Helicopter UH-1H 69-15684

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 69-15684
The Army purchased this helicopter 0970
Total flight hours at this point: 00000238
Date: 03/01/1971 MIA-POW file reference number: 1712
Incident number: 71030110.KIA
Unit: 11 GS 1 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: WU955265 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PWU955265)
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: 1712 ()
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:

REFNO Synopsis:
BLACK, PAUL VERNON Name: Paul Vernon Black Rank/Branch: W1/US Army Unit: 11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division Date of Birth: 26 April 1948 (Santa Cruz CA) Home City of Record: Central Valley CA Date of Loss: 01 March 1971 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 115940N 1055238E (WU955265) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) SYNOPSIS: On March 1, 1971, W1 Paul V. Black was the aircraft commander of a UH1H helicopter on a combat mission about 15 miles within Cambodia in Kampong Cham Province. During the mission, the aircraft received enemy ground fire, crashed and burned. The helicopter apparently lost its main rotor on impact with the ground. The vehicle exploded into a fireball. All the crew members were aboard the aircraft at the time, and none were seen to exit. Subsequent recovery efforts recovered the remains of the pilot and passengers (no further identification available), but no trace could be found of W1 Black. He is thought to have perished in the crash of the aircraft.

War Story:
Two Left Bank birds were shot down with the loss of all personnel.

The second bird was shot down near Dambe, Cambodia (WU 955 265) on 1 Mar 71. The 371ST people were SP5 Gary David and SP4 Frank A. Sablan. They were O5H's assigned to the 371ST Radio Research Company. O5H's are Radio Interecept Operators. The 371ST RRC supported the 1ST Cav and operated at the time out of Phouc Vinh, RVN. The pilots probably were from B/229TH as the aircraft belonged to the 11Th GS. I would imagine that pilots were drawn from the Division if a shortage occurred. The pilots listed as killed that day were WO1 Paul Vernon Black and WO1 Robert Dale Uhl.

The aircraft, itself, was configured with radio direction finding equipment and was unarmed except for personal weapons. It had a crew of four, two pilots and the two O5H operators in the back. Their mission was to track the enemy via of intercepting their radio transmissions and then fixing their locations with triangulation. That called for flying slow and easy with many turning patterns and reporting back to HQ what was significant or not. The O5H's were not mere passengers as the report suggests in one part but they were full time crew members of a special electronic surveilance aircraft. Radio Research as it was know in Vietnam was in reality the Army Security Agency and hence the classified mission. It was not what some people called people sniffers.

The second Left Bank Bird, 69-15684, was brought down by a 37MM from 3000 feet and there was a main rotor separation. The only friendly witness's to this was an ARVN Column in the area. Their organization is listed as USARV because I think that was who their mission was in suport of as opposed to the Division. The Cav was in the process of repositioning for standdown and return to Fort Hood.

Larry E. North, March 1997, lnorth@cyou.com

There were three (3) original Left Bank aircraft in the 11th GS, 1st Cav. I know because I flew them as well as the two (2) assigned to A Co, 4th Infantry Div. The ORIGINAL three in the 1st Cav were tail numbers 66-16334, 335, and 336. The two in the 4th were tail numbers 66-16489, and 491. This account gives a different tail number to the Left Bank aircraft Paul Black was flying. The originals were D models which, I understand, were later converted to H models. While they were D models, there was 50 pounds of weight on the stinger to keep the aircraft within CG and also limited us to only 1200 pounds of JP-4. This was necessitated because of the electronic equipment mounted directly behind the front seats. (Since the electronics were mounted on a steel base, it could have been relocated to a different aircraft and, hence a different tail number went down.) Even the writeup by someone in ASA thinks there were 6 original Hueys. They do not mention any tail numbers though.

Luther A. (Al) Bennett, Jr at albennett@triad.rr.com May 2006.

March 1 was a normal duty day. We were flying a lot of missions, and there was a lot of activity. There was a big enemy buildup just over in Cambodia, and we expected them to come toward us soon in force. The RRU (radio recon unit) had been picking up a lot of chatter and were busy pinpointing the headquarters and control units.

I returned from my mission, fueled up the OH-6A, and parked it in the revetment. Something did not seem right at the flight shack. The mechanics were tense and the sergeant would not talk to me. I said, “Hey guys, what is going on?” They assumed that I had heard the bad news, and they now began to fill me in. An RRU bird had crashed. Bob and Paul were the pilots ? both of them well liked. Reports indicated that their rotor system had been shot off by intense 51 caliber machine gun fire and the helicopter had dived into the ground and burned in a fireball without a chance of anyone surviving.

Bob Uhl was 22 years old from California. He was a very likable guy and a good pilot. I had been his instructor when he transitioned into the OH-6A. He was a Methodist, a really good pilot, single, and a team player.

Paul Black was also 22, single, and also from California. He was fun to be around. He was a Reformed Druid. I had also trained Paul in the OH-6A, and he was a good pilot and volunteered for the tough missions.

The news hit me hard. As I stood there, stunned and silent, a familiar voice began singing a familiar song on the radio. Judy Collins was singing Amazing Grace on AFVN (Armed Forces Viet Nam Network). I will never forget the moment, the song, the news, or the stunning realization that Paul and Bob were gone.

In a couple days the remains of all but Paul were identified and they were declared KIA. Paul was listed as MIA, but we knew from statements about the crash that he could not have survived. We inventoried their personal belongings, wrote letters to their families, and held a memorial service for them.

I still remember Bob and Paul when I hear Amazing Grace. I found their names on the Viet Nam Wall ? 6 times-- and I cried each time I did it. March 1 will remain a memorable day for me. Three years later, my second daughter, Lisa, was born on March 1.

For Bob, Paul, Joe, Tim, Van, Bruce, Pete, Bob, Roger, Sandy, and all of the other pilots who did not come home alive --- “Pre-takeoff check ? 6600 rpm, no warning lights or caution lights, instruments in the normal operating range, 1200 plus on fuel, guns armed, cleared with Skywatch on artillery, we’re good to go, catch you later” - - - -

Note: Judy Collins is a great singer, and she sang Amazing Grace beautifully - but there is nothing like a dozen guys in green uniforms singing it - in a hut, with the only other sounds being some chopper blades in the distance, sporadic firing from the Northeast Battery (a bunch of 155 millimeter Howitzers firing at targets they never see), a flight of Cobras arriving at the re-arm point, and a C-130 taking off after leaving supplies. The gang I worked with only sang two religious songs when we were together ? Amazing Grace and The Old Rugged Cross. Both have very special meanings now. Especially, Amazing Grace.

Final Note: Warrant Officer Paul Vernon Black’s remains were identified in April of 2003 after 32 years. His parents hoped for that many years that he might still be alive, but new DNA methods were used to identify his remains and he was declared dead. He received a full military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in November of 2003. Go to www.arlingtoncemetery.net and enter Paul Vernon Black for the story. Paul’s parents now have closure on his death.

March 1 - - - We still remember.

And today in 2013 my wife of 45 years is having a lumpectomy to remove a malignant breast tumor!

From: Ralph McClurg

This record was last updated on 03/01/2013

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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