Helicopter UH-1C 66-00587

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-00587
The Army purchased this helicopter 0966
Total flight hours at this point: 00001527
Date: 12/22/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1539
Incident number: 69122216.TXT
Unit: 57 AHC
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
for Close Air Support
While Enroute this helicopter was Unknown at UNK feet and UNK knots.
UTM grid coordinates: YA678975 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PYA678975)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Tail Section
Systems damaged were: TAIL ROTOR, PERSONNEL
Casualties = 02 DOI, 01 INJ . .
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
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. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: 1539, UH1P3, 35602 ()
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

REFNO Synopsis:
SYNOPSIS: On December 22, 1969 SP4 James E. Kennedy, door gunner; WO Donald D. Burris Jr., pilot; WO John H. Hunsicker, aircraft commander; and SP5 Timothy A. Purser, crew chief; were the crew of a UH1C helicopter (serial #66-00587) on a combat support mission when it developed mechanical problems and crashed landed. Official records differ as to the location of the crash. U.S. Army casualty and Joint Casualty Resolution Center records indicate that the crash was in Cambodia, yet Defense Department, State Department and other records indicate that the crash occurred near the border of Attopeu and Saravane Provinces in Laos, some 30-35 miles north of the closest point in Cambodia. Coordinates 152029N 1972941E are that location. The locality of YA678975 is undoubtedly Cambodia. It is possible that their combat support mission was in Cambodia, and the subsequent rescue flight took a circular northwesterly course around the mountains in northern Cambodia along the Laos border, circled back east towards Dak To (its destination), and that some records pinpoint the actual location of loss at the beginning of the flight, while others record it during flight. Regardless, when the aircraft landed, Burris, Purser and Hunsicker had survived the crash, but they could not locate the door gunner, James Kennedy. WO Hunsicker and WO Burris escaped therough the left cargo door uninjured. They found the crew chief (Purser), who had also scrambled free of the wreckage. He had a broken arm. A search of the general area around the crashed helicopter revealed no trace of SP4 Kennedy, and he was not trapped in the wreckage. (As door gunner, and at a position on the side of the main cargo area of the aircraft positioned at an open door, Kennedy may have decided to bail out of the descending aircraft, or may have fallen, - although the gunners were generally strapped in to the frame of the helicopter so this seems unlikely - thus becoming separated from the others.) Minutes after the helicopter crashed, a recovery helicopter arrived in the area and lowered ropes with McGuire rigs attached through the dense jungle to the downed men. The survivors were not trained in the proper use of this equipment, and SP5 Purser fell out of his rig a few feet off the ground. WO Burris and WO Hunsicker remained in their rigs and were lifted out, and the helicopter started toward Dak To, with the two rescued men still on the ropes. Five minutes into the flight, Burris lost his grip on the rope and fell from an altitude of from 2500 to 3000 feet. The rescue helicopter continued to the nearest landing area. A search and rescue team was inserted into the crash site area and recovered Purser, who was injured. The team searched widely for SP4 Kennedy, but found no trace of him, and concluded their search on December 25. No search was made for Burris because of the lack of positive information to pinpoint his loss site and the hostile threat in the area.

War Story:
The 57th AHC's unit history states the "Cougar" gunship, commanded by WO John Hunsicker and piloted by CWO Don Burris, with the CE SP5 Timothy Barger and gunner SP4 James Kennedy, was hit by hostile fire resulting in the loss of its tail rotor. WO Hunsicker controlled the aircraft as long as possible but after a short period of time, the aircraft no longer responded to the controls and had to be crash landed. SP4 Kennedy, the gunner was lost before the aircraft hit, but the remaining crew members sustained moderate to light injuries. They were rescued by WOs Malcolm Peterson and Carter Higginbotham, on ropes, but CWO Burris lost conscienceness and fell out of his extraction rig. WO Burris and SP Kennedy were great losses to the company.

This record was last updated on 08/22/2000

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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021

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