Helicopter UH-1H 66-17121

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 66-17121
The Army purchased this helicopter 1267
Total flight hours at this point: 00000995
Date: 03/09/1969
Incident number: 69030999.KIA
Unit: B/101 AVN 101 ABN
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: XD802592 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QXD802592)
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

War Story:
We never let new guys fly the type of mission Dan was on 3/9/69. Although it was not strictly a volunteer mission, you did want to have a crew with experience including both pilots, crewchief, doorgunner and bellyman. I'll try & explain what everyone's job was to give you a idea of how we functioned. With flight crews the pilots rank did not matter, just who was the most experienced. The aircraft commander was the senior pilot, the co-pilot was junior in experience. The crewchief was the enlistedman assigned to that aircraft for the daily maintaince and also served as the leftside doorgunner. The other doorgunner maintained the machine guns and helped the crewchief. The aircraft commander, crewchief & doorgunner were assigned to a particular helicopter, co-pilots rotated between crews as needed until they received their AC orders and their own helicopter. The bellyman, was only used for specific types of missions, was added firepower and gave the pilots clearance directions in cases where the helicopter was making a vertical descent through the trees usually while getting shot at. FOB-OSG missions (Green Berets) or LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrols[Rangers] ) missions normally put small teams of 5-7 men in the field to locate bad guys and gather information. LRRP's primarily worked well inside the borders of the country while FOB-SOG missions were close to the border. When you put a team into the field the helicopter crew stayed on stand-by until they pulled the team out. Missions could last anywhere from 2 days to 4 days on the outside. That week we had put a couple of teams in the field and had to extract them within 24 hours because they had made contact with large enemy forces. As I said in my first note I was getting very close to leaving for home(less than a week to go) and wanted to get out of the field. CW 2 Poley came up to the forward base to relieve me on the afternoon of 3/8/69, the helicopter was lost the next morning. At the time the ship went down they were trying to get badly needed supplies to a radio relay station which was their only contact with the team in the field. The relay station was just South of the DMZ on top of a mountain. The mountain top was closed in by the clouds and Dave & Dan had made several attempts to land without success, my understanding is that they were trying to hover up the side of the mountain to reach the station when the radio crew heard a large amount of gun fire from the bad guys answered from the helicopter, then an explosion. No one knows for sure exactly how the ship went down only that it took several days to find it in the jungle. Dan was a good pilot, dependable under stress and clear headed. There were five damn good men on that helicopter each of them there because they wanted to be and because the other four men trusted them with their lives. Some people could never fly FOB or LRRP missions their nerves just could not take the stress. I don't mean to infer that because some didn't fly that type of mission they were less than, only that I believe you should know that Dan was a good pilot and was very well trusted by those who flew with him. I flew with Dan the day before he was killed along with three others from our unit. Being very,very short (7 days) I was not in the mood to fly at all, much less along the DMZ or West for an hour. I begged out of the mission we had been on for a week(read as you'll only be there overnight). CW2 Polley relieved me as AC late the afternoon of March 8, 1969 and the entire crew including a USMC bellyman were killed the next morning. Mr. Polley had just returned from a thirty day leave after extending, primarily to fly FOB-SOG missions. I can't remember the bellyman, but the rest of the crew was damn good. In 1968-69 while with B/101 Avn my callsign was Kingsman 24. From Ed Ragan, (sjragan@citlink.net), March 1999.

This record was last updated on 12/29/2005

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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