Bien Hoa Air Base, RVN    1964-1966



The following review is edited from stories and mission reports published in “Kaman Rotor Tips”, bi-monthly magazine of the Kaman Corporation, as well as from information gained from the many documents made availabe by the USAF archive, the AF Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell AFB, AL. The archive also is a great source for the many Rescue Mission Reports, often written by the pilots involved. In the past I was able to do research at the AFHRA myself.  I have made use of a part of the information published in the Book by Mr. Robert LaPointe, “PJs in Vietnam”. And also the detailed Mission Reports published on the website “Pedro News” (no longer valid) for which I have to thank Mr. Paul J. Metzner and Mr. Stephen Mock. Data for Mission Reports were also gained from the on line database “Vietnam Air Losses”  ( , a website by Mr. Chris Hobson and Mr. David Lovelady. 

I would like to especially thank Mr. Joseph T. Connell (Capt. USAF, Ret.), Mr. Mark C. Schibler (Lt.Col. USAF, Ret.), Mr. Chester A. Duprey (USAF, deceased in 2008), Mr. Stephen Mock (USAF, deceased in 2022).

Johan D. Ragay

USAF Rotorheads and Pedro Rescue Helicopter Association H-43 Historian 

For organization of HH-43 units in SEA, please visit my website page: 

H-43 USAF Units PACAF  (  )  


update 12 Sep 2023  -  chapter 03.22  photo collage incident A-1E mainwheel malfunction 


BienHoa 1965 Duprey12

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bien Hoa 1965      photo  by Chester Duprey

 01.        Kaman HH-43B/F   Huskie -  based at  -  Bien Hoa Air Base, Thailand    1964-1966        


01.01    Organization  1964-1971 

UNIT        HH-43B/F



DET.1, CARC  Glasgow AFB     (TDY)

14 Aug 1964

01 Sep 1964

DET.4, WARC Paine AFB          (TDY)

14 Aug 1964

01 Sep 1964

DET.5, WARC McChord AFB    (TDY)

14 Aug 1964

01 Sep 1964




DET.Prov.1, PARC                 with HH-43B

01 Sep 1964

10 Nov 1964 to Takhli




DET.4, PARC                         with HH-43F

20 Oct 1964  activated

01 Jul 1965


01 Jul 1965

08 Jan 1966


08 Jan 1966

08 Feb 1969

DET.6, 38 ARRS, 3 ARRG, 41 ARRW

08 Feb 1969

01 Jul 1971

DET.6, 3 ARRG, 41 ARRW

01 Jul 1971

15 Dec 1971 deactivated

The LBR task here was taken over by DET.14

15 Dec 1971


                               Arrival of the TDY units on 14 Aug 1964  (AFHRA doc - 2ndAD-Hist-Jul-Dec64-page 64)


01.02    Assigned aircraft 

                            Det.Prov.1, PARC



from Paine AFB  14 Aug 1964 – 10 Nov 1964  to Takhli AB



from Paine AFB  14 Aug 1964 – 10 Nov 1964  to Takhli AB



from Glasgow AFB/Paine*) 14 Aug 1964  - 01 Nov 1964   damaged

      **) damage-repair from  12 Nov 1964  - 10 May 1965

                                              10 May 1965  - 30 June 1965 to Da Nang AB



from Glasgow AFB/Paine*) 14 Aug 1964  -  ?   Sep 1964   to Da Nang AB

                                    *)    aircraft 59-1571 and 62-4510 were assigned to Det.1, CARC at Glasgow AFB, MT but flown to Paine AFB respectively on 7 and 8 August  and further transferred to SEA.     
                                    **)  Repaired by Det.4, APRFE at Tan Son Nhut AB, input 12Nov64 ; completion date 10May65


                             Det.4, PARC    and   Det.6, 38 ARS/ARRS



from Kaman/Bloomfield  #) 22 Oct 1964  -  21 May 1967  lost, combat mission

                (damage in base attack 16May65 - repaired 01Jun65                                                                 damage in Mission 11 April 1966 - repaired  ?) 



from Kaman/Bloomfield  #) 22 Oct 1964  -  20 Feb 1967  to Pleiku AB

         from  25Aug66 -13Dec66   damage-repair at Tan Son Nhut AB



from Kaman/Bloomfield ##) 2 Nov 1964  -  15 Dec 1971  to Tan Son Nhut AB



from Cam Rhan Bay AB  30 Dec 1966  - 11 Jan 1967  to Da Nang AB



from Tuy Hoa AB     18 Mar 1967  - 01 Apr 1967  to Binh Thuy AB

from Binh Thuy AB   11 Sep 1967  - 04 Feb 1968  to Pleiku AB

from Nha Trang AB   06 Mar 1968  - 11 Jul 1969  to Phan Rang AB



from Kaman/Bloomfield  11 Jul 1967  - 26 Oct 1967  to Da Nang AB



from Da Nang AB   27 Oct 1967  - 15 Dec 1971  to Tan Son Nhut AB



from Tan Son Nhut AB    17 Dec 1969  - 14 Jan 1970   to Tan Son Nhut AB



from Tan Son Nhut AB  12 Jan 1970  -  01 Jul 1971   to Tan Son Nhut AB

                                   #)    actual arrival was 22Oct64 , operational 25Oct  (doc 2AD-Hist-Jul-Dec64-page 136)         ##)  actual arrival was 2Nov64, operational 5Nov (doc 2AD-Hist-Jul-Dec64-page 136)


01.03    Overview of  RESCUE  MISSIONS      1964-1966


                                            Mission date                   mission number                                         objective 

29 Aug 1964


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

31 Aug 1964


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

28 Sep 1964


crew USArmy OV-1

2 saved

24 Oct 1964


crew USAF C-123B

all deceased

26 Oct 1964


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

29 Oct 1964


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

13 Nov 1964


pilot VNAF aircraft

1 deceased

14 Nov 1964


pilot A-1H  VNAF

1 survived

27 Nov 1964


pilot F-102A

USAr heli

29 Nov 1964


crew UC-123

all deceased

01 Dec 1964


crew USAF A-1E

2 combat saves

16 Dec 1964


one Special Forces Sgt

1 save

07 Jan 1965


crew USAF A-1E

2 saves

15 Jan 1965


crew USArmy UH-1B

all deceased

27 Jan 1965


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

24 Feb 1965


crew A-1E

USAr heli save

24 Feb 1965


crew USAF A-1E

2 deceased

27 Apr 1965


pilot VNAF A-1H

1 deceased

30 Apr 1965


flightline explosion B-57 boms

FSK used

12 Jun 1965


pilot F-100D

killed by VC

27Jun 1965


crew C-123B


29 Jun 1965


crew B-57B

2 deceased

20 Jul 1965


pilot F-100D

1 combat save

17 Sep 1965


crew VNAF H-34

1 combat save

24 Sep 1965


pilot F-100D

1 combat save

05 Oct 1965


MedEvac  31 soldiers

7 combat saves

09 Oct 1965


MedEvac  3 soldiers

3 combat saves

22 Oct 1965

38-1055-22Oct65 + 23Oct

pilot A-1E  

1 combat save

06 Nov 1965


MedEvac  2 soldiers

1 combat save

08 Nov 1965


MedEvac  1 person


08 Nov 1965

38-1114-8Nov65 + 09Nov

MedEvac  34 soldiers

14 combat saves

18 Nov 1965


crew UH-1B

1+? Combat save

20 Nov 1965


MedEvac  5 soldiers

2 combat saves

02 Dec 1965


crew F-4B  USNavy

2 combat saves

07 Dec 1965


pilot O-1E

1 combat save

19 Dec 1965


MedEvac  1 soldier

1 combat save

21 Dec 1965


MedEvac  1 person 

1 non-combat save

21 Dec 1965


MedEvac  1 soldier

1 combat save




 02.        The Buildup of    USAF  SAR  Forces in  Southeast Asia       

Source: file K717.0414-1, Vol.1 ChecoReport SEA 1961-1966 , IRIS00517392 - page 16-19

In March 1964 USAF approved the transfer of three detachments to SVN with a planned deployment date of June 1964. Preliminary action was taken to modify six HH-43B’s on a priority basis. The contracts could not be let until approval was received to bring the heliccopters into SVN. The time required to modify the helicopter meant that the combat version would not actually arrive in the RVN until Oct 1964.

CINCPAC’s approval for the introduction of USAF SAR forces was finally obtained in May 1964. The initial deployment of rescue forces in Vietnam was to have been to Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Soc Trang (changed into Nakhon Phanom, Thailand).

On 20 June 1964, the 33rd ARS  deployment, 36 personnel with two HH-43B helicopters, arrived at Nakhon Phanom AB, to form Det.Prov.3 of PARC. The Gulf of Tonkin incident of 04 August 1964, further modified the planned buildup of SAR forces.

On 06 August 1964, Captain Philip Prince of the LBR detachment at Maxwell AFB (Det.10) was notified that he was to have two helicopters loaded aboard two C-124 transports and be enroute to Korat AB, Thailand within twenty-four hours. Captain Prince’s crews worked through the night disassembling and loading the helicopters. The detachment reached Korat AB, Thailand on 14 August 1964 and shortly thereafter was performing LBR duties for USAF units. 

On 08 August 1964 two HH-43B’s were deployed from Minot AFB, ND home of Det.2, CARC. They arrived at Da Nang AB, RVN on 12 August 1964 (Source: email Det.Prov.2 pilot John Christianson). 

Arriving at Bien Hoa AB on 14 August 1964, were the four HH-43B’s (two from Det.1, CARC and two from Det.4, WARC) which all left Paine AFB, WA on 08 August 1964.  




HH43B Paine KamanRT Apr May65

Paine Fld, WA  ca. 08 Aug 1964 - one of the 4 HH-43B loaded into a C-124C ; USAF photo, Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Apr-May65-page3

BienHoa Aug64 Book B57

The Bien Hoa ramp with recently (04Aug64) arrived B-57B’s - note the Tower near the upper side of this photo, with bare land arround it which later became the HH-43 ramp. USAF Photo copied out of the Book “B-57 Canberra at War 1964-1972”, by Robert C. Mikesh.


All aircraft in SEA in 1964 were under control of Hq. 2nd Air Division at Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN.

The Controlling Agency for the SAR Detachments, DET.3, PARC (Pacific Air Rescue Center) was activated at Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN on 01 April 1962. Their mission was to coordinate and control the increased number of search and rescue operations. 

The Bien Hoa Det.Prov.1, PARC Huskies and personnel were reassigned to Takhli AB, Thailand on 10 November 1964.

Their SAR task was then taken over by three factory fresh HH-43F Huskies, assigned to Det.4, PARC, activated at Bien Hoa AB on 20 October 1964. 


02.01       FIRST GROUP  of  personnel  (TDY)

                14 Aug 64  -  10 Nov 64          TDY-Dets / Det.Prov.1, PARC     at Bien Hoa AB    

Source: Kaman RotorTips, issue Apr-May65-pages 3-6      "Southeast Asia"

                                                       DET.Prov.1 members:         

Capt. Robert D. McDougal     (P)    Det.Co.

Capt. Ronald L. Bachman       (P)        

Capt. Robert T. Rosvold          (P)      

Capt. Billy J. Johnson              (P)

1st Lt. William F. Austin         (P)

1st Lt. Kenneth T. Fujishige    (P)

SMSgt. Ernest E. Creach

TSgt. James E. Johnson                       

TSgt. John Glenn                                 

TSgt. Roger Reardon                           

SSgt. Howard M. Lord                        

SSgt. James Hines

SSgt. O’Niel Vinson

SSgt. Benjamin J. Hyder

SSgt. Franklin D. Cooper     

SSgt. Grady L. Jordan

A1C  Franklin Riggins         

A1C  Kenneth Scheer           

A1C  James Brennan

A1C  Dale P. Jensen

A1C  Ronald Snook               

A1C  Loney A. Martin

A2C  James Walsh                

A2C  Robert Donlevy


While in Vietnam, Det.Prov. First flew 142 combat support missions during approximately 75 days. Personnel received six Purple Hearts and 63 Air Medals with Clusters. They were also recommended for six Airmen’s Medals and 25 Commendation Medals.

Those receiving Purple Hearts were : Capt Robert T. Rosvold (Det.8, CARC); SSgt Franklin D. Cooper (Det.4, WARC); A1C Kenneth Scheer (Det.9, WARC); A1C Ronald Snook (Det.1, CARC); A2C James Walsh (Det.1, CARC); A1C Franklin Riggins (Det.12, WARC).

Airman Riggins is also slated to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for action while serving in an armed Army helicopter which engaged a company of Viet Cong and aided in the rescue of a captured American adviser. The airman received a painful shrapnel wound in the knee but relentlessly kept firing his M-60 at the Viet Cong position, forcing the enemy to withdraw.

Airman Scheer was awarded the Pur­ple Heart for wounds suffered while in Vietnam (VC attack 01Nov64).

All were awarded at least one Air Medal and others re­ceived as many as three, according to the number of missions flown. All received the Campaign Medal and other awards are also pending for some of the men. 


02.02       Rescue Mission  on  29 August 1964

Source1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol8-Minutes-of-Staff-meeting-IRIS0491710, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-?46?-29Aug64                                       DET.Prov.1, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  crew  A-1E  132465  1stACS, 34TACG  pilot Capt. R.D. Goss  (KIA) and unknown crewmember (KIA)   -     aircraft hit by 30cal AAA during training flight

                                 This was the first loss of an A-1E, shot down during the night of 28-29 August 64

Narrative of Rescue Mission:         not available           From source 1:

AWARDS AFHRA 1965 K318 2


02.03       Rescue Mission  on  31 August 1964

Source1: AFHRA-1964-K318-203-19-PARC-Letter-by-Col-W.F-Derck-18Sep64-IRIS00491831

Letter written by Walter F. Derck, PARC Commander, subject his staff visit to PARC squadrons and deployed locations. About Bien Hoa he stated:

Three HH-43B aircraft are maintained at this well established airfield.

This is the real hot bed of trouble in RVN with the base on practically constant alert against attack by the Viet Cong. The ARS unit at this location provides LBR and Aircrew Recovery for the area. You may have seen the one nighttime aircrew recovery mission this unit conducted. It was “hairy” to say the least. The crews operated in an outstanding manner and, although their recovery efforts were for bodies, I believe they will be recommended for awards. 

Source2: Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-47-31Aug64, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009278, frame 445-47) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-47-31Aug64                                       DET.Prov.1, PARC

HH-43B    59-1571

Flown by  RCC  Capt. Robert D. McDougal (P),  and crew  (two FF and one Medic)

HH-43B    59-1549

Flown by  RCC  Capt. Ronald L. Bachman (P),  and crew ? ; later  a doctor and the base commander


SAR Objective:  crew  A-1E  with a USAF pilot and VNAF pilot                - both deceased

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

The A-1E crashed approximately 400 yards off East end of runway at Bien Hoa, RVN. The HH-43B detachment at Bien Hoa was initially notified by the crash phone about 1945 local. DET.3, PARC, was notified about 2000 local by the combat operations center, air operations center Tan Son Nhut. The primary alert HH-43B 59-1571 was scrambled about 1948 local. Pilot Capt. McDougal.

Capt. McDougal scrambled within five minutes after the crash. He was carrying the FSK but just as he arrived at the site he ran into very heavy rain and his visibility dropped to almost nothing. After a few minutes he was able to move into the crash scene. The aircraft was still burning slightly. His two firemen and medic moved into the aircraft and started looking for the pilots. After about 3 minutes they found one, the VNAF pilot, still in the seat, out in front of the crash, fatally injured. They cut him out of the seat and loaded him aboard the helicopter. As they were loading, some of the munitions on the A-1E started exploding. As he departed, he sent Capt. Bachman, who had been held at the end of the runway in another HH-43B, in to look for the other man. While waiting at the end of the runway Capt. Bachman had picked up the doctor and the base commander. Also at this time two Army armed UH-1B’s arrived and flew cover at about 1000 feet, throughout the rest of the mission.

Two USAF A-1E’s were standing by overhead in event of hostile fire and a VNAF C-47 was overhead with flares to illumin the area.

