Helicopter UH-1C 66-00692


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-00692
The Army purchased this helicopter 1266
Total flight hours at this point: 00002185
Date: 08/08/1970
Incident number: 70080808.KIA
Unit: 173 AVN
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: XU905289
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
P 1LT SMITH JOL NEBANE KIA
CE SP4 RODRIGUEZ SAMMY PINA KIA
G SP4 BARRITT WILLIAM EMMETT KIA
AC WO1 GRAHAM JIMMY C RES

Passengers and/or other participants:
CPT WALKER WILLIAM WAYMAN, AR, PX, KIA


War Story:
CPT William Wayman Walker was NOT a passenger as listed in this incident report. I think he was the ground commander of the forces being inserted and was a passenger in the C&C ship. He may have been one who tried to rescue the crew from the burning aircraft. CPT John Horn (173rd AHC) or WO Warren Foss may have additional information in reference to this incident. They would have been the pilots directing our mission. From: Jim Graham, Crossbow 39, Aircraft Commander. July 2006.

I was serving as AC of the last aircraft of an 8 ship lift the day that 692 was shot down. My pilot was Doug Trump. We had just completed the first insertion and were joining back up to the flight when Jimmy Graham put out his Mayday call. We immediately broke from the flight and headed into the crash site to assist, and recover the crew.

692 was already burning badly when we landed. I could see Bill Barritt (CE) emerging from the flames on his own. Jim Graham, Jol Smith, and Sammy Rodriguez were pinned in the flaming wreckage. My crew immediately bailed out and ran to the wreck. One of them dragged Bill Barritt further away from the scene while the other crawled onto the burning aircraft to get Sammy Rodriguez, he was joined shortly by the other crew-member and together they were able to extract Rodriguez from the aircraft and drag him away from the site. Again they both went back into the burning gunship to help Jimmy Graham and Jol Smith. We had put out a call for further assistance after we landed, it was obvious that Graham and Smith were not going to be able to get out without help.

A few moments after my crew went back into the wreckage the C&C bird, flown by CPT John Horn, landed. His crew, along with their passengers, ran over to help. Although injured himself, Bill Barritt was attempting to drag Sammy Rodriguez over to my aircraft. One of my men saw this and assisted Bill with Sammy. He then once again returned to help extract the pilots. We picked up and hovered closer to the scene to try to keep the flames away from the cockpit for as long as we could. The heat from the flames made one of the blades start to droop. A few of the rescuers noticed this and got under the blade and were holding it up with their bare hands. One of them was a Captain, whom I believe to have been Cpt. William Walker. By doing this they allowed the rest of the men to continue with their extraction of the pilots.

A moment later I noticed one of the rockets start to cook off, and then just after that the whole tube exploded. We almost lost control of the Huey due to the blast, but were able to recover it. We were able to lift off though we had now suffered severe damage ourselves. We flew to the Med Pad at Quan Loi and off loaded Bill Barritt and Sammy Rodriguez. Cpt. Horn remained and recovered the rest of the men as he now had more help from another ship.

Sammy Rodriguez died later that day, along with Jol Smith who was unable to be extracted before the explosion. Bill Barritt died on August 14th, 1970 due to his injuries. Captain Walker died from the explosion. Jimmy Graham was able to be extracted and had been severely injured All the other rescuers were injured.

I regret that I cannot remember the names of my crew that day except for Doug Trump. We were from different platoons. Their actions were the most courageous thing that I have ever witnessed. If someone knows their names please let me know.

From: Dick Crow Robinhood 10

I was the air mission commander (Robin Hood 3) for the mission on 8/8/70. I had been in country approximately 18 months when the incident occurred. CPT Jim Roop, the company XO (Robin Hood 5) was my co-pilot on one of his first combat assault missions. We were supporting ARVN soldiers advised by a Special Forces B Team in the area of Bu Dop. My light fire team led by WO Jimmmie Graham was reconnoitering our next LZ when we heard his MAYDAY call that he was taking heavy accurate AA fire and was going down. I immediately headed for the LZ site of the downed aircraft. CPT Rich Johnson (Robin Hood 26) was the 2d Platoon platoon leader, leading the White flight. I passed him the role of air mission commander and he took control of the entire flight of 8-10 slicks, while I coordinated the rescue of 692. I asked CPT Johnson to send his trail aircraft (Robin Hood 10, WO Dick Crow) to the site of the downed aircraft as ! I had a full ship with the C&C party and would not be able to MEDEVAC the crew of 692 without leaving someone behind. I told CPT Johnson to brief the ARVN commander, who we were supporting, on the situation and to prepare for an insertion into the downed aircraft LZ. One of us, CPT Johnson or I, called our company ops to scramble additional gunships and give the commander, MAJ Ellington (Robin Hood 6) a SITREP.

When I arrived at the site, 692 was burning, 7.62 mm ammo was cooking off and the fuel and rockets were in danger of exploding. The LZ was a large (5-10 acres) swampy field oriented North to South. I figured that the western tree line was about in Cambodia, which is where 692 had been flying when receiving the deadly fire. I asked CPT Roop to disembark and lead the rescue party, which included everyone on my slick, except the crew chief, in the attempt to save the crew from the burning gunship. The rescue party included 4 Special Forces types, including a LTC who was the airmobile mission commander, his S3 CPT Walker two NCOs. The last member of the rescue party was my gunner, Jimmie (his uncle was the 173d AHC Gun Platoon Sgt).

