Helicopter UH-1H 68-16520

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-16520
The Army purchased this helicopter 1269
Total flight hours at this point: 00000564
Date: 08/10/1970 MIA-POW file reference number: 1655
Incident number: 70081010.KIA
Unit: D/1/1 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: YC700000 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PYC700000)
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: 1655 ()
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

REFNO Synopsis:
CROWLEY, JOHN EDWARD Name: John Edward Crowley Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: Troop D, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) Date of Birth: 25 September 1949 (Sodus NY) Home City of Record: Williamson NY Date of Loss: 10 August 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 152149N 1073055E (YC700000) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Other Personnel in Incident: CW2 William E. Boyle; WO Gary B. Smith; SP4 Jesus O. Alvarez (all rescued); passengers from MACV-SOG team (unnamed - rescued) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: WO Gary B. Smith, pilot; William E. Boyle, aircraft commander; SP4 John E. Crowley, crew chief, SP4 Jesus O. Alvarez, door gunner; and an unspecified number of passengers were in a UH1H helicopter (tail #68-16520) on a classified "Prairie Fire" operation in the lower panhandle area of Laos. "Prairie Fire" teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were also called, depending on the time fram, "Shining Brass" missions. The missions operated under MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOGG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. When the helicopter was about 25 feet above the ground, it suddenly lost power and crashed. No reason for the crash could be determined. Crowley and one passenger were trapped inside the aircraft. A medic from another helicopter entered the wreckage and managed to free the passenger, but noticed that Crowley was firmly wedged between the aircraft and the ground. After two or three minutes of effort, the medic gave up trying to free him. The medic determined that Crowley was dead, as there was no pulse, and he could get no response from him. All personnel were extracted and another rescue team was inserted just before dark, but was unable to get back to the wrecked aircraft because of enemy activity. The second team was extracted the next day, and no further efforts were made to go back to the crash site. Crowley was flying in support of an exceedingly dangerous mission. For every insertion like the one of August 10, 1970 that was detected and stopped, dozens of other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.

This record was last updated on 05/25/1998

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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