Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-58A tail number 68-16814
The Army purchased this helicopter 0170
Total flight hours at this point: 00000563
Date: 03/07/1971 MIA-POW file reference number: 1719
Incident number: 71030725.KIA
Unit: HHC 1 BDE 5 INF
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
for Command and Control
Unknown this helicopter was Unknown at 0004 feet and 004 knots.
UTM grid coordinates: XD653388
Count of hits was not possible because the helicopter burned or exploded.
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 02 DOI, 02 INJ . .
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
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. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: 1719, LNNF, FM386, CASRP (Lindenmuth New Format Data Base. Casualty Report. )
Loss to Inventory
P CW3 ARD RANDOLPH JEFFERSON RR
Passengers and/or other participants:
COL BURNETT SHELDON JOHN, AR, PX, BNR
CPT BODENHORN PHILIP G, AR, PX, RES
1LT CASTILLO JERRY, AR, PX, RES
Laos Randolph J. Ard Sheldon J. Burnett (1719) On March 7, 1971, Warrant Officer Ard and Lieutenant Colonel Burnett were with two other U.S. soldiers on an H-58 ostensively on a transport mission over South Vietnam. The aircraft was hit by hostile machine gun fire while at an altitude of 250-300 feet and crashed three kilometers from Ban Houay San Airfield, Savannakhet Province, Laos. After action reports indicate the aircraft was attempting to recover U.S. wounded in Laos when it was hit by groundfire. The two Army crew members who escaped the crash site reported that prior to leaving the site, Warrant Officer Ard had both legs broken, several bullet wounds and possibly a crushed hip. Lieutenant Colonel Burnett was bleeding from the head, neck, arms and was speaking incoherently. The site was taking incoming 155mm artillery fire, shrapnel from exploding rounds was hitting the aircraft after it crash landed, there was incoming rocket fire onto their position and People's Army of Vietnam forces were approaching their crashed aircraft. On March 18, 1971, South Vietnamese Army forces recaptured the area and were unable to locate any sign of the two U.S. officers. They reported the entire area showed clear evidence of the extremely heavy fighting which had taken place in the area which was within the Operation Lamson 719 area of tactical operations. North Vietnamese prisoners later interviewed in South Vietnam reported sightings of U.S. POWs being escorted north along the Ho Chi Minh Trail but none could be correlated to these two missing officers. Neither officer was ever reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. Both individuals were reported missing and in May 1979 were declared dead/body not recovered. CASE SYNOPSIS: ARD, RANDOLPH JEFFERSON ============================================================================ Name: Randolph Jefferson Ard Rank/Branch: W1/US Army Unit: Date of Birth: 16 June 1951 Home City of Record: West Pensacola FL Date of Loss: 07 March 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 163700N 1063250E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH58A Other Personnel In Incident: Phil Bodenhorn; Jerry Castillo (rescued); Sheldon J. Burnett (missing) SYNOPSIS: Randy Ard had been in Vietnam only a few weeks when an emergency call came in for him to fly the squadron commander to a platoon command post to work his way down to his Third Platoon, which was in ambush in the northwest segment of South Vietnam. He flew his Kiowa Scout chopper from the 5th Mech and picked up LtCol. Sheldon Burnett, the squadron commander; Capt. Phil Bodenhorn, Alpha Company commander; and Sp4 Mike Castro, Third Platoon RTO. Ard mistakenly flew past the command post and west into Laos. Seeing yellow marking smoke, he took the chopper down lower. It was too late to pull up when they heard the sound of an RPD machine gun and AK-47's. They had been tricked into a North Vietnamese ambush. The helicopter went down fast, and smashed into the brush, coming down on its side. Ard and Burnett were helplessly trapped in the wreckage, but alive. Ard got on the radio and began mayday calls. Bodenhorn and Castillo got out of the aircraft and soon heard North Vietnamese approaching. Bodenhorn and Castillo killed these Vietnamese, and listened for nearly an hour as others advanced towards their position. They couldn't understand why they were not being rescued, unless it was because the enemy was so close to them. A helicopter flew over, but took heavy fire and left. They decided to leave Ard and Burnett and escape themselves. They told Ard, who nodded wordlessly. Barnett was drifting in and out of consciousness. The two worked their way to 80 yards away when a UH1C came in on a single run, firing flechette rockets which seemed to explode right on the downed chopper. Later, they watched an F4 roll in for a one-bomb strike over the crash site. Ard and Burnett were surely dead. Bodenhorn and Castillo were rescued by ARVN troops an hour later. Ard and Burnett were classified Missing In Action. The story was releasd to reporters at Khe Sanh three days later. The army spokesman accurately described the ambush, but told the press that Burnett had been in radio contact with the ambushed platoon, and that he and Ard had appeared dead to the two escaping officers. The names of the survivors were not released. General Sutherland stated, ".. the decision was not made to employ the Air Cavalry and the Hoc Bao to attempt to retrieve either LtCol. Burnett alive or his body. ..Burnett had no mission nor units in Laos. He had no reason or authority to take his helicopter over the Laotian border."
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