Capt. Bachman let the people off at the crash site to search, with negative results. After transferring the body to an ambulance, Capt. McDougal returned. The fire started getting worse so Capt. Bachman returned for the FSK. Capt. McDougal was onloading the rest of the people when the A-1E fuel cell ignited, necessitaiting a rapid departure. Capt. Bachman arrived and employed the FSK while Capt. McDougal floodlighted the area from a high hover. While fire fighting the fireman found the body of the American pilot near the right wing. They immediately removed him. Capt. McDougal landed and then delivered him to the ramp. The fire was then almost completely extinguished. Capt. Bachman picked up the empty kit and returned it, and both aircraft returned to the crash to pickup the remaining people. All forces were then recalled. The VNAF pilot was delivered to VNAF authorities at Bien Hoa. The American pilot brought to hospital at Tan Son Nhut airfield, RVN. Because of the marshy terrain, ground personnel and vehicles were unable to reach the crash site. 


02.04       Rescue Mission on 28 September 1964

Source: PARC Letter, dated 18Oct65-Evaluation of ARS Saves in SEA, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009281, frame 831) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-53-28 Sep64                                       DET.Prov.1, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  crew of US Army OV-1 Mohawk     both recovered

 Narrative of Rescue Mission:          not available 


02.05       Rescue Mission  on  24 October 1964

Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-67- 24Oct64, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009278, frame 420-24) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-67-24Oct64                                       DET.Prov.1, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  USAF C-123B  55-4549   “Dane 76”  of 309 TCS, 315TCG  with 5 USAF and 2 USArmy  personnel.  Crashed near Phum Dak Dam (either on Cambodian or Vietnam side of the border)

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

Two HH-43B aircraft from Bien Hoa were alerted at 24/0710Z to scramble with armed helicopter escort, planned to refuel enroute.  USArmy MedEvac helicopter in the area diverted to site. Five A-1H and A-1E aircraft launched to provide air cover at site. Two additional A-1E alerted to follow. One HH-43B forced down enroute with engine malfunction. Second HH-43B accompanied disabled HH-43B to a landing on a secure airfield  (Both 43’s returned to home station ; however had flown several missions the following days).

Armed escort continued to crash site. Med Evac and armed helicopters (latter refueled enroute) arrived over crash scene but unable to land due to heavy ground fire. Helicopter pilots reported aircraft had broken up on impact with one main portion burning. No survivors sighted.

Numerous rain showers in area with rapidly deteriorating weather forced withdrawl of air cover and helicopters forced to withdraw due to increasing intensity and accuracy of ground fire. Photo Recce aircraft dispatched but were unable to obtain pix due to weather. Ground forces from the 11 Corps area in which the crash occurred dispatched to the scene.

Army aircraft recovered at secure airfield neareast to scene. Flare ships dispatched to be on scene at sunset, to illiminate area for air strikes (weather permitting) and to facilitate entry of ground forces.

Plans for the next day :

continue illumination of crash area accompanied by six A-1E serving as top cover and strike aircraft throughout hours of darkness, weather permitting. Continued advance of ground forces to secure area and wreckage. A total of 21 USArmy helicopters, 2 USAF HH-43B recovery helicopters and six A-1E and FAC aircraft were moved into area at first light followed by assault in conjunction with ground forces to secure crash area and remove survivors/deceased.

Additional information : Aircraft 549 was lead ship in three ship C-123 formation making supply drops (ammunition for Special Forces). Aircraft 549 observed by other two aircraft to crash after radio transmission “we’re getting shot” (hit in right engine by anti-aircraft artillery). Number three aircraft stayed on scene and reported crash to “Paris” radar and also took pix of crash site. Number two aircraft reported later that they observed lead to be hit in right engine and start smoking excessively before crashing. Number two aircraft hit by ground fire almost immediately and lost UHF and hydraulics, left area for Tan Son Nhut Air Base and landed safely. 

On 25Oct64 the mission was suspended. The C-123 was observed to crash with no parachutes sighted. It broke up and burned upon impact. Seven deceased were recovered on 25 Oct and flown to Tan Son Nhut AB. The HH-43B’s flew 16 sorties for  11.4 hours.






591549 011 BienHoa Oct64 Duprey1

HH-43B 59-1549  Det.Prov.1, starting up, Oct64 - photo by A1C Chester Duprey 

591549 013 BienHoa Oct64 Duprey

HH-43B 59-1549  Det.Prov.1, flying away with the FSK, Oct64 - photo by A1C Chester Duprey 


 03.          HH-43B aircaft replaced by HH-43F model, assigned to activated Det.4, PARC

Det.4, PARC  activated on 20 October 1964  - assigned  three HH-43F                                                                                                                                                                                     Det.Prov.1, PARC with 2 HH-43B to be reassigned to Takhli AB, Thailand on 10 Nov. 1964

Det.4, PARC was activated with the primary mission of  recovering Aircrew personnel (ACR) in support of US armed forces counterinsurgency operation in the Repuplic of Vietnam and a secondary mission of local base crash rescue (LBR).   (source: AFHRA file K318-2076-Hist-HqPARC-Jan-Dec64-IRIS0491934, in USAF Collection, AFHRA)

The three HH-43F helicopters were specifically modified for use in Southeast Asia. They were equipped with heavy armor plating to protect themselves from hostile ground fire and a 250 foot cable to affect rescues in high rain forest areas. They came from production line as HH-43B during March64 and were then modified to HH-43F by Kaman at Bloomfield, CT as described above. The “F” accepted by the Air Force at Bloomfield, CT on 10 October 1964. 

On 18 Oct 1964, Det.4, PARC, the first PCS ARS unit to SEA, departed Stead AFB, NV enroute to Bien Hoa AB, RVN. The unit was given an enroute briefing at Hickam, which specified that facilities were available at Bien Hoa. Upon arrival it was found that the only facilities available was a mud hole at the base of the tower and officer billets. Immediate action was taken to obtain a tent as a storage area for the 10,000 pounds plus equipment that was airlifted with the unit. The next order of business was to assemble the two HH-43Fs and obtain a second tent as a work facility. Once the helicopters were in commission on 25 Oct 1964, PSP was obtained and a suitable ramp area made on self help basis. Then two 25x50 huts were built, mostly self help, to use as administrative, maintenance and supply facilities.

All aircraft maintenance had to be performed outside as no hangar facilities were available. During the rain season this meant timing aircraft maintenance between cloud bursts, while still maintaining a two aircraft alert commitment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By March 1965, the Rescue area on Bien Hoa was considered a show place and all dignitaries visiting the base were escorted thru this area.

CMSgt. Roland J. Blier was Chief, Helicopter Acft Div./ARMMTH                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Source: file K318-203-19-Letter-by-CMSgt-RolandJ-Blier-unkn-date-CoronaHarvest, in USAF Collection, AFHRA)

(then 1st Lt.) Joseph Connell remembers: “We departed Stead AFB, NV via a MATS C-130E, flew to Travis AFB, CA - then Hickam AFB, HI - Wake Island, - and to Clark AB in the Phillipines. We were there for a short time (2 days?) before we separated into the 2 PCS HH-43F detachments destined for Bien Hoa and Da Nang.” The transfer was without the HH-43F aircraft. “Prior to our HH-43 training at Stead, personnel of both detachments spent about 10 (?) days at Howard AB, Panama Canal Zone, attending jungle survival school.”  “Much of the time at Stead was spent in briefings, procedures, “paperwork”, physical training, and other activities prior to being staged into a combat area.”  


(then 1st Lt.) Joseph Connell remembers:

“We departed Stead AFB, NV via a MATS C-130E, flew to Travis AFB, CA - then Hickam AFB, HI - Wake Island, - and to Clark AB in the Phillipines. We were there for a short time (2 days?) before we separated into the 2 PCS HH-43F detachments destined for Bien Hoa and Da Nang.” The transfer was without the HH-43F aircraft. “Prior to our HH-43 training at Stead, personnel of both detachments spent about 10 (?) days at Howard AB, Panama Canal Zone, attending jungle survival school.”  “Much of the time at Stead was spent in briefings, procedures, “paperwork”, physical training, and other activities prior to being staged into a combat area.”  

C130E 621821 Stead J.Connell

C-130E 62-1821  1501 ATW at Stead AFB, NV  - photo by 1st.Lt. Joe Connell



639711 BienHoa Oct64 Duprey1

HH-43F 63-9711   ca23Oct64  photo by A1C Chester Duprey

639711 BienHoa Oct64 Duprey2

HH-43F 63-9711   ca23Oct64  photo by A1C Chester Duprey

639712 BienHoa Oct64 JConnell

Started assembling HH-43F 63-9712 ca23Oct64 - by 1Lt. Joe Connell

BienHoa tower Nov64 Facebook JConnell

Bien Hoa control tower,  ca. Dec 1964  -  photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell

BienHoa tower late1964 JConnell

Bien Hoa control tower,  ca. Dec 1964  -  photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell


03.01       SECOND  GROUP  of  personnel  (PCS)

                    20 Oct 1964  -   Sept/Oct 1965         Det.4, PARC/ Det.6, 38ARS      at Bien Hoa AB    

                                          DET.4  members:

Maj. Archie R. Taylor               (P) Det.Co.*

Maj.  William T. Hayes             (P)     *

Capt. John A. Boyles                 (P)

Capt. Carl G. Layman                (P)

Capt. Kenneth L. Spaur             (P)

Capt. Beryl E. Warden Jr.          (P)

1st Lt. Joseph T. Connell           (P)

1st Lt. Darvan E. Cook              (P)       **

Capt. Ramon M. LeFevre          (P)

Capt. Donald E. Stranahan         (P)

TSgt Joseph W. Blaquiere         (HM)

TSgt.  Charles T. Walther  #   (NCOIC) (PJ)

TSgt. Domenick J. Cocuzzi      (HM)

SSgt. Kelly R. Hughes                (HM)

SSgt. J.R. Haddox              (?)

SSgt. Emil F. Miehlke        (HM)

SSgt. Travis                        (?)

SSgt. George E. Schipper   (PJ)

A1C Chester A. Duprey     (HM)

A1C J.M. Cone                   (?)

A1C Taylor                         (?)

A1C Donald E. Jarvis         (?)

A2C Richard O. Steinert    (PJ)

A2C Michael R. Donegan  (PJ)

         Harold E. Moak         (PJ)

         Kenneth W. Williams (PJ)

A1C Martin P. Jester

A2C Gene Traczyk

*)  Major Taylor was Detachment Commander from Oct64 until Feb65, when he was reassigned to the JRCC at Tan Son Nhut AB until Oct65. Major Hayes took over as Detachment Commander in February 1965 and he stayed until 14Nov65. Then Capt. Maurice G. Kessler took over as Commander.                   **)  1st Lt. Cook was promoted to Captain during early February 1965; he became injured by a hit from hostile fire ca. mid-Feb65.                        #)  or TSgt. Walters   (??) 


Report by Major Archie Taylor, Det.4 Commander, as published on the website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.):

Major Archie Taylor, his crews and his HH-43F Pedros were located at Bien Hoa AB, RVN. When Archie’s Det.4,  PARC got going, it had three HH-43Fs, nine officers, and 27 airmen. Ten of the airmen had been trained as firefighters, five were PJs, and five were crew chiefs. The unit moved to Bien Hoa from Stead AFB, Nevada. The crews started assembling two HH-43Fs on October 23. On October 24 Capt. Layman flew the first test hop on #711 by noon. By sundown he had flown the second aircraft, #712 on her first test flight. The third HH-43F was delivered on 02 November 1964. 

During their first combat month at Bien Hoa, Det.4 enjoyed a very high in-commission rate, 95 percent, and flew almost 97 hours with their three aircraft. The problem was that their in-commission rate was so high and business so frequent that the Detachment did not have enough crews and could not rotate them properly to give them sufficient crew rest. Taking on the dual mission of SAR and fire-fighting-LBR put on a special strain, but the Detachment met all its commitments. 

(Source: Letter dated 10 Nov 1964 to Brig. General Adriel N. Williams, Hq ARS ; written by Col. Walter F. Derck, PARC, in USAF Collection, AFHRA -file K318) Colonel Derck:  “The HH-43F is an adequate aircraft to perform the vital ACR mission on an interim basis, but cannot be considered an ideal vehicle due to numerous serious performance deficiencies. Although auxiliary tanks have been installed for extended range, the aircaft still does not possess the range required to be applied “across the board” in all ACR missions in SEA. I feel we should be working on an ACR vehicle with a radius of action in the neighborhood of 350 - 400 miles. The “F” model range performance is adequate for most operations in RVN, but we must be concerned with our assigned ACR responsibilities in the event we are forced out of the RVN environment”. 

639711 10 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

HH-43F 63-9711   ca. Dec64       

           639712 03 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

A1C Taylor  cleaning the fiberglass cockpit - ca. Dec64 

639712 05 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

63-9712   with   39711 in background  ca. Dec64

639712 008 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

                      639712 013 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

                            63-9712  ca. Dec64         all six photos by A1C Chester Duprey


639712 018 BienHoa Nov64 Duprey

639716 015 pilots 1964.JPG

DET.4, PARC   late1964     Pilots  -  LtoR: Capt. John Boyles, Capt. Carl Layman, Maj. Bill Hayes,1Lt Joe Connell, Capt. Jack Warden and Capt. Ken Spaur (photo, collection Joe Connell)


639716 016 CrewChiefs PJs

DET.4, PARC   late 1964     Crewchiefs and PJ’s  (names not specified) (photo, collection Joe Connell)

639716 017 pilots crew.JPG

DET.4, PARC    late 1964    Pilots and crew together (photo, collection Joe Connell)

639711 008 Alert JConnell.JPG

HH-43F 63-9711 standing alert at Tay Ninh  late 1964  -  photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell

639712 019 NightAlert Connell

HH-43F 63-9712 seen during night alert  late 1964  -  photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell

639712 020 OnAlert64 Connell

HH-43F 63-9712 on alert late 1964  -  photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell


03.02       Rescue Mission  on  26 October 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-26Oct64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC       unknown


SAR Objective:  crew A-1E  52-132411    pilot Lt. Glenn Dyer  (KIA)  and a VNAF observer (KIA)  -  1st ACS, 34 TGp   Bien Hoa AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On October 26, 1964, and A-1E crashed 20 miles north of Bien Hoa AB and Det.4 helped remove the two bodies and prepare them for movement to Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon. Lt. Glenn Dyer was assigned to the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 34th TGp. His aircraft, 52-132411 was shot down while flying airborne alert west of Tan Son Nhut AB. He flew with a VNAF observer who was also KIA. Dyer was at the A-1 flight training school, class “Express 02”. Three other class mates would crash their A-1Es as well, two KIA, one rescued, all near Bien Hoa.


03.03       Rescue Mission  on  29 October 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-29Oct64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  crew A-1E      pilot Capt. Edward A. Blake  (KIA)  and Capt. John C. Knaggs (KIA)  -  1st ACS, 34 TGp   Bien Hoa AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On October 29, 1964 another A-1E  52-132475 (wrong serial) crashed five miles south of the base and Det.4 delivered its FSK to the crash and again helped remove the two bodies. This crash has been listed as non-hostile, an air accident that occurred on a training flight. Both crewmembers were also assigned to the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 34th TGp, Bien Hoa. It turns out Knaggs was in the same A-1 Skyraider training class as Lt. Dyer who died on October 26.


03.04       Mortar Attack at Bien Hoa AB    01 November 1964   

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.)

Bien Hoa was hit by a Viet Cong (VC) mortar attack on November 1, shortly after midnight for about 15-20 minutes. Major Taylor said, the crews were awakened by the sound of “whump-whump” followed by more “whump-whumps.” Jumping out of the rack, they looked outside and could see the flight line was under attack near the control tower. The crews hurriedly dressed and ran to the gun room for armaments. The Det.4 Econoline was fired up to take the Det.4 crews to their helicopters but an ambulance backed into it before they got very far, mostly because of darkness. The Det.4 alert area was hit by at least six mortar shells. One dud was sticking up through the Pierced Steel Plank (PSP) right next to a HH-43. The auxiliary power unit (APU) for the alert HH-43 was on fire after taking a direct hit. They dragged it out into a dirt area.

