Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 68-17200
The Army purchased this helicopter 0569
Total flight hours at this point: 00001614
Date: 03/30/1972 MIA-POW file reference number: 1809
Incident number: 72033025.KIA
Unit: B/7/17 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: ZA045798
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: 1809 ()
Loss to Inventory
P CPT FINCH MELVIN WAYNE RR
OB SP4 BLACKWOOD RES
FINCH, MELVIN WAYNE Remains Returned 14 August 1985 Name: Melvin Wayne Finch Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: Date of Birth: 10 November 1944 Home City of Record: Ft. Belvoir VA Date of Loss: 30 March 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 141627N 1074920E (ZA045798) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project. REMARKS: DIED QUANG BINH SEPT 72 - W/US POWS SYNOPSIS: The Hughes Aircraft OH6A "Loach" helicopter was envisioned as an all-purpose helicopter to perform such duties as personnel or cargo transport, light ground attack or casualty evacuation, observation, and photographic reconnaissance. In South Vietnam, the Loach proved most effective at visual reconnaissance, searching out signs of the enemy in even heavily defended areas. Its crew peered through gaps in the jungle canopy in search of tracks, cooking fires, huts, or other signs of the enemy as the light helicopter skimmed the treetops. Capt. Melvin W. Finch was onboard an OH6A on a combat mission in South Vietnam on March 30, 1972. The mission was a recon of a bunker-hooch complex about 12 miles west-southwest of Kontum. During the mission, small arms fire from one of the hooches downed the helicopter. Finch and SP4 Blackwood, also on the aircraft, got out of the crashed helicopter alive. Finch was dazed and injured and had blood on his face and in his eyes. As he departed the aircraft he began running toward enemy fire. Blackwood was unable to get his attention to alert him to run the other way. Blackwood crawled 30 meters to a nearby road and was rescued. Melvin Finch was alive the last time he was seen, and the Department of Defense gave him an enemy knowledge category of "1" which indicates the enemy certainly did know his fate. However, Finch was not listed Prisoner of War, but Missing in Action. In February 1974, after 591 Americans had been released from prison camps in Vietnam, released ARVN POWs reported and identified Finch and returnee Reeder as two U.S. Army captains they had been held with before the two Americans were moved north. Other unspecified information indicates that Finch died in captivity with other Americans in Quang Binh Province (just north of the DMZ) in September 1972. Melvin Finch's final classification by the Department of Defense was Killed or Died in Captivity. Although the U.S. is certain the Vietnamese could account for him, they continue to deny any knowledge of him.
This record was last updated on 05/25/1998
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