Information on U.S. Army helicopter AH-1G tail number 67-15845
The Army purchased this helicopter 1268
Total flight hours at this point: 00000053
Date: 03/06/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1402
Incident number: 69030619.KIA
Unit: A/4/77 ARA 101 ABN
UTM grid coordinates: ZC177968
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. Also: 1402 ()
Loss to Inventory
AC MAJ MCDONNELL JOHN TERRENCE BNR
P 1LT GREENFIELD RONALD B RES
South Vietnam John T. McDonnell (1402) On March 6, 1969, Captain McDonnell was the pilot of an AH-1G Cobra helicopter hit and downed by hostile fire in Thua Thien Province. His crew member, a First Lieutenant, was rescued alive on March 7 but was unable to provide any information on the fate of Captain McDonnell. A search mission was also unsuccessful. Captain McDonnell was declared missing and, in February 1977, was declared dead/body not recovered. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to shed any light on his fate. U.S. investigators in Vietnam during January 1991 interviewed witnesses who described the capture of an American pilot in the area where Captain McDonnell disappeared. They reported he had a broken and bleeding arm when taken prisoner and brought to a People's Army of Vietnam regimental headquarters which received instructions to transport him to the Tri Thien Hue Military Region Headquarters. He died en route, was buried, and the U.S. field team was shown his purported burial site. The site was excavated but no remains were located. The following was compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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: Capt. John T. McDonnell was the aircraft commander of an AH1G helicopter from A Battery, 4th Battalion, 77th Artillery, 101st Airborne Division operating in Thua Tien Province, South Vietnam. On March 6, McDonnell's aircraft was the flight leader in a flight on two aircraft on a combat mission. During a firing pass, McDonnell's aircraft was observed receiving enemy ground fire. The aircraft disappeared into an overcast and crashed into a mountain side. The area was searched, but McDonnell could not be located. His pilot, Lt. Ronald Greenfield, was found and medically evacuated. Lt. Greenfield could recall nothing from the point of impact to the following morning. During the search, McDonnell's helmet was found with no trace of blood along with pieces of equipment. It appeared that McDonnell's seatbelt had been unlocked and that he had left the aircraft on his own power. During the search effort, numerous deserted enemy positions were located indicating that Capt. McDonnell might have been captured. The search continued for three weeks without success. McDonnell was not a green soldier. On a previous tour of Vietnam then-2LT. McDonnell was attached as an artillery expert to Detachment A324, 5th Special Forces Group. It was at this time, on May 25, 1965, that he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device for Heroism. At that time McDonnell was an advisor to South Vietnamese paramilitary forces at Thanh Dien Forest, Republic of Vietnam. A fellow team member had been killed by a sniper, another had been wounded. A third was missing. McDonnell's tactical advice and bravery enabled the team to successfully complete their search for the missing team member in the face of intense enemy fire.
I was the AC of the ship that hoisted Ron out after he was found. My medic went down on the hoist to put him on the jungle penetrator because he was too weak to get on himself. After that my medic searched the area for Cpt McDonnell. I had transferred from A Btry 4/77 ARA in Feburary to Eagle Dustoff. We had formed the unit at Ft. Sill and Ron was a good friend of mine. I had volunteered for the mission when I found out his aircraft was missing. I am not trying to take the credit but just get the facts straight. It may have been that the LOH pilot mentioned actually found the crash site. My crew and I were waiting at a firebase about 5 minutes away ready to rescue the crew after they were found. Sadly a LOH was shot down during the search phase and the pilot was killed. (OH-6A 67-16025) Incidently, LTC Bartholomew, our battalion commander of the 4/77, was shot down and killed in December 1968 within a few kilometers of the same crash site. Colonel Vogel, the Divarty Commander, was riding jump seat. All aboard were killed. In 2000 I was interviewed for a piece about the disappearance of Cpt McDonnell by the History Channel which aired I believe in 2002. John McDonnell had joined A Battery after we arrived in country. Of the original pilots that deployed from Ft. Sill with A Battery we lost 2; LTC Bartholomew and his copilot WO-1 Brinkmeyer. They were lost less than a month after arriving in Vietnam. LTC Bartholomew was a super leader and on his second tour. He purportedly told his wife he did not think he would return alive. From: Bob Black, LTC Retired
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