The Army launched every UH-1 Huey they could fly to evacuate wounded, but the downside was that their prop wash spread sparks all over the place. The Army area just across the street from Det.4 took direct hits on the huts and killed four soldiers. The Det.4 tent took a direct hit and wounded two men sleeping there. Just about everyone was at least scratched when shrapnel blasted the trailer and also took .30 cal fire. Airman Walsh (Det.Prov.1) was hit in the leg as he ran toward the Army area and also took shrapnel to the back before he passed out. Colleagues carried him to safety and help. Airman Snook (Det.Prov.1) was hit when he prepared to evacuate the tent. Airman Scheer (Det.Prov.1) was also wounded during this attack.

All together, after investigating the attack, seven mortars had landed on or near the PSP parking area damaging all helicopters. Aircraft #712 had blade damage. Nr 711 had a hole in the skin and one in the glass. No problem, she flew that early morning to an emergency when a C-47 suffered damage from a mid-air during the counter-attack. The smoke was so thick it was hard to see but she launched anyway.

Det.4 men guarded the helicopters and watched the A-1Es taking off, striking their targets, landing, getting uploaded again and launching again. Army helicopter tracers were used to direct their attacks. Taylor said the Army helos had some firepower and “they put out tracers like we dispense foam (to put out fires).”

When the fighting was over, the men returned to their tents which were filled with holes and tears. Taylor said, “Parachutes, flak vests, fire fighting clothing, chairs and even waste paper baskets suffered either flak damage or damage from the .30 cal fire.” They had to condemn four parachutes and the rest were drenched in rain. Following all this, the men had to put their damaged helicopters back together. 

Source: file K168-01-03, in USAF Collection, AFHRA -  page 36:

On the night of 31 October-1 November, all three of the HH-43B aircraft and one HH-43F at Bien Hoa were seriously damaged by the VC mortar attack on the base. About 80 rounds of mortars were fired against the tower, the packed flight line and the bivouac area, for 30 minutes.

The attack was costly. U.S. casualties were 4 personnel killed and 30 badly wounded plus 42 personnel with lesser wounds. The Air Force suffered 6 aircraft destroyed (claimed were 5 B-57B’s and one H-43 helicopter), however, aircraft 59-1571 was repaired, although this took 6 months). Thirteen B-57B’s and three H-43 were damaged.

BienHoa ca2Nov64 Book Mikesh

Photo of the ramp, ca. 02 Nov64, with the remains of two B-57B and others damaged after the attack. Two B-57Bs were completely destroyed, three were written off. Near the Tower two HH-43 are visible, one without rotorblades. USAF Photo copied out of the Book “B-57 Canberra at War 1964-1972”, by Robert C. Mikesh 


591571 010 BattleDam Nov64 M Jester
Damaged HH-43B  59-1571 put aside after the attack on base 01 Nov64 -  Photo by Martin P. Jester , coll. W.Mutza

Comment by Martin Jester: the damage to 571 happened during a heavy V.C. attack with 81 mm mortars, at Bien Hoa, RVN, about 0021 HRS, 1 Nov 1964.  571 was on alert, plugged into a ground power unit, when the GPU caught a direct hit, exploded and caught fire. The blast, shrapnel, + flames also, got 571, about 10’ away. A2C Gene Traczyk and me put out the GPU fire + 571, and draged the GPU away from 571, but still it was too late, to save  the Huskie (note: 571 was repaired).  Letter from Martin Jester to Wayne Mutza Sept 1997



03.05       Rescue Mission  on  07 November 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-07Nov64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective: 

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

The VNAF conducted an air attack on November 7 against the VC, located some 15 miles north of the base in the woods and Det.4 flew four hours during the night in case the VNAF needed SAR help.


03.06        10 November 1964

Det.Prov.1    Reassigned to  Takhli Air Base, Thailand

According to PACAF Movement Order 18, dated 10 November 1964 unit moved with strength of 6 officers and 18 airmen. The two HH-43B together with personnel were transferred by two C-124C’s.


03.07       Rescue Mission  on  13 November 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-13Nov64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC                             A2C Michael R. Donegan   (PJ)


SAR Objective:  VNAF  aircraft  , pilot killed

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On November 13, Det.4 delivered an airman by hoist to a crash site two miles from the end of the runway and removed one body from the wreckage. Since he is not listed on the Vietnam Wall, I have assumed this pilot was VNAF. Det.4’s Airman Donegan helped a VNAF fire truck fireman when a round of ammunition cooked-off. Donegan found himself alone with the hose and continued putting out the fire.


03.08       Rescue Mission  on  14 November 1964

Source1: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.)

Source2: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Feb-Mar65, page 13   “Vietnam Rescue” 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-14Nov64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   Capt. John A. Boyles (P),  Capt. Kenneth L. Spaur (CP),  TSgt. Charles T. Walther (PJ), TSgt. Domenick J. Cocuzzi (HM)


SAR Objective:  pilot VNAF  A-1H crash landed on the runway

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

HQ 2D AIR DIV TAN SON NHUT AF SAIGON -In probably the most dramatic on-base air crash rescue of the year, per­sonnel of Det.4, PARC, teamed with other American and Vietnam Air Force personnel at nearby Bien Hoa Air Base to save the pilot of a crashed A-1H fighter-bomber from literally drowning in mud.

The Vietnamese student pilot was taking off from Bien Hoa on a training mission when his aircraft was caught by a strong crosswind and veered off the runway, crossed a stretch of soft turf and overturned in a shallow muddy ditch. The im­pact was so great that the canopy and much of the cockpit were com­pletely buried in the ooze. In ad­dition, the plane's fuel tanks were ruptured, spreading high octane gas­oline over the surrounding area. Immediately, an HH-43F rescue helicopter piloted by Capt John A. Boyles and Capt Kenneth L. Spaur scrambled from the rescue alert pad and, seconds later, was over the crash site. The pilots made a skillful landing a few feet to the side of the crash site and deposited the airborne fire suppression kit man­ned by TSgts Charles T. Walther and Dominick Cocuzzi.

After spreading foam over the spilled field to reduce the danger of fire, the two rescue men made their way to the side of the cockpit. Work­ing in armpit-deep mud, they claw­ed a tunnel down to the canopy and ascertained that the pilot was still alive and conscious. Sergeant Walther, a trained paramedic, man­aged to grasp the pilot's hand and take his pulse which seemed strong and relatively normal. Meanwhile, both men noticed that the crashed "Skyraider" was slowly sinking deeper into the mud. Realizing that the helpless pilot might readily drown before more help could ar­rive, they frantically worked with their bare hands to keep an airway open to him. As a last resort, they were prepared to chop their way through the side of the fuselage with the emergency access kit but hesi­tated for fear they might sever a live electric line and set off a dis­astrous fire.

Minutes later, a Vietnam Air Force crash fire truck and crew arrived at the scene and the Viet­namese firemen fell to work with shovels to maintain the vital flow of air to their trapped compatriot. Their best efforts were barely able to keep pace with the slow sinking of the wreck and the instability of  the semi-fluid mud. The situation was saved by the arrival of a heavy American truck crane manned by a Vietnamese crew which succeeded in finding a way over the soft ground without bogging down. The crane crew hitched a cable to the front of the wreck and raised it a few feet. Sergeant Walther scrambled under the cockpit, cut the pilot's safety harness and carried him through the mud to the waiting helicopter. He was immediately evacuated to the U. S. Army Dispensary at Bien Hoa where a medical checkup show­ed that his injuries were superficial.

The skill of the two rescue men was instrumental in saving the young pilot's life, but without the recent­ly arrived HH-43F to speed them to the scene and its special equipment to reduce the danger of fire, the pi­lot would probably have perished before effective help could reach him.

DET4 Swamp Angels KamanRT FebMar65 Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Feb-Mar 1965, p.13 

FSK BienHoa 1964 MJester

FSK  and HH-43F  1964  , photo by Martin Jester (coll. W. Mutza)

                  BienHoa TSgt Charles T Walther

                      TSgt. Charles T. Walther showing                                                     the forest penetrator (USAF photo)

639712 BienHoa Dec64 MJester

HH-43F 63-9712 landing at an unknown location, photo by Martin Jester (coll. W. Mutza)


03.09       Rescue Mission  on  27 November 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-27Nov64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC    1Lt. Darvan E. Cook (P), 


SAR Objective:  pilot F-102A 56-1189  1Lt. William S. Gordon   -    Det.5, 509 FIS at Tan Son Nhut AB     ;                                                                                            This was the first F-102 lost in Vietnam

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On November 27, one of Archie Taylor’s pilots, 1Lt. Cook, was alerted to a Tan Son Nhut based F-102, crash four miles south of Bien Hoa. As an aside, Lt. Cook held the record with 12 scrambles in a 24 hour period. In the instance of this F-102 crash, the pilot got out and ran safely into the woods. Friendly soldiers came to his assistance but he ran into the woods and it took several hours to get him out. A “loud hailer” aircraft equipped with a bullhorn was called in to convince the pilot to come out for rescue. He did, walked over to the road, waived at an Army helicopter just ahead of  Lt. Cook’s HH-43F and picked him up.

From F-102 accident report: The F-102 had suffered engine failure on practice alert mission from Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN. One airstart attempted but a/c control was completely lost and pilot ejected safely. He was picked up by a helicopter about 3 hours after ejection. The a/c impacted a sparsely inhabited area and was destroyed.


03.10       Rescue Mission  on  29 November 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-29Nov64                                       DET.4, PARC

HH-43F                                                 Ranch Hand escort aircraft

Flown by  RCC 

HH-43F                                                 Ranch Hand escort aircraft

Flown by  RCC  Capt. Beryl E. Warden Jr.  (P), 

HH-43F                                                 scrambled with FSK

Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:  crew UC-123   burning on landing

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

Between 1962 and 1971 US aircraft conducted chemical warfare missions known as Ranch Hand, spraying defoliants and herbicides over rural areas trying to destroy food and vegetation cover used by the VC.  On November 29, 1964, two HH-43F’s were escorting a Ranch Hand mission, the UC-123 was hit and his engine caught fire. This aircraft made a mad dash for the Bien Hoa runway with the two escorting HH-43F’s in hot pursuit. Capt. Warden was flying the second Pedro and realized the tower was not operating due to a power failure. He called the Army company on FM and asked them to alert the command post that a burning aircraft was coming in to Bien Hoa for an in-flight emergency (IFE). A third HH-43F carrying his Fire Suppression Kit (FSK) was launched and met the Ranch Hand aircraft when he touched down. All three Pedros converged on the incident to help.

Major Taylor objected to escorting these Ranch Hand missions. He felt he had too few aircraft, and too few crew to fly such missions given they were so busy doing their main mission. An off-base crash or escort mission required four pilots. A (FSK) mission must be manned by two more pilots. Yet another pilot is needed to work as a controller, keep track of everyone, have fuel and flight information ready, and, as Taylor pointed out, ”point out the nearest latrine as well.” He lost this argument to his seniors.


03.11       Rescue Mission  on  01 December 1964

Source1: JRCC Combat Save forms, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source2: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.)

Source3: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Feb-Mar 1966, page 16

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-82-01Dec64                                       DET.4, PARC

HH-43F       "Low Bird" 

Flown by  RCC   Capt. John A. Boyles (P),  Capt. Kenneth L. Spaur (CP),  SSgt. Emil F. Miehlke (HM),  A2C Michael R. Donegan (PJ)

Awards:  Capt. Spaur and Airman Donegan were recommended for the Silver Star for this mission  ; Capt. Boyles and SSgt. Miehlke were recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross

HH-43F       "High Bird" 

Flown by  RCC     Capt. Beryl E. Warden Jr. (P),   1Lt. Joseph T. Connell (CP),   SSgt. Kelly R. Hughes (HM),  A2C Richard O Steinert (PJ) 


SAR Objective:  crew  A-1E  USAF  52-132640  1Lt. K.P. “Buddy” Roedema  and VNAF student    - 1stACS, Bien Hoa

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On December 1, an A-1E pilot was conducting a napalm run when he was shot down 14 miles north of Bien Hoa (area known as D-Zone). The pilot bailed out at 700 ft. He had a VNAF student with him whose chute did not open and he landed in the trees. While hiding in the brush, the pilot heard the VC chopping on the wings of his aircraft. A RESCAP arrived and caused the VC to run and hide very close to where the A-1E pilot was hiding. The area of the crash was known to be infested with enemy. They made radio contact with the hiding US pilot, the A-1E pilot finally made his presence known, and all hands were hoisted aboard a Pedro and returned safely to base.

Capt. John Boyles flew the HH-43F in for the rescue effort and put A2C Donegan on the ground to inspect the downed aircraft and see if he could find the A-1E pilot. Airman Donegan was recommended for the Silver Star for searching on foot in the middle of concentrated enemy forces. They were so close to the enemy that they observed the enemy dismantling the crashed aircraft. Boyles and Miehlke were recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross. Boyles hovered his HH-43 for over an hour before picking the survivor up.

Walter Cronkite CBS ca01Nov64

Walter Cronkite (CBS) interviewing Capt. Spaur, Capt. Boyles and PJ Donegan following the 01 Dec 1964 Rescue Mission     -   photo, collection Joseph Connell

An eye witness report written by “High Bird”  pilot  1Lt. Connell in 2004: 

“Within days of being operationally ready, our two crews were involved in the Detachment’s first major off-site rescue mission.  We received word that an A-1E pilot had bailed out of his disabled aircraft about 25 miles north of our base.  He had been strafing an area near the “Iron Triangle” and had been hit by ground fire.  The pilot’s wingman reported seeing his parachute descending into the jungle.  (The Iron Triangle was a 60 square mile area north of Saigon where the Viet Cong had almost complete control.  This area was designated a “free fire” zone.  Rather than return to the base with un-spent ordinance, pilots were authorized to hit anything of opportunity within that area.)  

John and Jack launched both of the alert H-43’s while Ken and I were the copilots.  Jack and I were flying the back-up helicopter for this mission.  About 20 minutes later we were over the crash site and could see black smoke rising through the jungle.  A mile or so away we saw the white parachute in the trees.  By this time, we had half a dozen A-1E’s overhead to provide suppressive fire if we needed it.  Several Army UH-1 Huey gunships made several low passes over the area to see if they could detect any ground fire.  None was observed.  We could not locate the pilot and heard no transmissions from his survival pack radio.  There was no colored smoke or signal flare. 

John descended to make his approach and established a hover just above the treetops near the parachute, but not so close where it could get into the rotors.  The rotor downdraft did expose some view of the ground.  I could see they had lowered the hoist cable and the jungle penetrator into forest canopy.  (The jungle penetrator is a weighted shape that keeps the hoist cable from getting tangled as it descends into the jungle.)  After several minutes of hovering and not locating the pilot, John reeled in the cable and the paramedic (PJ) positioned himself on the penetrator sling and descended into the jungle.  After about 10 minutes I could see two people being hoisted out of the jungle and into the helicopter even as the helicopter began to rise and depart the site.  John came on the radio and said, “We’ve got’em – let’s get our butts out of here.” 

At mission debriefing the full story came out.  The A-1E pilot had safe bailout and landing into the jungle and had dropped about 6-8 feet to the ground when he separated from the canopy.  After moving a short distance away from the parachute, he hid in the brush.  He wanted to stay near the parachute as it showed where he had landed.  About the time he was going to use his radio, he heard sounds nearby and saw several armed VC searching for him.  He remained hidden while waiting for them to move on.  But they stayed in the area, and he could occasionally get a glimpse of them.  When the Army gunships began making low passes over the area, the VC took cover.  The pilot could hear the H-43 overhead but could not see it and he knew the crew couldn’t see him either.  With the VC nearby he was reluctant to expose his position.  Even when the PJ came down the cable and started searching and calling to him, he remained hidden.  

Finally, the pilot decided to take a chance and ran over to the PJ and said there were VC in the area.  The PJ secured both of them on the penetrator and jerked the cable to signal a lift.  The PJ fired off some rounds on the way up although he said he didn’t see anything moving.  He said he figured if he fired a few shots, it might persuade those below to stay clear.  In the helicopter, John heard the gunfire below, and as soon as the pair on the hoist were clear of the jungle canopy, he moved off the hover and left the area while the pair was still coming up the cable. 

Our first off-base recovery had been successful.  There was celebration around the bar in the Officer’s Club.  I was content to be flying high cover for this mission as I wasn’t feeling heroic.  Which aircraft and crew would be making the recovery was just a matter of who had the primary alert that day and which pilot happened to be the crew commander.”



