Kaman HH-43B Huskie -  based at  -  Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand    1964-1965    


1965 03 00 NKP 5EK16 409

                      1965 02 00 NKP 2EK34 409

                                         Photos  by   Neil McCutchan          Feb - Apr 1965  

1965 03 00 NKP 3EK15 409

1965 03 00 NKP 3EK13 409

                                                1965 02 00 NKP 1EK10 409



1965 03 00 NKP 3EK09 409


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 published in a few websites and in some books, referred to here below within the  paragraphs. Personal accounts by the men who flew with the Kaman HH-43 Huskie.

Crutial information was gained from many documents availabe from the USAF archive, the A.F. Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell AFB, AL. Rescue Mission Reports written by the pilots involved. I have to thank Mr. Randy Asherbranner for his recent research efforts undertaken at the AFHRA. 

I would like to especially thank Neil McCutchan (Major USAFR, Ret.), NKP Huskie pilot, and Jim Burns (SMSgt. USAF, Ret.) for all their contributions, the personal stories, for the many photographs, and for all the advices to make this review as it is now.

The first part of this overview, here below under “02 - First SAR helicopters in SEA”  is, in part, copied from the website pages edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.) in Feb 2005 and known as “Talking Proud”  (www.talkingproud.us  - which is no longer on line ; Mr. Marek passed away).

Parts of the text edited by Mr. Marek were gained from the book "Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia, 1961-1975" by Earl H. Tilford, Jr.  Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force , Washington, DC 1980. (pages 50 to 55).  

Johan D. Ragay

PRHA H-43 Historian

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

Update 29 Aug 2022   (chapter 11.04   - Rescue Mission 06Nov65 ; Source 3)

Updated  05 July 2023       (chapter 07.07)


                           Click for   Table of Contents



01.    Kaman HH-43B Huskie -  based at  -  Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand    1964-1965    


01.01    Organization  1964-1965

 UNIT       HH-43B



 33 ARS  (TDY)

 20 Jun 1964

 01 Sep 1964

 DET.Prov.3, PARC

 01 Sep 1964

 16 Nov 1964

 DET.Prov.2, PARC

 10 Nov 1964

 01 Jul 1965

 DET.1, 38 ARS, PARC                                                   (see  notes)

 01 Jul 1965

 early Oct 1965

 Notes :   After early Oct 1965  there were no aircraft and personnel assigned to Det.1

              Det.5, 38 ARS at Udorn AB took over the coverage that Det.1 had been furnishing at Nakhon Phanom. All former Det.1 aircraft were reassigned to   Det.5, but continued to fly from NKP.

              DET.1 was transferred to Phan Rang AB, RVN, active on 15 Jan 1966 (and flying HH-43B’s again) 

              Two CH-3C (on loan from TAWC for use by ARS crews) arrived at NKP  ca. 05 July 1965

              Two HH-43F‘s, just modified from “B” configuration,  were delivered to NKP on 05 October 1965


01.02   Aircraft assigned   



 from Naha AB                ? Aug 1964  -  16-23 Nov 1964               to Naha AB



 from Naha AB         17-20 Jun 1964  - 16-23 Nov 1964               to Naha AB



 from Naha AB         17-20 Jun 1964  - 16-23 Nov 1964               to Naha AB



 from DaNang AB  10 Nov 1964  -  x Oct 1965   Det.1 to Det.5   NKP/Udorn  to Takhli AB 30 Nov 1965



 from DaNang AB  10 Nov 1964  -  x Oct 1965   Det.1 to Det.5   NKP/Udorn  to Korat AB 29 Nov 1965



 from DaNang AB   10 Nov 1964  -  20 Sep 1965                           shot down over North Vietnam



 from Kaman to NKP  Det.5  05 Oct 1965  -  24 Nov 1965  NKP to Pleiku AB



 from Kaman to NKP  Det.5  05 Oct 1965  -  24 Nov 1965  NKP to Pleiku AB



 from Eglin AFB to NKP ca. 05 July 1965  -  x Oct 1965 Det.1 to Det.5 NKP, to Udorn AB  23 Dec 1965   (14 Jan 1966 to Tan Son Nhut   2nd AD -  as of 05 Apr 1966 at Udorn AB 20th Heli Sqn)



 from Eglin AFB to NKP ca. 05 July 1965  -   x Oct 1965  Det.1 to Det.5 NKP   -  06 Nov 1965  shot down over North Vietnam


01.03    Overview of  RESCUE  MISSIONS      1964-1965

                              Mission date                      mission number                                                        objective 

 18 Nov 1964


 F-100D                                   in Laos


 02 Mar 1965


 F-105D                                   in Laos

 Save   #1                    L1

 31 Mar 1965


 F-100D                                   in Laos

 Save   #2                    L2

 27 Apr 1965


 A-1H  USN                             in Thailand

 Save   #3

 12 May 1965


 F-105D                                   in Thailand

 Save   #4

 17 May 1965


 F-105D                                   in NVN

 Save   #5                    NV1

 02 Jun 1965


 A-4E  USN                              in NVN


 08 Jun 1965


 F-105D                                   in NVN

 Save   #6                    NV2

 09 Jun 1965


 F-4C                                       in Thailand

 --      (save by Ubon)

 15 Jun 1965


 HH-43B  crew                         in Thailand

 save   #7

 23 Jun 1965


 F-105D                                   in NVN

 Save   #8                    NV3

 07 Jul 1965


 F-105D                                   in NVN



 24 Jul 1965


 F-105D                              in Laos

 Save   #9                     L3

 27 Jul 1965

 38-754-27Jul65                                                CH-3C

 F-105D                              in NVN

 Save   #10                   NV4

 28 Jul 1965


 A-4E  USN                         in NVN

 Save   #11                   NV5

 24 Aug 1965

 38-860-24Aug65                                              CH-3C

 F-105D                              in NVN

 Save   #12                   NV6

 20 Sep 1965

 38-950-20Sep65                             HH-43 shot down

 F-105D                              in NVN


 21 Sep 1965

 38-954-21Sep65                                              CH-3C

 F-105D                              in Laos

 Save   #13                   L4

 27 Oct 1965

 38-1069-27Oct65                              HH-43 + CH-3C

 F-8E  USN                         in NVN


 28 Oct 1965


 F-4B USN                          in Laos

 Save   #14                   L5

 01 Nov 1965

 38-1088-1Nov65                                HH-43 + CH-3C

 A-4E USN                         in NVN

 Save   #15                   NV7

 06 Nov 1965

 38-1110-6Nov65                             CH-3C shot down


 A-1E USAF                       in NVN

 SH-3A USN                      in NVN


 Save   #16                   NV8

 18 Nov 1965


 F-105D                              in NVN

 Save   #17                   NV9




624565 NKP Aug Sep64 Burns10 900HH-43B 62-4565 and two others (62-4564, 62-5978)  ,   Det.Prov.3, PARC at NKP   Aug-Sep64 – photo by Jim Burns


02.     First SAR helicopters in SEA       


edited by Mr. Edward S. Marek (Lt. Col. USAF, Ret.)    formerly published on  talkingproud.us   website     (2005)

Crucial history  

The first bit of history that needs to be highlighted is the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

On August 4, 1964, President Johnson announced that North Vietnamese boats had fired on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. The US Navy retaliated by flying strikes into North Vietnam, bombing naval bases and an oil facility. Two US aircraft were shot down. Three days later, on August 7, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It became Public Law 88-408 on August 10. 

In this remarkable resolution, Congress charged that the North Vietnamese had deliberately and repeatedly attacked US naval vessels operating lawfully in international waters. Congress further charged that this was part of systematic campaign of aggression being waged by North Vietnam against its neighbors. As a consequence, Congress gave the president sweeping powers to “take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.” The resolution was to expire when the president had determined that “the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured."

If you remember anything about the history we are about to present, remember that this resolution legitimizing American warfare in Vietnam was passed on August 7, 1964. Once again --- August 1964. 

It is only the period 1960-1963, and you can plainly see the growing importance to the US of tactical air transport and tactical air attack operations in Vietnam and Laos at levels far below the nuclear exchange threshhold. For our purposes in this report, that means you need SAR. As you'll see shortly, there wasn't any serious SAR capability in the theater during these years. Whatever the case, it's March 1963 and we had three US military aircraft down in Laos and two of them launched from an air base in South Vietnam. SAR suddenly bubbled to the top of many priority lists. The USAF was unprepared to deal with it and the Navy would only perform such missions along the coast line and over water. So the US now has a real problem.

Major Alan Saunders, USAF, an H-43 “Huskie” helicopter driver, did a study in August 1963 that said the H-43 helicopter, heretofore used for local base firefighting and crash recovery (LBR) operations, should be modified for combat operations and be used for the SAR mission.

General Anthis was assigned to Vietnam in 1961 as the commander 2nd Advanced Echelon (ADVON), then the commander of the 2nd Air Division, which ultimately became the 7th Air Force, the air component of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), the joint command responsible for the US war effort in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  General Anthis approved the H-43 SAR plan promptly. 

As the study climbed the bureaucratic ladder, the Army said it could do the job with its helicopters and CIA said it could do the job in Laos with its Air America forces. The USAF said this is “my job” and accepted the thrust of the Saunders study. As a result, in March 1964, the USAF, unilaterally we think, decided to deploy HH-43s "modified" for SAR into Vietnam. By April 1964 the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) settled the Army question, assigned the SAR mission to the USAF, and it seemed as though the “Huskies” would be ready to go. 

But, the Commander-in-chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), Admiral Harry D. Felt, was not ready. It is now May 1964 and CINCPAC had still not authorized introduction of USAF SAR forces. It is worth noting that Admiral Felt had been the CINCAPC since 1958. He reportedly was an energetic supporter of the Kennedy administration's counterinsurgency policies. During his watch, Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commando‘s, U.S. Army and Marine helicopter companies, Navy coastal patrol ships, and Air Force tactical squadrons were all introduced to support the governments of South Vietnam and Laos. 

That said, timing might have been a factor that slowed his approval of the HH-43 plan. Remember, it's May 1964. Admiral Felt's tour ended in June 1964. One of his last acts was to establish a subordinate joint command to run things in Southeast Asia for the US, called MACV, with General Paul D. Harkins, USArmy,  in command. The change of command and establishment of a new subordinate command in Vietnam might have taken a higher priority than the HH-43 deployment decision, making it hard for that decision to climb through the stack.

