Helicopter UH-1C 65-09458

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 65-09458
The Army purchased this helicopter 0266
Total flight hours at this point: 00001715
Date: 09/30/1971
Incident number: 71093010.KIA
Unit: 117 AHC
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: XT080836 (To see this location on a map, go to https://legallandconverter.com/p50.html and search on Grid Reference 48PXT080836)
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:

War Story:
Chris Behm, Tom's crew chief dreamed of the circumstances of their deaths days before and told several people. They were shot down in flames and crashed inverted as the dream but with Tom as Aircraft Commander instead of CPT Raber. The UH-1C was called Death's Orgasim. Tail number 458. from James F. Gardner, Sidewinder 4.

The facts surrounding Tom's death affirmed the quality person and pilot he was. Tom was the aircraft commander of the second ship in a light fire team on the day of the occurrence. Scott Alwin was the commander of the lead ship and the fire team leader. The mission was to take them into Cambodia for the first time in several months. As they proceeded toward Cambodia, past Tay Ninh, they came under the fire of a 51 caliber machine gun. The aircraft Tom was piloting caught fire and they lost their engine.

Tom's directions to the crew were overheard by virtue of the fact that when keying the mike to transmit on the intercom, he inadvertently keyed it all the way so as to transmit on the radio as well. Tom entered an auto-rotation and gave directions to his crew on the way down to use the fire extinguisher and put out the fire. At approximately 300 to 500 feet, the tail boom of the aircraft failed and the aircraft went inverted and crashed.

I was told that the non-pilot crew members jettisoned the aircraft at approximately 500 feet, presumably due to the intense heat. It is not believed that anyone survived. A recovery team was dispatched to recover whatever remnants remained, but was unable to acomplish their mission due to the reported heavy enemy weapon fire in the area. Upon my arrival at the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred, there was no evidence of any bodies visible as a result of the accident or by reason of enemy activity.

In closing, I should relate one item as a matter of interest. Tom Stansbury was the scheduling officer in our unit. On the day before the accident, I had been awarded an aircraft commander position and Tom, quite naturally, assigned me to fly the aircraft commander position of the second ship behind Scott Alwin. Captain Alwin recognized the mission to be a dangerous mission and suggested to Tom that he would prefer to have a more experienced aircraft commander on this mission. Tom came and talked to me about this and advised me that in view of the request he had scheduled himself to take the aircraft commander position in my stead. I have often thought about this turn of events and the influence of karma.

From: Jim Wade, 17 Sep 92

This record was last updated on 04/10/2021

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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