03.12       Rescue Mission  on  16 Dec 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-16Dec64                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   Capt. John A. Boyles (P),  


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  one Special Forces Sergeant

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

Boyles may have established another Det.4 record on December 16, 1964 when he used a 150 foot hoist cable to rescue a Special Forces sergeant who had impaled his knee on a “Pungi” stake which was found in hospital to be tipped with poison. These sticks could be placed in high numbers above ground, or in hidden traps such as this where an infantry man would fall into the trap and go through the stakes.


03.13       by  late Dec 1964

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

By December’s end, Colonel Walter Derck, the commander of the PARC, sent a memo to Major Taylor, among other things, congratulating him for the outstanding unit he was running. In this letter, Derck raised some issues about the HH-43 that Taylor had brought to his attention.

Taylor had forwarded some recommendations for modifying the HH-43F, and PARC had forwarded these to the ARS with comments. PARC agreed the torque limit on the transmission should be increased to take advantage of available engine power and also supported Taylor’s ideas on installing an auxiliary fuel tank. PARC favored the idea of attaching externally mounted drop tanks instead of using dump valves to operate with the internal tank.

Then Derck raised what seems to have been a controversial point with Taylor. Derck reminded him that the original requirement for air recovery units was to support tactical forces, not specifically for the RVN, but anywhere USAF tactical forces might be exposed to hostile fire. Derck said they wanted to make this a world-wide application. As a result, he urged Taylor not to confine his thinking about air recovery to the RVN environment, but for all those other areas where the HH-43 might be exercised to its fullest. He seemed to be very down on continued discussions of modifying the internal fuel tank and instead wanted to concentrate on getting a wholly new fuel tank or new aircraft.




03.14       Rescue Mission  on  07 January 1965

Source 1: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.)

Source 2: PARC Letter, dated 18Oct65-Evaluation of ARS Saves in SEA, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009281, frame 831) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-15-7Jan65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   1Lt. Darvan E. Cook (P), 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:   crew  A-1E 

Narrative of Rescue Mission (in short):

Taylor reported January 1965 as a very busy month. An A-1E experienced an engine failure and did a belly landing on a dirt strip about 10 miles from Bien Hoa. Lt. Cook launched out and brought the crew back safely.


03.15       Rescue Mission  on  15 January  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-15Jan65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC 


Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  crew of US Army UH-1B   63-8718     pilot Capt. Lyal H. Erwin (KIA) and gunner Pfc. Alton L. Hornbuckle (KIA) and two other crewmembers.

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

An armed UH-1 Huey crashed across the river on January 15, 1965, hit a house and caught fire. Det.4 expended three FSKs on the crash; there was no other fire equipment available. Major Taylor noted the Det.4 crews removed three bodies and two survivors. The losses were aboard UH-1B 63-8718 flown by Capt. Lyal H. Erwin, the pilot, and Pfc. Alton L. Hornbuckle, the gunner. They were flying low level reconnaissance for the 571st Transportation Company Det, supporting a convoy on its way to Saigon and they hit a high tension power line, crashed and burned on impact. There were two other crew, Chief Warrant W.F. Beyers and Pfc C. O’Donnell, the crew chief.


03.16       Rescue Mission  on  27 January  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-27Jan65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC    pilot and co-pilot unknown,  TSgt Joseph W. Blaquiere (HM),  A2C Michael R. Donegan (PJ)


SAR Objective:  crew A-1E   pilot Maj. George F. Vlisides  and VNAF pilot   -  1stACS, 34 TGp   Bien Hoa AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:
The base experienced a very bad A-1E crash on January 27, 1965 with USAF and VNAF pilots aboard. The A-1E crew had conducted a successful combat mission with no problems but made a hard touchdown at Bien Hoa. The aircraft snapped, inverted and landed on the canopy. Both crew were killed. The A-1E’s engine caught fire in what would have been a perfect location to put a fire bottle to fight the fire. As a result, Sgt. Blaquiere and Airman Donegan had to run through the grass fire to reach the burning aircraft. The A-1E was flown by Major George F. Vlisides, USAF, a West Point graduate, known while with the Long Grey Line as “The Gorgeous One.” For this mission, he was serving with the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 34th Tactical Group. He was a F-84 veteran of Korea and flew the A-1E to support the Army of Vietnam, the ARVN.


03.17       Rescue Mission  on  24 February  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-24Feb65                                       DET.4, PARC

HH-43F                                     sent out for the rescue mission

Flown by  RCC 


SAR Objective:  crew A-1E  ditched 80 miles south of Bien Hoa , pilot rescued by UH-1, other crewmember captured

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

An A-1E ditched 80 miles south of Bien Hoa after being hit by ground fire. An Army UH-1 picked up the pilot but his observer bailed out and was captured. The Huey took the rescued pilot to Soc Trang, leaving the HH-43F rescue aircraft flying around there at night with an AC-47 providing cover. The HH-43F was forced to Soc Trang and returned in the morning, after which the VNAF took over the rescue effort.


03.18       Rescue Mission  on  24 February  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-24Feb65                                       DET.4, PARC

HH-43F     63-9711            alert aircraft

Flown by  RCC   Capt. John A. Boyles (P),  Capt. Kenneth L. Spaur (CP),

HH-43F     63-9712            secondary alert aircraft

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Beryl E. Warden Jr. (P),  1Lt. Joseph T. Connell (CP),  SSgt. Kelly R. Hughes (HM),  A2C Richard O Steinert (PJ)           

HH-43F     63-9716            assumed LBR alert

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Ramon M. LeFevre (P),  Major Archie R. Taylor (CP), 


SAR Objective:  crew A-1E 132471  instructor-pilot Capt. Kurt W. Gareiss  (KIA) and pilot Capt. Thomas C. McEwen          -  1stACS, 34 TGp   Bien Hoa AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

An A-1E went down on February 24 with two USAF crew aboard. They crashed on a rubber plantation about 15 miles south of the base. The rescue effort got to be, as Taylor put it, “(a game of) musical chairs with three helicopters between Bien Hoa, Tan Son Nhut and the crash site.”
Here’s how it went down:
Capt. Warden and Lt. Connell were on secondary alert and got aloft in HH-43F #712.

Capts. Boyles and Spaur launched with the FSK in #711. Capt. LeFevre and Maj. Taylor assumed LBR alert in #716 and were scrambled on another aircraft incident just minutes later.
Nr. 712 lowered two men by hoist to cut a landing pad for #711 and the FSK. Capt. Warden recovered one body and two wing guns and returned to Bien Hoa for fuel. As he approached the base, LeFevre and Taylor departed in #716 to help Capt. Boyles in #711. But when they got there, Boyles had to return for fuel. So #716 circled to land, but in swooped a VNAF H-34 from Tan Son Nhut and he took #716’s landing pad. An H-34 was brought in by USAF Capt. Fetzner and an EOD team. They picked up two more guns and left. They received one hit from hostile fire on departure. LeFevre and Taylor on #716 landed with a chain saw. Then Capt. Boyles returned with #711 and helped search for the second body. In the mean time, Warden flying #712 with an A-1E body was ordered to go to Tan Son Nhut. Armed UH-1s arrived to provide cover as a group of Lambetta’ s (motor scooters) were seen coming down the road. They also spotted a couple ox carts approaching, often used to transport mortars and shells.

The two lost in the A-1E were Capts. Thomas C. McEwen and Kurt W. Gareiss, USAF. Gareiss was an instructor pilot and McEwan was on an evaluation and training flight. The aircraft entered a spin at about 3,000 ft. while executing an acrobatic maneuver and struck the ground in a flat attitude and exploded about 15 miles from Bien Hoa. They were flying with the 1st Air Commando Squadron of the 34th Tactical Group.

Nr. 716 left and I am not sure whether they found the second pilot. Both are listed on the Vietnam War Memorial.


03.19       Long range tanks out of the  HH-43F sent to NKP   April 1965


When Major Archie R. Taylor was promoted to lieutenant colonel in April 1965, Col. Walter F. Derck, PARC Commander,  told Taylor that he was making progress on getting some CH-3C’s and talked to him about taking two of Det.4’s “long range tanks” and putting them up at NKP to be installed on their HH-43B’s.

Det.4  HH-43F's were delivered with additional internal 150 gallon fuel tanks for extended range.


NOTE:  see website    chapter 07.07  - shown is one of these internal tanks


03.20       Rescue Mission  on  27 April  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-27Apr65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC                  A1C  Robert Doss (FF)     killed


SAR Objective:  pilot VNAF A-1H                            -  VNAF 23rd Tactical Wing

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On April 27 a VNAF A-1H from the VNAF 23rd Tactical Wing ran off the runway on take-off, and the plane blew up as his bombs skidded along the taxiway. He was fully loaden with fuel and Mk82 500 lb. bombs. The pilot was killed, and a Det.4 fireman, A1C Robert Doss, was killed when struck in the chest by flying debris from the rear of the aircraft. This was his first day of duty at the base.


03.21       Rescue Mission  on  30 April  1965

Source: Report by Det.Co. Major Taylor, website “”  (2005)  - edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xx-30Apr65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Darvan E. Cook (P),  SSgt. Kelly R. Hughes (HM),  TSgt. Charles T. Walther (PJ)

Awards:  Cook was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross and the two NCOs for the Airman’s Medal


SAR Objective:  Flightline explosion loaded B-57B

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On April 30 Capt. Cook, Sgt. Walther and Sgt. Hughes responded to a fully loaded B-57B fire on the flight line. Cook carried an FSK and determined the fire was not from the fuel tank but rather from flares under the open bomb-bay. He felt he could save the bomber and the flight line. His crew smothered the flames with foam from the FSK, and moved back to allow the fire trucks to move in. The water used by the fire trucks simply made the flare fire worse.

Cook returned to the immediate area and used prop backwash, foam and courage to suppress the flames. The firefighters on the ground used their hands to pile the foam on top of the flames. Cook was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross and the two NCOs for the Airman’s Medal.


03.22       Photos  Spring 1965


639716 BienHoa 1965 JConnell

HH-43F 63-9716 reservicing the FSK 1965 photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell 

639716 019 1965 JConnell

HH-43F 63-9716 flying over IV Corps camp 1965 photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell 

639711 BienHoa65 with A1C Duprey

A1C Chester Duprey showing unusual presentation of serial number “639711” - early 1965

639711 012 by BarryL Ellis atZone D

63-9711 on stand by at a location in “Zone D”, Spring 1965    - photo by Barry L. Ellis, via W.Mutza 

639711 007 at SanVanDong

Taking off from San Van Dong soccerfield early 1965, note the unusual presentation of the serial “639711” 


Collage 639716 scramble A1E
HH-43F 63-9716 scrambled for A-1E Skyraider which crashlanded and turned off runway and caught fire - unknown day in 1965  - A1C Chester Duprey


081 Collage Scramble Mar65

(photo 1) HH-43F 63-9712 Scrambled for an VNAF A-1E with an unsecure mainlanding gear (left aircraft in photo 2). Photo 3 shows Huskie 39712 flying down the runway towards a landing A-1E (seen in center of photo). Photo 4 shows the Huskie near the A-1E, fire trucks arrive. Photo 5, at left A-1E VNAF 33915, supposed to be the aircraft with the unsecure gear  (at right is a A-1H, not related to this inident). Photo 6, 7 and 8 - after the save landing, Huskie 39712 is seen returning to Pedro pad.          new


03.23       Flightline explosions  16 May 1965


BienHoa explosion 16May65 JConnell 1

Photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell   16 May 1965

BienHoa explosion on 16May65 JConnell 2

Photo by 1Lt. Joe Connell   16 May 1965

Source: Report “gone in a flash” written by Joseph Connell

It was a Sunday morning , May 16, 1965. Jack Warden, John Boyles, Ken Spaur, and I were pulling alert duty. Jack and I were in the Officer’s Club having breakfast before heading back to the flight line to relieve John and Ken for breakfast. The first thing I can remember was being knocked off my chair and sprawling across the floor. When I looked up no one was sitting or standing.  We were all scattered across the floor with food and coffee all over the place. About the time I got to my feet and was trying to understand what had happened, I was knocked to the floor again. Someone yelled that we were being mortared. I thought it strange that it was happening in broad daylight. Everyone piled out of the club to take cover and it was then we saw black smoke billowing up from the flight line. 

Just then there was a brilliant flash of light and I was knocked off my feet again. Jack and I ran to the van that we used on alert and headed back to the flight line to get to our helicopters.  We were just heading down the street when there was another flash of light and we saw a wavy band of white moving rapidly towards us. When it hit, our van rocked violently. We somehow realized it was a shock wave and Jack reversed direction and took the back way to the alert area by coming in from the west along the taxi way.  Debris was all over the taxiways and we were being pelted by small pieces of falling material.  Somehow we made it to the helicopters beneath the tower.  All the windows were gone in the tower and glass was all over the PSP planking.  Everyone else was in the bunkers and we joined them. In reflection now I don’t know what we were thinking by trying to get to the helicopters, but it was something we had been conditioned to do. Anytime we were being shelled we were to try to get the helicopters aloft.  It would protect the helicopters and the presence of airborne helicopters would usually terminate a VC mortar attack.  It had worked in the past. 

The entire flight line east of the tower was afire and black smoke towered above the base. John thought something had detonated accidentally and that it was not an attack.  More explosions rocked our area for the next half hour as we remained in the bunker. My ears were ringing and I had trouble hearing for a while.  After it was quiet for about 5 minutes we did a cursory inspection of the helicopters using binoculars while we kept the tower between us and the fire. Both helicopters that were exposed to the flight line had serious damage. The Plexiglas canopies were almost totally gone and both fuselages were peppered with holes.  One of the helicopters was leaking fuel. The third helicopter which was not in a direct line to the explosions looked ok but we would have to go over it well to check for damage. 

Jack got on the land line with Saigon Rescue Operations and told them the Bien Hoa flight line area had received major damage from a series of explosions and all our helicopters were out of commission until we could perform a damage assessment. He indicated it was not safe to be exposed in the open until the fires could be brought under control. 

After several hours most of the fire was under control and it was reasonably safe to inspect the aircraft and to remove the glass and debris that had showered the alert area.  None of the alert crews were injured. The one helicopter that had minor damage was inspected and returned to alert duty.  We had enough spare parts and by borrowing from the other two damaged aircraft we had it ready to fly. Fortunately we kept parachutes in the alert helicopter and they were ok. When we went to the parachute loft east of the tower, we found the entire building riddled with shrapnel. All the parachutes had been damaged beyond repair.  The remainder of the day and evening was spent identifying what was salvageable and what we needed to return us to full alert posture. The maintenance crews worked without a break for the next day or so to make one of the helicopters operationally ready. The third helicopter would be repaired by the next week.  

It was surmised that ordinance had fallen from a bomb shackle on a parked B-57 and had exploded.  This set the B-57 on fire and all the remaining bombs cooked off in the inferno that followed.  Each explosion ignited other aircraft in the vicinity and some of their bombs would detonate from the intense heat. Fortunately all of the bombs on all of the aircraft did not explode, but those remaining were now shock sensitive from the nearby heat and blasts.  Another would detonate the following afternoon while the bomb disposal teams were attempting to defuse the remaining ammunition.  There were casualties but I never knew how many.  

Missions resumed within a day or two, after the debris had been bulldozed out of the way and all the cement surfaces had been swept clean to prevent engine, propeller, and tire damage from metal fragments.  For weeks afterwards we could find pieces of jagged metal in the grass around our hooches and on the roofs of flat containers and even in the base swimming pool.  The accident was on all the newswires.  I sent a quick note to my wife Kathy saying we had a major accident on the base and that I was ok.  I had been sending “I’m ok” notes anytime I thought news of a mortar attack on the base or any other incident might appear on stateside television.          Joe Connell

HH-43F 63-9711 was damaged. For repair it was sent to Tan Son Nhut AB, input 19 May65. There, Det.4, APRFE was tasked with the repair; completed on 01 June65. 

Source: Book  “B-57 Canberra at War 1964-1972”, by Robert C. Mikesh

Ten B-57Bs, 11 VNAF A-1Hs and one Navy F-8 Crusader which had landed only minutes before the explosion were destroyed. Seven B-57B crewmembers were killed, 13 members of the 405th ADVON 1 maintenance sqn (B-57) perished, and eight Vietnamese from Bien Hoa, brought the total dead to 28, with 105 wounded. 