CINCPAC finally approved introduction of USAF SAR forces. The plan was to initially deploy HH-43 “Huskies” to Da Nang near the border with North Vietnam, to Bien Hoa near Saigon, and to Soc Trang to the south in the Mekong River delta region. The USAF SAR deployment began in June 1964. Remember to keep the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in mind?  It was signed in August 1964. Everything we've discussed thus far occurred before that time. 

The HH-43 deployment to war

The HH-43 was the first USAF SAR bird put into the Vietnam and Laos wars. That was done in June 1964, to Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Air Base. It was also the last USAF rescue helicopter to leave Vietnam, leaving Da Nang AB, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) after the peace treaty was signed in January 1973. 

In response to orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the USAF instructed the 33rd ARS at Naha AB, Okinawa, Japan in May 1964 to send two HH-43Bs , their crews and mechanics to Bien Hoa AB and two HU-16B Albatross aircraft to Korat AB, Thailand, to perform airborne rescue control for Thailand and Laos.  (NOTE : May 64  became  17-20 June 64).

“Yankee Team” reconnaissance operations which were being escorted by USAF and Navy fighter aircraft over Laos were incurring increasing losses, so, at the 11th hour, the idea to send HH-43Bs to Bien Hoa, was diverted to Nakhon Phanom AB, nicknamed NKP.  The 33rd ARS helicopters were flown by C-130 transport into nearby Udorn AB on 17 June 1964, assembled, and then flown to NKP, arriving on the 20th of June. 

These were the first USAF helicopter aircraft and crews in the Vietnam War specifically tasked with the combat SAR mission.


1965 03 00 NKP 5EK16 900 Nakhon Phanom Airfield, constructed by SEABEES  - the road to town Mar65, photo by Neil McCutchan

NKP was a completely isolated airfield with a runway and ramp of Pierced Steel Planking (PSP), constructed by Navy SEABEES. 

NKP Airfield by DavidWendt cl up1280

NKP as seen from HU-16B cockpit, probably 15 Jun64 – photo by David Wendt

 Then Capt. David Wendt, HU-16B pilot (33rd ARS) remembers :

 “NKP with a PSP runway.  That was an experience – to land on a PSP runway which was wet! (which it probably was most of the time!). On 15 June 1964 we were shepherding our H-43 crews (in a C-130) from Naha to NKP.  Remember we stayed at a "motel" in town, right on the Mekong river , that night - straw on the floor and a hole in the floor's corner with a pipe sticking out of the wall above - shower and toilet all in one!! 

The base at the time consisted of a group of shacks, some fuel bladders, a few generators and an outhouse, as described by Jim Burns (SMSgt., USAF Ret.) .  Burns and his HH-43B colleagues stood alert every day to support “Yankee Team” reconnaissance over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and North Vietnam. 

(in Mr. Marek’s words :) The HH-43B's were not equipped for combat. We're not sure what Major Saunders had in mind when he recommended the HH-43s be modified for combat, but at the outset, the peacetime configured birds were the ones used. And, as has been in every war in which the US fights, the air crews had to modify their aircraft themselves to go where they were going and do what they had to do.  

HH43B NKP Aug Sep64 Burns14 900

HH43B DGalde NKP Aug64 Burns 900

               HH43B NKP Aug Sep64 Burns13 900

"These photos were taken at NKP in August  1964. This is the 'tail gun' (PJ   A1C Dan Galde) we rigged up using a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) strung by ropes in the tail area of the cabin. We flew these birds without the 'clam shell' doors installed."  Text and photos,  collection Jim Burns


03.   The arrival of the first group -    TDY  33rd ARS    -    as of 01 September 1964 :   DET.Prov.3, PARC

                                                                                                       Also known as “Rescue Two” at the start   new


On 20 June 1964  HH-43B  62-4565 and 62-5978 of 33rd ARS were flown in from nearby Udorn AB, Thailand. A third HH-43B, 62-4564, arrived in August 1964. As of 20 June the aircraft were assigned as TDY element of the 33rd ARS (Naha AB, Okinawa).

Together with the HH-43B, the 33rd ARS deployed two HU-16Bs on TDY to Korat AB, Thailand (arrival 15Jun64).  Their mission was to provide SAR coverage for “Yankee Team”  reconnaissance flights over Laos.

As of 01 September 1964 the three aircraft became assigned to DET.Provisional 3, PARC, activated at Nakhon Phanom AB that day.

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

All three Huskies were back at 33rd ARS home station Naha AB, Okinawa by 23 Nov 1964. 


 03.01       FIRST GROUP  of  personnel

                17 Jun64  -  01 Sep64       33rd ARS  (TDY)   

                01 Sep64  -  16 Nov64      DET.Prov.3, PARC 

Capt. Robert W. Davis (P)

Capt. Lucian A. Gunter III  (P)

1stLt Michael C. Tennery (P)

Capt. Leonard Fialko (P) 

1stLt Kenneth C. Franzel (P)

1stLt James W. Crabb (P)

TSgt Alvin C. Reed (FE)

SSgt Albert P. Parker (FE)

SSgt Charles D. Severns  (FE)

33 ARS DET.CO  (Naha AB)  *

33 ARS  *

33 ARS  *

36 ARS, DET1  (Misawa AB)

36 ARS, DET4   (Osan AB)

33 ARS

33 ARS

33 ARS  NCOIC  *

33 ARS  *


Source :  Harrington, Scott. (2016). “They called it Naked Fanny”. Hellgate Press (2016) ,  Page 313     (appendices - A)                                                                                                  and :

SSgt John Wilcox, Jr  (EM)

SSgt David H. Blouin  (MT)

SSgt Donald L. Watson  (MT)

SSgt William J. McDougal (PJ)

A1C James W. Burns  (FE) 

A1C Fred D. Scott  (FE)

A1C David C. Black  (MT)

A1C Morris Johnson, Jr  (MT)

A1C Dan Galde  (PJ)

33 ARS  *

51st USAF Dispensary  *

51st USAF Dispensary  *

36 ARS

31 ARS         (Clark AB)

33 ARS  *

51st USAF Dispensary  *

51st USAF Dispensary  *

36 ARS


33rd ARS Special Order 96, dated 14 June 1964 -  with 11 named personnel for the TDY    (see *  ;  received from Jim Burns)



New group as of 01 Aug 1964 :

Capt. James L. Cantey (P)

Capt. Donald D. Metzinger (P)

1stLt Michael C. Tennery (P)

and others

33 ARS  as DET.CO  #

33 ARS  #

33 ARS  #


new From 01 Aug to Nov 1964 :  Capt. Donald D. Metzinger (P) from 33 ARS        

# Capt. Metzinger stated that Capt. James L. Cantey (P , 33 ARS) was Det.Commander  new

Source :   End-of-Tour-Report by Metzinger, file K318-2131, IRIS No. 00492009, K3265 frame 468, in USAF Collection, AFHRA    new

new Info for 1stLt. Tennery , see report here below by Capt. Fialko



03.02   As it was in the beginning

The following information was published on the JollyGreen.org  website  (no longer available) - Project by Mr. John H.I. Morse, Sr. (Lt.Col. USAF Ret., and HH-3E pilot NKP’68)    

From then Captain Leonard Fialko:

" The 36 ARSq (we were the Air Rescue Service/Squadron in those days) provided two pilots to augment the 33 ARSq HH-43B unit at Naha, Okinawa. I came from Det 1, 36ARSq at Misawa, Japan and Lt Kenneth C. Franzel cama from Det 4, 36ARSq at Osan, Korea. The medical technicians for the crew were provided by the Base Hospital at Naha.

We were the first rescue helicopters sent to Southeast Asia and the only Americans at NKP.    I arrived at Naha on June 15, 1964. The next two days were spent preparing the two aircraft for air shipment and assembling mobility gear. We arrived at NKP on June 17. Some of us went to Udorn to assemble the aircraft. A T-28 unit of American advisors were stationed there and provided quarters and facilities for us. We flew the aircraft back to NKP in the late afternoon of 20 June*)             

I remember the living and operating conditions best. We had always had support units which provided meals, quarters and specialized maintenance. NKP was, when we arrived, just a PSP runway. There were three tin roofed huts and an outhouse, which the SeaBees left when they built the runway. Someone had dumped some cases of C rations, some bunks and 55 gal drums of JP-4 on the ramp. We were on our own for everything else.

Shortly after we arrived, two communication NCO's were sent to set up a mobile radio station. This was our only link to the rest of the world. All traffic had to be manually coded and decoded, so we learned to use words sparingly. Operational control was provided by the Command Post at Saigon.  Administrative support was provided from Bangkok.

No one in the unit had any combat experience from Korea, nor did we receive any briefing on what to expect. We did a lot of guessing and hoped the bad guys were as dumb as we were. Fortunately, we had no rescue missions while I was there.    

We did, however, make some modifications to the aircraft. Much of the area we were to cover was at the maximum range of the HH-43 and at high altitude. We removed all doors for weight and carried two 55 gal drums of JP-4 in a wood rack in the cabin. I believe we intended to land and hand pump the fuel into the aircraft tank. We also traded for two BAR's which we mounted on ropes firing aft from the cabin. 

We were replaced by another TDY crew in August. The only other name that I can remember is then Captain Michael C. Tennery. He stayed a month or so longer than I did and came from Naha." 

 *) Note:  During the morning of June 19 the two aircraft were assembled and ready to fly. However, the fuel for the helicopters had not arrived (source : Bill Junkins website).


From then Lt. Ken Franzel:

My part in Air Rescue in SEA actually began when I was assigned to Det 4, 36 ARS in Osan, Korea. In April 1964 I had just arrived when Det 4 was tasked to provide a pilot for the H-19 unit in Itazuke , Japan. Since I had H-19 experience and was not checked out in Korea, I was the one selected.

After  a month or more in Japan, Itazuke closed down and I was to return to Osan. However, Det 4 had now been tasked to send an HH-43B pilot to the 33 ARS at Naha AB Okinawa. I was already TDY again so I was selected for this trip.  From this point my orders were only verbal orders of the commander (VOCO).

Upon arrival in Naha, I checked into the BOQ and had a message waiting for me from the squadron commander (I think Col. Dyberg was the 33 CO but am not sure). The note said "don't unpack, we're moving out". The squadron had a meeting that evening and as I remember, was not told more than that we were going to SEA. The move of course was classified and kept as quiet as possible.

