Helicopter UH-1D 64-13772


Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D tail number 64-13772
Date: 08/01/1966
Incident number: F934ACD Accident case number: F934
Unit: 48 AVN
The station for this helicopter was Tuy Hoa in South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: CQ200428
Number killed in accident = 4 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
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 MAJ GUNDAKER FRANK JOSEPH KIA
PX SP5 SHUMAN ERNEST MAXWELL JR KIA
CE SP4 WALLACE DONALD DEAN KIA
PX PFC RUSSELL RONALD JAMES KIA


Accident Summary:

UH1B MR BLADE SLING LOADED TIP OF RTR BLADE NOT SECURED ON CLIMBOUT BLADE BEGAN TO OSCILLATE AND FLEW UP INTO MR OF ACFT CAUSED ACFT TO ROLL INVERTED AND CRASH ACFT BURNED IMMED


War Story:
I have lived with the memory of the day I was saved. I still think about it to this day and the young man who saved my life. I was part of the unit with Maj. Gunwale, Sp5 Shuman, Sp4 Wallace and the young man Pfc Russell. The unit method of destroying rotor blades was to take a pick-ax and punch holes into it. Then it would take them out to sea (when not located by the sea they were burned).

I was going to fly that day with the above grew, but Pfc. Russell was new in-country by just a few weeks. Sp5 Shuman asked me if it was ok if Russell took my place and since he was new to the aviation company I responded, ok. They proceeded to tie the rotor blade with a 15 x 20 foot rope and hooked it to the grab hook under the ship.

I went back to my tent and watched as the ship took off.

This is my story of the events that happen that day.

The flaps were up, as was often the case, on the sides of the tent. I had a clear view of the ship flying over the other tents and the field that my other company members were playing a game of football and other sports. The blade started to oscillate from side to side, gaining a bigger arch. The Maj. could have released the blade at anytime and would have saved the aircraft but if he had, most likely a few of our troops on the ground would have been killed.

The Maj. tried to fly the ship to the sea, past the troops on the ground and in the process give up his and his crew members lives. I don’t know if any medals were given but those crew members all should have received one for placing the lives of others before their own.

From: Albert H. Piña security guard, pathfinder Dec. 1965 - Dec. 1966

Regarding the information on the death of Donald Dean Wallace (and 3 others) on August 1, 1966 I thought I'd add the location - Tuy Hoa. Actually on the beach south of the town & river where we had our forward camp. Our base camp was at Phan Rang. We were attached to the 101st.

Maj. Gundaker (pilot) apparently decided to dispose of a shot up rotor blade by slinging it under the chopper and dropping it in the ocean instead of digging a hole to bury it. As they took off after picking up the blade by hovering over it (a rope tied to the grip) and attached to the hook the chopper accelerated forward to head out over the water. The shot-up rotor flew up into the chopper's blades and pieces of metal splattered everywhere in the camp. Fortunately no one got hit by the shrapnel.

The chopper travelled a ways further south down the beach, flipped over and hit the ground hard on its mast. A couple guys got up to the ship and later said no one was moving. It exploded into flames and since fully fueled and armed it was not long before rockets and ammo was blasting all over the place. Soft beach sand slowed our fire equipment so that before everything was reduced to nearly ash. Remains were identified by dental records.

From: Ray Mechem Flight ops specialist for the unit - 48th AHC.

Probably the Huey discussed in the book "Chickenhawk."

This record was last updated on 09/14/2013


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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