Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1B tail number 64-13959
The Army purchased this helicopter 0265
Total flight hours at this point: 00002379
Date: 12/02/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1533
Incident number: 69120210.KIA
Unit: 129 AHC
UTM grid coordinates: BR750850
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: 1533 ()
Loss to Inventory
CE SSG SANDERLIN WILLIAM DALE RR
G SFC SHANLEY MICHAEL HENRY JR RR
P CW3 DUNLAP WILLIAM CHARLES RR
P CW3 VANDEN EYKEL MARTIN D II RR
Remains Returned - ID Announced March 1990 Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: On December 2, 1969, CW2 Martin VandenEykel, aircraft commander; CW2 William C. Dunlap, pilot; SP5 Michael H. Shanley, gunner; and SP5 William D. Sanderlin, crew chief, were flying in the second UH1B gunship (serial #64-13959) in a flight of two in a night ground support mission in Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam. (Note: some records place this incident in Kontum Province, but according to coordinates, it is in Binh Dinh Province.) At 2030 hours, CW2 Dunlap's aircraft and the flight leader's aircraft departed LZ English to provide fire support for a long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) that had radioed for help. The two helicopters were led to the reported LRRP location by another helicopter equipped to drop flares. Upon arrival at the target area, the flare ship began dropping flares, while the two gunships tried to make radio contact with the LRRP team. CW2 Vanden Eykel radioed that he had made a turn to avoid crashing into a mountain, and the ground forces lost contact with him. CW2 Vanden Eykel's acknowledgement was the last known radio transmission in the vicinity. The Bong Son region of South Vietnam, which is where the operation was taking place was so well-known for its treachery to aircraft that it became known as the "grave yard of helicopters." Many had been lost in that area. Following the loss of the helicopter and crew, a board of inquiry was held. A Vietnamese woman stated at the hearing that she had seen the helicopter go down and the crew was captured by the Viet Cong. In July 1973, Vietnamese woodcutters reported finding the wreckage of a helicopter in that vicinity. Investigation disclosed that the aircraft was not a helicopter, but a fixed wing airplane and not related to this case. In December 1974, another source reported finding aircraft wreckage in this area, but upon investigation, it was found that the wreckage was that of a Vietnamese helicopter, rather than one that was involved in this case. There has been no further word of the crew of the UH1B helicopter. No one saw them die; no one found the wreckage of their plane. To this date it is not known if they died or survived to be captured by the enemy. In March 1990, the U.S. Government announced that the Vietnamese had discovered the remains of Dunlap, Sanderlin, Shanley and VandenEykel, and they had been returned to U.S. control. These families finally could begin their grieving, knowing at last their loved ones were dead.
This record was last updated on 05/25/1998
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