An aside - a couple of interesting incident as we were prepared for what we knew not. During briefing a list of personal items required for the deployment was read. One item was the radiation dosimeter (the cold war item for detecting an individual's radiation exposure). I raised my hand and said I didn't have one. The briefer (who was not being deployed) took his off from around his neck, tossed it to me and said "now you can go". Another item was the issue of weapons. Aircrews were issued the 38 revolver and shoulder holster and all were issued the AR-15. The only AR-15s on base had arrived for the APs. These were transferred to the 33rd and in turn to us. The AR-15s were still in plastic bags with the factory operating manual. None of us had ever seen one before!     

The teardown of the HH-43B's started that night. It must have been at least 24 hours later when the C-130s were loaded and ready to go. We first landed at Da Nang AB to refuel, etc. Da Nang at the time had a rotation squadron of F-100s sitting out in the open on the ramp. The only difference from an ordinary base, other than the oldbuildings, was the sight of everyone armed all the time. The C-130 made a steep approach into Da Nang and a tactical takeoff in order to avoid the possibility of ground fire. 

After a short flight over jungle terrain our C-130 made a short field landing on a PSP runway, which turned out to be Nakhon Phanom. Welcome to NKP!

6000 ft. of PSP runway, a PSP ramp and a couple of old Thai-occupied metal buildings left over from when the US Sea Bees constructed the NKP sometime earlier.

The C-130 crew would not shut down the engines for offload as they were unsure of the security of the airfield. On the ramp were stacks of metal cots, mattresses, bedding, C rations and 55 gallon drums of JP-4. That was the beginning!

We offloaded except for the helicopter and some of the pilots went back onboard for the flight to Udorn.    As I remember one C-130 with helicopter and mechanics had gone directly from Da Nang to Udorn to offload and begin assembly of the HH-43.                                                                                                                                                           ---->


Leaving a skeleton crew composed of a couple of pilots, the unit CO and mostly medics behind the other pilots including myself and mechanics left for Udorn. Note that we started out with medics, not PJs. 

When we arrived at Udorn the other C-130 had been offloaded. We offloaded the pieces, etc., from our C-130 and it departed. Udorn was a busy Air America-CIA installation with much better facilities than NKP. A push was on for us to have the 43s ready to cover a mission the next day. 

This was not to be as the mechanics had already had little sleep since the teardown began. It was evident we had to have more time. After the mechanics had tried for two hours to put one blade attaching bolt in place (normally a few minute job) we had to call it a day.    

In the meantime the Air America pilots told us to do something with the 43 paint job. We had been deployed into a combat situation with silver and day-glo orange paint. (Another indication a lot of people, including our unit, were really not aware of what we were getting into). Air America gave me 5 gallons of olive drab paint and some brushes. We at least got rid of the day-glo.

After assembling the 43's and test flying them we took off on a dark night, with virtually no aids other than a compass, across the jungle, low level, for NKP.

While we were assembling the 43's in Udorn a 2nd MOB (communications) had arrived at NKP. They had a vehicle with a rotating beacon on top. This we used as guidance as we neared NKP. With our arrival "Rescue 2" was born. “Rescue 1”  was a Marine chopper unit which was based at Da Nang but stayed daily near the North-South border.

Our mission early on was to cover US Navy flights over Laos, primarily the PDJ (Plain of Jars).

It readily became apparent that we were ill prepared for combat operations!  The day-glo paint was only the beginning. We developed flying tactics consisting of flying two 43's in formation, in clouds as much as possible to reduce visual contact by ground forces. Perhaps one of the best known early problems was the hoist cable length of 100 ft. In a jugle of 300 ft. trees the hoist ws useless.

This was solved by adding 150 ft.of rope with a weight and collar onto the cable. A weight was necessary as the rope would fly around in the rotor was without it. Now with hover in the treetops we could reach ground but it was still necessary to leave the victim hanging 150 ft. below while flying to a safe landing are. It was still difficult for the flight mechanic/hoist operator to thread the collar through the jugle growth. The forest penetrator was later developed to reduce the problem. The 43's had no armor plate or protection of any kind for either the crew or critical aircraft components.      

We did have WW II vintage flak vests and hip protectors. The hip protectors were folded and placed under the seat cushions, the vest was worn over a T shirt, with locally custom made fatigue pants (individually purchased). Flight suits were unbearably hot. Helmets were bright white (good targets) which one by one were getting hand-painted black or green.

The 43 was also not armed. This was partially solved by each crew member carrying his AR-15 and 38 aboard. In a trading deal with a classified unit in the area (I'm still not sure who they were) we were able to trade a case of insect repellent for a case of hand grenades, two BARs (Browning automatic rifles) and ammo. The grenades were to drop from the 43 by putting the grenade in a glass jar (after pulling the pin) and dropping from a safe altitude. The BAR was tied in the 43 with ropes (clamshell doors were removed). There was of course nothing to keep one from shooting the tail off!    

Operating range of the 43 was always a problem, however, since our original task was covering Laos operations. We had Air America establish secure fuel-stash sites for our use. As the mission expanded to North Vietnam the concept of carrying 55 gallon drums on skids inside the 43 and feeding into the fuel system. As a drum was emptied it was pushed out the rear of the aircraft.  This was developed after my departure from NKP.    

Mission control was somewhat confusing. The 2nd MOB unit monitored ongoing missions listening for code words indicating aircraft downed or bailouts. We were monitoring with 2nd MOB so we were alerted at the same time. An airborne HU-16 then was to take over rescue control in conjunction with Rescue Center in Saigon.

Politics did get involved in mission control especially an initial requirement for JCS approval prior to crossing a border (a mission delay of hours or days could result). The HU-16 not only provided control but was our source of mail and personal supplies. We would put in a BX order with Center or HU-16 by radio then on their next mission they would drop our order in with a spotter chute. 

Back to facilities. The first few days we spent living under an open shed. We then took over a couple of the former Sea Bee's metal buildings which had been Thai occupied. One we used for officer barracks, the other for enlisted. A field kitchen was sent in after weeks of C rations. An outside shower was built using 55 gallon drums (solar water heating).  Drinking water was brought in from NKP, treated and tested by our medics. Latrine facilities were field outhouse type.

After some time of this type of living we were able to contract for quarters in NKP. The quarters were known as The Civilized Motel and was not much of an improvement but at least it had running water and no,or at least fewer, snakes and scorpions. It was later learned that the motel was supposedly operated by North Vietnames VC sympathizers.    

We had many of our original group return for later SEA assignments. Two of these that I know of, a Sgt. Black and one of our pilots. Sgt. Black was a POW for 6+ years. Our CO was Davis and he was a captain. He kept a daily log at NKP which would really help the NKP story. 


03.03    From the website  “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ ,  webmaster James Burns. Newsletter “Rotor Wash” 

Contributed by Chuck Severns   , posted by webmaster Jim Moore - March 01, 2007

June 17, 1964   -   Secret orders   TDY 89 days to the Philippines.

We never saw the PI. First stop DaNang, AB RVN. Next stop Udorn AB, Thailand.

We assembled our H-43’s in Air America’s hangar. Air America’s painter painted out our dayglow and yellow Rescue markings and we flew to our new home NKP, Thailand. 

They augmented our unit with personnel from Japan, Jim Burns from PI, an Electrician, Instrument man, Security Police and First Mobil Communications. A grand total of 35 personnel. 

The chief flight engineer for Air America was an ex-Sgt. that I knew from Stewart AFB.   I told him we didn’t have anything but M-16’s for weapons. He came back in about 15 minutes with 2 BAR’s and several cases of ammunition. He told me to forget where I got them. 



AirRescue sign NKP Burns2 800

           624565 water tank NKP Burns 900

Photos by  Jim Burns  (SMSgt. USAF, Ret.)  August 1964                                                               

At left  : photo of a hand painted sign that was on a post of one of the shacks about half way between the Air Rescue operations and the maintenance shacks                                            photo at right:  HH-43B 62-4565  is seen here during  hoist of a larger water tank on to the top of the tower we built to give us a larger capacity shower and wash/shaving station .


625978 NKP Burns pic12 900

HH-43B  62-5978 on the PSP ramp NKP, Aug-Sept 64 - photo by Jim Burns.

The serial number was painted over and yet we know that this is 5978. Through "detective work" (compairing several pictures).  Jim Burns came to the conclusing that this is not 4565 because the overpainted area below the door is lighter grey than on 4565  -  and 4564 is seen in this picture - just below "FORCE".


625978 NKP Sep1964 viaSteveMock

HH-43B  62-5978  is seen here during  September 1964 with SSgt Jim Burns at left and  SSgt  Chuck Severns at right. Photo via Steve Mock/Chuck Severns

C124C 501255 NKP Burns15 900

C124C 501255 NKP Burns16 900

C124C 501255 NKP Burns17 900

C-124C  O-01255 of 1502nd ATW overran the PSP runway upon landing at NKP, early August 1964                                       Photos by Jim Burns 

Jim Burns remembered :

This C-124 was bringing in equipment and men at the start of the build up of NKP somewhere around Aug64. He made his approach to the runway from the North and landed "long" on the runway, the pilot had thoughts of going around as he gunned the engines, then had second thoughts and tried to stop the bird. As you can see he almost made it...but not quite. The C-124 left the runway to the left side, crossed a drainage ditch and dug into the muddy dirt along the side of the overrun. The left engines props were damaged from ground contact and the left main undercarriage wheel scissors broke, allowing the wheels to twist around. I don't remember what other damage occurred, but there was not much more than I mentioned. You can also see the skid marks under the left wing where the left main wheels were skidding sideways as it came to a stop. Also you can see a fire truck out in front of the C-124. As I remember the fire truck (the first on base) had been delivered the day before by another C-124. Anyway when this bird went off the side of the overrun, the fire truck crew went charging down the overrun, around the front of the C-124 and got promptly stuck in the mud. If I remember correctly we hired a couple of local Thai's with Caterpillars to strap onto the main gear of the C-124 and drag it out of the mud and over to the parking ramp. We pulled the fire truck out of the mud with the hoist truck that you can see to the right of the C-124. I think it took about a month to get the C-124 repaired, before it flew out one day. We tried to get them to salvage it and let us make a "club" out of it....but they didn't like the idea to well.....oh well.....at least we tried. I don't believe any of the C-124 crew had any injuries from this incident. This bird belonged to the 1502nd Air Transport Wing and this wing had some huge number of accident free flying hours and as I remember it.....they classified this as an "incident" instead of an "accident", thus preserving the wings, ever increasing, accident free flying hour record. It sure was an impressive site to see that big bird sliding and bouncing across the ground, dirt flying all around and sliding to a stop. Looked like an "accident" to me.....but what do I know!!          the C-124 stayed until at least Oct64 (when Jim left NKP) 



04.     PJ ’s assigned to DET.Prov.3, PARC

Source  Book : LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) PJ’s in Vietnam, Northern PJ Press (2000) , pages 62,64,65

The HQ ARS staff decided that PJ's shoud be assigned to the HH-43 units deploying to Vietnam. PJ's were medics, survival experts, parachute and SCUBA qualified.  While an exact concept of PJ operations did not exist, the HQ ARS staff knew that someone was needed who could leave the helicopter and recover survivors from the jungle, mountains or water and then if needed provide emergency medical treatment. PJ's quickly became critical link between the aircrew and downed pilots.

