Army Reporter information
for 176 AHC

For date 681019

176 AHC was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Chu Lai
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "'Miracle Div' Choppers pull two Marines from sea" dated 19 Oct 1968. Americal Div helicopter crews plucked two downed Marine pilots out of the South China sea recently in a daring display of inter-service cooperation. The two pilots, MAJ Daniel Carroll and LT Ralph C. Brown Jr., were returning from a mission north of Chu Lai when they realized that there was a malfunction in their landing gear. "I contact Chu Lai and told them to go ahead and foam the runway," Carroll said. After about 10 or 15 minutes the two directed their F-4B Phantom jet towards the runway and the cross deck arresting gear pendent, which will cause the aircraft to come to a complete halt after about 200 to 250 feet. "Our speed was slowed down to about 80 miles per hour, when suddenly the pendant broke, causing our aircraft to go out of control and start to skid sideways." Carroll continued, "My choice at this time was to hit the burners and attempt to get the aircraft off the ground. I believe we did a first in aviation history, when we got the aircraft off the ground without landing gear. While I prepared for our ejection, Brown headed the aircraft out towards the sea. We both ejected about a half mile from shore." The first chopper to the scene was that of WO1 James M. White from the 176th AHC. Having spotted the red flare Carroll sent up, he proceeded to begin the rescue of the major. Carroll commented later on the rescue, "The pilot hovered over me beautifully at about three feet and his crewmen tossed me the rope. White did a fantastic job of holding the chopper steady and his crew really humped in getting me into the chopper. The job was so proficient that it seemed that they had trained for years at air-sea rescues." Brown's rescue was a little more exciting. A Marine CH-34 chopper first appeared to pickup the remaining pilot. The chopper, having Brown all hooked-up, began to pull him up out of the water, but then the craft began to lose power. The downed pilot was dragged by the CH-34 as it sank to the water. He disengaged himself, then the chopper regained its power and moved out of the way. All this time another Americal chopper, piloted by CPT Herman Castle from the 71st AHC, was circling the area. When he saw that the Marine chopper was unable to make the pick-up he immediately lowered his craft to about two feet above the water. There was no rope aboard Castle's chopper so the pilot was forced to hold onto the skids. Brown said, "The crew pulled me up and I hooked my elbow over the skid, and locked the other arm to it through my harness. Then we headed for the beach." Traveling at a speed of 50 knots, the Huey flew just above the surface of the water to carry Brown a mile to land. "Because of an injured ankle, I let go in about three feet of water rather than over solid ground." Following his unusual rescue, Brown was quick to praise the professional ability of the pilot and crew of the Army chopper: "He did a beautiful job of flying and held it steady as a rock two feet above the water." But Carroll's and Brown's day was far from over. That night the two "Leathernecks" went down to the 176th AHC's Officer's Club and bought refreshments for the company and especially for White, Castle and their crews. Carroll concluded by saying, "It was just our way of thanking the Army for helping out two Marines.
Comments: MAJ Carroll, Daniel; USMC jet pilot; ; LT Brown, Ralph C.; USMC jet pilot; ; WO1 White, James M.; 176 AHC pilot; ; CPT Castle, Herman; 71st AHC pilot; ;

The source for this information was 6810AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023