Four B-57Bs returning from a raid that day, were diverted to Tan Son Nhut AB as were the three that had taxied prior to the blast and had escape damage. The men of the B-57B squadrons at Bien Hoa immediately set up shop at Tan Son Nhut AB with the 7 B-57Bs that were diverted. Ground crews from Bien Hoa were moved to TSN. In four days the bombers were again attacking the enemy. The  B-57B’s never returned to Bien Hoa after 16 May 1965, and the B-57B operation further moved from Tan Son Nhut to Da Nang AB in late June 1965.

In June 1965 F-100D/F aircraft from various CONUS units were sent TDY to Bien Hoa AB.

Note by Mr. Edward S. Marek ( website): A USAF investigation disclosed that the probable cause was a VNAF A-1 Skyraider that had a bomb loaded with a faulty installed safety wire. The aircraft had flown a mission, where the bomb armed in the air. After landing VNAF munitions personnel attempted to download the weapon and it exploded. Other sympathetic explosions occurred and shockwaves broke the acid vials in delayed action fuses adding to the holocaust.  


03.24       Rescue Mission  on  28 May 1965

Source: JRCC Combat Save forms, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     4-PARC-269-28May65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   Capt. John A. Boyles (P),    and  ??


Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:   crew UH-1B    US Army

Narrative of Rescue Mission:  not available

1965 05 28 JRCC


03.25       Rescue Mission  on  12 June 1965

Source 1: Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-585-12Jun65, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009279, frame 533-34)

Source 2: website , by Chris Hobson and David Lovelady - search form 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-585-12Jun65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   


Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:  pilot F-100D  55-3702  “Edna 11”   Capt. Lawrence T. Holland   KIA     - 401 TFW, 615 TFS   DaNang AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

A F-100D was reported down. At 1841H two HH-43F were scrambled from Bien Hoa AB. A USArmy UH-1B, piloted by Maj. Harvey E. Stewart, 118th Aviation Company, was operating near the bailout area. He estimated that he was over the area of the downed pilot within a minute after the pilot was on TTE ground. He was in deep jungle with 100 foot trees. Maj. Stewart saw a flare and then saw the downed pilot, who appeared to be all right. He then landed at the closest clear area which was about 300 yards away. He and Lt. Scott, his gunner, then proceeded to walk in toward the downed pilot when about halfway to him they heard three shots. The first shot sounded different than the other two. When they were about 20 yards away they saw 2 men at the base of the parachute. He yelled at them in the chance that they might be friendly. One of them jumped into a ditch and made a waving motion with his arm. Immediately 3 people opened fire om him and Lt. Scott from one side. Major Stewart then looked to the other side and there were two more moving toward his rear, between him and his helicopter. They attempted to fight it out with them in an effort to get to the F-100 pilot but more men materialized around them and he felt that there might be too many others to fend off with their weapons, an M-60 and an AR-15. While in the area he did see the F-100 pilot being dragged into a ditch. He was limp and the small man dragging him was apparently exerting a great deal of effort. The Major and Lieutenant hastily returned to the helicopter. The helicopter received two hits as they were taking off. There was no information concerning the involment of the two HH-43F, however 4 sorties for 5hrs were flown.

Source 2:

The 615th TFS from England AFB, LA spent several brief periods in 1964 and 1965 at Da Nang on temporary duty rotation from Clark AFB in the Phillipines. The squadron suffered its first combat loss of the war on 12 June. Capt. Holland was lead pilot of a two-aircraft flight on a close air support mission near Don Luan, 10 miles northeast of Bien Hoa. The two Super Sabres made a rocket attack on VC gun positions and buildings but Capt. Holland’s aircraft (call sign Edna 11) was hit and he was forced to eject. His parachute was seen (by a O-1F pilot) to land in tall trees near the target and a US Army helicopter landed nearby to attempt a rescue. Members of the helicopter crew were fired on as they proceeded into the jungle on foot and they saw Capt. Holland’s body being dragged into a ditch by several VC before they were forced to retire to the helicopter and take off. Information was later received indicating that Capt. Holland was killed when he opened fire on the VC as they closed in on his position. 


03.26       Rescue Mission  on  27 June 1965

Source : Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-644-27Jun65, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009279, frame 532) 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-644-27Jun65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   


Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:  crew and passengers C-123B    unkn. serial no.    pilot  Capt. Carl E. Jackson (KIA) and cargo master SSgt. Billie L. Roth  (KIA)    - 310 ACS, 315 ACG    Nha Trang AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

While on final approach to Tan Son Nhut AB, Jackson's C-123 started receiving ground-fire and subsequently crashed near a small village. At 2250H two HH-43F were scrambled from Bien Hoa AB. And at 2251H armed US Army helicopters were scrambled. A USAF flare aircraft was scrambled at 2256H. One deceased was recovered by HH-43F and two were recovered by Army Dustoff helicopter. The two HH-43F had flown 8 sorties  total 4 flying hrs.

According to information published on a website:

Capt. Jackson was assigned to the 1st Flight Detachment, MACV-SOG 1131st Special Activities Squadron. The aircraft had no standard markings on it, but were painted with a unique camo pattern of low-reflectivity black, green and brown paint. The aircraft was rigged with pylons on it. The 1131st flew only at night. They operated in a shroud of secrecy, no reports, no tail numbers due to MACV-SOG. All aircraft were sanitized as well as the nationality and individuality of those on board. Jackson, Roth, and 14 "Chinese Nationalists" were on board the night the flight was reported downed. The co-pilot as well was Chinese. 


03.27       Rescue Mission  on  29 June 1965

Source:  website , by Chris Hobson and David Lovelady - search form 

Rescue Mission     3-PARC-xxx-29Jun65                                       DET.4, PARC


Flown by  RCC   1Lt. Joseph T. Connell (P),  Capt. Beryl E. Warden Jr. (CP),   SSgt. Kelly R. Hughes (HM),  A2C Richard O Steinert (PJ) 


SAR Objective:  crew B-57B  53-3895      pilot  Capt. Samuel P. Chambers III  (KIA)  and navigator 1stLt. Robert G. Landringham  (KIA)   -  8th BS, 405 FW  Tan Son Nhut AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

1st.Lt. Connell remembers that this mission was terminated while they were enroute to Tan Son Nhut AB. We had been alerted that a B-57 had sustained battle damage and would be landing at the Tan Son Nhut AB. We were asked to fly to the air base with our fire suppression kit (FSK) to render  rescue coverage. Our crew left immediately. A few minutes later, we noticed heavy black smoke rising in the distance. Shortly thereafter, we received a transmission directing us to terminate the mission as the B-57 had crashed and exploded well short of the runway. 

Narrative:  Late in June the B-57 force moved from Tan Son Nhut to the growing air base at Da Nang. With the move came a new basing policy whereby the two Canberra squadrons alternated 60-day rotations at Da Nang with periods spent in training at Clark. ‘Bud’ Chambers and his navigator were flying an air strike in support of Vietnamese Rangers and their aircraft was hit and damaged on its last strafing run. During the return to the airfield the wingman saw several holes in the aircraft’s port wing and engine and the aircraft was streaming fuel. As the aircraft approached the runway Capt. Chambers lowered the flaps which unfortunately disturbed the airflow over the wings causing the streaming fuel to be sucked through some of the holes near the engine. The port engine exploded and the wing separated and although both crew ejected immediately, they were too low and neither survived. A new officers’ accommodation block at Clark AB was named Chambers Hall later in the year in the pilot’s honour.

639711 013 29Jun65 USAFphoto 101996

HH-43F 63-9711 hovering near the wreck of B-57B  O-33895 “N” , crashed on 29 June 65 near Tan Son Nhut AB  -  USAF Photo 101996, NARA collection   ;   This photo must have been taken the next day or later  


03.28       President Honors 38th ARRSq  for outstanding record in combat operations from August 1, 1964 to July 31, 1965

Source: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Apr-May 1966 (page 3)  -  Note: in fact the Unit Citation was dedicated to the predecessor of the 38th (activated on 01 July 1965), namely Det.3, PARC at Tan Son Nhut, the controlling agency for HH-43B Detachments prior to 01July65 and also the Det.4, PARC and Det.5, PARC Detachments with the HH-43F. 

The 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Military Airlift Command, recently received the Pres­idential Distinguished Unit Citation for its "extraordinary gallantry" while carrying out combat rescue missions in southeast Asia. In making the presentation during a White House ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson told the assembly that the squadron "has enscribed its name on the honor scroll of American heroes."

"Time and time again the men of the 38th have risked their lives so that their comrades might live, "the Pres­ident said.

Based at Tan Son Nhut AB in Vietnam, the unit earned the Presidential Citation for its outstanding record in combat operations from August 1, 1964 to July 31, 1965. The President credited the squadron with saving the lives of 74 persons during the period covered by the citation. Crews from the 38th flew 8700 combat missions in their unarmed HH-43B's (and HH-43F), HH-3C's (incorrect, only 2 TDY CH-3C during July), HC-54's (only TDY aircraft), and HU-16's (only TDY aircraft); while logging 12.750 hours, unit rescuemen won 250 in­dividual decorations including 16 silver stars and 10 purple hearts. Since that time more than 30 other "saves" have been made by the squadron and the number of individual decorations awarded has passed the 300 mark. 

After President Johnson spoke, Dr. Harold Brown, Secretary of the Air Force, read the award accompanying the citation. Also present were Gen. John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Col. Allison C. Brooks, Commander of the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. LtCol. Edward Krafka, Commander of the 38th during most of the period covered by the citation, ac­cepted the award from the President.

SMSgt. Roland J. Biler, former maintenance supervisor of the squadron, and TSgt. Charles P. Walther, recently named Airman of the Year for MAC, represented the squadron at the ceremony. Sergeant Walther's record during a year in Vietnam is an excellent example of the 38th's "extraordinary gallantry" which brought forth Presidential praise - the pararescueman received the Air Medal and 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Airman's Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star and an Air Force Commendation Medal. He is to represent MAC at the 1966 convention of the Air Force Association. Also on hand was Maj. Ronald Ingraham, former heli­copter pilot with the 38th. Major Ingraham recently was featured in a special two-part "Twentieth Century" tele­vision program which described air rescue activities.  

An excellent example of the type missions flown during the period mentioned in the Presidential citation is contained in still another citation - one which accom­panied the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to Capt. Carl G. Layman (Det.4,PARC/Det.6, 38thARS) for the rescue of a downed pilot during a battle between the 1st Infantry Division and the Viet Cong. Captain Layman said afterward that the mission was successfully accomplished due to the "outstanding work" of his crew - Maj. William T. Hayes, Jr., copilot; A2C Michael R. Donegan, paramedic; and TSgt. Joseph W. Blaquiere, helicopter mechanic. 


Captain Carl G. Layman distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an HH-43F crew­member of Detachment 6, 38th Air Rescue Squadron, Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, on 20 July 1965. On that date, Captain Layman was the pilot on a rescue heli­copter that scrambled at night on a reported bailout of a pilot from a fighter-type aircraft (F-100D). In spite of darkness, heavy rain, poor visibility, low ceilings, and high winds caused by thunderstorm activity, the helicopter rescue crew proceeded to the suspected area of bailout. Fearing the downed pilot had been injured and was unable to signal, the rescue helicopter descended to within 50 feet of the ground and, using floodlights for illumination, initiated a low-speed search for the pilot. During this time the heli­copter was an extremely vulnerable target and all crew­members were in great personal danger from hostile fire. Although sporadic tracer fire and one mortar burst was observed at close range, the helicopter crew persevered in its search until they located the downed pilot and re­turned him to safety. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Layman reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

See Narrative of Mission, here below: 

03.29       Rescue Mission  on  20 July 1965 

Source 1: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Apr-May66, page 3  “President Honors 38th ARRSq”

Source 2: file K318-221-Hist-38ARS-Jul-Sep65, page 4, IRIS ...., in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-446-20Jul65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Carl G. Layman (P),  Maj. William T. Hayes, Jr. (CP),  TSgt. Joseph W. Blaquiere (HM),  A2C Michael R. Donegan (PJ)


Flown by  RCC                                                                           Kenneth W. Williams (PJ)       new


SAR Objective:  pilot F-100D  56-3170  1Lt. W. Barriere        -   429TFS, 474TFW               1 mile ENE of Bien Hoa AB


Narrative of Rescue Mission, just above 03.29


03.30      Rescue Mission  on   09 September 1965

Source:  Book   LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) “PJ’s in Vietnam”, Northern PJ Press (2000), page 418 

Rescue Mission     6-38-718-9Sep65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                                                                                                                                               1 combat save

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Raymond L. Murden (P),  Capt. Carl G. Layman (CP),  TSgt. Joseph W. Blaquiere (HM),  Michael R. Donegan (PJ)


Flown by  RCC                                                            A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)


SAR Objective:    Med Evac   US Army soldier  E4  R. Williams                                       5 NM East of Bien Hoa 

Narrative of Rescue Mission:    not available


03.31      PJ    SSgt. George E. Schipper      Det.6     Sep65-Feb66      

Source: file K-318-2-2131-End-of-Tour-Report-Schipper-IRIS0492027, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

SSgt Schipper Det6 BienHoa


03.32      Rescue Mission  on   17 September 1965

Source 1: file K318-221-Hist-38ARS-Jul-Sep65, page 7, IRIS0491713, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2:  Kaman Rotor Tips issue Oct-Nov 1965, page 6 

Rescue Mission     38-943-17Sep65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Darvan E. Cook (P),  Capt. Donald E. Stranahan (CP),  TSgt. Domenick J. Cocuzzi (HM),  A2C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)


Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:  crew  VNAF     H-34    pilot Lt. Cao Van An  

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

A Vietnamese H-34 helicopter was reported downed 18 miles from Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN. Two HH-43 helicopters were scrambled from Bien Hoa AB, RVN along with armed UH-1B's which the Army launched from Tan Son Nhut AB. Upon arriving over the scene, one HH-43 and the armed UH-1B's went in for a low pass to evaluate the situation. Ground fire was encountered, and the second HU-1B received minor damage. On the next pass the HH-43 orbited over the crash, while the UH-1B's flew circles around it. A figure ran out of the trees and waved at the helicopter, as he appeared to be wearing a flying suit the HH-43 landed and motioned him to get into the helicopter. With the survivor on board, the HH-43 took off as the UH-1B's fired rockets and tracers into the surrounding woods. The Vietnamese pilot was badly burned and showed signs of shock, but was able to communicate that he was the only survivor of the crash. The survivor was taken to hospital at Tan Son Nhut AB by the HH-43.

Source 2:

"HH-43's in Dramatic Rescues"  ,  by 1 stLt Jess E. Maxwell , USAF Combat News

BIEN HOA AIR BASE, RVN - A Vietnamese Air Force H-34 helicopter crewman was rescued from a crash site during one of the recoveries. The rescued helicopter crewman was found near Ben Cat, 18 miles north of Saigon, in the famous "D" Zone area. Five American air­craft responded to the distress call, including two armed UH-1B "Hueys, " a C-123 flareship, and the two ARS helicopters. Capt. Darvan E. Cook piloted the lead USAF helicopter which pulled the Vietnamese crew­man to safety. "Viet Cong ground fire was heavy in the area," he said. "While the other choppers flew cover, we went in. A man wearing a flying suit ran out of the trees into a clearing. We immediately scooped him up."

The injured crewman told the American pilots that he was the only one who survived the crash. He was then airlifted to Tan Son Nhut AB for hospitalization. Captain Cook felt a severe concussion while lift­ing the injured Vietnamese airman to safety. "I thought we were hit," he said. "No bullet holes were found during later inspection, however. " One of the other helicopters flying cover for the mission was damaged by a VC bullet, but returned to base safely.


03.33       Rescue Mission  on   24 September 1965

Source: Kaman Rotor Tips issue Oct-Nov 1965, page 12 

Rescue Mission     6-38-820-24Sep65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                                                                                                                1 combat save

Flown by  RCC   Cpt. Carl G. Layman (P),  Capt. Dale L. Potter (CP),  TSgt. Joseph W. Blaquiere (HM),  A2C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)


Flown by  RCC


SAR Objective:  pilot  F-100D  56-2923    Maj. Martin W. Barbena       ;   5 NM East of Bien Hoa

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

A downed pi­lot was on the ground less than five minutes before a HH-43 assigned to Det 6, pulled him to safety. Capt. Carl G. Layman and his heli­copter crew were already in the air after responding to another emer­gency call, when the crew heard an F-100 pilot inform the tower he had a flame-out and was ejecting. The HH-43 immediately flew to the crash scene about five miles east of the base. They were in time to see the crippled F-100 crash into the thick jungle. "We spotted the downed pilot's chute immediately", said Capt. Dale L. Potter, copilot. "He was still trying to crawl out of his parachute harness". The rescue site was covered with 20-foot-high brush and small trees. "We had to haul the jet pilot out with a special forest penetrating hoist", said Captain Potter. 

