Helicopter UH-1D 64-13571


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D tail number 64-13571
Date: 07/27/1966
Incident number: F798ACD Accident case number: F798
Unit: A/82 AVN
South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 10 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 6
costing 239921
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
P WO1 SAMPSON JOSEPH C JR KIA
AC WO1 WELSH RUTHERFORD J KIA
G PFC COLLINS JAMES WILFORD KIA
CE SP5 REINBOTT HAROLD W JR KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
SSG HUNT JOSEPH FRANCIS, AR, PX, KIA
PFC KEGLEY JOE DAVID, AR, PX, KIA
PFC MCDOWELL MELVIN WARREN, AR, PX, KIA
PFC MOORE CARLOS DAVID, AR, PX, KIA
PFC SCHEMEL JERRY L, AR, PX, KIA
PFC MCCRYSTAL JAMES LARRY, AR, PX, KIA


Accident Summary:

ACFT NO 8 IN FORMATION ACFT SEEN TO PITCH NOSE UP TO VERTICAL POSITION FELL OFF TO LFT COMPLETED 190 DEG TURN DESCENDING RAPIDLY ACFT TURNED ANOTHER 90 DEG & EXPLODED ON IMPACT INTO TREES CAUSE OF ACDT UNDETERMINED


War Story:
Former members of the unit who were present when the incident occurred told me the post crash investigation revealed a pin came out of the flight control system causing the pilots to lose control of the aircraft and that all UH-1's worldwide were grounded until a tab was placed on them to prevent a similar failure. Evidently the aircraft was in the middle of a formation and suddenly went nose up and went inverted in a loop over the top of the flight and was almost back to level when it hit the ground. A main rotor blade wrapped around a tree during the crash pulling part of the flight controls and the transmission out of the aircraft. The rest of the aircraft rolled and burned leaving the evidence with the part pulled from the aircraft. James McLaughlin, jomclaughlin@mediaone.net June 2001.

