Helicopter CH-47A 65-07999

Information on U.S. Army helicopter CH-47A tail number 65-07999
The Army purchased this helicopter 0366
Total flight hours at this point: 00002333
Date: 07/10/1970
Incident number: 70071077.KIA
Unit: 242 ASHC
This was a Combat Loss caused by being shot down by Grenade and Rocket Propelled Grenade with the mission function of Logistics Cargo
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Logistics Support mission for Logistics Movement , to Maintenance Base.
While in PickUp Zone this helicopter was at Hover at 0010 feet and 000 knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: XT547347 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PXT547347)
Helicopter took 1 hits from:
Explosive Weapon; Non-Artillery launched or static weapons containing explosive charges. (RPG)
causing a Fire.
Systems damaged were: ENGINE, FUEL SYS
Casualties = 07 DOI, 13 INJ . .
Search and rescue operations were Not Required
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center AVDAC database. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, LNNF, CH47, JSIDR, CRAFX, FM385, CASRP (Operations Report. Lindenmuth New Format Data Base. Joint Services Incident Damage Report. Crash Facts Message. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered

Crew Members:

Passengers and/or other participants:

War Story:
Late afternoon on July 10, 1970. Took RPG in aft plyon while at a hover over a load of empty fuel blivets. We had just picked up 15 paxs. The aircraft crashed and the cockpit broke off and rolled over forward. (The pilots were face down.) The aircraft burned. The left door gunner was killed on impact. The right door gunner and flight engineer got out but died later from burns. Unknown number of paxs were killed. The copilot and aircraft commander crawled out through the outside air temperature guage window. Both had small injuries and were not burned. from Robert F. Henry, CW4 retired. July 2004.

Hit by RPG while in hover. Rolled over, crashed burned. Seven fatalities and 13 injured. We had been flying regular stuff all day, a Friday, and late in the day, three of us had been flying together most of the day, and were finishing up together. There was one last mission out to a firebase at a place we called the Mushroom, formed by a mushroom shaped loop in the river. The 999 crew had finished first, so they offered to take the last load. They were carrying a full load of guys coming out of the bush and heading home! I don't remember all the details of what they were delivering or picking up, but I know the ship was loaded with grunts. As she was hovering about 50 or so feet, she took a rocket into the rear. The cockpit broke away, saving the pilots, but the crew and most of the grunts died in the crash and the fire. The crew chief and gunner were relatively new guys, but the flight engineer had been at the 242nd for quite awhile. Name was Ross Bedient. He was seriously burned, send to Japan and died a few days later. (see note below) The pisser with this whole thing is that we flew into this same location every Friday afternoon, at about the same time (yea, I know that's not the smartest thing to do, but you know the Army). We never had any trouble from the locals. Not a bit. Remember this was after Cambodia, and the rules had somewhat changed with the locals. "Don't mess with us, and we won't mess with you" was sort of the unofficial legend floating around. Anyway, a week before the rocket attack, the 242nd's new Major had wanted to kiss some brass ass and wanted to get a birthday gift for some higher up officer. He sent us into the Mushroom to steal a baby water buffalo. We got the thing on board and back to base, but obviously someone got highly pissed at having his water buff stolen. The next ship in was 999. Bill Cecil, Morganton, North Carolina, USA, October 1997

Editor's note: According to Rickey Wittner, Ross Bedient died in Saigon before he could be evacuated to Japan. Wittner was with him at the time.

I was an Army Captain and platoon leader in the 242nd Muleskinners from August 4, 1969 till August 3rd, 1970. I returned to Fort Rucker in September of 1970 to become a Ch-47 flight instructor, flight leader, and finally, the assistant chief of the Cargo Branch, before leaving active duty on February 29, 1972.

The crash of Muleskinner 65-07999 has been a sad memory for me since that afternoon of July 10, 1970. I was in the command center of the 25th Infantry Division, working out the sortie schedule for the next day and coordinating “add-ons” for the 10th. I’d been doing that coordination work on behalf of the 242nd, in addition to flying those missions, for nearly six months.

