Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-15589
The Army purchased this helicopter 0469
Total flight hours at this point: 00002502
Incident number: 71022049.KIA
Unit: B/227 AVN
UTM grid coordinates: YU394385
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Summary: Shot down on take off by automatic weapons and B40 fire after picking up a wounded LT from an LZ east of Snuffy.
Loss to Inventory
P CPT HEAD DAVID NEIL KIA
CE SP4 MALONE WILLIAM WALTER KIA
G SP4 CORONADO ROBERT KIA
AC CW2 CLEARY JOHN E RES
Passengers and/or other participants:
1LT CLEARWATERS CHRISTOPHER L, AR, PX, KIA
At approximately 1600 hrs. on 20 Feb 1971, the Battalion Commander released us to return to Phouc Vinh, the home base of B Co. 227th Avn BN. We had been supporting infantry units operating from FSB Snuffy along with another sister bird flown by WO1 Randy Clark. Randy's responsibility was the units to the east of Snuffy and mine was to the west. Randy had been in and out of the same LZ a number of times and reported that the unit had sporadic contact with the enemy during the day. At approximately 1600, I contacted Randy and advised him that I was returning to base since we had been released by the Commander. At approximately 1605 hrs., I received a radio call from the BN TOC requesting that I return to Snuffy to pick up the BN Commander and fly him to an LZ located east of Snuffy where an American unit had engaged the enemy and sustained a wounded casualty. The Commander briefed us enroute to the LZ, noting that a medavac had been requested but couldn't come due to a lack of cobra cover. Dave Head executed a high overhead approach to the top of the trees where the unit had popped smoke and used chainsaws to fell trees for us to hover down into. The enemy had broken contact and we received no ground fire going into the LZ. The soldiers loaded a wounded 1LT onto the bird and Dave executed the takeoff from the LZ. After clearing the trees and accelerating through ETL, approximately 1/8 mile from the LZ, we took fire from 3 sides comprised of small arms and heavy machine guns. The aircraft was approximately 40 feet above the trees with high terrain located in front and on both sides. During the initial attack, Cpt Head and Sp/4 Malone sustained fatal injuries. Bill's gun went silent. The attack was vicious with many enemy soldiers firing at our aircraft. I executed evasive maneuvers but every where I turned, we were met with more enemy fire. Unfortunately, the aircraft was struck on the right side in the area of the fuel tank with a B-40 rocket which brought us down and severely wounded Sp/4 Coronado. We crashed into the trees and upon impact I was blown out through what remained of the nose of the aircraft seat and all. Sp/4 Coronado was still trapped, but with my help, managed to free himself. Medevac arrived with a Cobra escort and engaged the enemy. I never saw my crew members ever again because they were KIA and I spent 8 months in military hospitals recovery from my wounds which were extensive. Cpt. Dave Head was our Maintenance Officer with approximately 5 days left in country and requested the opportunity to fly the AO before he DEROS. These 3 guys died heroes doing their job trying to save the life of a fellow soldier. Bill Malone was an outstanding crew chief and soldier. Bobby Corronado was new to the unit but showed great courage in attempting to suppress the great volume of fire that was directed at our aircraft. I learned later the casualty, ILT Christopher Clearwater died during this action. As the sole survivor of 589, it is important that the courage and professionalism of the crew is made known to the world and that these soldiers died upholding a Cav tradition" We will leave no one behind" John E. Cleary, CWO, US Army (Retired), Aircraft Commander 68-15589, B Co. 227th Avn Bn. 1st Air Cav Division I was present at the action that took this aircraft. My name is Bill Clemons and I was the CE on aircraft UH-1H 68-15452 B/227 AHB 1 CAV. Bill Malone was my best friend, he was 19 years old from Waco Texas. My aircraft was flying resupply missions between firebases in the area. On a personal note, Bill Malone was an avid skydiver and we often discussed what we would do in the event of a major airborne failure. He said he would take his final freefall jump and enjoy it to the end. He never got the chance. WO Cleary was an outstanding pilot whom I had flown numerous combat missions with. He was the regular AC on 589. I didn't know Alverado too well. He was a quiet person who did what was asked of him, always to the best of his abilities. He took my place as gunner on 589 after I was assigned as CE on 452. I miss them all. Bill Clemons, CE 452 B/227 AHB 1 Cav 70/71 Three (3) men lost their lives on that mission. The Pilot - Capt. David Neil Head from Arkansas, Kansas, the Crewcheif - Specialist/4 William Walter Malone from Waco, Texas, and the Door-gunner - Specialist/4 Robert Coronado from Dallas, Texas. Capt. Head and Spec/4 Malone were killed 20 Feb 71 at the crash site. Specialist Coronado died the following day from wounds received in crash. The Aircraft Commander, CWO2 John Cleary was badly burned but survived enduring several months in hospitals upon his return home. I am proud to have served with these men, the finest, most couragest Aviators the world shall ever know. They will never be forgotten. May they rest in peace. " Pouvoir! , First Team " Col. Glenn E. Teague IEW/CAF, US Army (Retired), (Former Crewchief AC 68-16498, B/227th AHB, 1st Air Cav. 70-71)
This record was last updated on 01/22/2003
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Date posted on this site: 05/26/2019
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