Helicopter OH-6A 67-16170

Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 67-16170
The Army purchased this helicopter 0768
Total flight hours at this point: 00001452
Date: 07/08/1970
Incident number: 70070808.KIA
Unit: 11 BDE
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Recon mission for Unarmed Recon
While on Landing Zone this helicopter was on the Ground at 0000 feet and 000 knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: BS743648 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 49PBS743648)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Explosive Weapon; Non-Artillery launched or static weapons containing explosive charges. (BOOBY TRAP)
The helicopter was hit in the Fuselage
Systems damaged were: STRUCTURE
Casualties = 01 DOI, 02 INJ . .
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 Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, LNNF, CRAFX, CASRP, FM385 (Operations Report. Lindenmuth New Format Data Base. Crash Facts Message. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

War Story:
Entry #70 1730 hours: (C) 11th Bde, Sgt Marquez, Bde Avn, (EN) BS752654 at 1610H. LOH went down to pick up docu. When acft took off rec 1 x explo. Unk if explo came form bag of docu or a mine under LOH. Res: 1 US KIA, 2 X US WIA (E). Aircraft was a total loss. Dustoff completed to LZ Bronco.

I assume that the helicopter went down to extract captured documents. There were two crewmembers that were evacuated.

This Operational Report Lessons Learned entry appears to be related to this specific incident: page 66


AVDF-HL 10 August 1970

SUBJECT: Operational Report -- Lessons Learned, Americal Division, Period Ending 31 July 1970, (RCS-CSFOR-65) (R2) (U)

7. (C) SUBJECT: Exploitation of Contact Areas

a. Observation: An OH-6 aircraft from the Brigade Aviation section, while flying a visual reconnaissance mission, was completely destroyed when the aircraft landed to retrieve what appeared to be a bag of enemy documents.

b. Evaluation: The LOH has sighted and engaged three enemy soldiers, killing two and wounding one. The aircraft landed and a crew member captured the casualty, retrieved two bags of documents and weapons. The aircraft returned to the Fire Support Base, released the prisoner to medical personnel, turned in the weapons and documents to the S2, refueled and proceeded back to the same area. The pilot saw what appeared to be a third bag of documents exposed. He landed a crew member retrieved the bag and was putting them in the LOH when an explosion occurred, engulfing the aircraft in flames. One crew member was killed and one required medical evaluation from shrapnel wounds and burns received. it was not determined if the bag was booby-trapped, or if the crew member or prop wash triggered a booby-trap in close proximity to the LOH. However, a sufficient amount of time had elapsed from the initial engagement and the return trip for the enemy to have baited a trap in the form of a booby-trapped bag.

c. Recommendation: That air/cav troops, provisional VR teams, and aviation sections be made aware that once contacts have been exploited and the area has not been kept under continuous surveillance, the unit must exercise extreme caution in inserting aero rifle platoons, crew members or personnel on the ground to retrieve enemy equipment, weapons, of documents.

WO1 Gregory L. Latham, 11 Brigade treated at B 23 Medical with 1st and 2nd degree burns to face and PFC Danny L. Aklen? also Headquarters and Headquarter Comapny 11 Brigade treated at 27 Surgical Chu Lai with 1st and 2nd degree wounds 1st and 2nd degree burns to both hands and face. CPT John Lanier Wadsworth, COD Multiple Frag Wounds to head, chest and abdomen with 4th Degree burns to 100% of body. From: Chuck Seketa

Below from BLOTTER ISSUE 11 NUMBER 3 MAR 2018

Primo 3, an OH-6A, was piloted that day by WO1 Gregory Latham, who had been in-country several months. The crew chief was PFC Danny Aiken, who was manning an M-60 machine gun. He also had been in-country several months. Primo 3 was part of a two ship mission. The other OH-6 was armed with a mini-gun and provided cover for Primo 3, which flew lower.

The two helicopters were in the vicinity of an old French villa. WO1 Latham and PFC Aiken remember the initial encounter differently, but both agree that the two ships returned to LZ Bronco with a female and a bag of documents. The ships needed to refuel and rearm.

While at the LZ, the pilots encountered John Wadsworth, just reporting in. The other ship refueled while Latham and Aiken delivered the female and documents.

WO1 Latham said that John, slated to be the new detachment commander, asked the pilot of the other aircraft if he could ride along. That ship could not accommodate John because of the mini-gun, plus the pilot did not think it was a good idea.

When Latham returned to his ship and was refueling, John jumped into the aircraft. Latham remained as the pilot, especially so since John was not qualified to fly the LOH. But Latham did not think he was in a position to deny John the seat.

Primo 3 took off to catch up with the other ship and return to the area. The documents they had turned in, on initial evaluation, had proven valuable. That information was communicated to the aircraft over the radio. They discussed on the way back, with the other LOH, that there may have been another document bag.

At 1610 hours, at Grid BS752658, Primo 3 saw the document bag and WO1 Latham, after ensuring the area was safe, landed his aircraft. PFC Aiken covered the area with his weapon. Since Latham, as the only qualified pilot, could not exit the ship, John left the aircraft to get the sandbag.

As John was retrieving the bag and placing it in the back seat area, PFC Aiken said over the intercom, “What if it’s booby-trapped?”

According to official reports and WO1 Latham, at that moment the bag exploded. John Wadsworth was killed instantly. PFC Aiken and WO1 Latham, although injured, were both able to exit the ship.

Latham and Aiken made their way to a hedgerow as the helicopter burned. Unknown to the pair, American infantry in the area were making their way to the scene. They almost opened fire on the two men until they recognized them as Americans.

PFC Aiken recalls that they received fire from enemy soldiers in the French villa. The cover ship laid down suppressive fire around the injured pair.

The cover ship landed and its door gunner came to their assistance. He helped Latham and Aiken into the LOH, which was now far overloaded. The ship redlined as it strained to fly back to LZ Bronco, but was able to make it. Although official reports state that the document bag was booby-trapped, Danny Aiken says that, in thinking about the incident years later, he believes that John was hit with an RPG fired from the villa.

The RPG hit the aircraft fuel cells and ignited fuel and arms in the LOH. Aiken says that he recalled hearing a slight whoosh that day which always signaled the launch of an RPG.

John’s body was retrieved and taken to Graves Registration at LZ Bronco. Latham and Aiken were treated for their wounds, Latham at B Company, 23rd Medical Battalion, and Aiken at 27th Surgical Hospital in Chu Lai. Both returned to duty and completed their tours. The helicopter was a complete loss.

* * * * * John Wadsworth was born August 27, 1943 in Petersburg, VA, the son of Elizabeth and Charles Lanier Wadsworth. John had four younger sisters and an uncle with whom he was very close. John called Mechanicsville, VA home. He met Elaine, his future wife, at a church dance in Virginia Beach. They were married in 1963 and both attended Brigham Young University, from which John graduated.

John attended OCS and was commissioned into the Armor Corps on February 3, 1967. He was the Distinguished Graduate of his class.

John is survived by his wife, Elaine, by his children, Donald and Jodi, by six grandchildren, including one named John Lanier Wadsworth II and four great grandchildren.

John Lanier Wadsworth is laid to rest in El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, CA.

He is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC at Panel 8W, Line 1. May you rest in peace, my friend.

This record was last updated on 03/14/2018

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023

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