The first PJ's arrived with a C-124  at Korat on 14 August 1964. They were quickly followed by others. They flew with whom ever needed them the most. This included HU-16s and HH-43's at bases in Thailand and Vietnam. Under the LBR concept, two firefighters and one medic crewed the HH-43. Under a new aircrew recovery (ACR) concept, these 3 aircrewmen would be replaced by a PJ and a helicopter mechanic (HM). The HM would operated the hoist and serve as a maintenance expert. The PJ could be medic and deploy from the helicopter to recover downed pilots. They would be cross train as firefighters. 

In October 1964 a group of PJ's arrived at NKP.   Enson J. “EJ” Farmer became the PJ  NCOIC of DET.Prov.3, PARC. There was already a small PJ section at NKP, built by Jack Bennet and a few other TDY PJ's.  “EJ’s” team included Herbert Romisch, Harold Stroud, Harry Cohen, and later in the year Gordon Thayer and Roy Scherzer.  

624565 jump training NKP Burns1 900

624565 jump training NKP Burns11 900

Two photos of HH-43B  62-4565 -  credit  Jim Burns

Jim Burns:  "If  I remember correctly,  this was taken at the NKP (East) Airport (the civilian field). We were getting ready to take a couple of the PJ's (Pararescue Men) up so they could do some practice parachute jumps"  

Second photo - same occasion - note the antenna below the "E". This antenna was mounted on both sides of the fuselage. In a letter to Jim , Chuck Severns wrote:  "The antennas were for a rescue homing system. We never got it working right, and never used it on a mission that I know of. I think it was called SARH, search and rescue homer, or something close to that. There was a scope in the cabin behind the co-pilot. The survivor was supposed to hold up a radio antenna for us to home on. When you were headed straight for the survivor you got lines of equal length on each side of the scope, if you were off the lines would be different lengths. It was supposed to work like an ADF system."  



05.    Replacement  unit  and  personnel  arrived  10  November 1964

 The first group of three HH-43B aircraft, 33 ARS / DET.Prov.3, was replaced by three different HH-43B which were flown in from DET.Prov.2, PARC at Da Nang AB, Vietnam by C-124C on 10 Nov 1964. Aircraft serial numbers 60-0279, 60-0280 and 62-4510, all HH-43B models

Hereby DET.Prov.3 was replaced by DET.Prov.2, PARC at Nakhon Phanom AB. This unit remained active until 01 July 1965, on which date the unit became DET.1, 38 ARS. 

624510 DaNang 64 JohnChristiansonHH-43B 62-4510  seen here at Da Nang AB in Oct 1964 -  pilot 1st Lt. John Christianson at right

Det.Prov.2, PARC at Da Nang AB (re-assigned to NKP 10Nov64)  



HH43B C124C NKP JohnChristianson2

HH43B C124C NKP JohnChristianson1

HH-43B unloaded from C-124C   0131  at NKP  10 Nov 1964  after ferry flight from Da Nang AB –  photos  by John Christianson


05.01               SECOND  GROUP  of  personnel             10 Nov 1964  -  09 Jan 1965           DET.Prov.2, PARC  


Capt Alva G. Graham

Capt Thomas R. Kelley

Capt Joseph V. Leech

1stLt John W. Christianson

1stLt James E. Sovell

1stLt Robert J. Osik

Alc George K. Fink

MSgt Robert W. Bradfield

MSgt Eldrid Lusk

SSgt Charles L. Husby

SSgt Robert L. Julian

SSgt James R. Tabor

P   -  DET  CO







Maint Sup







Alc Roman H. Jennissen

A2c Larry W. Smith

A2c John Zielinsky

SSgt Robert J. Bennett

A2c Andre Raymond

A2c Albert C. Dobson

A2c Richard L. Graham

SSgt Arthur R. Saintheart

SSgt William P. Dickerson

Alc Jerry W. Wolford

Alc Edward S. Bevens 












Source :  Harrington, Scott . “They called it Naked Fanny”, Hellgate Press (2016), Page 314   (appendices - A)


C124C NKP 12 23Nov64 Christianson

NKP during a buzy day, sometime between 12 and 23 Nov 1965 - C-124C is probably collecting 33rd ARS HH-43B (at far left in the photo), “new” Det.Prov.2 Huskie near the Globemaster – photo by John Christianson


 05.02     First Rescue Mission into Laos   18-19 November 1964


                 Source 1:  Pedro News, http://users.acninc.net/padipaul/pnl020/pnl020main.htm   ,  webmasters Paul J. Metzner and Steve Mock – issue Jan 2005, 

                                  story written by John Christianson.

                 Source 2:  Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-76-18Nov64 , IRIS No. 01009278, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

                 Source 3:  Rescue Mission Report, written by 33 ARS , saved in History 313AD , “Yankee Team” Search and Rescue Mission 1280 ,

                                   IRIS No. 00466049, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

                 Source 4   Book: Tilford, Earl H., Jr.   “Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia”,  Center for Air Force History  (1992) , page 54


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-76-18Nov64      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   unkn serial no.   "Pansy 88"

Flown by  Capt. James M. Crabbe (TDY 33 ARS),  1Lt. John W. Christianson (co-pilot), TSgt Reed (FE, 33ARS),  SSgt Robert Bennett (PJ)

HH-43B   unkn serial no.   "Pansy 89"

Flown by   unknown

SAR Objective :  pilot F-100D   55-2885    “Ball 03”   Capt.  William R. Martin  -  613 TFS       Da Nang AB

                             Shot down over Laos, crash site south of Ban Senphan, Laos


NOTE:  these call-signs were apparently used by  DET.Prov.3, PARC  assigned aircraft (the TDY 33rd ARS HH-43B’s , with serial numbers 62-4564, 62-4565 and 62-5978. However, the aircraft which flew this mission, and seen in the below pictures , were aircraft which were delivered from Da Nang AB on the 10th November.


Area of operations Thailand Laos PedroNews2005

Area of operations Thailand, Laos, & North Vietnam – published in “Pedro News”, Jan2005 


DetProv2 NKP 18Nov64 Christianson Mutza 900

HH-43Bs “Pansy 88” and “Pansy 89”  at NKP  18 Nov 1964 – Alerted for a downed F-100D  “Ball 3” over Laos – LtoR:  1Lt John Christianson (CP), Capt Jim Crabb (RCC, 33ARS), TSgt Reed (FE, 33ARS), SSgt Robert Bennett (PJ) – photo coll. J.Christianson


DetProv2 NKP 18Nov64 Christianson 900

HH-43B  “Pansy 88” or “Pansy 89”  at NKP  18 Nov 1964 –  LtoR:  SSgt Robert Bennett (PJ), Capt Jim Crabb (RCC, 33ARS), 1Lt John Christianson (CP)  – photo coll. J.Christianson


The following report is written by John Christianson and published in “Pedro News” , issue January 2005  

On 18 Nov64  “Ball 03”, one of two F-100Ds escorting a “Yankee Team”  RF-101C reconnaissance mission, was shot-down while exchanging fire with an enemy antiaircraft gun position. "Ball 03" ’s Wingman called “dropkick” ( a distress signal used in place of mayday to confuse any listening enemy troops ) to the Air America Air Operations Center in Vientiane, reporting that "Ball 03" had crashed just south of Ban Senphan in central Laos near the North Vietnamese border. The Air America Operations Officer in the Operations Center diverted a C-123 to reconnoiter the area and act as an Airborne Controller until relieved by a USAF HU-16B  from Korat AB. Once in position, “Tacky 44”, the HU-16B, requested that US Navy A-1 Skyraiders fly to Ban Senphan, to search for wreckage and the pilot, and suppress any enemy opposition if it were encountered.

Within minutes of their arrival on the scene, the Navy Skyraiders received ground fire from Pathet Lao emplacements near the location that “Ball 03” was believed to have been shot-down. The A-1's attacked the gun positions taking minor flak and small arms hits to their aircraft. During the action, one of the Skyraider pilots spotted what appeared to be a burning crash site in the jungle approximately five miles away from the coordinates originally furnished.

Two HH-43B’s were put on alert and launched with DET. Prov.3, PARC crewmembers (those TDY from 33 ARS, which were being replaced by DET. Prov.2 crews arround this date), then proceeded the 10 miles to the Mekong River near Nakhon Phanom and Thakhek, Laos. At that time, the US Ambassador's permission was required to cross the Mekong River into Laos and the crews did not receive this permission during their holding orbits on the Thai side of the river.  Running short of fuel, both aircraft returned to NKP for refueling.

At the same time, a C-124C  landed at NKP with departure destination Naha AB, Okinawa (returning the aircraft and crews to 33 ARS). 

TWO of the original pilots, knowing that they were being replaced by the DET. Prov.2 guys, asked  Jim Sovell and myself if we would take their place.  Jim and I said yes.  They got on the C-124C and went home and a few minutes later both aircraft were launched, this time with clearance to cross the Mekong and with Jim and I on board as co-pilots.  I believe Jim Crabbe was Aircraft Commander, TSgt Reed was the Flight Engineer and SSgt Bennett the PJ.  

Shortly after we crossed the Mekong River, we picked up two U.S. Navy A-1 Skyraiders for cover.  We were sent to investigate a fire in the jungle which approximated the shootdown coordinates. The call-signs for our two HH-43Bs were “Pansy 88” and "Pansy 89".  We flew blindly into Laos with no intel as to where the bad guys were.  To our knowledge, we encountered no groundfire nor did we see any bad guys.  The fire was just that – a jungle fire and not one caused by a crashed F-100D.  We made our way back to NKP without any complications.  

Before darkness temporarily ended the rescue efforts, the HU-16B  coordinated thirteen F-105s, eight F-100s, six Navy A-1's, two HH-43Bs, and a pair of Air America Sikorsky H-34 ‘s in a concerted effort to find and rescue the downed pilot.

The coordination and control of these diverse elements provided a preview of SAR efforts that would be conducted over the next decade. 

