Information on U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-1E tail number 152427
Date: 03/21/1970 MIA-POW file reference number: 1577
Incident number: 70032110.KIA
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
for Close Air Support
While On Target this helicopter was Attacking at UNK feet and UNK knots.
UTM grid coordinates: YC457733
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size.
causing a Fire.
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL, FUEL SYS
Casualties = 04 DOI . .
The helicopter made an Emergency Landing. 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: 1577, NSC (Naval Safety Center. )
Loss to Inventory
P 1LT CASTLE ROBERT EDWARD KIA
C SGT GONZALES DAVID BNR
C SSG UNDERWOOD THOMAS WAYNE BNR
P 1LT PARSONS LARRY D RES
This was the lead UH-1E gunship doing a visual recon of the LZ prior to a SOG team insert by Army slicks. The helicopter was hit by automatic weapons fire, crashed, and exploded. The co-pilot was blown clear of the aircraft and was recovered by an Army slick 18 days later after a barely successful E&E. Although Castle's call sign was normally Comprise, it was Eagle Claw on this SOG mission. from Randy Crew, July 1998.
Comments on Incident: Crew shot down in Laos on special mission - other pilot (Larry Parsons) E&E'd for many days before rescue. Squadron was restricted from SAR by chain of command.
Comments on Incident: I noted that Sgt (E-5) David Gonzales, 547-66-0747 is listed as single. We in the squadron understood him to be married. Further, he was the father of a son born just prior to his death. A fact announced in Maintenance Control following the birth.
A few years ago (between 1981 to 1984) I read (in the Washington Post - Sunday Editorial page) about a lawyer (named Gonzales) who had become a lawyer after her husband's death and whose Marine Corps Sgt husband was killed in Laos while serving as a helicopter crewman in Viet Nam. She, if my memory concerning the article serves me, lived in Kansas City. Further, her son never saw his father. At the time I felt very confident that she was the wife of "our" Sgt Gonzales. Submitted by Elmer Davis, HML-167 Squadron Pilot, Quality Assurance Officer, LtCol USMC (Ret)
Comments on Incident: In response to the above account regarding Sgt Gonzales, the following is appended: In a comment posted previously about Sgt. Gonzales, regarding the fact that he was married, with a son, I believe that this relates to SSgt. Underwood, not Sgt. Gonzales. I am that son. I was born 17-JAN-70 just short of two months before the incident. My mother is indeed now a lawyer, who lives in the Kansas City Metro Area (Olathe, KS). SSgt. Thomas Wayne Underwood's status has been MIA since a few months after the incident following an interview with one of the crew that was recovered. Submitted by Anthony J. Underwood, son of Thomas Wayne Underwood 293340833,email: aju(at)kc(dot)rr(dot)com Comments on Incident: I debriefed Larry Parsons on the incident where Bob Castle (the Aircraft Commander) and Larry (a new huey copilot) were covering insertions into Laos and were shot down. I knew Bob from Army Flight School where we all lived together in the "Zoo." The mission was very secret at the time because President Nixon was denying involvement across the border; but our guys were doing it (along with the Army and Air Force in a combined mission out of Quang Tri).
Larry and the others were immediately declared KIA (unusual without bodies - except in this case). A bogus story was floated that they got lost and flew into Laos and were shot down. Larry did E&E for 19 days and during that time he was "buried" by his family back home. Then he was rescued by an Army huey doing the same mission and was brought to Danang for medical treatment, debrief (me) and then evacuation to the USA.
He called his mom and announced he was actually alive. Then the heavy's demanded a debrief ASAP so he could go home. We spent a week recounting the incident. Then we signed a non-disclosure document and promised not to tell the story for 5 years. After it was realized that Larry survived, the concern was that someone else might be out there.
A team was put into the crash site (I saw the photo's and read the debrief). They found footprints and a lot of molten metal - as if someone had dragged pieces away. The conclusion was that the other three crewmen were killed in the crash (Bob did a good enough autorotation to allow Larry to survive - although Larry described a cockpit engulfed in flames). Some bone and dental work were recovered - and I don't know whom it was associated with. I was a cobra pilot in VMO-2, then HML-367 before I became the Wing E&E officer and Gen. Thrash's morning Intell briefing officer - to finish my tour. Submitted by Paul Pratt, Wing E&E Debrief Officer
Above From: USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association
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