Helicopter UH-1H 66-16217

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 66-16217
The Army purchased this helicopter 0367
Total flight hours at this point: 00000485
Date: 01/23/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1365
Incident number: 69012310.KIA
Unit: 283 MED DET
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Rescue and Recovery mission for Medical Evacuation
While in PickUp Zone this helicopter was at Hover at 0050 feet and 000 knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: YA940681 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PYA940681)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Explosive Weapon; Non-Artillery launched or static weapons containing explosive charges.
causing a Blast.
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 07 DOI, 01 INJ . .
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: 1365, LNNF, CASRP, JSIDR (Lindenmuth New Format Data Base. Joint Services Incident Damage Report. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

Passengers and/or other participants:

War Story:
Notes from The Virtual Wall

Chu Pa Mountain (aka Hill 1485) in Pleiku Province is located about 16km due west of Plei Mrong and 36km southwest of Kontum City. Used by the NVA and VC as a staging area, Chu Pa was subjected to an assault on 21-23 Jan 1969 by Alpha and Delta Companies of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry. The Battalion's Executive Officer, Major Jerry P. Laird, accompanied Alpha Company.

The assault was bitterly opposed from the beginning, with Delta 1/35 losing two men on 21 Jan. On the 22nd, as Alpha attempted a link-up with Delta, Major Laird and one of his radiomen, Sp4 Douglas Ross, were among a group of soldiers pinned down about 40 meters outside the Delta perimeter. Under heavy small arms and grenade attack, the group was forced to seek cover in caves where the survivors spent the night. Alpha company lost three men, Delta two, and both Major Laird and SP4 Ross were killed.

On the morning of the 23rd searchers located those men whose bodies had not been recovered on the 22nd - except for SP4 Ross, who could not be found. Although the Battalion avoided any further deaths on the ground, a medevac helicopter (UH-1H 66-16217) from the 283rd Medical Detachment was hit by a B-40 rocket while about 50' above the ground, crashed, and burned, killing four aircrewmen and three previously wounded soldiers.

Overall, 16 Americans had been killed in the actions on 21-23 January:

A Company:
SSG James D. Stuessel, La Puente, CA (01/22/1969)
SGT Harry D. Brueske, East St Louis, IL (01/22/1969)
PFC David F. Head, Clarkston, MI (01/22/1969)

D Company:
SSG Robert L. Luster, Tiffin, OH (04/08/1976)
SSG Terrence W. McFarland, Columbus, OH (01/21/1969)
SSG Frank D. Moorman, Clifton, NJ (04/08/1976)
CPL Jack E. Campbell, Oella, MD (01/22/1969)
SP4 Russel H. Hewit, Seville, OH (01/21/1969)
SP4 Gilton W. Johnson, Greensburg, LA (01/22/1969)
SP4 Edward Smith, Steele, MO (01/23/1969)

HQ Company:
MAJ Jerry P. Laird, Allentown, NJ, XO 1/35 (01/22/1969)
SP4 Douglas A. Ross, Temple City, CA (01/22/1969)

283rd Med Det, 498th Med Company (aircrew, UH-1H 66-16217):
WO Sylvester Davis, Akron, OH, pilot (01/23/1969)
WO Arvid O. Silverberg, West Brookfield, MA, copilot (01/23/1969)
SFC William R. Henderson, Cincinnati, OH, medic (03/10/1976)
PFC Robert R. Sloppye, Sacramento, CA, crew chief (01/23/1969)

On 27 January seven bodies were recovered from the burned-out UH-1 wreckage, but only four could be identified at the time. The fighting on 21-23 Jan thus left four men listed as missing in action:

SFC William Henderson, medic aboard UH-1H 66-16217;
SSG Robert Luster, passenger aboard UH-1H 66-16217;
SSG Frank Moorman, passenger aboard UH-1H 66-16217; and
SP4 Douglas Ross, killed on the ground but not recovered.

The casualty database indicates that the three remaining bodies from the Huey eventually were identified; one assumes the casualty dates noted above represent the dates of identification. Staff Sergeants Luster and Moorman were buried together in Section 46, Arlington National Cemetery. No information is available regarding Sergeant First Class Henderson's place of burial. Oddly, none of the three is included in the DoD Personnel Missing - Southeast Asia (PMSEA) database of personnel carried as MIA for extended periods of time.

The remains of Sergeant Douglas Ross, who had received a posthumous promotion, were repatriated twenty-eight years later, on 29 Sep 1997, with positive identification on 18 Feb 1998. Sergeant Ross was buried on 27 March 1998 in Site 1451, Section 1A, Los Angeles National Cemetery. (SGT Ross is in the PMSEA database.)

One further note - The POW Network site has biographies for SFC Henderson, SSG Luster, and SSG Moorman. In each case the POW Network suggests the three men were associated with the seach for PFC Robert F. Scherdin, a Special Forces trooper who went missing in action on 29 December 1968. However, there is no association between Scherdin and the three men whose unidentifiable remains were recovered from the wreckage of UH-1H 66-16217.

From: Ken Davis at virtualwall@alltel.net

I had previously weaved into the bomb shell hover hole and dropped off supplies to include chain saws for expanding the hover hole. Later in the day I circled to go back in for re-supply and wounded when I watched UH-1H 66-16217 at a high hover above the tree line attempting to sling load wounded. I warned him that I thought he was safer within the hover hole than above but got no response. Soon thereafter I helplessly witnessed the aircraft explode in a large orange ball of fire and fall with someone on the slingload. My co-pilot took a picture of the aircraft before it was hit but I doubt any photographs afterward. We soon received small arms fire and were unable to enter the hover hole; left soon thereafter.

From: WO-1 T. Beck Gipson, Rustler 24, Blackjack 24

This record was last updated on 09/15/2015

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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