Kaman RotorTips, issue  Apr-May 1966  (page 18)         -        “Vietnam Veteran Honored by KAC”

TSgt. Joseph W. Blaquiere received the 11th Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal and a KAC Scroll of Honor recently for the rescue of a downed jet pilot from the jungles of Vietnam last September. Sergeant Blaquiere, now attached to Det 1, EARRC, Loring AFB, Maine, was serving as an HH-43 crewman with the 38th ARRSq at the time of the rescue. Shown congratulating the Sergeant is Col Lucian A. Dade, commander of EARRC, who made the presentations. (USAF photo)

TSgt Blaquiere KamanRT 66 


03.34          1000 hours  HH-43

1000HRS KamanRT Oct Nov65 p6

Source: Kaman RotorTips, issue Oct-Nov 1965 -page 6

1000 HH-43 HOURS - Capt Donald E. Stra­nahan, left, and Capt Darvan E. Cook of ARS Det 6, 38th ARSq(MATS), Bien Hoa AB, RVN congratulate one another on completing 1000 hours in the HUSKIE. They have been flying as a crew since arriving in Vietnam a year ago and have logged over 350 combat missions togeth­er in the HH-43. Captain Stranahan, who passed the 1000-hour mark on July 4th, has been assigned to Det 11, CARC, Laughlin AFB, Texas. Captain Cook passed the milestone on August 5th and has been assigned to Det 14, CARC, Vance AFB, Okla. (USAF photo)


03.35          Photos  taken by  A1C Chester A. Duprey  during the Summer 1965

639712 mid65 C.Duprey10

HH-43F 63-9712  Bien Hoa AB  Summer 1965 - photo by A1C Chester Duprey
Note  USAF A-1E 133872 assigned to the 602nd FS(C) returning from a mission

639712 mid65 Duprey do not

HH-43F 63-9712  Bien Hoa AB  Summer 1965 - photo by A1C Chester Duprey


04.            THIRD  GROUP  of  personnel  (PCS)

                  Sept/Oct 1965  -   ca. Sept 1966         Det.6, 38th ARS/ARRS     at Bien Hoa AB    

                                                         DET.6  members:

Maj.  William T. Hayes Jr.       (P) Det.Co. *

Capt./Maj. Maurice G. Kessler (P) Det.Co. *

Capt. Darvan E. Cook               (P)

Capt. Raymond L. Murden        (P)

Capt. Charles P. Nadler             (P)

Capt. Dale L. Potter                   (P)

Capt. Karl G. King                     (P)

Capt. Edwin A. Henningson      (P)

Capt. Ronald L. Bachman          (P)

Capt. Harold D. Salem               (P)

Capt David G. Henry                 (P)

Capt. Edward E. Pharaoh Jr.      (P) 

1st Lt. Mark C. Schibler             (P)

1st Lt. Joseph T. Connell           (P)

SSgt.  David E. Milsten      (PJ) NCOIC 

TSgt. Domenick J. Cocuzzi    (HM)

TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins       (HM)

TSgt. Richard A. Connon       (HM)

SSgt. George E. Schipper        (PJ)

SSgt.  Leon Fullwood              (PJ)

A1C Alexander Montgomery  (HM)

A1C Gerald C. Hammond Jr   (HM)

A1C Thomas C. Story             (HM)

A1C William H. Pitsenbarger  (PJ)

A1C  Henry J. O’Beirne            (PJ)

A2C  Richard O. Steinert         (PJ)   

A2C John J. Dagneau III  **   (PJ) 

A2C Frederick L. Sanger         (PJ)

A2C Gordon C. Thayer            (PJ)


*)  Major Hayes was Det.Commander from February 1965 until 14Nov65.  Then Capt. Maurice G. Kessler took over as Commander. Major Kessler as of Jan-Mr66.  **) After William Pitsenbarger was killed on 11 Apr66, PJ  John Dagneau was reassigned from Det.5, Udorn AB in May66. 

The following Helicopter Mechanics prepared the battle-damaged HH-43F 63-9712 for airlifting back to Bien Hoa on 06 Jun66 : SSgt. William D. Cole, SSgt. Larry G. Vance, A1C Richard N. Strobaker and A2C Charles H. Burnett. It is unknown if they made part of Det.6, 38 ARRS at the time.   

The following crewmembers were part of a known Rescue Mission and mentioned only once or twice. (My assumption is that they were part of Det.6 only shortly (TDY?)- Ragay) : 

15Mar66 mission  Capt. Joseph E. Symonds, Jr. (P)

TDY ?  - from  ?

07May66 mission  Capt. Louis S. Pottschmidt  (P)

TDY ?  - from  LBR Det. at TanSonNhut

08May66 mission  1st Lt. Charles R. Sweet  (P)

TDY ?  - from  Det.5  at Udorn

09+25Jul66  mission  Capt. LaMonte M. Kahler (P)

TDY?   - from  Det.1  at Phan Rang

25Jul66   mission  Charles B. Carr     (HM)

TDY ?  - from  ?

03Aug66 mission  A1C Michael P. Benno (PJ)

TDY ?  - from  Det.5  at Udorn

08Aug66  mission  Capt. R.L. Blaydes  (P)

TDY ?  - from  ?

08Aug66  mission  Nathaniel A. Moseley (HM)

TDY ?  - from  ?

15Sep66  mission   ??  Donald L. Hebert  (P)

TDY ?  - from  ?



04.01    Quarterly History      Det.6, 38 ARS     October - December 1965

Source :  File  K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-IRIS00491713 - pages 87 thru 89 and 111 , in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

The primary mission of Detachment 6 was to provide Aircrew Recovery (ACR) for South Central Vietnam. A secondary, yet vitally important, mission was to provide Local Base Rescue (LBR) support for Bien Hoa AB.

The unit had experienced almost a complete change of personnel during the past months which required an intensive training program. Particularly in maintenance because many of the personnel were not familiar with the HH-43F.

Det.6 flew 485 operational missions from 01Oct to 31Dec 1965, of these 386 were LBR scrambles and 35 were off-base personnel pickups. There were also several Med-Evac flights, flights ferrying accident investigation teams to crash sites, doctors and chaplains to orphanages and the leprosarium, numerous Base Support Missions and training flights.

Eleven of the 35 operational off-base missions flown, involved saves of one or more persons. In these eleven missions 112 non-wounded, wounded and dead were recovered or evacuated. Of these there were at least 24 saves and possibly more. Mission narratives of these eleven missions are presented here below in chapters 04.02 up to 04.13 

Three of the eleven missions are of particular importance. The first is the mission of 5 Oct 1965 in the “Notorious” “D” Zone (see chapter 04.02). Of this mission 34 personnel were recovered with seven definite saves recorded. Pick-up was effected by descending vertically almost 75 feet into a small clearing “blasted” into the dense jungle after the army decided the clearing was too small to land UH-1B’s. During the entire mission there was enemy action within 600 meters and several large explosions of an undertermined nature.

The second mission of note ( see chapter 04.04) was the recovery of Captain Elliot, pilot of an A-1E (from Pleiku) where he was participating in Air Strikes during the VC seige in the area. Of prime importance on this mission was the lesson learned about the VC using downed aircrew members to “decoy” rescue aircraft into an ambush. Also of particular interest is the skill and cunning with which Captain Elliot evaded the VC for 34 hours before he was finally rescued. All aircrews should be briefed on this mission so that they could evade and signal rescue personnel in a similary professional manner in case they were to find themselves in a like situation.

The third mission of note is the one of 8 and 9 Nov 1965 which also occurred in “D” Zone (see chapter 04.03). This mission in particular shows the professionalism and dedication to duty of rescue crews. This mission required approximately 3 hours of gruelling hover flight over trees 150 to 180 feet tall while personnel were hoisted to safety in a stokes litter, patiently guided through the dense foliage by the hoist operator. During the entire mission one of the unit pararescuemen was on the ground to load the stokes litter and, between trips, clear an area in which the chopper could land on subsequent trips. Also during this time there was intensive enemy action in the immediate vicinity of the pick-up zone and intermittent sniper fire was directed at the helicopter. When the chopper returned to the pick-up zone, from dropping off the rescued personnel, they lowered down much needed ammunition and medical supplies in the stokes litter. 

Our mission aircraft is the HH-43F which, in all outward appearances, is much like the now familiar HH-43B. However, with the addition of extensive armor plating, a more powerful engine and larger capacity hoist it is much better suited for the mission that we perform. And, I may add, much safer !                     (This report was signed by Mark C. Schibler, 1st Lt., USAF, Unit Historian)

“This pretty well covers matters of a historical nature. The unit is, of course, having the normal growing pains of any unit that finds itself with an almost complete personnel shift and a change of procedures under which it operated in the past. However, all offices of Primary Responsibility are taking the changes in stride and adopting procedures to make this an outstanding unit”.


04.02       Rescue Mission  on   05 October 1965

Source 1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 21, 108-110, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2: file K318-2-Hist-3ARRG-Vol1-part-Jan-Mar66-IRIS0492413, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-898-5Oct65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Raymond L. Murden (P),   Dale L. Potter (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),  A2C Richard O. Steinert (PJ)

Awards: TSgt. Perkins was awarded the Air Medal (6 OLC) for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight on 5 Oct 65 


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Charles P. Nadler (P),  1Lt. Joseph T. Connell (CP),  TSgt. Richard A. Connon (HM),  SSgt. Leon Fullwood (PJ)

Awards: TSgt. Perkins was awarded the Air Medal (6 OLC) for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight on 5 Oct 65 


SAR Objective:  MedEvac  31 soldiers  “A” Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade  from war Zone “D”

                           18 sorties flown                                                                                                        -  7 combat saves

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

At 1535L  5 Oct 65, 38th ARS SARCC called, informing us that the Army had thirty one casualties, 8 miles northeast of Bien Hoa AB. Primary and secondary alert HH-43F helicopters scrambled at 1540L. The third alert crew was called in to provide LBR coverage while primary and secondary crews were on the mission.

Bien Hoa tower informed us that there was artillery firing in the northeast quadrant from Bien Hoa. We requested that artillery fire be stopped. We circled just north of the runway for approximately five minutes until tower informed us that the artillery fire had ceased. An escort of two armed UH-1B helicopters scrambled from Tan Son Nhut AB as requested by 38th SARCC.

We were led to the site by an Air Force Forward Air Controller in an O-1F. As we approached the site we were joined by the armed Hueys. Personnel on the ground used smoke grenades to mark their location. They had blasted a small clearing from the dense jungle. The trees in the area were 125 to 150 feet high. The floor of the clearing was strewn with felled trees and stumps. Army UH-1B medical evacuation helicopters had evaluated the clearing and determined that it was too small for them to get into.

From intitial evaluation of the clearing it appeared that it would be necessary to recover the casualties by using the hoist and stokes litter. I decided to descend as far as possible into the chimney like opening to reduce the length of hoist pickups. As we descended it was determined that we would be able to descend all the way to the ground. The landing was accomplished by streddling stumps and maneuvering the helicopter to avoid the many felled trees. The UHF/VHF antenna under the front of the helicopter was touching a stump in front and the bottom of the vertical stabilisers were resting on limbs of felled trees.

The diameter of the clearing was so small that on the first approach of each H-43, during the vertical descent into the clearing at about 75 feet, the rotor blades contacted light foliage. Three crew members, TSgt. Perkins, TSgt. Connon and SSgt. Fullwood remained at the site to assist with the wounded, enlarge the clearing, improve the landing area and direct the landings. Two chain saws were flown in on a subsequent sortie.

During the course of the mission we learned that the casualties were from “A” Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade and that the casualties had been sufferred during the previous four hours in a battle with the Viet Cong 600 meters from the clearing. While operating at the site there were several explosions nearby of unknown origin. During one climbout the primary alert H-43 was thirty feet above the ground when it was blown several feet rearward by the concussion of an explosion.  

The primary alert H-43 made six trips from the site to the 3rd Field Hospoital and the secondary alert H-43 made three round trips. There was a total of eighteen landings, sixteen of which were on unprepared area. Total sorties 18. Total flying time 4:30. Sorties and time of assisting aircraft unknown. They also aided in resupplying the ground forces by airlifting in 1700 lbs of weapons and equipment.

Inspection of the H-43’s after completion of the mission revealed no damage. Green stranke were found on the outer portion of the right rotor blades of both H-43’s cused by blades striking foliage. There was no damage to the blades. The day after the mission I called the three medical agencies that treated the casualties to obtain information to determine the number of saves. 3rd Surgical Hospital said that there were seven positive saves.  Raymond L. Murden, Capt., USAF (RCC)


04.03       Rescue Mission  on   09 October 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 21, 106-107, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-929-9Oct65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                                                                                                                                                       2 combat saves

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Darvan E. Cook (P),  Maj. William T. Hayes Jr. (CP),  TSgt. Domenick J. Cocuzzi (HM),  A1C  William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)

HH-43F                                                                                                                                                      1 combat save

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Dale L. Potter (P),  Capt. Raymond L. Murden (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),  SSgt. George E. Schipper (PJ)


SAR Objective:  MedEvac of  3 Battle Field Casualty soldiers, 173rd Airborne Brigade, from war zone “D”        -   18 NM NE of Bien Hoa AB                         6 sorties flown

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

At 1345L,  9 Oct 65, the 173rd AB called us to evacuate some wounded personnel from the jungle south of Ben Cat (war zone “D”). The clearings they were in were too small for the army helicopters to land. Both HH-43’s were airborne in 10 minutes and 20 minutes later landed at an army forward control site. There we picked up an army captain to show us where to go and 2 armed UH-1B’s  for escort. We proceeded to the evacuation sites which were marked by ground personnel with smoke gernades. The jungle growth was about 20’ high but very dense, so the hoist was used with the stokes litter. The armed UH-1B’s  circled continually during the pick-ups. In all, 3 hoist pick-ups were made from a 35 foot hover. Two were made by the primary crew and both casualties airlifted to the forward army site. The secondary made one pick-up and transported him to the 173rd Field Hospital near Bien Hoa AB. Six (6) sorties, four (4) plus 40 hours. Darvan E. Cook, Capt., USAF (RCC)


04.04       Rescue Mission  on   22-23 October 1965

Source 1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 22, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2:  website , by Chris Hobson and David Lovelady - search form

Source 3: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Apr-May 1966, page 5 

Rescue Mission     38-1055-22Oct65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                                                                                                                                                           1 combat save

Flown by  RCC     Capt. Dale L. Potter (P),  Capt David G. Henry (CP),  TSgt Richard A. Connon (HM),  SSgt Leon Fullwood (PJ)


Flown by  RCC  


SAR Objective:   pilot A-1E   52-133897  Capt. Melvin C. Elliot  - 1st ACS, 6251 TFW  Bien Hoa  ; pilot bailed out, the aircraft crashed 5 miles east of the camp; 37 NM SSW of Pleiku AB                             17 sorties flown

Narrative of Rescue Mission ( based on sources 1,2,3):

The battle for the Special Forces Camp at Plei Me (19-25 October) continued unabated. Flights of F-100s and A-1s were over the camp almost continuously in an attempt to assist the defenders on the ground. On the night of the 21st October an A-1E (52-132442) from Bien Hoa with Capt. M.W. Burr was hit by ground fire and made a crash landing on the airstrip. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and the Captain was slightly injured. A flight of Skyraiders had been waiting for an Army Caribou for which they were going to provide cover as it dropped supplies to the camp’s defenders. However, the Caribou never turned up so the Skyraiders made one final strafing pass before they had to return to base.

It was during this last pass that Capt. Melvin Elliot’s aircraft was hit in the port wing and caught fire (approx. 0100H, 22nd Oct). Capt. Elliot became snagged on the cockpit canopy as he tried to bail out of the aircraft. His helmet came off in the slipstream but he eventually freed himself and parachuted into a tree 200 meters from the perimeter of the camp.

