Helicopter UH-1F 63-13158


Information on U.S. Air Force helicopter UH-1F tail number 63-13158
Date: 03/26/1969
Incident number: 69032602.KIA
Unit: 20 SOS
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: BP737882
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:
AC LTC DIFIGLIA FRANK ANTHONY KIA
G SGT ALHO ANTONIO LOPEZ KIA
G TSG BOWMAN JESSE CARL KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
COL LEPARD DONALD GEORGE, AF, PX, KIA
COL LEVESQUE J B L, AF, PX, KIA
CPT FIELDS ROBERT WAYNE, AF, PX, KIA
CPT BOOTH WALTER CLAY, AF, PX, KIA
CIV GREER ABB, CV, PX, KIA
SGT OGORMAN JAMES E, AF, PX, RES
SGT JOSLIN DAVID E, AF, PX, RES


War Story:
On March 26, 1969, a UH-1F (tail number 63-13158) from the 20th Special Operations Squadron (20th SOS) “Green Hornets,” operating out of Ban Me Thuot East Airfield, crashed and burned near D?c My, north of Nha Trang, South Vietnam. The aircraft was flying at about 4,000 feet when it experienced severe vibration and auto-rotation was initiated but during the descent the main rotor severed the tail boom. In all, seven military personnel were lost in this incident: three crewmen and four passengers. The lost crewmen included pilot LTC Frank A. Difiglia, crew chief TSGT Jesse C. Bowman, and gunner SGT Antonio L. Alho. The lost passengers comprised COL Donald G. Lepard, COL JB Levesque, CAPT Walter C. Booth, and CAPT Robert W. Fields. One source suggests there was an eighth fatality in the incident, a U.S. civilian named Mr. Green. The same source claims there was one survivor, a SGT Joslyn. [Taken from wikipedia.org, coffeltdatabase.org, vvmf.org, and vhpa.org]

The following is an extract from the 20th SOS History Report 1 January – 31 March 1969:

On 26 March 1969 UH-1F 63-13158 was enroute from Ban Me Thuot to Nha Trang with a total of ten persons on board. The aircraft crashed and burned near Duc My, some 12 minutes flying time north of Nha Trang Air Base. Of the ten persons onboard 2 survived. Dead were Lt Col Frank A. DiFiglia the aircraft commander, Colonel Donald G. Lepard, 14 Special Operations Wing Deputy Commander for Special Operations, Colonel J. B. Levesque, 14th SOW Deputy Commander for Material, Captain (Dr.) Robert W. Fields, 20th SOS Flight Surgeon, Captain Walter C Booth, 20th SOS Maintenance Officer, Technical Sergeant Jesse C. Bowman, 20th SOS Gunner, and Sergeant Antonio L. Alho, 20th SOS Gunner, also dead was Mr. Abb Greer, Bell Helicopter Company Technical Representative. Critically wounded were Sergeants James E. O’Gorman and David E. Joslin. The investigating board determined that the crash sequence began at 4 to 5 thousand feet MSL when a severe vibration or beat was noted and autorotation initiated. During the descent and forced landing, control of the aircraft was lost causing subsequent destruction of the main rotor which in turn severed the tail boom. The board determined that the escalation of events from the initial severe beat or vibration through impact progressed to a point where aircraft control was impossible to maintain. First the severe beat, then the uncontrollability, followed by the separation of aircraft access doors, subsequently the main rotor underwent violent stresses and severed the tail boom. The board concluded that the chain of events began with the catastrophic failure which was probably caused by hostile fire impacting on a critical component causing an unbalanced condition or failure leading to a severe beat or vibration.

This record was last updated on 01/14/2016


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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