19 November 1964 :

Airborne at first light, “Tacky 65”, another HU-16B, pilot Capt. Weeden,  from Korat AB, and four F-105s returned to the Ban Senphan area. At mid-morning the On-scene Commander in “Tacky 65” sighted the pilot’s parachute and the wreckage on a rocky outcropping only fifty yards from the nearest anti-aircraft position. As the F-105's attacked the gun position, “Tacky 65” ordered the HH-43Bs at Nakon Phanom and their propeller driven escorts to be launched. However, poor weather conditions kept the helicopters grounded for nearly two hours, before a pair of Air America  H-34’s took off and joined four American piloted T-28s out of Savannahket. “Tacky 44”, a second HU-16B , pilot Capt. Kaiser, relieved “Tacky 65” as the On-scene Commander and began to control the rescue effort. Upon arrival at the crash site the co-pilot from one of the Air America choppers was lowered to the ground. He found that the pilot had died of injuries sustained when he landed on the karst. The pilot was recovered , wrapped in his parachute, and flown to NKP. “Tacky 44”  flew the remains to Don Muang AB, Bangkok. 

When the Air America H-34 pilots dropped into NKP prior to their mission, they asked if we had any weapons that they could borrow, as, at the time, they carried none.  We loaned them a couple of BARs and carbines.  They also informed us when we told them of our mission the previous day,  that we were very lucky guys as the route we took in and out was right through “Injun Country” and loaded with bad guys. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes. Someone was looking out for us. 


05.03  -  Last quarter 1964


On 21 November 1964, a RF-101C Voodoo on a “Yankee Team” mission was lost 40 miles east of Thakhek. The pilot , Capt. Burton Waltz, successfully ejected and came down in the tropical rain forest. An Air America H-34 happened to be in the area and recovered the survivor within an hour. Within thirty-six hours the Air Force was forced to rely on Air America twice to perform aircrew recovery missions.  The rescued pilot was flown to NKP. At the end of 1964, the Air Rescue Service was not able to handle the rescue mission in Laos. HU-16B  “Tacky 65” from Korat AB, with Capt. Dale Weeden,  acted as “On Scene” commander on this mission. 



A1H 35231 VA52 byDavidWendt 1280

A HU-16B, during a precautionary orbit over NKP and near the Mekong River, meets with a RESCAP A-1H  NF-310  of U.S. Navy unit VA-52  , ca. Sep-Oct64  - photo by David Wendt

A1H 37552 VA196 byDavidWendt 1280

Three U.S. Navy  A-1H Skyraiders of VA-196 , tailcode NM , meet with a HU-16B over Thailand , ca. Sep-Oct64   -  photo by David Wendt

600279 failure caNov Dec64 Christianson 1280

HH-43B  (probably 00279)  after precautionary landing in a rice paddy with an oil cooler failure - pilot  1st Lt. John Christianson and Sgt. Tabes (photo by pilot  1st Lt. James Sovell) - ca. Nov64  - collection Christianson  

600279 failure caNov Dec64 Christianson2 1280

LtoR :  Thai interpreter , Flight Surgeon (unknown) , John Christianson , Sgt. Tabes  - the flight was a planned visit to a village (unknown reason)  -  collection Christianson


600280 79 nearNKP Nov Dec64 EBay1 1280

600279 011 nearNKP Nov Dec64 EBay2 1280

both slides  collection Johan Ragay

 HH-43B  60-0280 and -0279  after landing near a village, ca. Nov-Dec64.  Several Officers of the 619th Tactical Control Squadron were taken on an inspection flight to an unknown location near NKP.

Between August and November various radar installations were constructed in Thailand.  The RACAN installation at NKP being commissioned on 21 November.  



06.     Replacement personnel arrived January 1965


06.01     THIRD  GROUP  of  personnel             Jan 1965  -  May 1965           DET.Prov.2, PARC 

Capt. Warren K. Davis

Capt. Israel “Izzy” Freedman

Capt. James C. Rodenberg

Capt. Jay M. Strayer

1st Lt. Neil McCutchan

1st Lt. Fred Glover

TSgt. John J. Kelly








SSgt. Enson J. “E-J” Farmer

SSgt. Harold G. Stroud

A1C Herbert H. Romish

A1C Cecil A. Boothby

A2C Eric A. Anderson, Jr.

A2C Michael T. Henebry

A3C Frank P. Hanutke









1965 03 00 NKP McCutchan 3EK10 1280

HH-43B  "0280" and  "4510"  with rotorblade boxes in front  - NKP  March 1965  -  photo below taken out of "4510" with on the ground  "0279" , "0280"  and a U-10B   -  both photos by Neil McCutchan

1965 03 00 NKP McCutchan 3EK15 1280


1965 02 00 NKP McCutchan 1EK15 Mar65

HH-43B  60-0279 and 62-4510  after landing in a rice paddy, February 1965. An EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) crew was taken to the site of a jettisoned load of ordnance  -  photo by Neil McCutchan



 The name “Naked Fanny”  was initiated during this TDY and also the use of a Huskie stencil, which was applied to their own HH-43B's (at least as/of mid-March 1965) as well as to several visiting aircraft , like a U-10B, HU-16B and visiting HH-43B's from Udorn and Ubon -seen here below


U10B 638093 NKP Feb65 McCutchan 1EK13 cor 1280

U-10B  63-8093  DET.6, 1st ACW  , Udorn AB - photos by Neil McCutchan

U10B NKP NeilMcCutchan 1EK14

1965 02 00 NKP 1EK10 409

HU16B crew 01Nov65 coll DavidWendt 1280

HU-16B at DaNang after 01Nov65 mission , LtoR : unknown - pilot David Westenbarger - unknown - pilot David Wendt - 1Lt Donald Price, navigator  - photo collection David Wendt


HU16B Stensil 01Nov65 byDavidWendt 1280

591562 14Jun65 NikhomKS VNeed167

HH-43B  59-1562 (Ubon), accident 14Jun65-photo by Vance Need    (see also chapter 07.08)

591590 Udorn 1966 KE19515 NARA

HH-43B  59-1590 (Udorn) , late 1965 - USAF photo KE19515


06.02    Low Bird  -  High Bird  concept

Then Captain Joe Ballinger, co-author of the book  Harrington, Scott. (2016). “They called it Naked Fanny”. Hellgate Press. (page 129), referred in his book to the briefing which they received from the officers of the “Third Group” of personnel (Jan-May65) , close after arrival on 03 May 1965. 

Low Bird – High Bird concept

This included the “Low Bird” / “High Bird”  concept to be used during combat recoveries. “Low Bird” was to be the pick-up bird with the “High Bird” flying counter-clockwise around the “Low Bird”, defending it. The “High Bird” co-pilot was to fly the chopper while the pilot, mechanic and PJ fired out the right side doors and the back.  


06.03    Range Extension Fuel System  (REFS)   -  part 1        (for part 2 see chapter 07.07)

Source: “The Pedro Rescue Helicopter Crew Members Website” , web master Bill Junkins (no longer available) February 1999

Personal account by Jay Strayer:

The idea of devising a method of extending the HH-43B’s unsatisfactory 75 NM range (out and back with reserve) rests with Fred Glover while we were TDY together at Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand Jan-May 1965. We were 6 pilots as well as all the enlisted thrown together in a hurry from 6 different USA detachments without any direction or written procedures from any one higher up. Only that we were there to rescue whomever needed it. 

Our DETCO was Warren Davis  along with James Rodenberg, Israel Freedman, Fred Glover, Neil McCutchan and myself. Early on, while lamenting on the short legs of the HH-43B, Fred mentioned he had devised an extension system while flying in remote Texas for a ferry flight of some 300 miles. Based on his idea, we scrounged hoses and plumbing parts from Air America at Udorn AB. All were water fittings for they did not have others that would fit, available. Our maintenance folks built a cradle made of  2”x12” ’s  that would fit in the cabin behind the co-pilot’s seat on the cabin floor. 

We cradled three 55 gallon drums, one on top of the lower two and attached a single line hose from the top drum to the fuel plumbing access point at cabin floor level on the left rear side. When fuel was required, the plumbing valve was opened by hand so fuel would gravity feed thru the cabin aperture into the 200 gallon bladder tank under the cabin floor. 

Each drum was good for about 35 minutes extra flying time. As I recall, a normal sortie without the drums was 1+45 hours with a dry tank expected at about 2+15 hours use, so three drums would extend total flying time to about 3+45 hours. Total range might be as much as 300 NM according to winds and hover time used. I do not recall if I was the first to use the system *), but I logged 3+30 hours during the one combat rescue (it was a long search) I made of F-100 pilot Captain Ron Bigoness near Mu Gia Pass, Laos, on March 31st and the fuel low level light was burning by the time I returned to NKP.  *) note by Ragay : it was the second time (chapter 06.06) – first mission see chapter 06.05 update 

I know that follow-on crews who replaced us in May, flew those HH-43’s across Laos deep into North Vietnam to near Hanoi and Vinh near the Gulf of Tonkin and there are some shot down folks that owe their freedom to Fred Glover’s idea. Moreover, it is likely that we had the first helicopter disposable fuel tanks, for when a drum was empty, the flight mechanic merely shifted the hose to a full drum, and rolled the empty one out thru the open clamshell doors into the jungle below. 

I might add those water-type plumbing connectors could not be tightened enough to prevent leaks and lots of fumes. Therefore there was absolutley no thought given to smoking. None was allowed and we only set the system up as missions dictated its use. Finally, the PACAF Rescue HH-43 standardization pilot visited us during this time (do not recall his name) and we proudly showed him pictures of our system. He immediately recognized the hazards involved and just as quickly disavowed any knowledge of same. Apparently he did recognize the merits of its use in an emergency rescue situation and did not mention it in his reports – neither did we – so Fred Glover never got official recognition for his idea, an idea that saved several pilots from capture during the interim it took to get a longer range helicopter in country.

And that’s the truth as I remember it –  Jay. 


