Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17765
The Army purchased this helicopter 0968
Total flight hours at this point: 00001227
Incident number: 701026221ACD Accident case number: 701026221 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 498 MED
The station for this helicopter was Qui Nhon in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 4 . . Injured = 1 . . Passengers = 1
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
AC WO1 COOK DONALD RICHARD KIA
P WO1 SMITH CHARLES FRANKLIN KIA
OB O2 WJ MITCHELL
CE SP4 REESE DENNIS EDWARD KIA
MD PFC REINECCIUS KARL LEWIS KIA
AT APPROXIMATELY 1945 HOURS ON 26 OCT 70, AN URGENT MEDEVAC REQUEST WAS RECEIVED AT THE 1/503RD INFANTRY AID STATION AT LZ UPLIFT. AT THE TIME THE WEATHER AT LZ UPLIFT WAS 2000 SCATTERED, 3000 BROKEN AND 10 MILES VISIBILITY. WO1 COOK ELECTED TO TAKE THE MISSION WHICH WAS AT FSB WASHINGTON, BR843695, RVN, A MOUTAINTOP WITH AN ALTITUDE OF 1,400 FEET. 1LT WALTER J. MITCHELL WHO IS ASSIGNED TO THE AID STATION AT LZ UPLIFT, ACCOMPAINED THE CREW AS AN OBSERVER. WHEN THE CREW ARRIVED NEAR THE PICK-UP SITE WITH WO1 COOK AT THE CONTROLS, THEY ENCOUNTERED A LAYER OF CLOUDS OR FOG WITH LIGHT RAIN AROUND THE MOUNTAINTOP WHERE FSB WASHINGTON IS LOCATED. THE GROUND TROOPS WERE PROVIDING ILLUMINATION AT THIS TIME FROM THEIR 81MM MORTARS. ROUNDS WERE BEING FIRED SO AS TO OVERLAP BY 10 TO 15 SECONDS. THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO REACH FSB WASHINGTON WAS GOING TO BE FROM THE WEST TO EAST, BUT THE ATTEMPT WAS ABORTED DUE TO A LACK OF VISUAL REFERENCETO THE GROUND ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. WO1 COOK THEN FLEW BACK TO THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. WO1 COOK TRIED TO HOVER UP THE EASTERN SLOPE OF THE MOUNTAIN TO THE FSB. PRIOR TO TH-S ATTEMPT HE HAD REQUESTED THAT THE GROUND TROOPS KEEP THE ILLUMINATION CONSTANT. DURING THE APPROACH, WHEN WO1 COOK WAS WITHIN 150 METERS OF THE FSB, THE ILLUMINATION WENT OUT. THIS LOSS OF ILLUMINATION WAS CAUSED BY A DUD ROUND. ANOTHER ROUND WAS FIRED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ROUND WAS DISCOVERED TO BE A DUD, BUT DID NOT IGNITE SOON ENOUGH TO PREVENT A TEMPORARY LOSS OF ILLUMINATION. THERE WAS NO ILLUMINATION FOR A PERIOD OF 10 TO 15 SECONDS. DURING THIS SHORT PERIOD WO1 COOK ATTEMPTED A RIGHT TURN AWAY FROM THE MOUNTAIN TO ABORT HIS APPROACH. WHILE IN A RIGHT TURN THE AIRCRAFT APPARENTLY LOST ALTITUDE, THE LEFT SKID HIT A TREE TOP OF 4 INCH DIAMETER 25 FEET ABOVE THE GROUND LEVEL CAUSING THE AIRCRAFT TO NOSE FRONTWARD INTO A LARGE ROCK FORMATION. THE AIRCRAFT COMMANDER WAS THROWN INTO THIS ROCK, STILL IN HIS SEAT. THE PILOT AND MEDIC, ON IMPACT WITH THE ROCK, WERE THROWN OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT AT A DISTANCE OF 20 AND 30 FEET AWAY RESPECTIVELY. THE AIRCRAFT TUMBLED TWO OR THREE TIMES ON ITS WAY DOWN THE HILL AND CAME TO REST ON ITS RIGHT SIDE BETWEEN A ROCK FORMATION AND TWO LARGE TREES, WITH THE CREW CHIEF AND 1LT MITCHELL STILL ON BOARD. 1LT MITCHELL, THE ONLY SURVIVOR, WAS STILL STRAPPED IN ON THE LOWER SIDE OF THE AIRCRAFT IN THE RIGHT-HAND HELL HOLE. THE AIRCRAFT HAD STARTED TO BURN. HE UNSTRAPPED AND CRAWLED OUT FROM UNDER THE AIRCRAFT. THE CREW CHIEF WAS STILL ON BOARD AND APPARENTLY DEAD AT THIS TIME AS A RESULT OF CRASH INJURIES. THE AIRCRAFT BURST INTO FLAMES WHEN 1LT MITCHELL EXITED THE AIRCRAFT. THE GROUND TROOPS ON FSB WASHINGTON HEARD THE CRASH AND QUICKLY ORGAINIZED A SEVEN MAN RESCUE PATROL. THEY FOUND 1LT MITCHELL AND THREE OF THE BODIES WITHIN MINUTES. THE FOURTH BODY WAS RECOVERED THE NEXT MORNING. 1LT MITCHELL WAS SUFFERING FROM MINOR INJURIES AND WAS TAKNE TO THE 67TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL IN QUI NHON ON THE MORNING OF 27 OCT 70.\\
WO Donald Richard Cook with his entire crew of the 498th were killed on October 26, 1970 while trying to land in extremely bad weather night conditions at FSB Washington to medevac a seriously ill or injured soldier. They crashed while hovering up the side of mountain to land at fire base on top. The flare fired up to give illumination for Cook was a dude and he lost illumination and visual contact in the fog and low clouds and caught his skid in the trees and they died in this horrible crash in which the aircraft caught fire. Cook and the pilot and medic were thrown free of the aircraft and died instantly but the crew chief was trapped inside and died there. A 1st Lieutenant from the aid station at their standby base at LZ Uplift was on board as observer and managed to escape the aircraft with injuries. Cook was a close friend of mine as we arrived in-country together and was assigned directly to the 498th on the same d! ay and were newbies together. We in Dustoff flew many missions like this throughout the 10 year war and these missions cost us greatly. Our numbers were small but our losses were great. I miss him greatly and often think of him as with Lamborn and other friends of mine who perished over there such as 2nd Lt. Don Candler of the 11LIB and from Temple, Texas. from Bill Perkins.
This record was last updated on 12/12/2002
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Date posted on this site: 05/26/2019
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