Helicopter UH-1H 69-15824


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 69-15824
The Army purchased this helicopter 1170
Total flight hours at this point: 00000484
Date: 04/07/1971
Incident number: 71040734.KIA
Unit: C/7/1 CAV
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: VR872666
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:
AC CW2 WILSON BILLIE JOE KIA
C SP4 ARMSTRONG JOSEPH LARRY KIA


War Story:
My husband Richard (Rick) Prosser passed away Oct 1st 2004. As I was sorting through his papers I found a handwritten account of an incident in VietNam which I'm sure he had planned to share. I will try to write it just as he did but please excuse any mistakes as it IS handwritten. The story reads as follows: Regarding Billy Joe Wilson, CW2, died Apr 7, 1971.(p172 1994 membership directory), Billie was a Cobra pilot assigned to C Troop, 7th sqdn, 1st Air Cavalry. He had volunteered to fly as co-pilot on the C&C bird, piloted by then CPT "Skip" Murrow (last seen as on A.D LTC in FRG). Billlie Joe was getting close to DEROS and was to go to Alaska after his tour was over, and wanted to get some Huey stick time "day off" from flying guns. We were in the area known as the "Hump", South of RachGia on the RVN West coast, along the "Anti-American" canal. (The Western edge of the U Minh Forest). The Lead scout was shot down, and the wing man bugged, with some of the most intense fire seen in that area chasing him off. The C&C bird spotted the scout Pilot and his Oscar climbing out of the wreckage, and immediately swung down to pick them up. While in the P.Z., only light fire was received, but the CE and gunner were suppressing anyway. The Chicken Shit US, RVN Backseats and RVN ARTY F.O. sucked canvas up their butts, and so Billy Joe jumped out to pull the LOH crew to safety, unbeknownst to Skip, who kept calling over UHF "Is everyone on board?" to the CE and everyone else with a radio. The CE also did not know Billy had un-assed to help out the scout crew, and gave an up to Skip, who promptly pulled pitch and got the hell out of there. When Skip noted the empty Right seat, he called to the CE to get Mr. Wilson back up front. That was when the CE noted Billie's absence from the bird. When told Skip did an immediate turn back to the crash site, announced to the guns (CPT Jim Drury, then LT Dave Merriam) that he was returning to pick up Mr. Wilson. On short final, Skip told me, he spotted Billy standing on top of the LOH, waving and grinning. Then the tree lines erupted. Multiple hits were taken by the C&C bird, but the fatal shot took out the tail rotor. The Huey, at high torque, rolled left, and the Main Rotor blades took Billy down to waist height. The PIC of the scout was trapped, with his helmet squeezed between the top of the door frame and the ground. Skip, in one of the bravest acts of heroism I ever witnessed, evacuated all the other PAX and crew, and grabbing the still cherry red M-60 barrel, shoved it in the gap in front of the scout pilot's face and began to heave. Fuel and oil streamed inches from the LOH pilot's face, and then burst into flames. Skip beat it out with his bare hands, and then proceeded to extract the LOH pilot. In the meantime, my flight of 3, loaded with Ruff-Puffs (regional forces / popular forces ) dropped down to the tri-corner fort the RF/PF's called home, because we knew by their prior rep that the only way that they would get off a Huey under fire would be on the far side of a near death experience. Lady Samantha (67-17761, last flown by me at Ft. Rucker, Al in 1982) was screaming that day. The CE, "Fat Albert" and I had done a good engine flush on her the night before. "Nico" Nicholson, an 11 month CAV vet was checking me out on how a Comanche lead was expected to operate. I was lift platoon leader a Captain at 22, on my second RVN tour. Both of us knew that we were next. We looked each other in the eyes, Nico pulled his visor down, flicked his mike boom aside, wiped the sweat from his scraggly, sorry excuse for a stache, nodded, and I called the guns and arranged for cover. We dropped down, low, lower than the tops of the paddy dikes, screaming inbound to the crash sites, I led by roiling black smoke from the burning Huey. As we slowed down to look for a landing spot, the tree lines all around the crash site erupted with ground fire, but what kept us from landing there was the tracers cooking off on the Huey stove like Orville Redenbackers best. We found a hover hole about 75-100 meters Southeast of the 2 crashed birds. Ground fire was continuous from all sides, but sporadic, as Jim and Dave kept the VCs heads down with some great shooting. Meanwhile, Skip had marshalled his crew and PAX to move to the sound of our rotor blades. It was a hard fight. The VC were excited, and threw several grenades that were tossed back by Skip's forces before exploding. I was told that for sure seven VC were KAKIDAU by pistol or knife in short distance. It seemed like forever that we sat there, waiting for our PAX. SP4 Armstrong, our door gunner, took one in the leg from the tree line to our A.E., so Jim and Dave hit that area with nails. We kept taking fire from all quadrants, but could not shoot to the N.W., as that was where our friendlies were coming from. Nico kept flicking his mike boom away from his mouth, rubbing the sweat from his moustache, and then carefully pulling the mike back into place. The sounds of bullets hitting sounded like sledge hammer blows to a 55 gallon drum and shrapnel from the Close Air Support (CAS sounded like a handful of gravel thrown down a rain pipe. (I had to stop for a while, here, for I became kerklept.) I believe Rick had more to write but never got around to doing so. This may have been when his door gunner was killed. Seldom did Rick talk about this, but he did tell me once that HIS recurring nightmare was that of the blood of his doorgunner covering the windshield and flying into his face while he was flying back to base camp. I hope this helps, as I know Rick had planned to share this with you. Iva Prosser

