staff writer MASSILLON: There's a simple grave marker for Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Van Stanton in Massillon Cemetery, but Bettie Stanton says she doesn't visit the site. Her brother isn't there. Ronald Stanton left Massillon for Vietnam in 1967, serving as a door gunner in the 243rd Assault Support Helicopter Company. His helicopter never came back from a supply mission in October 1968, and an extensive search couldn't locate a crash site. Stanton and the other four crew members later were declared killed in action, but Bettie Stanton and soldiers who served in the 243rd could not accept that the men were not coming home. ``We've always said on our missions that a mission wasn't over, and no one felt secure, until everyone was home,'' said Regis Smith of Hudson, who served with Stanton in Vietnam. ``It never seemed true. I never really accepted it,'' Bettie Stanton said. Two Vietnamese fisherman discovered the crash site in 1994. Now that the remains of Stanton and the other soldiers in the crew have been identified, the remains are being returned for burial next month in Arlington National Cemetery. The final mission of the 243rd is ending. Ronald Stanton and his crewmates are coming home. Visitation for the lost crew has been scheduled May 24 at an Arlington, Va., funeral home. A complete military funeral will follow a day later. Bettie Stanton, 60, her 39-year-old son and her 43-year-old sister from Mobile, Ala., plan to be there to say their final farewells. Surviving members of the 243rd also plan to attend, renew acquaintances, pay respects to their comrades and comfort the families. All involved say they expect an emotional experience that will bring some closure. ``It's sad to find out all hope is gone,'' Bettie Stanton said. ``But like a book, the story has to come to an end.'' Ronald Stanton was born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1948 and graduated from high school there before moving with his family to Massillon at age 19. He worked for about a year at Republic Steel before being drafted into the Army, his sister said. Last goodbye ``I can see him just like it was yesterday,'' she said. ``He was walking to the airplane door, stopped and looked at us. Then he turned around to go and he never turned around again.'' Stanton's job on the Chinook helicopter was to man a machine gun mounted just inside the door to protect the left side of the aircraft. The Chinooks carried troops, equipment and medical supplies where needed. Jon R. Beckenhauer of Annandale, Va., was a pilot in the 243rd and said he was aboard the second helicopter to take off after Stanton's on Oct. 20, 1968. The medical supply mission to the Central Highlands in Vietnam was only Beckenhauer's second flight. Bettie Stanton believes it was to be her brother's final flight before returning home to Massillon. He was 20. Bad weather forced the helicopters that took off after Stanton's to return to Dong Ba Thien Airfield, where the 243rd was based. The pilot of Stanton's aircraft radioed that he was continuing. It was the last anyone heard from the helicopter. Unit members and villagers searched for months in vain. ``We never stopped looking,'' said Beckenhauer, now 54. ``No crew ever flew out in that direction without always looking out the windows.'' In 1974, after the United States had pulled out of Vietnam, Stanton and the other men in the lost crew were declared killed in action. Stanton legally was declared dead in October 1978. A brass grave marker was erected in Massillon Cemetery on Erie Street South. When the fishermen discovered the crash site in March 1994, the Army suspected it was the lost crew from the 243rd, Beckenhauer said. The Army sent a team to excavate the site. Workers found dog tags and remains of the soldiers nearby. The cause of the crash was never determined. Investigators speculated that the weather or mechanical failure was to blame, Beckenhauer said. Bettie Stanton said she was asked five years ago to provide a DNA sample, which was used to identify Ronald Stanton's remains. She and Beckenhauer, who is organizing the 243rd's reunion next month, said they don't know why it has taken so long for the remains to be returned for burial. The Army plans to bury the five crew members together at Arlington, Beckenhauer said. Ronald Stanton was a hard-working, fun-loving young man who liked hunting, fishing, and having a good time, his sister said. All of the eight Stanton siblings were close, she said. ``This was something he wanted to do,'' Bettie Stanton said of his brother's military service. She wonders if the war was in vain but never doubts her brother's heroism. Smith, 59, who owns the Carriage Insurance Agency in Hudson, said he remembers Stanton but didn't know him that well. Still, he has called Bettie Stanton in recent days and plans to attend the services in Arlington. ``I think it's going to be great for the families to talk to people like me who knew the pilots and crew, and relate some of our stories with them,'' he said. Support appreciated Bettie Stanton, who has worked for nearly 37 years as an inspector/auditor at Crown Cork & Seal in Massillon, says she appreciates the support from her brother's comrades. She suspects she'll need it next month, remembering a trip she took to Washington, D.C., last year. The surviving Stanton family members gathered for a reunion, and they visited both Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Wall. At the wall, they found Ronald Stanton's name and traced it under a sheet of paper as a remembrance. ``My heart felt like it was bursting,'' she said. ``He was a good brother, and I'm glad he's coming home.''
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