A large VC force that had the camp surrounded, were located between Capt. Elliot and the camp perimeter. Capt. Elliot made radio contact with both his wingman and the camp. A patrol that was sent out to locate him, ran into heavy opposition and was forced to return. After daylight additional patrols were dispatched, but all failed to make contact with the survivor. That evening (still 22nd) an Army helicopter attempted to make the pickup but was driven off by heavy automatic weapons fire. While the downed pilot remained in hiding, two HH-43F’s were scrambled from Bien Hoa AB and, after a three-and-a-half hour night flight over mountainous terrain, they arrived at Pleiku.

Captain Elliot spent another night in hiding, but was eventually rescued the next morning (23rd). As they began the rescue attempt shortly after daylight, a heavy firefight broke out between enemy positions and the camp. Realizing the downed pilot could not escape capture much longer, Capt. Dale L. Potter lowered his HH-43F until the rotor blades were only a few inches above the high elephant grass and the A-1E pilot was hastily snatched aboard. Firing at the time was described as "very intense".  Capt. Dale Potter was guided by two Bird Dog FAC’s and protected by Army UH-1B gunships. Capt. Elliot had spent 36 hours on the ground and had evaded Viet Cong troops as well as American bombs and bullets on several occasions. He was flown to Pleiku AB. 

A May 2011 Email sent by Capt.Elliot to the editor of the website  and published there reads as follows:

Both the Bien Hoa HH43's were sent to Plei Me, which is where I bailed out. It was 150 miles from Bien Hoa. The Max range of the Pedro was about 75 miles so they had to land to refuel enroute and then again before they came to get me. The SAR system had not really been organized at this time in the war. Our Command Post Duty Officer at Bien Hoa was a Captain that I had known for several years. He briefed the Wing CC on my situation and the CC told him to launch the Pedro's, this was about Midnight. The DO called the rescue center at Tan San Nhut and told the Colonel on duty there that he was launching the Pedro's to pick me up. The Col told him he couldn't do that but they were already on the way. They left Bien Hoa about Midnight and picked me up at about 0230PM the next day. A very long day for them. They then flew back to Bien Hoa after dropping me off at the Army base at Pleiku.

Fed the crews of both choppers beer until the last dog died. The next day the Wing CC told me that the Fabled Five O'clock Follies in Saigon wanted me and the chopper crew to be on their program. I was all scratched up and such. We flew to TSN in the Pedro and went into this briefing room. The moderator made a few statements and then introduced us. I went on the stage and made a statement of what happened and then I felt like I was on trial from these questions the media people popped at me. I gave a time out signal, looked at the chopper crew and gave them the wind up signal and walked off the stage. Never heard anything about it. Mel

HH43F 6397xx CampHolloway Blakenship



HH-43F  with serial  397xx  photographed in October 1965 at Camp Holloway, US Army Airfield, 3 miles South of Pleiku, by Kenneth Blankenship (helicopter crewchief, 155 AHC  - website This could be the HH-43F which dropped Capt. Elliot off at the Army base at Pleiku (as he stated here above).
Coincidentally, during the same days in October 65 two HH-43F were sent from Da Nang (Det.7) to Pleiku to investigate the crash-site of a RB-66B (crashed 22Oct65). The Da Nang Huskies flew from Pleiku during the period 23-25Oct.


04.05       Rescue Mission  on   06 November 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 104-105, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1047-6Nov65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F    63-9712       Primary Alert aircraft                                                                                             1 combat save

Flown by  RCC    Capt. Raymond L. Murden (P),  Capt. Karl G. King (CP), A1C Gerald C. Hammond (HM),  A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)

HH-43F    63-9711       Secondary Alert aircraft

Flown by  RCC    Capt. Charles P. Nadler (P),  Capt. Maurice G. Kessler (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),   A1C Henry J. O’Beirne (PJ)


SAR Objective:    MedEvac two wounded soldiers assigned to 1st Platoon, Company A, of the Royal Australian Regiment : Sgt. A.J. McIvor (serious head wounds) and Pvt. Glen B. Woodward (shoulder wounds)

                                         4 sorties flown

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

Detachment 6, 38th ARS was requested by a Forward Air Controller of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to evacuate two casualities from “D” zone, coordinates  1104 N, 10703 E. Initial notification was received at 1752 hours and at 1755 hours, Det.6 scrambled two HH-43F.

Upon arrival of the HH-43F helicopters over the general area at 1810 hours, contact with the Army O-1F forward air controller aircraft and the Army UH-1B helicopter was established. The UH-1B dropped smoke bombs in a bomb crater and reported that the ground personnel were moving the survivors toward the crater. The FAC aircraft reported seeing gunfire to the south of the area when the UH-1B flew over. Three armed UH-1B helicopters and two A-1E aircraft arrived to cap the area, after arrival of the HH-43F’s. The secondary alert HH-43F remained in orbit to provide back up.

The area was covered with dense undergrowth, with scattered trees up to 100 feet high. Hoist pickups were started at approximately 1845 hours and completed at 1905 hours.

After survivors were moved to pickup spot, the primary HH-43F made an approach and lowered the stokes litter by hoist. The personnel on the ground disconnected the litter from the hoist cable, but they did not load the survivors into the litter. A1C Pitsenbarger was then lowered by hoist, and loaded the survivors into the litter. After the last survivor was hoisted aboard, A1C Pitsenbarger was hoisted aboard and the HH-43F’s departed for Bien Hoa. The last two pickups were made after dark, and it was necessary to use the floodlights to remain clear of the trees and see the persons being hoisted. After returning to Bien Hoa, the survivors were released to the Army Third Mobile Evacuation Surgical Hospital. Hospital personnel later confirmed one save.


04.06       Rescue Mission  on   08 November 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  6-38-1049-8Nov65, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009284, frame 1174-75) 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1049-8Nov65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC    unknown  crew


SAR Objective:    Med Evac one personnel from Bien Hoa dispensary to Tan Son Nhut AB

                              2 sorties flown for 0:40 hours

Narrative of Rescue Mission (in short):

One HH-43F was scrambled  at 2225/8 Nov 65. No further details given.


04.07       Rescue Mission  on   08-09 November 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 25, 98 thru 103, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Mission flown on 08 November: 

Rescue Mission     38-1112-8Nov65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                           Low Bird, for this mission, call sign “Pedro 1

Flown by  RCC   Capt. Edwin A. Henningson (P),  Capt. Ronald L. Bachman (CP),  A1C Alexander Montgomery (HM),  SSgt. George E. Schipper (PJ),  SSgt. David E. Milsten (PJ)

Awards: Capt. Henningson, Capt. Bachman and A1C Montgomery were awarded the DFC for heroism while participating in aerial flight on 8 Nov 65  ;   SSgt. Schipper was awarded the Silver Star for meritorious action on 8 Nov 65

UH-1B  US Army  “Firebird 91”  as   top cover aircraft  *)


SAR Objective:  Med Evac of wounded soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 13 miles from Bien Hoa AB                               35 sorties flown,  evacuated 12 wounded, 9 combat saves credited

                                         *)  the two other Det.6  HH-43F’s were out of commission at the time

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

At 1245 hours, 8 Nov 65, a call was received from the Rescue Coordination Center at 38th ARSq that a group of 173rd Batallion personnel were in need of immediate air-evac of 50 US Army wounded from an area 13 miles at 38 degrees from Bien Hoa AB (coordinates YT 115-305 ; Zone “D”). The army personnel on the ground reported they were trying to secure the area of Viet Cong (VC) fire and were also attempting to clear some kind of a landing/pickup area. There was slight delay in the scramble time due to efforts to secure another HH-43 as a top cover ship (Det.6, 38th ARS had only one helicopter in commission at the time) and also to make arrangements for fire support/cover from one of the Army’s angle HU-1B (Huey) units. We were finally able to secure cover from the 501st element of the 173rd Batallion who used the call sign “Firebird 91”. Our recovery aircraft was instructed to use the call sign “Pedro 1”.

“Pedro 1” departed Bien Hoa at 1305 hours arriving over the designated area at 1315 hours. We were instructed by the army gun ships to orbit at 2,500 feet until such time as they completed their firing passes and had determined that the area was ready for us. At this time heavy rain showers were moving in from the east and made it extremely difficult to keep track of the spot and move in on it. We were instructed to remain in the eastern quadrants relative to the pick up point (PUP) and the Evac landing zone (ELZ) since personnel on the ground were engaged in continuous contact with the VC immediately west of these areas. The first approach to the PUP was accomplished in heavy rainshowers with the aid of smoke and vectoring over the radio by both ground and airborne instructions. Although the controlling agencies for this mission had been identified as “Python Control” (339.6 UHF) and “Diesel Stamp #1” (43.8 FM) we were never able to make contact with either of these parties, as a result “Firebird 91”, the armed army UH-1B not only acted as firepower/protecter, but also coordinated the entire operation of evacuation and airlift. After considerable hovering around over the trees in the area, the selected PUP was located, it was simply a spot over trees 150-180 feet tall, and at this point none of the trees had been cut down, nor any foliage removed. 

The paramedic crewmember was lowered into the trees, along with a power chain saw and fuel for the saw. Then the hoist operator lowered a stokes litter into the trees to bring up the first (1/12) of twelve (12) army wounded who were to be recovered in this manner. There was no clear area for the hoist operator to maneuver the litter into/through, so all he could do was to try as best he could to thread the stokes litter up and down through the branches. We were instructed to airlift the evacuees to a small ELZ clearing ¼ mile north of the PUP, where they were to be picked up and air-evaced by “Dustoff” (a slick UH-1B Flight). During the first round trip we learned that the chain saw had broken, and that personnel in the clearing were requesting another saw, tools and more gasoline. They were also out of ammunition so we were asked to airlift in two cases of amo, which we let down in the litter with the first pick up. One more wounded (2/12) was winched up via stokes litter at wich time our Firebirds reported they would have to return to Bien Hoa for fuel, and invited us to join them. Our fuel state at this time was 320#. We air-evaced the patient we had on board to the 173rd “Mash” area, then returned to Bien Hoa for fuel. “Firebird Flight” advised us to delay getting airborne back to the site for awhile as they were  in the process of blasting out a landing area in the trees. (However, when we arrived at the scene, we found the area unchanged from before). Following a phone call from “Firebird” we were airborne to pick up our stokes litter at the "Mash” area an then flew on to the scene. As before, we were instructed to orbit at 2,500 feet while the “Hueys” (Army UH-1B) and Mohawks (OV-1) completed their firing passes, and recomed the area. At the word from “Firebird” , we again proceeded to pick up the wounded via stokes litter, picking up seven (7, 9/12) on this series of sorties, and each time bringing supplies from the ELZ to the PUP area on the return trip. During this segment of the mission, personnel at the PUP again reported they were out of ammunition, and so we airlifted 6 more cases of amo into them. In addition, 2 cases of TNT, 10 cases of medical supplies (Dextran, etc), 2 more power saws, gasoline and tools.

During this period of time the UH-1B’s reported taking hits (battle damage, apparently from small arms fire) just east of the PUP/ELZ area, and we were instructed to stay in real tight between the PUP and the ELZ in order to minimise our exposure to ground fire. On a previous run, personnel in the ELZ clearing reported what appeared to be small arms fire directed at our ’43 from a point at the west edge of the clearing. Sometime during this same period of the operation, the “Hueys” also cautioned us on what appeared to be small arms fire directed at us. Throughout the recovery operation, the hoist appeared to be overheating; we could smell the strong, acrid odor coming from the cabin. We were concerned about losing the hoist during a sustained operation like this with 300 to 360 feet of cable being winched for every pick-up. Toward the latter part of this portion of the mission a few of the smaller trees directly below the chopper in the PUP area had been felled making the operation somewhat less strenuous. Our pararescue man , Sgt. Schipper who went down on the hoist the first time was later discovered to have suffered injured ribs. On the last sortie at the PUP during this trip the paramedic was recovered from the PUP and we then returned to the 173rd “Mash” area to off-load another (10/12) wounded Army man. The “Hueys” were once again low on fuel and our fuel state was 280#. From the “Mash”  area we returned to Bien Hoa to refuel and coordinate the next segment of the evacuation.

Fifteen minutes later we were airborne enroute to the 173rd area to pick up our litter , then continued on to the evacuation area only to find as before that we would have to orbit at 2,500 feet until advised to go in due to the fact that both Navy and Air Force fighter aircraft were conducting heavy air strikes immediately adjacent to the area in which we were working. There was also considerable artillery fire in the area. However, the gunship advised that the firing would continue and to go ahead and “get on with it”.  At this time what appeared to be ground fire of some kind sailed past the side of the helicopter, and we were advised to get down low and stay in tight. We were once again vectored into the PUP by the higher flying UH-1 aircraft (personnel on the ground at the PUP were out of smoke flares) and preseeded to continue with the recovery of litter patients via the hoist, each time returning with medical supplies, etc. Following the evacuation of the second (12/12) of this “batch” of evacuees we airlifted in 20 cases of C-Rations. After dropping the rations the hoisting crew continued with the recovery operation only to find that the hoist was inoperative. We flew to the ELZ to attempt to repair the hoist, but after landing discovered that the hoist cable had sheared and was irreparable. We were requested to make 2 more C-Ration delivery flights. Following the first of these (10 cases) when we returned to the ELZ for another lead we were waved off. We loitered in the area to learn if we could be of further assistance and since there seemed to be some confusion as to whether they needed us to haul anything else, we decided to return  as quickly as possible to Bien Hoa to attempt rapid repair of the hoist and return to the scene before nightfall. At Bien Hoa it was learned that there would be a minimum delay of 1 hour for replacement of the hoist cable. The crew was also advised that they were to be relieved to eat and for a rest break.

A summary of statistics for the mission up to this point reflects: 35 sorties flown for a total of 4:25 hours of flying time, 12 personnel evacuated by stokes litter and hoist (9 saves). Airlifted in the following equipment and supplies to the PUP:   8 cases of ammunition, 2 cases TNT, 10 cases of medical supplies, 30 cases of C-Rations, 4 chain saws, 3 cans gasoline plus miscellaneous tools, rope, etc. 

Mission flown on 09 November: 

Rescue Mission     38-1114-8Nov65       (day 9Nov)                  DET.6, 38ARS

                  originally the mission number was 38-1112, later changed into 1114  in 38th History file


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Charles P. Nadler (P),  Capt. Maurice G. Kessler (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),  A1C  Henry J. O’Beirne (PJ)

Awards:  all were awarded the DFC for heroism while participating in aerials flight on 9 Nov 65 

UH-1B  US Army    as   top cover aircraft  *)


SAR Objective:  Med Evac of wounded soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade

                            25 sorties flown,  evacuated 19 wounded and 3 KIA’s, 5 combat saves credited

                                           *)  the two other Det.6  HH-43F’s were out of commission at the time 

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On the evening of 8 Nov 65, Major Bliss of the US Army 173rd Airborne Brigade requested that we land at the Third MASH Hospital in the 173rd AB area north of the Bien Hoa runway at 0605. We did so and were briefed on radio frequencies, artillery firing and cover aircraft. We departed the area with four soldiers, two chain saws and gasoline at 0615. We arrived in the area of YT 115-305 at 0625 and followed a UH-1B over the hole in the jungle where the pickups were to be made. We encountered tracer fire which passed some 50 feet to our left. We broke to the right and descended to tree top height over the hole. Four soldiers and their equipment were lowered in five hoist operations using the forest penetrator. The stokes litter was then lowered and a badly wounded soldier (1/19) was hoisted into the helicopter. This constituted our first save. We returned him to the 3rd MASH hospital, picked up 4 more soldiers and returned to the hole. Personnel on the ground succeeded in enlarging the hole so that we were able to descend vertically 180 feet and land.

We offloaded the soldiers, loaded 4 more seriously wounded soldiers into the helicopter (5/19, two of them were saves), took off and landed at the 3rd MASH hospital. We loaded water cans aboard the helicopter and made a third trip into the hole, evacuating six soldiers (11/19). We flew to 3rd MASH hospital with the wounded. On the fourth trip into the hole, we evacuated the last four wounded soldiers (15/19). We offloaded them at the 3rd MASH hospital and refuelled the helicopter at Bien Hoa AB. We departed Bien Hoa AB at 1000 and were diverted to YT 157-264, to pick up Australian wounded. Two stokes litters were lowered through 100 foot trees and one seriously wounded soldier (16/19) was picked up. We offloaded him at a collection point from where UH-1B’s flew wounded and KIA’s to Saigon and Bien Hoa 3rd MASH hospital.