The above story is substantially correct, but the trail cobra was piloted by Gerry Harding with myself as the front seat. Merriam showed up about five minutes later because we were expended. We did not use nails because we were too low and our guys were running through the boonies. I can still see Spec Smiles with his "Easy Rider" American flag helmet leading the troops through the brush. Although he was probably having second thoughts about the wisdom of that helmet, it did keep us aware of their positions.

From: Ross McCoy

NOTE: It is believed that Armstrong was the gunner on Prosser's rescue helicopter, not on this one that crashed. I AM JIM (SHORTY) GROTH C-TROOP 7/1 AIR.CAV AERO SCOUT, NOVEMBER 70-NOVEMBER 71. I REMEMBER APR 7 1971 VERY WELL, BECAUSE I WAS THE FLYING AS THE OBSERVER ON THE LOH (67-16360) WITH CWO THOMAS HICKS, WHEN WE GOT SHOT DOWN. I CAN STLL REMEMBER MR. HICKS CALLING ON THE RADIO, "TAKING FIRE, RECEIVING HITS, GOING DOWN!", BY THEN WE WERE IN THE TREES. WHEN THE LOH FINALLY STOPPED WE JUST LOOKED AT EACH OTHER AND ASKED EACH OTHER IF WE WERE OK. BOTH OF US, SAID YES. THEN NEXT WE SAW A SLICK COMING INTO PICK US UP, WE CLIMBED INTO THE PILOT SIDE, THEN WE STARTED TO TAKE OFF THEN THERE WAS A BIG CAMOTION, AND WE TURNED AROUND AND HEADED BACK TOWARDS THE LOH, AND STARTED TO HOVER THEN IT STARTED TO GET REALLY BAD WHEN THE SLICK STARTED TO SPIN AND TWIST TO THE LEFT, THEN THE CRASH. THAT WAS WHEN C. W. WILSON BILLIE JOE WAS KIA. THEN I LOOKED FOR MR. HICKS (MY LOH PILOT) THE ONLY OTHER PERSON THAT I KNEW PERSONALLY. I WAS REALLY FREAKED OUT WHEN I SAW HIS HEAD BETWEEN THE TOP OF THE SLICK DOOR FRAME AND THE GROUND, I STARTED TO GO TO HELP HIM WHEN SOMEBODY GRABBED ME AND THREW ME OUT OF THE SLICK, WHICH WAS ALREADY ON FIRE. AFTER I GOT OFF THE GROUND SOMEBODY SAID FOLLOW THAT GUY AND THERE WERE LOT OF PEOPLE HEADING FOR THE SECOND SLICK. FINALLY EVERYONE GOT ON SLICK #2 AND TOOK OFF, WE WERE ALMOST OUT OF RANGE WHEN SP4 ARMSTRONG JOSEPH WAS KIA. THIS IS ONE OF MY REOCURRING NIGHTMARES. THOSE SLICKS SURE CRASH HARD, A LOT HARDER THAN LOH’S. THAT WAS MY FIRST (2) OF (4) TIMES BEING SHOT DOWN, 3 LOH’S & 1 SLICK. I AM AND ALWAYS BE VERY GREATFUL FOR EVERYONE THAT HELPED US THAT DAY, IT WAS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE. P.S. THE ONLY THING THAT WAS OFF IN THE STORY IS THAT WE WERE THE WING, NOT THE LEAD SCOUT SHIP. JAMES GROTH (SHORTY)

This record was last updated on 09/11/2007


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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