Helicopter UH-1H 67-17844


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17844
The Army purchased this helicopter 1068
Total flight hours at this point: 00000186
Date: 05/13/1969
Incident number: 69051333.KIA
Unit: 326 MED 101 ABN
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 UNK feet and 000 knots.
Laos
UTM grid coordinates: YC333995 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QYC333995)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Explosive Weapon; Non-Artillery launched or static weapons containing explosive charges. (RPG)
Systems damaged were: FUEL SYS
Casualties = 03 DOI, 01 INJ . .
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
Burned
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, LNNF, CASRP, CRAFX, Unit History MGL (Operations Report. Lindenmuth New Format Data Base. Crash Facts Message. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
AC 1LT TORBA GERALD M RES
AC 1LT LEE JERRY TYRUS KIA
CE SP4 WALTERS JAMES REESE KIA
MD SP4 MARGRO JAMES ANTHONY KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
PFC PICKEL GEORGE WILLIAM, AR, PX, KIA
SP4 SPRINGFIELD WILLIAM VAL, AR, PX, KIA


War Story:
Hamburger Hill, May 13, 1969 The 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry (3/187), known as the ‘Rakassans,’ had been storming the NVA support base at Dong Ap Bia–dubbed ‘Hamburger Hill’ by the Americans–for three days. Delta Company of the Rakassans had tried to sneak down a side ravine and assault back up the hill. They never made it past a small river at the northern base of Hill 937. NVA scouts and snipers tracked Delta Company down and unleashed a vicious ambush. Rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s ripped into the Airborne troops, who were already exhausted from the murderous descent down the jungle precipice. Aircraft commander 1st Lt. Gerald M. Torba (call sign ‘Dustoff 927’), co-pilot 1st Lt. Jerry T. Lee, crew chief James R. Walters and medic James A. Margro took off to rescue the beleaguered company. By now the 326th medevac crews were all aware that something out of the ordinary was taking place in the western A Shau, on a group of small mountains butted up against the Laotian border. Captain Luther (Lee) Sanders, Delta Company commander, called in the medevac. As related in the book Hamburger Hill, by Samuel Zaffiri, Sanders then slogged uphill to try to secure the high ground for the chopper. When the flying ambulance found Delta Company, the story goes, Sanders warned Torba to hold off landing until the overlooking terrain was under American control. However–as in civilian aviation–the pilot in command makes all the final decisions and can ignore advice or deviate from rules and regulations for safety reasons in an emergency. Lieutenant Torba had a heavy burden at that moment. He knew that NVA must be in the area. He also figured that most of an entire rifle company was fanning out under him; some of the company were already dead or dying below, sheltered near the logjams and rocks and under the trees along the river’s banks. What to do was Torba’s call–he faced a terrible choice between protecting the lives of his crew and saving the lives of the paratroopers. Torba quickly made up his mind and took the chopper in. Walters and Torba worked together as they neared the pickup point, lowering a Stokes litter wire basket for a typically treacherous recovery in tall trees. The most seriously wounded soldier below them, Pfc George Pickel, was placed in the basket, and the Rakassan medics signaled Walters to lift off. The basket swung free and Walters barked, ‘Breaking ground, sir!’ as he punched the winch into fast rewind. When the basket was approaching the halfway point, an NVA soldier aimed his rocket launcher at the chopper. He pulled the trigger and a miniature SAM struck the main rotor disk of the aircraft, robbing the chopper of lift and showering its crew with shrapnel–in addition to momentarily stunning them with a blinding white light. The pranged bird picked up speed–headed straight down–and crashed directly on top of Pfc Pickel. As the rotor blades came off, the decking flew up, breaking the backs of many of the crew members. Torba’s left leg was ripped, burned and bleeding from a shrapnel wound, and his survival knife hit him in the teeth and mouth as he landed. A radio telephone operator and another grunt who had guided the ship in were mowed down by flying main rotor blades. The surviving paratroopers rushed toward the twisted wreckage and pulled Torba from the cockpit. The rest of the crew was trapped in the bent aluminum and steel, and before they could be cut loose the wreck exploded in a horrific conflagration. The co-pilot and all the enlisted crewmen perished in the fire. With what seemed like half the NVA off the hill breaking through the surrounding brush and closing in on Delta Company, Captain Sanders mustered his exhausted and demoralized men and grabbed their seven remaining wounded, leaving seven dead men behind for later retrieval. He then attempted to retreat back up the ravine. In the course of what surely ranks as one of the most difficult retreats in 101st Airborne history, Lieutenant Torba was lugged up a muddy, sniper-infested, 45-degree forested slope. Then, after spending a miserably cold night, the pilot was placed on a pile of dead men toward the top of Hamburger Hill. Seventeen hours after he was abandoned in the mud and rain on Hamburger Hill, another group of American troops found Torba there–still alive. He later lost his left leg below the knee, but he recovered from his wounds and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1992. https://www.historynet.com/eagle-dustoff-medevac-choppers-to-the-rescue.htm From the above story: May 13, 1969 1LT Jerry Tyrus Lee AC 326 MED 101 ABN UH-1H 67-17844 SP4 James Anthony Margro MD 326 MED 101 ABN UH-1H 67-17844 SP4 James Reese Walters CE 326 MED 101 ABN UH-1H 67-17844 From: Dave Hause

This record was last updated on 12/03/2019


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021


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