Pacific Stars and Stripes information
Primary service involved, US Army
For date 680227
Quang Nam Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Da Nang
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Swift Boat Rescues Crew From Fallen Army Chopper."
Da Nang (PAO)- "The helo just kept falling and falling. We knew it was going to crash any second," said Lt. (jg) Charles W. Johns of Youngstown, Ohio. Johns, the skipper of PFC 78 (Patrol Craft Fast nicknamed "Swift Boat"), was heading north to his patrol station along the DMZ. "We were only about 10 miles out of Da Nang," he said, "when we spotted this Army helicopter losing altitude very rapidly. "The helo looked like it was trying to make it to the beach, but it was coming down much too fast." Johns and his five-man Swift Boat crew sped after the copter. "We were right on top of it when it finally hit the water," said Radarman 2.C. Russell R. Shaw of Glens Falls, N.Y. "We started moving immediately," Engineman 2.C Tyrone Nelson of Vista, Wash., had a life raft in his hand, ready to throw it overboard. "There were seven of them," he recalled. In less than eight minutes, all seven were safely on board the Swift Boat. "One man the pilot, couldn't swim," said Johns, who has been in Vietnam only two months and already put his Swift through two fire fights with the Viet Cong. "He kept himself afloat with his helmet until we could get to him." After being rescued, one of the helicopter's crewmen said, "I've never seen such a pretty sight as this boat." A few minutes after the rescue, the Swift was back in Da Nang. The helicopter crew was taken to the hospital at the Naval Support Activity, where they were given a clean bill of health and released. It was later reported that the helo had been downed due to mechanical difficulties. The other members of the Swift Boat crew at the time were; Quartermaster 2.C Ralph W. O'Niel of Chicago, Quartermaster 2.C. Donald R. Osborn of Clovis Calif., and Radarman 2.C. Pat Lannen of Hollywood, Fla.
The source for this information was 6802pss.avn supplied by Les Hines
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