The report you have listed accounts for 10 KIA when there were only 9 on the AC. The List of names only shows 9 as well. Small thing but I wouldn't want someone thinking a name was left off. As for the "War Story" part of the report: It remains my contention, as an eyewitness and part of the recovery crew that was flying immediately above and behind 64-13571, about the cause. I agree that a pin may have been the root cause, The mast separated from the transmission which burned in the crash and there was extensive damage to all parts. I recall the flight stoppage after the incident and the call for fixing the problem on al Aircraft. However, the incident as I saw it unfold has left me with another likely cause. As we headed out with troops headed for a LZ 64-13571 lagged back (nearly breaking the formation in to 2 flights) twice before the sudden pitching up and rolling to the left. As I watched the AC directly below us, I stood up on the right side of Horsethief (62-1901 – incidentally, the date you list for the last update), in order to pictures as she went down. I had to load a roll of film so as I watched, my thought was at the time that one of the pilots had been hit and was pulling back on the cyclic. The description of her going over nearly in a loop is correct and the final turn was there but she flipped on to her right side just before impact. Eventually landing pretty much flat on her skids. I took 3-4 pictures from the air of her as she exploded. Horsethief landed immediately about 400 – 500 meters from the crash site and Tom Matsumoto and I took our (non-functional M-16’s) weapons and went on our way down a cart path towards the crash site. It was an inferno with all the ammo on board cooking off. Watching the AC go in, I had seen what looked like two people (objects) exit the AC just before impact and both of us were yelling for anyone alive as we ran. Matsumoto and I headed around what was the right side (facing). We were kept at least 30 – 50 meters away from the AC by the heat and the rounds tearing up the jungle like giant shot shells. I saw several trees and the brush ahead of us shredded by what was M-60 ammo boxes cooking off. That was scary, also, mortar or M-79 rounds were going off too. We moved around what was the tail section still calling for survivors. Matsumoto was in front of me 20 feet and we made a clearing on the right side of the AC, heading towards the front. I saw what looked like a body near the tail but the heat was too intense to get near. We moved further into the clearing and Matsumoto moved farther away from me maybe 40 feet. At the edge of the clearing ahead of Matsumoto was someone in a flight suit and flight helmet on with a pistol (45, I think) aiming at Matsumoto. I was yelling over the explosions and the roar of the conflagration for Matsumoto to “Look Out.” I ran ahead and slammed into the pilot thinking he was a survivor. I knocked the shit out of him. And yelled “what the fuck are you doing – are you OK?” He turned out to be a pilot of another AC that broke formation to look after his friend. (The guys name was Heckerman who I met at a 335th reunion some years ago with WO Walsh’s little sister in tow – he had been a roommate of Rutherford Walsh in flight school who was the Co-Pilot of 64-13571) We got him out of there and we went back to Horsethief to report it was too hot to do anything further. We flew back to Base and hot refueled and took some food and water for an investigation and came back to the crash site about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs later. Again, Matsumoto and I went to the crash site which I believe we were the first to reach and it looked like a piece of Hell. Near the tail section of the AC was Harold W. Reinbott Jr., the Crew Chief – He was who I saw laying near the flames, he was burned very badly and KIA. In the middle of the clearing to the left and slightly in front was WO Joseph C Sampson, Pilot in a crawling position, right arm elbow cocked up hand (remains) palm down on ground, left arm cocked in front with forearm on ground (no hand) in fact his hands or feet and completely incinerated. In the remains of the front of the AC WITH THE CYCLIC CLUTCHED TO HIS CHEST was Rutherford Welsh’ badly mangled body - both were KIA. Off the left side of the AC (Facing) I found the forearm of a soldier and we wrapped it in a GI’s poncho. Further to the left we found the body of a soldier with shredded clothes and bad burns – KIA. In the center of the AC, nearly burned to powder were minor remains like Collins’ flight helmet. And a couple of M-16 actions partially melted. To the best of my memory, the remains of Collins , the Gunner, and the four infantrymen were completely incinerated. We crew members of Horsethief all agree with the final findings. For closure but the flight leader lost his radios to ground fire on the way over the area approaching the crash site and the company from the 2nd Bat (I think) that came in for site security had to put suppressive fire into that area as well. Ultimately, the AC became safer with the modification, but I still believe it’s possible that Walsh was hit some ways from the crash site and grabbed the cyclic, causing the two surges up and falling back as Sampson struggled to control the AC and, falling back in the seat pulled the AC up and over and eventually into the ground. All those on board 64-13571 were good men and served their country well. May God bless their souls! Joe Fields, Horsethief Recovery Helicopter, 166th Trans Det, CO "A" 82nd - 335th AHC 173rd Abn Bde (Sep), Republic of South Vietnam, 1965/1966/1967

I also was a eye witness and I have much deeper pain then what the report said. I was the door gunner assigned to 571 flew several missions had 17 air medals. My story is true and sad. The night before the flight Reinbott (crew chief) and I where joking around in the tint when Gary Collins came to me and asked if he could fly for me the next day he told me he needed more hrs to get a air medal. I told him he would need to ask the platoon sergeant. The platoon sergeant said he could fly for me.The next morning another huey came out of maintenance from repair the platoon sergeant came to me and said I needed to go and fly as a door gunner. We where flying just ahead of 571 I could see Reinbott and I gave him a thumps up and he replied. I don't know if he knew it was me or not. It happen so fast getting the chopper ready that I was flying on. We where headed to the LZ in flight formation when I saw 571 the nose came up and I notice the swash plate on the rotor was tilted up at the max. This is what I saw and I gave my report in front of the investigation committee. There was no radio communication from WO Sampson. 571 descended headed in a downward mode till I saw the flames from the explosion of the chopper. I talked to my pilot and told him I was suppose to be on 571. He ask me if I was ok I think back and sometimes I can not remember what I said I did finish out the day we flew 2 more flights that day before we where done. I remember when I got back to the tint later that day someone came and told me what they found. They said that all where killed and Reinbott had jumped out of 571 just before impact. He always told me that he would never crash and burn. I have never been able to find Collins family I really wanted to tell them the story. and as for WO Sampson JR. He was form Ohio not to far from my home town we where friends and we talked a lot about getting back to Ohio. He was married After seeing the report I guess I needed to tell someone the story. I have several colored slides from there and one of them is the night before flight 571 went down I will always keep that one we where all in the tent together. From: John Cavinee

This record was last updated on 01/25/2008


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