Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 68-17344
The Army purchased this helicopter 1169
Total flight hours at this point: 00001790
Date: 06/11/1972 MIA-POW file reference number: 1874
Incident number: 72061101.TXT
Unit: F/8 CAV
UTM grid coordinates: YD565135
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: 1874 ()
Loss to Inventory
G PFC BIBBS WAYNE RR
OB SP4 YEAKLEY ROBIN RAY RR
P CPT HOLM ARNOLD EDWARD JR RR
Personnel In Incident: Arnold E. Holm; Robin R. Yeakley, Wayne Bibbs (missing from one OH6A); James E. Hackett; James R. McQuade (missing from second OH6A). SYNOPSIS: By December 1971, U.S. troops in-country had declined dramatically - from the 1968 peak of nearly 55,000 to less than 30,000. The enemy, temporarily on the defensive by the moves into Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971, began deploying new NVA forces southward in preparation for another major offensive. In March 1972, the Vietnamese launched a three-pronged invasion of the South. One NVA force swept south across the DMZ, its goal apparently the conquest of the northern provinces and the seizure of Hue. A second NVA force drove from Laos into the Central Highlands, and a third effort involved a drive from Cambodia into provinces northwest of Saigon. Fierce fighting ensued on all three fronts, with NVA success the greatest in the northern provinces. Fighting continued until by June, the North Vietnamese began withdrawing from some of their advance positions, still holding considerable amounts of South Vietnamese territory in the northern provinces. On June 11, 1972, Capt. Arnold Holm, pilot, PFC Wayne Bibbs, gunner, and SP4 Robin Yeakley, passenger, were aboard an OH6A observation helicopter flying from Camp Eagle to the Northern Provinces of South Vietnam on a visual reconnaissance mission. The function of their "Loach" chopper was searching out signs of the enemy around two landing zones (LZ's). The OH6 joined with the AH1G Cobra gunship as "Pink Teams" to screen the deployment of air cavalry troops. On this day, Holm's aircraft was monitoring an ARVN team insertion. During the mission, Holm reported that he saw enemy living quarters, bunkers, and numerous trails. On his second pass over a ridge, at about 25' altitude, the aircraft exploded and burned. It was reported that before the aircraft crashed that smoke and white phosphorous grenades began exploding. After the aircraft impacted with the ground, it exploded again. Other aircraft in the area received heavy anti-aircraft fire. No one was seen to exit the downed helicopter, nor were emergency radio beepers detected. In another OH6A (tail #67-16275), 1Lt. James R. McQuade, pilot, and SP4 James E. Hackett, gunner, tried to enter the area of the crashed OH6A, but encountered heavy fire and their aircraft was also shot down. McQuade's aircraft was hit, and the intensity of the resulting fire caused white phosphorous and smoke grenades carried aboard the aircraft to explode prior to hitting the ground. The aircraft continued to burn after impact and no crewmen left the ship before or after the crash. No ground search was made for survivors or remains of either aircraft because of hostile fire in the area.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Army Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr. of Waterford, Conn.; Spc. Robin R. Yeakley of South Bend, Ind.; and Pfc. Wayne Bibbs of Chicago, will be buried as a group, in a single casket representing the entire crew, on Nov. 9, in Arlington National Cemetery. On June 11, 1972, Holm was the pilot of an OH-6A Cayuse helicopter flying a reconnaissance mission in Thua Thien-Hue Province, South Vietnam. Also on board were his observer, Yeakley, and his door gunner, Bibbs. The aircraft made a second pass over a ridge, where enemy bunkers had been sighted, exploded and crashed, exploding again upon impact. Crews of other U.S. aircraft, involved in the mission, reported receiving enemy ground fire as they overflew the crash site looking for survivors. Between 1993 and 2008, joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed witnesses, investigated, surveyed and excavated possible crash sites several times. They recovered human remains, OH-6A helicopter wreckage and crew-related equipmentincluding two identification tags bearing Yeakley's name. Scientists from the JPAC used forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence to identify the crew. Today more than 1,600 American remain un-accounted for from the Vietnam War. More than 900 servicemen have been accounted for from that conflict, and returned to their families for burial with military honors since 1973. The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover all Americans lost in the Vietnam War. For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.
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