06.04    Call Signs

The call signs used by the HH-43B at NKP were classified AFSAL call signs (Armed Forces Security Agency List). They would change every seven to ten days, but each helicopter would carry a permanent two-digit number,   

“21”  for HH-43B  60-0279 ,

“22”  for HH-43B  60-0280 and

“41”  for HH-43B  62-4510

 Known call-signs are :    

“Bandy”     (02 Mar 1965)

“Hobby”      (23 Jun 1965)

“Alban”      (31 Mar 1965)

“Iron”           (24 Jul 1965)

“Tick”         (17 May 1965)

“Duchy”       (20 Sep 1965)

“Curse”      (08 Jun 1965)

“Pedro”        (28 Oct 1965 ; 18 Nov 1965)

"Flesh"       (09 Jun 1965)




06.05    First Night Combat Mission and successful Rescue over Laos  -  02 March 1965        new

              Source 1  Book : LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) “PJ’s in Vietnam”Northern PJ Press (2000) , pages 88-89 and 96-97             

              Source 2: Report of Mission, written by RCC Capt. Israel “Izzy” Freedman. Written on request by Stephen Mock and Paul Metzner,

                                editors of “PEDRO NEWS”, and published in the issue of July 2007 (on line publication - no longer available)

              Source 3: Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-187-2Mar65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA


(Source 1)   On 02 March 1965  “Operation Rolling Thunder “ began. This was a systematic bombing campaign, starting a the DMZ and gradually moving northward. It initially targeted NVN fuel and supply depots. Rescue mission planners developed a SAR plan.

On the day of attack, two HH-43F’s assigned to Da Nang AB, Vietnam forward deployed to Quang Tri, approximately 17 miles south of the DMZ.

Two HU-16B’s out of Da Nang AB set up SAR orbits. “Adman 63” over “Tiger Island” (a small island) and “Adman 66” . A third HU-16B “Adman 44” from Korat AB would establish a SAR orbit over NKP.    

At 4 p.m. DET.3, PARC radioed “Adman 44” , with pilot Capt. Westenbarger, to search for a downed F-105D pilot, missing approximately 20 miles southeast of Tchepone, Laos.

This became the First USAF AirRescueService Night CSAR with “Bandy 41” , pilot Capt. Freedman, and “Bandy 21” with Capt. Davis.    


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-187-2Mar65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   62-4510   "Bandy 41"    (Low bird)

Flown by RCC Capt. Israel “Izzy” Freedman ; Capt. James O.  Rodenberg (co-pilot) ,  A3C Frank P. Hanutke (HM) , A1C Herbert H. Romisch (PJ)

HH-43B   60-0279   "Bandy 21"    (High bird)

Flown by Capt. Warren K.  Davis, Flight Surgeon (in co-pilot seat)  , TSgt John J. Kelly (HM) , SSgt Enson J. Farmer (PJ).

SAR Objective : pilot  F-105D  62-4260  “Baste 19”  Maj. George W. Panas  -   67 TFS, 18 TFW

                           Aircraft down over Laos


With two NKP Huskies on mission, there was no back-up at home, because the third HH-43B, 60-0280, was out with pilots Fred Glover and Neil McCutchan. That day they had to stand alert at Ubon AB. Neil remembered : 

“Sometime during the day we learned about this mission, and Fred and I flew back to NKP that evening. I remember saying to myself that the twinkling stars above matched the twinkling fires in the paddies/jungle below. It was interesting flying the 43 by instruments. Don’t remember much else”.


First USAF Night Combat Rescue Mission, report written by RCC  Capt. Israel Freedman

(Source 2)          new

Captain Freedman: “There was a lull in the bombing up north and we were doing nothing but a little training. It seemed like the perfect time for someone to take a little R&R in Bangkok and Jay Strayer drew the lucky straw and departed for Bangkok a few days prior to 2nd March.  With 5 pilots on site and a max of 4 required for a normal mission we felt we were in fine shape. While Jay was away, they resumed bombing, but still with 5 pilots we saw no problem. 

On the morning of 2 March, for some reason I can not remember, we were requested to dispatch one of our choppers to Ubon and so Fred Glover and Neil McCutchan took one of the aircraft and departed. We thought nothing about it, in fact it was the first thing we had been asked to do since our arrival in NKP. We still had three pilots on site and nothing happening.

Later in the day things started to change. We were notified that an F-105 pilot had ejected in the Tchepone area but, for what ever reason, the Air Force planed to use other resources to attempt the rescue. The only other resource of course was Air America who had until a few months prior been the only thing available. They also figured wrongly that Air America had H-34’s at Savannakhet which would have been well positioned to attempt the rescue. I think, for some reason, they just did not think we were ready or that we had the equipment to do the job and of course we were a little unproven. 

We prepared for the mission anyway. We got briefed by the radar people who were involved and had a good idea of where the downed pilot was. I happened to be the Rescue Crew Commander for the day with Jim Rodenberg assigned as the co-pilot and it was decided that if we had to go, Warren K. Davis would fly the cover bird and bring along the flight surgeon in the co-pilot seat.

At this time we still had plenty of time to make the pick-up in daylight and return before darkness and with the extended range provided by Fred Glover's brilliant range extension system (REFS - see chapter 06.03), the mission was well within our capability. 

As time went by and darkness fell and no response from Air America, they finally figured out that Air America did not have any H-34’s at Savannakhet and in fact had dispatched choppers from Udorn to Savannakhet, about a 2 ½ to 3 hours flying time away. On arrival the aircraft would have to be refueled before it could do anything. It was only then, well into the night, we were asked if it was possible for us to attempt the rescue. Of course, we had been ready to launch for hours and departed minutes after being given the word to go. 

It was very dark, and we were in the middle of the smoky season which made matters worst, especially for the crew of the second aircraft who was trying to keep us in sight. In addition, although we had been at NKP for 2 months and there had been a previous group of pilots before us, we still had never been issued a set of maps or for that matter much else to help us in planning for the mission. The only thing we knew is what we could see across the river and that there were Karsts rising about 1,500 feet above sea level. With no knowledge of terrain in route, I thought that 4,500 feet would give us plenty of ground clearance and tried to cruise at that altitude. We had heading information from Naked Fanny and were also advised there was an HU-16 in the area with flares. Trying to fly VFR in the dark and thick smoke made our altitude control terrible. How Warren Davis ever kept us in sight I will never know. At one-point Warren thought we should turn around. As we were double crewed, we wanted to continue and Warren decided to hang around a little longer. Also, by this time we heard an Air America bird airborne out of Savannakhet trying to make contact and I wanted to be sure we made the pickup just to prove a point. 

 By that time, we had made contact with the HU-16 (“Adman 44” - see mission report here below) who advised us that they had contact and were over head the downed pilot. We felt we had to be getting very near the area and asked them to drop flare. In fact, we were very close and as we got closer we were totally blinded by the brightness of the flares in the thick smoke and had to ask them to hold the flares. They advised that the pilot’s position was being marked by two small lights on the ground and looking down we found our self directly overhead. 

We had no knowledge of the terrain and I was thinking the ground could not be much higher then 1,500 above sea level. We were briefed that the downed pilot’s position was very close to the trail. I started down leaving the search and landing lights off not wanting to give away our position. After descending about 1,000 feet I suddenly felt that the lights looked too close and threw on the search light. We were almost in the trees and could see large limbs. We pulled a lot of pitch, the HH-43 responded, stopping the decent and in doing so we passed directly over the lights which we found to be in a clearing that looked large enough to land the Huskie.

We immediately circled and set up a very steep approach into the clearing. It is hard to believe that until we were on the ground, I never even thought about the possibility of the enemy holding the position or what it was doing there. As we touched down some guys came running into the clearing wearing what looked like American Fatigues and carrying U.S. Carbines. As soon as they saw we were Americans, they immediately brought the downed pilot out of the jungle and loaded him in the Aircraft. After a long vertical takeoff, we finally cleared the trees and with Warren in tow headed for home. There is no question that Warren, Jim and I were glad it was over and successful. 

We thought at the time it may have been the first Air Force pickup of a downed pilot in Laos and for sure the first night pickup. In a conversation with General Hinie Aderholt many years later, he told me that the Air Force would not fly at night and that the first pickup of a downed airman in Laos was in November of 66 by a SOG helicopter under his command flying out of Vietnam.  I had to tell him no, we did fly at night and did make a night rescue more than a year and a half earlier.

A couple of things which I did not understand that night eventually were cleared up.

I left the Air Force the end of 67 and joined Air America in early 68. Once I got to Laos, I finally figured out that a road watch team, most likely Thai working for the agency, saw the F-105 pilot leave his aircraft and managed to get to him before the enemy had a chance to. They brought him to a clearing they had cut in the jungle to allow Air America aircraft to night drop supplies to them. Good workers, it was big enough for a 43 to land in.

One final thing, the pilot who was flying the H-34 that night for Air America was Bob Hitchman, a very senior Air America pilot and ex Marine. I later worked with Bob in both Bells and H-34s while with Air America”.


(Source 3)

Mission Narrative , written by the RCC of the HU-16B , acting as “On Scene Commander” : 

“Adman 44”, a HU-16B assigned to the 33rd ARS, with Capt. David P. Westenbarger, the aircraft commander, took off from Korat AB, Thailand, at 1313H (or 0513Z) on 2 March 1965 for precautionary orbit in support of a Navy “Yankee Team” mission, arriving on station at 10,000 feet over Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand, two hours later.

Det.3, PARC, requested “Adman 44”  to contact the GCI at Nakhon Phanom relative to a Navy aircraft that was reported to be down on the 118° radial of the Nakhon Phanom TACAN, 110 miles out. The latter, having confirmed that the plane was indeed down, Det.3, PARC directed the Albatross to initiate a search under the control of the GCI at Nakhon Phanom. The GCI there upon vectored Capt. Westenbarger to a position about 20 miles southeast of Tchepone, Laos with two F-105’s providing rescap for the search operation. “Adman 44”  searched the Sesaynon River Valley and ajacent ridges for 30 miles to Tchepone, the effectiveness of the search being limited by the presence of numerous anti-aircraft positions and a haze hanging along Route 9. Although several burning areas were seen, the resulting investigation of each one yieled only negative results. A truck convoy was seen moving southeast on Route 9, however.

After the amphibian had searched vainly for more than an hour-and-a-half , Det.3, PARC requested that the search in this area be abandoned and that it be resumed on the 135° radial of the Nakhon Phanom TACAN at 85 miles.  “Adman 44”  proceeded toward the new search area, following Route 9 northwest and climbing to 7,000 feet.

At 1852H, one of the rescap F-105’s reported picking up what might be a UHF beacon near the position 16°35’N , 105°42’ East, but added that he and his wingman were having to depart, because they were low on fuel. Nevertheless, the HU-16 continued to search, now without benefit of rescap, at the same 7,000 foot altitude. By 1910H, the HU-16 was over the new search area, where it commenced an expanding square electronic search.

