Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-15086
The Army purchased this helicopter 0467
Total flight hours at this point: 00001602
Incident number: 70061175.KIA
Unit: 175 AHC
UTM grid coordinates: WR348501
Casualties = 01 KIA 03 WIA . .
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: OPERA, James Mike Kendall (Operations Report. )
Summary: Shot down while support an ARVN troop relocation.
Loss to Inventory
AC CW2 WALTERS WILLIAM FRANCIS KIA
CP CPT JOHNSON RICHARD K WIA
CE SP5 COLEMAN WILLIAM F WIA
G SP5 KENDALL JAMES MIKE WIA
I was the door gunner flying on the right side. CW2 Walters (we called him 'Gator') was the AC and the fire team leader. His callsign was MAVERICK 5. I had known him about 18 months. He had 51 days left in the Army. I was on my fourth tour and had 52 days left. CPT Richard Johnson was the other pilot. He was the new platoon leader and we were training him to be a fire team leader. I think he'd been flying with us about a month. SP5 William Coleman was the CE. He and I had flown together for several months. SP4 Edwin Timmers was the CE in our wing ship, but I don't recall the names of the other crew members. Our mission was to cover the extraction of an ARVN unit by our OUTLAW slicks from the 1st platoon. This was the third day of a large troop movement. Late the day before, Chinooks were doing the troop lift in this 'supposedly secure' area when everybody starting taking fire. As I recall, the ARVNs were almost on top of the bad guys who were coming out of the ground and firing on everyone. The Chinooks said they wouldn't continue the lift and there was talk about using the OUTLAW slicks. I remember Gator saying that we wouldn't go back in the dark, so we returned to Vinh Long with the idea of returning the next day. Five slicks landed in the cul-de-sac shaped bend in the river in a V formation. Our team was flying in a right hand orbit about a 100 feet overhead but we didn't have permission to fire. After the slicks loaded, they picked up and did a 180 to go back out the same way they'd come in. I saw the lead move to invert the V. Everyone was taking fire. Everyone who was there that day believes it was a B-40 that hit our ship near the left rocket pod. The ship shook violently. Gator was hit in the head by a burst of machine-gun fire and slumped over. I don't think CPT Johnson had time to get on the controls before we crashed. Ed Timmers told me that we crashed on the bank of the river just before a tree line. I remember the ship hitting the ground and maybe have been unconscious a few seconds. When I came to there was fire everywhere. The rotor blades were gone. The tail boom was gone. The skids and belly was buried in the mud. The rockets were cooking off and all sorts of stuff was exploding. I jumped off the ship but only got a step or two before my monkey strap and harness pulled me down. I unhooked and went to Gator who was flying on the right side. His door was open and the ship was split apart. I remember reaching into the pocket on his chest protector for the SOI. For some reason or other I thought this was important, so I took it out and threw it into the fire. I knew he was dead because his head was gone. I pulled him out of the wreck on laid him on the ground. Then I went around to CPT Johnson. Now others tell me that I had help from some slick crew guys getting Johnson out but I don't remember them. I remember Johnson's feet were stuck in the pedals. He was not conscious. Eventually we took him out of his boots and laid him on the ground. Now it is possible that Coleman could have helped me. I remember him screaming for a long time and later determined that he couldn't undo his harness by himself. I don't think I helped him get out but I do remember laying him on the ground as well some time later. So I must have had some help but I don't remember them. The next thing I remember is watching this slick trying to get in to our position. I can still here the helicopter taking hits and watched as they aborted their landing. I just knew I was dead. Now there were bad guys everywhere and there was fire coming from all around us. Timmers told me that they were firing their mini-guns at these guys until they ran out. I remember loading what I thought was about a 18" belt into my M-60 and firing it at the bad guys. Timmers told me that he had watched this whole thing and that I must have had a lot longer belt than that. Anyway the slick circled and came back the second time. When he flared and was still at least 10 to 15 feet in the air, when Mike Barter jumped out! When he hit the ground, he ran straight to me. By this time my wounds were starting to take effect and I was down but my eyes were locked on Mike. My right leg was either broken or had a bullet in it. My right arm and face were all messed up and I had some back injuries as well. Mike was a small guy yet he picked me up, ran to his ship and threw me in! He returned to got Coleman. I thought all four of us where on the same ship, but Timmers said the two pilots were in another ship. Anyway, we all went to the 3rd Field Hospital at Binh Thuy. Thirty years later I met Mr. Bill Fryant who was the CP on Mike Barter's ship and thanked him for coming to get us. He said, "Don't thank me - I stepped out of the helicopter and was armpit deep in mud! While someone was rescuing you, I was working to get back in the ship!" Ed told me that after everyone was extracted, the C&C told them to fire their last remaining rockets into our ship. He said they flew to Binh Thuy and landed outside the hospital. I don't remember any of this, but Ed said he walked up to me and touched my leg. I screamed so he knew I was still alive. I have always been puzzled about the statement that Gator lived three more days before he died. I have a copy of his memorial service from our unit. It says that he died on the 11th. Submitted to the VHPA by former SP5 James Mike Kendall in June, 2001.
This record was last updated on 06/22/2001
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