Helicopter AH-1G 67-15468


Information on U.S. Army helicopter AH-1G tail number 67-15468
The Army purchased this helicopter 0168
Total flight hours at this point: 00002277
Date: 04/29/1971
Incident number: 71042949.KIA
Unit: B/7/17 CAV
This was an Operational Loss caused by an accident by Accident with the mission function of Armed Escort
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was LOSS TO INVENTORY
This was a Rescue and Recovery mission for Rescue or Rescue Support
While in Operations Area this helicopter was Attacking at UNK feet and UNK knots.
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: ZA150569
Count of hits was not possible because the helicopter burned or exploded.
Unknown groundfire.
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 01 KIA, 01 DOI . .
Search and rescue operations were Not Required
The helicopter Crashed. Aircraft Destroyed.
Both mission and flight capability were terminated.
Burned
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center AVDAC database. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: OPERA, CRAFX, CASRP, James Lambert (Operations Report. Crash Facts Message. Casualty Report. )
Summary: Lead Cobra of the Stand-by gun team at Camp Holloway. Shot down about 2130 hours while searching for survivors from two VNAF aircraft.
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered

Crew Members:
CP WO1 LONG ROBERT LESTER KIA
AC CW2 EVANS RONALD LEE KIA


War Story:
WO James Lambert provided the following in a series of emails in 2000 to Cyndi Long Inlow, daughter of Bob Long: I was the AC of the wing Cobra that evening and WO Dennis Avenell was the other pilot. On this particular night's stand-by mission, I was originally scheduled to be the gun team leader with another pilot. Just a few minutes before the mission started our Platoon leader switched us from Lead to Wing position. The reason for the change was that the other pilot I was flying with had not flown any night missions from the back seat and the intent was to train him for that duty. About 2100 hours we received a launch order from our operations. Earlier that evening a VNAF L19 Bird Dog had been shot down near Highway 1 about 20 miles northwest of Pleiku. A VNAF UH-1H had been sent to search for survivors. They were also shot down. Our mission was to search for survivors from either crash and bring in the 'Reaction Force' to recover them if there were any survivors. As we approached the coordinates of the crash site, I could see the burning wreckage of both aircraft. The Lead Cobra appeared to be directly over the crash site at about 1500 feet when they took a direct hit from AA fire. The aircraft exploded in mid-air, then fell to the ground with a secondary explosion killing both pilots instantly. After they were shot down, I blacked out our aircraft then sent a situation report to our operations and requested the reaction force be sent in to secure the area. As per the SOP, when we went into action, the 30-minute gun team moved up to 5-minute stand-by status, a company of infantry was alerted with our Lift section to transport them. The second gun team arrived about 20 minutes later. I briefed them on the situation and remained in the area for about another 15 minutes, then left to refuel and rearm. The infantry was being inserted as I was leaving the area. I didn't return that night because the area was quickly secured and it was confirmed that there were no survivors. In fact the bodies could not be recovered that night because of the intense aircraft fires. They were recovered the following day. I recall two 'interesting' ideas about this event. First, during our debriefing the next day, WO Avenell said he didn't see a thing and thus was unable to contribute substantially to the record. I can only assume that the horror of the event caused this to happen to his mind. I've been to The Wall, looked at the names and asked God many times "Why me Lord?" because "But for the grace of God," my name would be there. So I am really the only eye witness to their deaths. Second, the autopsy reported that both pilots received fatal wounds from 51 cal rounds but I have always been doubtful of that report for the following reasons: (a) I did not see any evidence of 51 cal tracers that night. (b) If Ron or Bob had seen any tracers, they would have immediately blacked-out their aircraft since all the enemy weapons we had previously encountered in this area were visually aimed (no radar or heat seeking). (c) Since they went down without any communication of AAA threat, this means that they were probably struck by the first volley of AA fire and that would be very unlikely for optically sighted weapons at night. However, the official report was that the aircraft was brought down by 51 cal AA fire. As to whether it was some kind of aircraft trap, I'm sure it was. Regardless of whether the enemy were NVA or VC, they would have known that we would search for downed aircraft until the situation was resolved. That further leads me to doubt that the enemy was either that skilled or lucky to shot down three aircraft and then vanish into the night. The weapon engagement was much more characteristics of an SA-7 than a 51 cal but these wouldn't be confirmed until the Easter Offensive of 1972. So after 29 years and many countless hours of trying to figure out how they were shot down, I have no answers; only questions and lingering doubts. It is easier for me to accept the official position that their aircraft was brought down by 51 cal AA fire than believe there was a cover-up of the deployment of a new, more lethal weapon. I knew both Ron Evans and Bob Long very well. The memory of them and respect for them will always with me.

This record was last updated on 04/15/2004


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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