Helicopter UH-1H 67-17768

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17768
The Army purchased this helicopter 0968
Total flight hours at this point: 00001881
Date: 02/11/1971
Incident number: 71021139.KIA
Unit: D/3/5 CAV
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: XD918545 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48QXD918545)
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:
C Trp 3/17th Cav. was redesignated D Trp 3/5th Cav around the first of December 70 and officially belonged to 9th Inf. Div. We were attached to 5th Mech. Inf. along the DMZ at the time. Our call sign was always Charlie Horse. Our Cav troop was the first to recieve OH-58s to use as Scouts which we flew from sometime before April of 70 until at least late in 71.

Kenneth Barger was flying a UH-1H tail number 67-17768 and his call was Charlie Horse 21 assigned to D/3/5 Cav who was working for 5th Mech. Ray Carroll was Ken's crew chief. They were both killed trying to pick up a downed scout crew.
From: Fred Blanchard, March 1999
C Trp 3/17th Cav. of the First Aviation Brigade from April of 70 till March of 71.

According to Fred Blanchard, Charlie Horse 23, 768 did not have any ARVN on board. They were carrying 5 of our Aero Rifle Platoon. The Huey that had the jungle penetrator was the second medivac on the scene. The first medivac was shot full of holes. Also we had transitioned out of 58s and into OH-6s by August of 71. Kenneth Barger, who everyone called Skip, was a close friend. The whole day was a disaster, the war in a nutshell. It changed my life forever.

The following is from Melvin B Pobre, co-pilot of 67-17768:
11 February 1971 was at the beginning on Lam Son 719, the operation which was to cut off the Ho Chi Minh supply trail running through Laos. Charliehorse 3/17 had recently been designated to D3/5. On that day, our scout team (one jet ranger, two cobra gunships, and one Huey chase ship) was working around the area called the Rockpile, about half way between Quang Tri and Khe Sanh and close to the highway QL9. The scout (OH-58A 69-16091) took fire from the top of the hill and went down into trees in a ravine. Immediately, my aircraft commander (WO Kenneth "Skip" ¯Barger) lowered collective and said over the radios that we were going in.

As we hovered over the downed scout, I could see that it was inverted. We were in trees but Skip was trying to get closer to the downed scout aircraft until the door gunner on my side yelling that we were cutting down trees. I looked out and saw leaves and wood chips flying all around. Skip finally realized we could not decend further and started to pull collective to get out. The guns circling above yelled "get outta there, you're taking fire¯!" I was light on the controls and the collective was up to my armpit. We had one last defoliated tree the diameter of which was the size of a telephone pole to clear. The main rotor hit that tree and down we went swinging like a pendulum hitting trees and on the third swing hit the bottom of the streambed on my side. I blacked out three times and what saved me was a "force" that said, "open your eyes” three times.

We did not explode which we in flight school were told that on impact the ship would explode because of the high volatility of aviation gas. But we were on fire.

I undid my seatbelt and looked up to see Skip's head close to me and the door on his side was blown off. I lifted myself and climbed over Skip and once out of the ship tried to pull him out by his waistbelt but I could not lift him. His body from about the waist down was hang out the aircraft. The flames ignited more and I thought the explosion was next. I turned and staggered upstream in the direction of the fallen scout ship, leaving Skip in the Huey. I took my helmet off and left it in the streambed. On the back of my helmet I had affixed a peace sticker — there I was in this UNBELIEVABLE situation.

As I made my way up the streambed I heard small arms fire and the Cobras rolling in expending mini guns and rockets. I reached for my .45 in my holster but it was missing. Unarmed, wounded and scared I hid under a fallen tree on the bank of the ravine.

I waited what seemed like 20-30 minutes with my thoughts racing about my life, 25 years on planet Earth. Then on the opposite bank of the ravine I heard the sound of metal-to-metal contact. The scout carried three troopers. Pilot, Captain Nick "Ratso"¯ Riviezzo, WO Joe Douglas, and ARP (air rifle platoon) Bob Bunney. All had survived although Bunney was severely wounded, but conscious. When all three got to the streambed, I recognized Rats's voice and I immediately left my position and came to where they were, saying, "¯Ratso, Ratso, it's me Pobre, don't shoot!" ¯ Later Ratso said he had his sites on me and would have fired had he not heard my voice.

Ratso left Douglas, Bunney, and me in the streambed while he went downstream to my Huey.

After about another half an hour a scout ship was circling our position. I took off my jacket and held up the bright orange inner lining to signal where we were. I could see it was WO Wayne Forbes, a truly independent HERO of the war—I felt a bit of comfort seeing Forbes.

After another period of about half an hour a medivac ship was hovering over our location. The rotor wash broke a large limb off a tree and that limb hit Douglas who crumpled to the ground in convulsions. The limb missed Bunney and me who were very close by. The jungle penetrator came down as the medivac ship remained hovering over us. Ratso was back and strapped Douglas first up on the penetrator. Second up was Bunney and third up was myself. Somehow Ratso located a wounded ARP who was the fourth trooper put on the penetrator. As he was being lifted up, the motor on the penetrator broke, leaving him dangling on the cable.

The pilot of the medivac ship was WO Joel Dozhier, a very cool and capable Dude. On board his ship was door gunner Dennis Fujii. Dozhier did a slow pedal turn while hovering and slowly moved the aircraft to the mouth of the ravine to a relatively flat area of elephant grass. All the while the ARP was dangling on the cable. The rotor wash pushed the elephant grass down, Fujii jumped out , followed the cable and brought the wounded ARP to the aircraft, the cable was cut and off we were to Quang Tri medsurg.

Of the two aircraft shot down, there were thirteen personnel involved. All three in the scout survived. There were ten in my Huey. Skip, myself and eight ARPS, two of the ARPS were a door gunner and a crew chief. The other six ARPS were on the floor. The KIAs were in my aircraft, Skip and Carroll, the gunner, both on the left side of the huey. Their bodies were put on a second medivac ship that came in.

The ARP platoon leader was Lt. Bill Alf. He and his platoon of three squads were inserted at the mouth of the ravine and hiked up to link with Ratso and the surviving ARPS in my Huey. They all came out of the ravine and were extracted by four Hueys.

That happened on 11 February 1971, a day seared in my memory. I was medivaced to Japan.

From: Lt. Mel Pobre, Corp of Engineers, Rotary Wing Aviator Charliehorse 3/17, D3/5, In country October 1970-March 1971

This record was last updated on 05/16/2021

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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