We had a 50 cal. machinegun on the left side of the C&C ship. As soon as the rescue party got off, I repositioned the C&C ship so that the crew chief (Billy) would have a clear field of fire into wood line where the enemy fire that downed the gunship had come from. Billy easily suppressed the light small arms fire from the western tree line with the 50. He was a wonderful crew chief and in better times we had some fun with that 50 cal. rig. The remaining gunship provided cover from the Eastern side of the LZ and called for artillery support. Robin Hood 10 arrived at the LZ shortly after the rescue operation was initiated. I asked him to remain airborne until we had some wounded to MEDEVAC.

The fire on the downed bird was raging so hot that the rescue party had to lie down in the swampy water to cool off intermittently while trying to pry the wreckage from and remove the downed crew. They got Jimmie Graham out with a severe back injury, SPC Billy Barritt was a budding country singer who shared his talents equally in the enlisted, NCO, officers clubs, was removed with 35% of his body burned. SPC Sammie Rodriguez, who had been my crewchief when I was in the gun platoon and was the best minigun maintainer in VN, was the last to be removed from 692 before it exploded. He was removed with more than 50% of his body burned. As the fire proceeded I was concerned that in an explosion the rescue party would get hit and that my ship would take some shrapnel. At some point I asked Robin Hood 10 to come into the LZ and take WO Graham and Specialist Barritt to the Quan Loi MEDEVAC hospital. After an eternity, which w! as prob ably only 5-10 minutes, the fuel and the rockets on the downed bird exploded before LT Smith could be rescued from the aircraft. The blast shock was so great and I flinched and jerked pitch lifting the C&C ship 30 feet off the ground. I can only imagine what went through the minds of those who were on the ground when they saw me "lifting off". The explosion killed CPT Walker William Wayman, a member of the C&C party and injured several others on the ground. By this time CPT Johnson had the flight of 8-10 slicks airborne loaded with ARVN troops to secure the site. WO Crow was loaded with most of the injured. I remember taking SPC Rodriguez and PT WAlker to Quan Loi MEDEVAC in the C&C ship.

Our unit CO, MAJ Ellington (AKA "Duke", but not to his face) was on his way up to the crash site. I debriefed him on my way to Quan Loi. CPT Johnson who was now the Air Mission Commander, recovered LT Smith's body and the KY 28 from the crashed 692. There was no further contact with the enemy that day. My crew (CPT Roop, crew chief Billy, gunner Jimmie) and I returned to home base at Lai Kai (Sherwood Forest).

There were lots of decorations earned and given this action. CPT Walker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, CPT Roop and Jimmie (gunner) were awarded Silver Stars. I was awarded the DFC (Copy is attached) Billy (crew chief) and the other members of the Special Forces C&C party that participated in the rescue all received awards.

LT Smith sadly died in the wreckage. He was a relatively new pilot in the unit, was well liked and in line to lead the gun platoon (Cross Bows). WO Graham was one of those guys who had a magnetic personality; you could not help but like him. He survived and I hope is thriving. SPC Rodriguez died of his burns almost immediately. We all thought SPC Barritt was going to make it and I visited him a few days later at the field hospital in Long Binh. I went to the ward and asked a female Army nurse where SPC Barritt was. She said matter of factly, "Oh he died yesterday." I know that her matter of fact manner was nothing more than a by product of her tough job, but it hit me like a body blow. I was about to get angry at her, but by the grace of God caught myself. As an aside, the night before I left VN, I ran into this nurse and another nurse freind at the officers club in the repo depo at Long Binh. The 3 of us shared a qu! iet dri nk together and remembered Billy Barritt.

This was the second action of the day for the 173d. Earlier on 8/8/70 in the day at Lai Kai around "0 dark thirty" our base had been rocketed, seriously wounding a couple of enlisted men on their way to the mess hall. 8/8/70 was one of my worst days in my 22 month tour in Viet Nam.

AWARD OF THE DISTUINGUISHED FLYING CROSS

HORN, JOHN E. CAPTAIN TRANSPORTATION CORPS United States Army 173rd Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter) APO 96289
Awarded: Distinguished Flying Cross (First Oak Leaf Cluster)
Date of service: 6 August 1970
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 2 July 1926, AR 672-5-1 and USARV Supplement 1 to AR 672-5-1, dated 10 August 1970.

Reason: For heroism while participating in aerial flight evidenced by voluntary actions above and beyond the call of duty: Captain Horn distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions while serving as aircraft commander on a troop-carrying helicopter in operations southwest of Bu Dop. As air mission commander on this date, Captain Horn was directing airmobile operations with friendly ground forces when a gunship of his flight took heavy automatic weapons fire and was forced to crash-land only a short distance from the enemy positions. Turning to aid the fallen ship, he directed the flight to pick up troops to secure the crash area and radioed for artillery support. To expedite rescue efforts and disregarding his personal safety, he set down next to the blazing wreckage and held his position, overseeing the rescue attempts of the crews of two ships and coordinating security measures for the crash site. The eruption of the rocket load aboard the gunship and the threat of further explosions forced him away momentarily from the crash site. Returning moments later to the wreckage, he flew immediately toward medical facilities as soon as the injured had been placed on board his ship. His immediate supervisory action on this date coordinated the best rescue efforts of all involved. His exceptional skill and leadership were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

FROM: John E. Horn COL USA (ret), Robin Hood 3

This record was last updated on 05/30/2008


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