Helicopter UH-1H 68-16063

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-16063
The Army purchased this helicopter 0769
Total flight hours at this point: 00001855
Date: 02/08/1971
Incident number: 71020888.KIA
Unit: B/7/1 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: XD583302 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QXD583302)
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:

War Story:
This was the first aircraft lost during Lam Son. The AC was CPT Joe Bearden. The aircraft was hit by an exploding round which hit the gunner and then went through and blew up in the fuel cell. While trying to find a place to land with smoke coming out of the top and fire coming out of the hell hole, the flight control apparently burned through. The aircraft rolled inverted and the crew chief was thrown free. He went back to help other survivors and recovered Joe Bearden from the crash. I was the AC of the rescue helicopter and found the crash site easily from the smoke and fire. The crew was harder to find as they were in debris in a defoliated area. We found them eventually because the outside of the pilots flight jacket had been burned off and he was standing there with the international orange lining. As the rescue was attempted, we were taking heavy automatic weapons fire which was being suppressed by a Cobra flown by CW2 Jim Davis who was hovering at about 200 feet over the top of us. The defoliated trees were thick enough that we could not get down to the crew so the decision was made to cut our way down with the main rotor blades. The crew chief of the downed aircraft pushed Joe Bearden as far up into the tree at which point my crew chief who had been an all Army weight lifter reached out and pulled him into the aircraft. The crew chief followed up the tree and was similarly recovered. He informed us that there were no further survivors and since Cpt Bearden was burned so severely on the neck and face we departed immediately to the medevac pad at Khe Sanh. As follow up, I carried some Vietnamese in to recover the bodies the next day and upon recovering them they threw a 38 revolver in my lap with all of the rounds cooked off and the grips burned away. This had been CPT Fox's personal weapon. It is an incident that has never left my mind. As a further aside, the crew chief whose name I cannot remember was given the opportunity to stop flying but refused. He was shot down again while flying with CPT John Waters and landed on the old French Highway 1. This time he was shot through the foot and lost half of his foot. From: John R. Palmer

This record was last updated on 10/26/2005

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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