 This man constituted our fourth save. We made a second trip to the same area, picked up a second wounded Australian soldier (17/19), and flew him to the collection point. On the third trip into the area, we lowered our pararescue technician to the ground on the forest penetrator. He rode up with the third wounded (18/19) Austarlian and informed us that there were no more wounded in that area. We offloaded that soldier at the collection point and prosseded to YT 115-305 to pick up some KIA’s. As we were about to enter the hole, we were asked to pick up three litters at the collection point and bring them with us into the hole so that the KIA’s would be removed. After loading the KIA’s, we were told that one more wounded man was being carried into the area and would arrive in fifteen minutes. I decided to wait for him and when he arrived, he was promptly loaded (19/19) and taken to 3rd MASH hospital. This soldier was our fifth save. We offloaded the KIA’s at the clearing station and returned to our landing area at Bien Hoa AB at 1155.

We flew a total of twenty five sorties for five hours and ten minutes and picked up 19 wounded and three KIA’s. We made a total of six hoist operations with the forest penetrator and three with the stokes litter. We transported 8 soldiers and 400 pounds of equipment into the hole. We are credited with five saves.

I strongly suggest that the HH-43F be equipped with the high speed hoist so as to reduce the length of time in a hover. Hoist operations and rescues would be made in less time thus allowing the helicopter greater fuel reserve and range. It also reduces the time that the helicopter is very vulnerable to enemy ground fire.


JRCC 08Nov65 

This excerpt from a JRCC listing with all Combat Saves, indicates that 20 combat saves were recorded for these 8-9Nov65 Rescue Missions. The above two Narrative Reports, made up by the two RCC’s (Captains Henningson and Nadler) indicated nine (9) and five (5) combat saves credited. Extra Note: given mission number in the JRCC Forms is only 38-1114 8Nov65 (and not -1112-).


Here are two unique photographs, taken either on November 8, or Nov.9, 1965. These photos were once published in one of the on-line newsletters, “PEDRO NEWS” by editors Paul J. Metzner and Stephen P. Mock. The newsletters are no longer available on line. The issue of January 2005, Vol.3 number 9,  included an article “Thanks from the GRUNTS” , written by pararescueman Harry O’Beirne (PJ, during the mission flown on 9 November). This article was accompanied by these two photos - unfortunately without known credit for the photographer - one of the “Grunts” who made contact with O’Beirne during a reunion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Reg. 503rd in Daytona Beach shared the photos.

639711 Hill65 Nov65 3 

PEDRO making an approach over Hill 65

639711 Hill65 Nov65 5

Hovering over wounded GRUNTS during “Operation HUMP”  Nov65. Helmets of some of the Command Group can be seen at the bottom of this photo. 


04.08       Rescue Mission  on   18 November 1965

Source 1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, page 111 (listing only), in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2: Book   LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) “PJ’s in Vietnam”, Northern PJ Press (2000), page 142

Rescue Mission     38-1144-18Nov65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC                        see below report published in Kaman Rotor Tips


Flown by  RCC                        see below report published in Kaman Rotor Tips  


SAR Objective:    crew crashed US Army  UH-1B  63-12938  -   20 sorties flown           “1 combat save, possibly more”

Narrative of Rescue Mission:     no further information available


the following report published in Kaman Rotor Tips issue Apr-May66  page 4 could possibly be mission 1144-18Nov65  

Daily the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Units continue flying their life-saving missions in the face of enemy fire. Following are just a few of the many in­cidents reported. While concerned with the activities of Det 6 at Bien Hoa :

Two HH-43F's were dispatched to Zone "D" from Bien Hoa after a helicopter crashed in the war-torn area. As one HUSKIE hovered, the paramedic, SSgt George E. Schipper, was lowered to the ground and the injured chopper pilot and his crew chief were quickly hoisted aboard. Due to a hoist malfunction, however, it was not possible to immediately recover the Sergeant so the first HH-43F left while the second HUSKIE moved in and took him aboard.

Meanwhile, the Army had landed a security team of 20 men in the area, but almost immediately their helo crashed near the wreckage of the first. As the secondary HH-43F began rescuing the crew of this helo, a request was received to also evacuate the stranded security force from the Viet Cong-surrounded area. Meanwhile, the crew of the first HUSKIE returned from delivering wounded and both Air Force helicopters com­pleted the rescue work. In all, 24 persons were evac­uated by the HUSKIE crews - see Book  "PJs in Vietnam", page142), plus machine guns and radios from the downed aircraft. Manning the HUSKIES were:

Primary helo - Capt Karl G. King, RCC; Capt Ronald L. Bachman, copilot; Sergeant Schipper; and Alc Alexander Montgomery, helicopter mechanic. Second­ary helo - Capt Charles P. Nadler, RCC; Capt Raymond L. Murden, copilot; TSgt Kenneth L. Perkins, helo me­chanic; and Alc Henry J. O'Beirne, pararescueman.  



04.09       Rescue Mission  on   20 November 1965

Source 1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, page 111, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2: JRCC Combat Save forms, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     38-1150-20Nov65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC    Capt. Maurice G. Kessler (P),     and ?? 


Flown by  RCC  


SAR Objective:      Med Evac  five US Army soldiers      -      5 sorties flown                                    2 combat saves

Narrative of Rescue Mission:    Not available


04.10       Rescue Mission  on   02 December 1965

Source 1:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 27, 96-97, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2:  website , by Chris Hobson and David Lovelady - search form 

Rescue Mission     38-1188-2Dec65                                       DET.6, 38ARS

HH-43F                                                                                                                                                     2 combat saves

Flown by  RCC    Capt. Raymond L. Murden (P),  Capt. Charles P. Nadler (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),  A1C Henry J. O’Beirne (PJ)


SAR Objective:   crew USN   F-4B  151409  “Silver Kite 206”  pilot Lt. T.J. Potter (injured) , and  Lt.Jg. Donald W. Schmidt  -   VF-92    USS Enterprise                        -       4 sorties flown 

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

We were notified at 1402L by 38th ARS - SARCC that one F-4B pilot had bailed out at 11 39N - 106 38E.  I requested that 38th SARCC arrange for armed helicopter escort and since we had only one HH-43F in commission, I requested that they scramble one HH-43B from Tan Son Nhut to provide backup for us. Since our HH-43F was on LBR alert with reduced fuel, immediate refueling was requested. We checked on artillery firing in the local area and were informed that there was artillery fire in the southeast quadrant of Bien Hoa AB. There was no firing to the north. Meanwhile, the crew chief and pararescueman were loading the equipment we normally take on an off base mission, ie., stokes litter, chain saw and rope. As soon as refueling was accomplished we departed Bien Hoa AB at 1410L and proceeded toward the crash site at an altitude of 4,000 feet as instructed by 38th SARCC to avoid possible ground fire. We contacted “Paris Control” on UHF. “Paris Control” informed us that a C-123 call sign “Greamo 53” and two FAC’s in O-1F’s were circling the bailout area. I asked “Paris Control” if they had any information on our armed escort. “Paris” replied negative, “Greamo 53” said that there were two crew members down. One appeared to be injured. There was a doctor aboard “Greamo 53”. They suggested that we land at Hon Quon, a dirt strip approximately 5 miles away, after picking up the survivors and transfer them to the C-123 for transport to Tan Son Nhut. During the radio conversation with “Greamo 53”  we used the UHF/DF to obtain bearings to his location.

We established radio contact with one of the FAC’s, “Viper 9”, on FM. As we neared the bailout area we saw “Greamo 53” first and then we saw the two O-1F’s. “Viper 9” said that they had not received any ground fire and that friendly troops were on the way to the injured crew man. “Viper 9” led us to the injured man. He was at the edge of a small clearing 11 39N - 106 32E.  There were clumps of small bamboo and stumps scattered about the clearing, but there was adequate room to land. We landed at approximately 1450. The pararescueman, crew chief and co-pilot loaded the injured man onto a stretcher and into the helicopter. The pararescueman said that the crewman probably had a fractured pelvis and/or hip. He was in severe pain and light shock. Airman O’Breirne treated him for shock by administering morphine and liquide orelly. We decided not to start an I.V. since a doctor was nearby. The friendly forces arrived shortly after we landed and deployed to secure the area. We proceeded to the second downed crewman, who was about  one mile east 11 39N - 106 33E.  We landed in a small clearing beside a dirt road where there was a convoy of friendly troops. The pilot was uninjured. He got aboard and we proceeded to Hon Quon 11 39N - 106 37E.  The C-123 had already landed there. We landed at 1520 and transferred the survivors to the C-123 for medical attention and transport to Tan Son Nhut AFLD. We departed Hon Quon and proceeded to Bien Hoa AB, landing at 1600L. Mission Completed.

Comments: Neither armed escort nor backup helicopter was present during the mission. 



04.11       Rescue Mission  on   07 December 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 94-95, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1059-7Dec65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Maurice G. Kessler (P),  1st.Lt. Mark C. Schibler (CP),  TSgt. Richard A. Connon (HM),  SSgt. Leon Fullwood (PJ)


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Harold D. Salem (P),  Capt. Dale L. Potter (CP),  A1C Gerald C. Hammond Jr. (HM),  A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)


SAR Objective:   pilot O-1E  55-4675  Capt. Rexford T. O’Connor , Hq. 2nd AD   - aircraft assigned to 19 TASS, 505 TACG   Bien Hoa AB                           -       3 sorties flown                                           1 combat save

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

At 1745L we were advised by Bien Hoa tower that a O-1E aircraft had crashed to the SE at about 45 NM. Since this was beyond normal range with reduced fuel load required for LBR alert, immediate refueling was requested. The 38th SARCC was advised and top cover requested. 38th SARCC advised that “Paris Control” had the downed pilot’s position at approximately 200° at 45NM. While awaiting fuel at approximately 1749L, Bien Hoa tower advised that an A-1E pilot had sighted the crashed O-1E  4 miles Southwest of Bien Hoa AB. Both HH-43F’s were scrambled at 1750L and arrived over the crashed O-1E at 1754L. The A-1E was circling the crash. The uninjured pilot was picked up at 1754L and returned to Bien Hoa at 1759L. The O-1E pilot stated that he had contacted “Paris Control” during descent after his engine failed and had given his position as “4 to 5” miles southwest of Bien Hoa. The pilot also stated that unidentified Vietnamese began approaching him after he crashed but left immediately when the A-1E approached overhead.

Comments: Interpretation of the “4 to 5 miles” as “45 miles” delayed our T.O. by approximately 4 minutes. Whenever possible, recommend pilot’s be briefed on the strong possibility of misinterpretation when distances are given in this manner. 


04.12       Rescue Mission  on   19 December 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 92-93, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1065-19Dec65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Edwin A. Henningson (P),  Capt. Maurice G. Kessler (CP),  TSgt. Richard A. Connon (HM),  SSgt. Leon Fullwood (PJ)


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Dale L. Potter (P),  Capt. Harold D. Salem (CP),  A1C Gerald C. Hammond, Jr. (HM),  A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (PJ)


SAR Objective:  Med Evac one wounded  US Army personnel -  SP-4 Jimmie Hunt,  “B” Company, 2-18                                     3 sorties flown                                                   one combat save

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

At 1315L hours, 19 December 1965, Bien Hoa Tower called on the telephone with information that U.S. Army personnel Southeast of Bien Hoa were requesting  hoist recovery/med evac for one (1) casualty. The information had been passed from a ground FM station to a USAF O-1 capping the scene, and had then been retransmitted to Bien Hoa Tower. It was necessary to request information required for mission planning (such as distance, extent of injuries, security of area, etc.) via relay back through this extended chain of communications. Meanwhile, a US Army UH-1B light fire team (gunship flight) was requested from 38th SARCC for RESCORT.

At the same time we were given air strike information coordinates to check out. During this period of time special equipment (stokes litter, power saw, etc.) were loaded aboard the helicopter and refueling was requested. The first HH-43F was scrambled at 1335L, the second (top cover ship) following shortly thereafter. The lead HH-43F rendesvoused with one USAF O-1 who led the way to the pickup scene. The remaning O-1 had stayed to cap the incident site located 29 NM Southeast of Bien Hoa Air Base. Approximately two minutes prior to reaching the scene, the RESCORT UH-1B helicopters intercepted the rescue helicopters. The US Army ground party was located without difficulty in an area heavily wooded with trees 100-120 feet high. No ground fire was observed. Army personnel on the ground indicated they knew how to “rig” a stokes litter for hoisting, so the litter was lowered without putting a paramedic on the ground first. During the actual process of raising the casualty to the helicopter the stokes litter began to spin violently, more violently than any of the personnel on board either helicopter had ever seen. Had it not been for the skill and competency of the hoist operator, severe difficulties might have been encountered with the remainder of the recovery. However, with the assistance of the paramedic he was able to overcome the problem and and the remainder of the process was uneventful. The survivor was on board the helicopter and on his way to the hospital by 1400L. During the return flight to the hospital, the paramedic determined that the casualty had sustained a severe wound in the leg and was suffering from shock, so he administered a Dextran Solution I.V. to him. The patient was delivered to the 173rd “MASH” area hospital at 1425 hours.

Comments: The Rescap, Rescort and Communications/information relay were outstanding. Support and coordination arranged for by the 38th SARCC was excellent. An EUR will be submitted on the unsatisfactory performance of the hoisted stokes litter as soon as the matter has been thoroughly investigated to determine the probable cause. 


04.13       Rescue Mission  on   21 December 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  6-38-1067-21Dec65, in USAF Collection, AFHRA, (on microfilm REEL31113, IRIS01009284, frame 1219-20) 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1067-21Dec65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   


SAR Objective:     One USAF non-aircrew person                                                                 -  non-combat save 

Narrative of Rescue Mission (in short):

One HH-43F was launched ( the document is very badly readable), SAR objective collected at a soccer field  - no further details found.


04.14       Rescue Mission  on   21 December 1965

Source:  file K318-2-ARS-Hist-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Oct-Dec65-IRIS0491713, pages 90-91, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission     6-38-1068-21Dec65                                       DET.6, 38ARS


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Charles P. Nadler (P),  Capt. Raymond L. Murden (CP),  TSgt. Kenneth L. Perkins (HM),  A1C Henry J. O’Beirne (PJ)


Flown by  RCC   Capt. Karl G. King (P),  Capt. Ronald L. Bachman (CP),  A1C Alexander Montgomery (HM),  SSgt. George E. Schipper (PJ)


SAR Objective:     Med Evac  one wounded soldier from 1st Inf.                                               

                                4 sorties flown                                                                                                       one combat save

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

Detachment 6, 38th ARS was notified by the 3rd TFW Command Post of a badly wounded soldier located at YS 255 875, 21 miles Southeast of Bien Hoa AB at 1605, 21 Dec 1965. We were released from a prior commitment to a C-47 accident at 1628 by the 38th ARSq SAR Center and were airborne at 1630. A flight of two A-1E’s, “Hobo 61” were orbiting the area and we homed in on them with our ARA-25 homing adaptor. We arrived at the area at 1647 and were advised that there were about 15 Viet Cong spotted one kilometer to the East of the pickup point. I picked up my UH-1B escort, “Sidewinder 21”, and brought the HH-43F to a hover over 100 foot trees and was able to descent amongst tthe trees to a 30 foot hover where the wounded soldier was hoisted up in the stokes litter at 1650. We departed the area and landed at the 93rd Field Hospital at 1710, offloaded the patient, and returned to Bien Hoa AB. Total flying time for both HH-43F’s was 1:30 with 4 sorties and we were credited with one save.


04.15       Photos   late 1965 - early 1966


639711 Dec65 USAF018926

63-9711  Dec65  USAF photo KE18926 NARA collection

639712 1966 USAF057864

63-9712  early 1966  USAF photo KE57864  NARA collection 

639716 Feb66 USAF020820

63-9716  early 1966  USAF photo KE20820  NARA collection 


        History   Detachment 6, 38 ARRS   -   during  1966


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last update  12-09-2023