Within five minutes this effort was rewarded by the detection of what was believed to be a week signal from a URT-21 radio transmitter. At 1920H, a positive URT-21 signal was received and located with the ARA-25 UHF homer. Nakhon Phanom Control and Det.3, PARC were both notified and requested to alert the rescue helicopters, then send a rescap.

At 1930H, Capt. Westenbarger and his crew observed a white flare in the search area, which ascended to approximately 2,000 feet and descended as though it were a para-flare. Moments later, a second, similar flare was seen, but the Albatross crew agreed that these flares did not seem to be of a type that would normally be in the possesion of a U.S. survivor. While they were pondering this dubious point, a red flare was ignited on the ground. Fearful that the whole pyrotechnic display might be a decoy by the enemy to lure them to their doom, Westenbarger had his radio operator contact Det.3 to ascertain what types of flares had been carried by the downed pilot and what the procedures were for possible authentication.

By 1936H, darkness had set in – a condition not conductive to peace of mind or to successful rescue of the downed pilot, since the proximity of hostile AA installations led to the not unreasonable presumption that the general area was in enemy hands. The aircraft commander now sent his radio operator to the rear of the plane to establish visual contact with the survivor through blinking code, using the Aldis lamp. He also directed that an M9A1 para-flare and a Mark 6, Mod 2, 45-minute smoke light with a personal strobe light attached, be dropped to mark the survivor’s position. The smoke light unfortunately started a small fire, which continued to burn throughout the recovery operation.

At 1946H, Det.3 informed “Adman 44”  which pyrotechnic devices had been carried by the missing pilot and what procedures were to be followed in authentication. The search also learned that the man they were looking for was a USAF officer, rather than a Navy man.

However, the detachment was unable to furnish any further information concerning the requested rescap. Knowing that the radio signals and flares previously observed were probably emanating from a friendly source after all, Capt. Westenbarger descended to lower altitude, in order to make blinker communications easier and to insure that visual contact was made with the survivor.

Det.3 advised that the pilot was down in a friendly area, according to intelligence just obtained, and at about the same time (2100H) the two HH-43 helicopters from Nakhon Phanom radioed that they should be arriving on the crash scene in about 20 minutes.  “Adman 44” also learned that two HH-34 choppers from the Air America fleet were headed for the area (“Hotel 21”, and 22). He there upon began illuminating the area with SA-8 para-flares and employing his ARA-25 homer to guide the four copters to the recovery scene.

At 2127H, Capt. Westenbarger directed one of the HH-43’s to the survivor, Major George W. Panas, who was found to be uninjured when brought aboard. Informed of the good tidings, Det.3 instructed “Adman 44”  to escort the helicopters to Nakhon Phanom, then land there and take the rescued pilot aboard for return to his base at Korat AB, Thailand.

At 2232H (2 March 1965), accordingly, the HU-16 put down at Nakhon Phanom, and 80 minutes after, took off for Korat with Major Panas on board.

With an uneventful landing at Korat at 0135H, 3 March 1965, the mission was complete. 

HU16B 517144 NKP McCutchan 2EK04 1280

HU-16B  O-17144   33rd ARS  at NKP early March 1965 , possibly in connection with the above mentioned Rescue Mission     -   photo by Neil McCutchan

HU16B 517144 McCutchan 2EK05 1280


06.06    Next  Rescue Mission into Laos   –   31 March 1965

                Source  : (1)   Kaman Rotor Tips , Magazine , issue Oct-Nov65, page 12

                                (2)   Book : LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) , “PJ’s in Vietnam”Northern PJ Press (2000) , pages 104-106

                                (3)   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-283-31Mar65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA               


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-283-31Mar65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0279   "Alban 21"    (Low bird)

Flown by RCC Capt. Jay M. Strayer ; Capt. James O.  Rodenberg (co-pilot) ,  A1C Cecil A. Boothby (HM) , A1C Herbert H. Romisch (PJ) , SSgt Enson J. Farmer (PJ)

HH-43B   62-4510   "Alban 41"    (High bird)

Flown by  Capt. Israel Freedman , Capt. Warren K. Davis  (co-pilot)  , A3C Frank P. Hanutke (HM) , SSgt Harold G. Stroud (PJ) , A2C Eric A. Anderson, Jr. (PJ)

SAR Objective : pilot  F-100D  55-2906  “Panther 02”   Capt. Ronald A. Bigoness  -  615 TFS, 401 TFW

                            Aircraft hit over North Vietnam - crashed in Laos


From the book “PJ ’s in Vietnam” , by Robert LaPointe:

The F-100D was hit by ground fire near Ha Tinh in North Vietnam during an early morning weather reconnaissance sortie. The F-100D pilot realized that he would not be able to reach Da Nang AB so instead he flew due south towards Laos. He was about 20 miles into Laos before he was forced to eject.

The HH-43Bs were launched from NKP at 10:50 a.m., after the aircraft were installed with the “Range Extension Fuel System” (REFS , a fancy name to describe the 55-gallon drums from which they refueled in flight).

This was a pickup over dense hostile jungle. The pickup crew spotted the downed flyer in the midst of heavy jungle in a small open area (it was 12:50). Capt Jay M. Strayer, RCC, hovered 100 feet overhead while Sergeant Farm­er was lowered to help the injured pilot into the hoist collar.

On their return at NKP the low level fuel light was illuminated. The crews had completed a 3 hour 30 minute flight. This set a record for time in-flight by a HH-43. Thanks to the REFS. 

Following is the Official Report made up by the Rescue Crew Commander (RCC) , Captain Jay Strayer. Saved in the AFHRA archive under Det.3, PARC  Mission number 283-31Mar65. 

By coincidence, one of our HH-43’s  was flying a local training flight and heard the distressed pilot’s initial “Mayday”. The helicopter pilot relayed it to Invert at 1000 hours (all times approximate and local), and Invert, in turn, alerted the alert duty officer, myself. The fact that our aircraft are placed on alert each morning at 0900, put us in good position for immediate scramble, even though today’s official alert did not begin until 1120.

I notified Det.3, PARC of the pilot’s ejection at 1030 and relayed his approximate position (098° at 58 miles) as given me by "Invert". The alert crews in the meantime, had been alerted by the still airborne HH-43 and initiated final aircraft combat mission configuration, including the “Range Extension Fuel System” (REFS). Final readiness was confirmed at 1040 and takeoff was accomplished at 1050.

Takenoff, climb to 4000’ MSL, and cruise progressed smoothly, and initial contact with Invert was established on frequency 278.4 . We learned that F-100 Rescap aircraft and “Basil 66” ,  HU-16, were enroute to the scene. Soon after border penetration, we established contact with Air America’s Victor Rescue Control aircraft. Changes of frequencies had proceeded from 278.4 to 364.2 before satisfactory communication was established among all aircraft. Prior to reaching the target area, both helicopters jettisioned the 55 gallon drums, making up REFS.   REFS procedures were considered routine and the system functioned as expected.

The target area was reached at 1150. A few signals from the survivor’s URT-21 were heard faintly, but neither “Alban” aircraft (HH-43’s) could home on it. Some confusion existed at this time as to the exact location of the crash site, and we experienced a considerable amount of chatter over the SAR frequency as we tried getting within visual range of Basil and/or Victor Control aircraft.

At 1230, I (in “Alban 21”) sighted a small amount of smoke. I circled the area at 3500’ MSL four or five times. I saw what I thought to be a signal mirror flashing . The area was made up of very dense jungle and no visual habitation was within 8–10 miles. I advised “Alban 41”  I was descending for investigation. (In the critique following the mission, it was felt that I should have perhaps requested that Rescap aircraft go down for the initial look. I certainly agree with this concept if time and conditions warrant). The area was, in fact, the crashed aircraft and what I had seen flashing was the sun reflecting from scattered metal pieces. All of this time, both “Alban” helicopters were intermittenly receiving weak signals from the survivor’s URT-21 radio beacon. They would come and fade, but never get strong. The HU-16 could not pinpoint the location , and Victor Recue had no ADF homing equipment. By turning until the signal got louder, we got closer to the survivor. Finally the signal became strong enough that our ADF could home on it. We passed over the survivor’s chute approximately 1250 and one of my crew members spotted it. “Alban 41”, cicling above us, called simultaneously that he had it spotted also. One of my crew dropped a smoke grenade to mark the area and the survivor released one about the same time.

The foliage was so thick, we could not see the survivor. The URT-21’s signal was coming in exceptionally loud at this time. We have since conjectured that a combination of a weak battery and dense vegetation limited the signal intensity, therby shortening its range. 

                     HH43B mission 31Mar65 Strayer LaPointeCD AFHRA

                                                        X                                                                                                    The PJ is seen being lowered to the ground (comment J. Strayer)

               HH43B mission 31Mar65 KamanPh 7895 2 900

H-43B  60-0279  “Alban 21”    31 March 1965       -          Photos  colllection J. Strayer  (pilot “Alban 21”)

Assuming the pilot was injured, I lowered a paramedic to him with the hoist. I hovered over a small opening about 50-100’ from the parachute canopy. I estimate the trees to have been 100’ tall, as it took all the hoist cable to reach the ground, even with the helicopter touching the tree foliage in places. As the paramedic reached the ground, the survivor walked up to him. Though he had a suspected broken arm , the survivor managed to hold himself in the sling safely enough to allow his exit through the surrounding foliage. The paramedic was subsequently hoisted aboard at 1300 and both “Alban” aircraft proceeded home. 

In summary, the mission was carried through without any significant drawbacks. Two outstanding factors were responsible for our success : 

  1. The makeshift HH-43B supplementary fuel system (REFS), that allowed us an extra 35 minutes “stay” time. Considering the time it took to locate the survivor, the lack of REFS would have delayed his recovery by an unknown and perhaps crucial, length of time. Jettisoning of the REFS tank was a definite advantage in that it allowed much more cabin room for crew members and eliminated the danger of spilled fuel in case of a hit from ground fire.   
  2. The survivor’s possession of an operating URT-21 radio beacon. Without this device, it is quite conceivable the survivor might never have been located because of his injury and the surrounding high, dense foliage. The advantages of possessing a properly operating signal – supplemented by smoke flares, a strobe light and signal mirror – cannot be overstressed to crew members flying over hostile territory. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the success of this particular mission was the direct result of such an operating signal device. 

