Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 65-09489
The Army purchased this helicopter 0366
Total flight hours at this point: 00002044
Date: 03/19/1971 MIA-POW file reference number: 1730
Incident number: 71031910.KIA
Unit: 48 AHC
UTM grid coordinates: XD585428
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: 1730 ()
Loss to Inventory
CE SFC GARCIA RICARDO MARTINEZ BNR
P CW3 CRISTMAN FREDERICK LEWIS BNR
P CW2 SPARKS JON MICHAEL BNR
G SP4 LANGENOUR RES
Laos John M. Sparks Richard M. Garcia Frederick L. Cristman (1730) On March 19, 1971, Chief Warrant Officer Cristman and his crew were in an armed helicopter on a mission to provide fire support during the pick up of South Vietnamese airborne troops at Fire Support Base Alpha in Savannakhet Province, Laos. Their helicopter was hit by heavy automatic weapons fire and was forced to make an emergency landing. One of the crewmen, Specialist 4th Class Langenour, was pushed out of the aircraft by Sp5 Garcia and he was able to reach a group of nearby South Vietnamese troops. He was told by one of the troops that the other crewmen had exited the aircraft and headed away from the front of it into the path of advancing North Vietnamese forces. Specialist Langenour later walked out of Laos with the South Vietnamese soldiers. U.S. aircrews flying overhead after the crash landing did not see the three missing airmen escape from the aircraft. In September 1973 a People's Army of Vietnam defector reported his battalion engaged South Vietnamese Army forces in Laos conducting Operation Lamson 719. They captured an injured helicopter pilot who was taken to nearby field hospital B-7 where he later died. Other crewmen from the downed helicopter were found dead and buried. The defector identified a photograph of CW2 Christmas as resembling the individual captured alive by his battalion. In March 1987 a private American POW hunter reported a live American in Laos. The background of the purported American correlates to a crewman from this incident. None of the three crewmen from this incident were reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. All were initially reported missing in action and in October 1978 were declared dead/body not recovered.
The irony of this story is the gunner, Langenour. The aircraft was shot up and the pilots were both hit. They made an emergency landing on a firebase that was being overrun in Laos. Just prior to landing the gunner jumped out, got in the trenches with the South Vietnamese and that act saved his life. The aircraft landed in the middle of a fight, the North Vietnamese were firing mortars onto the firebase, one hit the aircraft as it landed blowing it up, and killing the crew. I have the audio tape of the frustration of the friends that were in the 48th that were trying to find out the fate of their friends..call sign Joker 92. Langenour escaped and evaded for 13 days with the South Vietnamese back to South Vietnam and survived the war. Mike Sloniker
This record was last updated on 09/26/1999
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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017
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