Helicopter HH-53B 66-14434


Information on U.S. Air Force helicopter HH-53B tail number 66-14434
Date: 01/28/1970 MIA-POW file reference number: 1552
Incident number: 70012850.KIA
Unit: 40 ARRS
Laos
UTM grid coordinates: WF582048 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QWF582048)
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: 1552 ()
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
PJ SMS PRUETT WILLIAM DAVID BNR
FE SSG SHINN WILLIAM CHARLES BNR
PJ MSG SUTTON WILLIAM CARL BNR
CP CPT LEESER LEONARD CHARLES BNR
P MAJ BELL HOLLY GENE RR

Passengers and/or other participants:
SSG ANDERSON GREGORY LEE, AF, PX, BNR


REFNO Synopsis:
 North Vietnam Holly G. Bell Gregory L. Anderson William D. Pruett Leonard C. Leeser William C. Shinn William C. Sutton (1552) On January 28, 1970, an HH-53B with six crewmen on board was in a holding pattern while engaged in a search and rescue mission over Ha Tinh Province. There was a MIG alert on the radio after which a MIG-21 aircraft fired an air to air missile which hit the HH-53B. There was a fireball explosion which turned the aircraft into hundreds of pieces. There was one two second beeper after the explosion but there were no parachutes seen by other SAR aircrews covering the SAR effort. The crew of the helicopter was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in April 1970. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on their precise fate. In December 1988, Vietnam returned William Sutton's identity card and remains from Huong Khe District, Nghe Tinh Province it identified as those of William Sutton. The remains were determined to be of Holly G. Bell.


War Story:
HH-53B #66-14434 (Call sign "Jolly Green 71") from the 40th ARRS, crewed by Maj. Holly Gene Bell (P), Capt. Leonard Charles Leeser (CP), SSgt. William Charles Shinn (FE), SMSgt. William David Pruett (PJ), MSgt. William Carl Sutton (PJ) and SSgt. Gregory Lee Anderson (AP) was lost in NVN on a SAR mission for F-105G pilot, Capt. Richard J. Mallon (KIA) and EWO, Capt. Robert J. Panek (KIA), when the helicopter was hit by a air-to-air missile fired by a MiG-21 piloted by Lt. Vu Ngoc Dinh. The entire HH-53B crew was lost in this shoot down. This was the first HH-53B to be lost in air-to-air action.

Editor's Note: The following is a theory by some who were involved:

The Jolly was in a holding pattern near the HC-130 refueling bird and the MiG snuck up behind everyone. Several of us think the MiG was actually shooting at the 130 but the HH-53 happened to be in the way and the missile homed in on it - killing them all but maybe saving the -130.

Then there is this additional information on the skyraider.org website and there is a link at the bottom of the page to a tape that was recorded, by Jolly Green 72, during this mission; https://skyraider.org/skyassn/sartapes/jollymig/jollymig.htm Not the best quality tape, but if you can tune up your ‘helicopter headset ears’ you might be able to understand the radio traffic. I’ve heard from others who were a part of this mission that as soon as 66-14434 was hit all the other aircraft on the mission, including the HC-130, hit the deck to get away from the MiG’s (as you can hear them talking about on the tape).

From: Jim Burns

This record was last updated on 05/25/1998


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021


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