Helicopter UH-1H 67-17594

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17594
The Army purchased this helicopter 0668
Total flight hours at this point: 00002343
Date: 06/23/1970
Incident number: 700623301ACD Accident case number: 700623301 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 162 AHC
The station for this helicopter was Can-Tho in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 12 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 8
costing 455945
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

Passengers and/or other participants:

Accident Summary:

 On or about 1805 hours, 23 June 1970, aircraft SN 67-17954 departed Ca Mau Airstrip enroute to Can Tho AAF, RVN. At approximately 1840 hours the aricraft suffered suspected mechanical failure of the main rotor system. The main rotor blades sheared through the cockpit and the mast sheared just below the main rotor head, separating from the aircraft at an approximate altitude of 1500 feet. The aircraft with the tail rotor still intact and the engine running, began to spin, impacting the ground with vertical and circular momentum.

War Story:
My uncle, Toby Arthur Thomas was one of the SEALS killed in the helicopter crash that happened on June 23, 1970. He and four other SEALS were on their way to Saigon for R&R. Through much research in the past 2 years I have been told a story of how the crash came about. I will pass it on to you. This information comes from other SEALS that were there at the time. On the morning of June 23, 1970 this particular helo was picking up SEALS that had just come off an operation the night before. As they were taking off, the helicopter was ambushed by enemy fire. At one point the helicopter began to descend, but then lifted and took off and flew for approximately 25 minutes. It then landed where my uncle and the others were waiting to catch the flight to Saigon. When they landed others noticed that the helo had many bullet holes and it was suggested by someone other then crew to shut the copter down and check it out. The pilot said that he could not do that because they were on a timed schedule. So they took off and shortly after, crashed. As you know by the report all those on the helicopter died. The reason I know about the ambush that the helicopter was involved in earlier that day, is because I spoke to a SEAL that was on the helicopter at the time. Apparently there was a bullet hole in the rotor which grew with time and caused the crash. Had the pilot shut the helicopter down and inspected the damage, the accident probably would have been prevented. And I must admit those SEALS were very anxious to get to Saigon for R&R and so............................. Cheryl Emery, ThaldenCo@aol.com Re: http://www.flyarmy.org/incident/70062330.HTM I was with Moore on the day of the accident. It was a typical two ship mission. One ship supported the Seal Teams out of Seafloat (Nam Can), while the other flew Ash and Trash up the coastline to Rach Gia and Ha Tien. I was the A/C of the ship that flew the Ash & Trash. We would typically meet up in the early evening (4pm) at Nam Can. And that day was no different. The drill was to draw lots if the Navy had personnel to be transported back to Binh Thuy, as it normally entailed a hour or longer wait on the ground. Had that ship been badly damaged by enemy fire, I would have noticed, and of course, waited for the passengers and allowed Moore and his crew to depart with no load. Moore made a mistake that day, IMO, but it was not flying a damaged aircraft. Since I won the toss, I left early. The weather turned bad very quickly and we were soon in heavy rain, with severely reduced visibility. I thought better of trying to push on through, as we saw lightning ahead and were being severely tossed around. We turned west and followed the coastline and basically flew around the storm. I think Moore, pressured by the Navy personnel, who could not bear to miss their connection at Binh Thuy for Saigon, made the fatal mistake of trying a direct route through the storm. I believe the mast bumping to be as a result of the storm. I have heard a few stories over the years, up to and including one that has a CIA agent, anxious to get his prisoner to Saigon, forced them to fly a damaged aircraft. It was just a poor decision to take off in the first place. When they took so long to arrive at Can Tho, initially we all thought little of it. It was assumed they had waited for the weather to clear. To the best of my recollection, neither ship was at Ca Mau that day. Moore likely refueled at the refueling barge attached to Seafloat, and would have loaded navy personnel from Nam Can, not Ca Mau. This would have been SOP for that mission. I usually based out of Rach Gia, as it was half way between Nam Can and Ha Tien. How Ca Mau got in the mix, I can only guess. It has been a long time and memory fades with age, but that is how I remember it. Larry Moore was my buddy and it hit me very hard. His death still haunts me. Jim Ewart. jewart@optonline.net This was my ASSIGNED aircraft, and I was suppose to fly that mission and got bumped from the flight for two reasons. 1. Larry Moore pulled seniority on me and requested the SEAL mission. 2. The aircraft was suppose to get its 2000 hr periodical maintenance check at a battalion level maintenance facility and they tried to do it at company level as new policy. The aircraft had just come out of its 2000 hr periodical maintenance check before it was assigned to fly that mission. I protested that fact and red Xed the ship on the fact that one of its mast bearings felt marginal to me on check the night before the mission. The CO then got really pissed at me and grounded me and made me work in maintenance the next day. After the ship turned up missing Cpt. R. and I went out and found the crash. They NEVER did another 2000 hr periodical maintenance check at the company level again. From: ERIC BRAY One of the maintenance pilots said that the ship had an incorrectly assembled horizontal stabilizer bar installed a couple of weeks earlier and he is convinced that was the cause of the problem. F. A. told me a horizontal stabilizer assembly was a depot level job and they were shipped completely assembled to units in the field (We have no idea if this is true or not but he was certainly in a position to know). In any case the 162nd apparently had the components on hand and assembled the stabilizer bar in-house. F. A. said he protested and refused to test fly or sign off on the job. That was just a few days before his DEROS and he went home a few days before the incident. From: S.G. I was a crew chief from the 336th AHC operating out of Soc Trang. Our ship "Super Slick" was a nighthawk recon Huey. We were scrambled off at about dusk one night, and directed to fly north to look for a downed Huey that had left Seafloat. Eye witnesses said they saw the aircraft fall from the sky. We flew north for about an half hour. It was dark by the time we reached the area where they said the ship went down. The area was marshy with tall grass in the middle of nothing for miles. In the dark we preceded looking using a low level pattern. After about 15 minutes, figuring we might never find it at night, we then came across the wreckage. We made a few high speed passes across the wreckage, and did a quick recon of the area. We worried about ambush. We then approached the wreckage and flew just a few feet above. It was very obvious there were no survivors, but we flew over each body just in case. We then radioed our location, and continued to fly in the area, until a dustoff arrived. It was a very long ride to Soc Trang. We were really hoping weíd find survivors. Two hours later we were once again called upon to re-find the wreckage. To tell you the truth, none of us wanted to return, but we did, and found the wreckage for the second time. We noticed that some bodies had been removed. I havenít gone into all the details, but Iíll never forget that night, ever. The wreckage was moved to a hanger at Soc Trang airfield. It was later determined that a weight inside one of the blades had come loose, causing the blade to come apart. A short time after that, all Huey blades were inspected, with many replaced. Iím also very familiar with Seafloat, did alot of special ops with the Seals. You can see some pictures on my companyís website google 336th AHC. CIV UNNOWN,PAX:A was a Vietnamese woman. I remember seeing her as we flew across each body, thought it strange at the time, still do.. could be the prisoner they mention. I know the Phoenix program was very active at this time. From: Tom Feigel

This record was last updated on 04/23/2006

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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021

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