Helicopter AH-1G 67-15605

Information on U.S. Army helicopter AH-1G tail number 67-15605
The Army purchased this helicopter 0568
Total flight hours at this point: 00000214
Date: 12/19/1968
Incident number: 68121999.KIA
Unit: 361 AWC
This was a Combat Loss caused by being shot down by Ground Fire with the mission function of Armed Helicopter (having primary weapon subsystems installed and utilized to provide direct fire support)
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Recon mission for Armed Recon
While in Target Area this helicopter was Attacking at UNK feet and UNK knots.
Helicopter took 2 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Engine Compartment causing Fragmentation Damage.
Casualties = 01 KIA, 01 INJ . .
Search and rescue operations were Not Required
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: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center AVDAC database. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, LNOF, 80394, CRAFX, CASRP (Operations Report. Lindenmuth Old Format Data Base. Crash Facts Message. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered

Crew Members:

War Story:
We had been briefed by FOB on a mission to attack and destroy a recently constructed bridge that was our major supply route in out of the place over the fence. We briefed on it and attacked the target, and apparently, there was a battalion or better, of NVA, in and around the bridge.

They let us in on our second pass and we destroyed the bridge in one pass and blew it up. And we were going to make a second and final pass when we started picking up intense ground fire. When I mean intense, I'm talking about intense. I never heard small arms 30 caliber AK fire just rippling around the ship and we were low and fast, under 50 feet, right on the trees and doing better than 120 knots. My wingman charged in on his second pass. I was already passed through mine. I turned to cover him. This was Lieutenant Renner, he hadn't been with me too long, and Mr. Ben H. Ide. I had just picked, he had only been with the company about three weeks, going on a month.

Ben had a wife and five children. And he was second tour. And he was riding the front seat or co-pilot gunner with Lieutenant Paul Renner, and they were inbound on the target. And I turned in to cover him. He called and told me he was picking up intense ground fire and I told him I could identify the source. And I actually could. Because along the river there, I could see them along the bank in high grass standing up. I could see about a company of men, and I really poured it to them. I raked them with rocket and XM 18 fire, strafed them. I don't know how many I killed, but it was a lot of them.

And then, unbeknown to me, right at that moment, Paul took a 37 millimeter anti-aircraft round from an anti-aircraft weapon right in the front. Which unbeknown to us at that time also instantly killed Ben, but to Paul, the whole front end blew up. And he froze his controls to the right and he did sort of a right 270 and crash-landed amid the enemy in an open area, and it scared the hell out of me. There wasn't a hell lot I could do because within seconds after that, I took a 50 caliber round right under the seat and wiped out the wiring harness and I lost all electrical power to all my guns, to everything in the ship. I didn't even have battery power. The only instruments I had was my N1 TAC, N2 TAC and my EGT and they only told me that the engine was still running and so I ducked down in the riverbank, low on the water and went up the blue line with a hail of enemy fire following me.

I continued up the river, I couldn't call anybody. Radios were all completely out. And fortunately, Jerry Foster, Captain Foster, who was the Cougar or gunship platoon leader for the chase gunships, immediately dropped in and started strafing the NVA off Paul's back. And later as Paul said, after he hit the ground, the ship rolled on his right and slung the transmission out the back, and he used his breakaway knife and went out the left side of the canopy and jumped down with his emergency kit and his Swedish K, which is a 9 millimeter grease gun that we carry. And he said he could hear the gooks all around him, yelling in Vietnamese or what would be their North Vietnamese language, and crashing through the woods trying to come toward him. He got on his emergency radio and called Jerry and told him they were all around him and Jerry started rocketing and strafing around him and he could hear him yelling and screaming as he was knocking them off.

He got around to the front, Paul did, and was trying to help Ben out or get Ben out. Ben was totally unconscious. Paul said to himself then he thought Ben was dead, but it really blew him to bits. The whole nose was gone, of the ship. And the chase Slick, which is a pickup ship for us in case any of us goes down, was in within three minutes on the ground with the Cougars covering him. The Slick came in picking up heavy ground fire. And the two crew chiefs on the ship helped Paul get Ben out, because Ben was pretty husky, and they drag him to the ship a few meters away and off they went, picking up more ground fire. But everybody got out. And the ship was nap'd (bombed with napalm) by our escort of A-1Es, and then they CBU'd (Cluster Bomb Fuel Air Explosive) and nap'd the whole area there. They later come to find out there was about a battalion of NVA moving through the area that was around the bridge, and they had a convoy that was due to use the bridge that we knocked it out. We just had to be along when there was a lot of NVA there.

Mr. Cloudfelder, a fella named Mark, who was in the front seat, and I, we went on up the blue line while that was happening, and then climbed out and started heading toward Dak To for the friendly lines. We're about 35 nautical miles over the fence and then about 60 miles from the nearest friendly place I could make an emergency landing at, and the thing continued to fly well. EGT was stable so I knew nothing was wrong with the engine. I just went through all my emergency procedures, cut everything off and continued on. It took us about -- I held a little under 110 knots, kind of held the speed down in case anything was hanging loose or I was streaming fuel or something.

I made an emergency landing at Dak To. As I got it on the south ramp at Dak To, set it down, I drew quite a crowd because it was full of shrapnel holes and had an enormous hole under the seat where the 50 caliber went through, just kind of blows out the other side leaving a hole that must have been about 8 inches, 12 inches across, coming out.

We got the ship shut down and Squad Man, one Special Forces that worked with FOB called and said the Slick was inbound with one of my other two crew members and said one of them was critically wounded, and that he'd be going to the Dak To aid station. So I DDed (Vietnamese 'di di mau' GI slang for hurry or run) to the aid station and the Slick landed just minutes as I was arriving and they carried Ben downstairs. Paul had a load of shrapnel and Plexiglas in his face and front. I know it must have been quite a traumatic experience for Paul. They worked on Ben and I tried to comfort Paul and there wasn't a lot they could do for Ben. As the doc said, he'd had it when the thing initially hit. They went ahead and we finished making out identifying papers on him and tagged him and all that and they took it from there from us.

From: a Gary Higgins (361st ACE0 recording to his parents made in January 1969

Kent Harper from 170 AHC picked up Ide and Renner in his slick and flew them to Dak To. Ide was dead when picked up. from 1997 VHPA reunion.

This record was last updated on 08/24/2021

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