My recollection of events is that the aircraft had finished the day’s sorties and was headed back to Cu Chi, but at the last moment, had picked up passengers at Dau-Tieng during a refueling stop. Not knowing they had passengers on board, I called them on the radio, using my call sign of RF-69er, and asked if they could take an “add-on” resupply mission. They also failed to tell me they had passengers. We had a company policy of No Passengers, while conducting resupply missions unless those passengers were part of the mission itself. But, in the interest of trying to be efficient I think, the two pilots, AC Whittle and 1st Pilot Henry, accepted the “add-on”, which I think was to pick up a full fuel blivit and deliver it to a Navy river boat on the Mushroom, in a manner and place that had been used before. I don’t recall if they were to also recover an empty blivit, but that would make sense because the boat’s mission was to cruise up and down the river and it wouldn’t return to that unprotected spot for several days.

I also recall being told that while in a hover, the VC with the RPG, popped up out of a hole to the left front of the aircraft and fired it into the left fuel cell just below the left gunner’s window. I believe SP4 Shultz was leaning out of that window, providing clearing information to the FE, and the crew, and basically took a direct hit from the RPG. Of course, the surviving pilots may have a more accurate account of this, but I recall one of them telling me this sequence shortly after the crash, that afternoon.

I also recall that the cockpit broke away from the body of the chinook, but did not hear that it landed upside down. Instead, I heard that the two pilots just stood up and walked out through the companion way, but one of them was lightly struck in the head by a slowly turning rotor blade. The helmet prevented serious injury but he (maybe AC Whittle) still had a large gash that was bleeding profusely when they landed back in Cu Chi at the 12th Evac Hospital. I met them there and tried to intervene by getting them some medical help, and was told to get out of the way by the nurses and doctors, since the pilot was not seriously hurt. (Side note: I think AC Whittle had a father who was also a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam at the same time, who had been a P-51 pilot in Viet Nam in WW II and had actually landed on a PSP airstrip not far from Cu Chi ?? if not Whittle, then it would have been Henry)

I had recently gotten to know FE Bedient, when he had served on several of my own missions in the weeks prior to the accident. He and I had shared a number of beers while sitting on top of the Enlisted Hooch, one night. He told me he was engaged to be married soon to a woman who had a very young daughter. We joked about getting married in a combat zone, as I had just been married a few months earlier in April while on R & R in Hawaii.

Following the crash, FE Bedient, as was told to me by someone that day who, unfortunately, I cannot remember, had stayed aboard the burning aft fuselage that had settled onto the very edge of the river, to drag the passengers towards the aft ramp and throw them into the water to help extinguish the fire that had engulfed their fatigues. Nearby airborne Huey’s flew to the crash site and landed to pick up the survivors right after the crash was reported over the Guard radio frequency, and flew them to the 12th Evac helipad in Cu Chi. When I learned that they were enroute, I ran from the bunker to meet them, but was so stunned by seeing them exit the aircraft with burned skin and nothing on but their leather boots, I couldn’t do anything but watch in sad disbelief. FE Bedient was among them I guess, but I didn’t see him. I only recognized the two pilots, who I believe arrived last.

Later that night, I spoke to our company commander, Major Allen Hammerbeck, and he told me that FE Bedient was so badly burned that he had been sent to Tan-Son-Nhut, to await a flight back to the Army burn center in San Antonio Texas. I drove down the next day to see him, and we talked for about two hours, though he was in a lot of pain and probably under the influence of heavy medication. He told me he had a flight scheduled for two days later and was hopeful of making it home. Sometime the following day, on what I think was July 12th or 13th, Major Hammerbeck came to tell me that Bedient had died that day in Tan-Son-Nhut, before departure.

I can’t recall now what steps I took a year or two ago, but I came across an email address for the young girl who was to have become Bedient’s step-daughter. We exchanged emails several times as she recalled having fondly known him before he went to Viet Nam, and I told her pretty much what I’ve stated here, with the same caveat; it all happened nearly 50 years ago, and I may not have remembered everything as accurately as it happened.

I don’t know how you edit this to add it to the story that’s already been told by others, all of which might be more accurate than what I recall, but maybe it can be added as just another “memory” of a very sad day, by someone who cared deeply for all of those young men. I’ve wished a million times that I had not called upon that crew to take that “add-on” sortie, as you might expect.

I’ve wondered too, if there might have been a way to more fully recognize Ross Bedient for his bravery in trying to save the lives of his passengers? If it could be shown that what he told me is accurate and worthy of recognition. If he did in fact take the time to help shepherd the passengers to the aft ramp and into the water, that time spent most likely contributed partially, if not entirely, to his own severe burns and loss of life.

From: Terry Greene

This record was last updated on 06/22/2020

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