Jay M. Strayer , Capt,  USAF  ,  Rescue Crew Commander


600279 NKP 31Mar65 Neil McCutchan 6KC22 1280

HH-43B  60-0279  “Alban 21” at NKP  31 March 1965, after return from the above described mission – photo taken by Neil McCutchan 

From L to R :  unknown PJ  (did not belong to the crew of this mission) ;  SSgt. Enson J. Farmer (PJ) ;  A1C Cecil A. Boothby (HM) ;  A1C Herbert H. Romish (PJ) ;  Capt. James C. Rodenberg  (co-pilot) ;  Capt. Jay M. Strayer (RCC) 


1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC11 1280

1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC13 1280

1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC14 1280

HU-16B  "Basil 66"  already returned from the Rescue Mission, while "Alban 21" is landing


NKP  31 March 1965   -   HH-43B  60-0279   “Alban 21” and  62-4510   "Alban 41" , returning from the above described mission     –    all  photos taken by Neil McCutchan

1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC16 1280



                1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC17 1280

RCC Capt. Jay M. Strayer

1965 03 31 NKP McCutchan 6KC21 1280

The rescued F-100D pilot Capt. Ronald A. Bigoness is seen sitting on a litter, while the flight surgeon is assisting him. 



06.07    Rescue Mission for a  U.S. Navy  pilot   –   27 Apr 1965

               Source :  Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-393-27Apr65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA               


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-393-27Apr65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0280   

Flown by RCC  Capt. James O.  Rodenberg ,  Capt. Jay M. Strayer (co-pilot),  A1C Cecil A. Boothby (HM) , A2C Michael T. Henebry  (PJ)


SAR Objective :  pilot  U.S. Navy A-1H  137545   LTJG  S.B. Wilkes      -    VA-215

                             Hit over Laos , crashed in Thailand

Source  Book :  Campbell, Douglas E. , (2015) ,  “ US Navy and US Marine Corps Aircraft damaged or destroyed during the Vietnam War” – Vol. 1  - publisher LuLu.com  - page 34 :

USN pilot Wilkes’s aircraft,  A-1H  137545 assigned to VA-215, was hit by gunfire in the Mu Gia Pass area. The port wing caught fire. He flew his aircraft across Laos into Thailand and was within 2 miles from NKP when he safely ejected.


 This is a part of Rescue Mission Report 3-PARC-393-27Apr65 : 

1965 04 27 Det3PARC393 page2 1

1965 04 27 Det3PARC393 page2 2

A HU-16 in precautionary orbit was alerted at 11:35H and proceeded to intercept the distressed aircraft. Helicopters alerted for possible bail out. HH-43 recovered survivor to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. Rescued pilot was then transferred to HU-16 and flown to Da Nang AB, Vietnam.


From the same AFHRA file :

Report made up by RCC Captain James Rodenberg.

At 0340Z (or : 11:40H) Radar Operations alerted us that they had contact with a Navy A-1H, squawking emergency. I went directly to Radar Operations, where at 0345Z I overheard a radio transmission from an A-1H in a flight of two, saying that they were 19 miles out and would attempt an emergency landing at this station. I immediately made the decision to scramble one helicopter to intercept the damaged aircraft. Since the aircraft was or would soon be in Thailand, I directed that the additional survival gear not be loaded aboard the aircraft. At 0350Z (11:50H) helicopter 60-280 was airborne. 

Radio transmissions upon take-off revealed that the pilot of the damaged A-1H had elected to bail out. Upon turning out of traffic we had the flight of A-1H’s, followed by the Rescue HU-16, in sight. In an attempt to gain altitude, the flight of A-1H’s made a 360° turn around the base. On approximately the 030° radial, about two miles from the base, the pilot abandoned his aircraft. The aircraft made a descending turn to the right and dove into an uninhabited, wooded area just over a mile from the base. 

1965 04 27 NKP McCutchan 9EK07 1280

 ........ and dove into an uninhabited, wooded area just over a mile from the base. 

1965 04 27 NKP McCutchan 9EK08 1280


The pilot’s parachute “blossomed” a few seconds after he left the aircraft, and he floated almost straight down in the very light wind. I flew descending circles around the pilot until he touched down in a lightly wooded area.

I was able to land in a confined rice paddy, not more than 75 yards from the downed pilot. The pilot apparently did not strike any trees, but his parachute tangled in the top of one tall tree. As I was making a hover landing, the pilot released himself from the parachute harness and dropped five to ten feet to the ground. The pararescue man and crew chief departed the aircraft and assisted the pilot to and aboard the helicopter. The pilot apparently suffered only minor superficial injuries. 

With the pilot aboard I made a max-performance take-off and returned to the base. I left the crew chief at the sight to recover the pilot’s survival equipment. The crew of a second helicopter later assisted and picked up the crew chief. After letting off the downed pilot, who was met by the base doctor at the ramp, I returned to the downed aircraft to insure that the fire had not gotten out of control. I terminated the flight at 0420Z.

The weather throughout the mission was  4,000 feet scattered to broken, visibility 15 miles , winds light and variable. 

1965 04 27 NKP McCutchan 9EK09 1280

1965 04 27 NKP McCutchan 9EK11 clup 1280

600280 NKP 27Apr65 McCutchan 9EK11 1280

HH-43B  60-0280  NKP  27 April 1965   ,  with rescued US Navy A-1H pilot LTJG S.B. Wilkes (with vest) , next to him the Flight Surgeon ; others in the photo are unknown   –   all photos by Neil McCutchan.



07.0     Replacement personnel arrived May 1965


07.01         FOURTH  GROUP  of  personnel      

                    03 May 1965   -  30 June 1965                            DET.Prov.2, PARC            

                    01 July 1965   -  10-12 October 1965                  DET.1 , 38 ARS  

The group initially was assigned for a 120 days TDY , but eventually this was extended to 180 days.


Capt. Joe E. Ballinger

Capt. Bruce C. Hepp

Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle

Capt. Thomas J. Curtis

Capt. Richard Laine

1st Lt.  Walter F. Turk

1st Lt.  Duane Martin

C/MSgt Tom Luty

TSgt. Chester E. Rainey

SSgt  Roberto Rodriguez

P   DET  CO  *

P   *

P   *

P   *


P   *



HM/FE     *


*  the Kirtland group  (DET.3, WARC)  all arrived on 03 May 1965

Pilot Duane Martin replaced pilot Stanley Schaetzle  in  Aug 1965 


A1C Harry L. Hart, Jr

A1C John H. Stewart

A1C Francisco Alverado

A1C William A. Robinson

A1C Richard A. Wallace

A2C David M. Cutillo

A2C Arthur N. Black

A2C  Marvin  Brenaman

A2C Michael T. Henebry

A3C Darwin L. Devers

Admin    *

Engine Mech *




HM/FE    *




HM/FE    *

PJ  Marvin Breneman was replaced by Gordon C. Thayer on 26 June 1965 

                          Source :  Harrington, Scott  , “They called it Naked Fanny” , Hellgate Press (2016) , Page 315 (appendices - A) 


07.02      Rescue mission   -   12 May 1965

              Source :  Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-448-12May65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA              

Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-448-12May65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   unknown serial no.

Flown by RCC  Capt. Joe E. Ballinger, 1Lt. Walter F. Turk (co-pilot) , TSgt Chester E. Rainey (HM) , A2C David M. Cutillo (HM)


SAR Objective : pilot  F-105D  61-0125   Capt. Ralph E. Schneider    -    563 TFS   Takhli AB

                            Crashed in Thailand


The mission report, made up by RCC  Capt. Joe Ballinger  (AFHRA file) :

At 0420Z the pilot of one of our helicopters on a local training flight overheard a radio transmission by an F-105 pilot that he had experienced an explosion. His wing man reported that he looked all right on his right and left. The pilot reported that he thought he had lost his “utility system” . The formation, which the helicopter crew had observed cross the base in a southernly direction, reported proceeding on to Ubon. Immediately thereafter, the pilot declared “MAY DAY” and ejected. His wing man reported that the pilot made a successful ejection and had him in sight.

The rescue helicopter was advised by “Invert” that the crash occurred 30 nautical miles on 182° heading. Another fix was from Lion 355° / 98 miles. The wing man reported having the pilot in sight walking in a rice paddy. He appeared OK. He was remaining over the survivor.

Since there was enough fuel remaining in the local helicopter and the pilot appeared OK, the decision was made to take the local helicopter and make the pickup, leaving the alert crews and helicopters on station for other emergencies.

“Invert”  vectored us to the bail out area. A HU-16 orbited over the site to relay messages. At 30 miles out on 182° heading “Invert” told us to look to the right and we would see the F-105 orbiting. The F-105 told us that he would fly over the site and pull up over the survivor. At the spot of his pull up, a spread-out chute was spotted in a rice paddy, and we immediately heard the personal locator beacon. We were at 2,500 ft MSL and approximately ½ mile from survivor.

The site was evaluated as a confined area surrounded by tall trees. Power was checked for safe landing and take off in the area. A steep approach was made into the site and the survivor plus equipment was picked up at 0450Z. The survivor had some small cuts on the face and was bruised. Other wise, he was in good shape with little sign of shock.

Helicopter returned to base with survivor at 0510Z where an examination by the base flight surgeon revealed that he experienced no notable injuries.

Excellent vectoring by radar, assistance by the wing man and the survivor’s excellent knowledge and use of survival equipment made this mission almost routine. 

The F-105D pilot was transferred to the HU-16 and was flown to Udorn AB.


07.03      First  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam  ,  17 May 1965


               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-469-17May65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF  Collection, AFHRA              


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-469-17May65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0280   "Tick 22"   (Low bird)

Flown by RCC  Capt. Bruce C. Hepp , Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle (co-pilot) , SSgt  Roberto Rodriguez  (HM) , A2C  Richard A. Wallace  (PJ)

HH-43B   62-4510   "Tick 41"    (High bird)

Flown by 1st Lt.  Walter F.  Turk , Capt. Joe E. Ballinger (co-pilot) , A1C  William A. Robinson (HM) , A2C Marvin F. Brenaman  (PJ)

SAR Objective  :  pilot  F-105D  62-4222   Capt.  James J.  Taliaferro    -   67 TFS , 18 TFW  Korat AB

                              Shot down over North Vietnam


The mission report, made up by RCC  Capt. Bruce Hepp (AFHRA file) :

At approximately 0725Z Radar Operations notified the helicopter alert pilot that "Trinity"  (ASOC Udorn) had called stating that a pilot had ejected in North Vietnam. His position was plotted at 19°05’ N, 104°42’ E. The pilot was reported to be in hostile area on a hill side near the Song Ca River and Route 7. Preparation for the take off was started at this time. It was determined that the auxiliary fuel drums would be necessary to accomplish the mission. Drums were loaded and fueled. 

At approximately 0740Z Trinity contacted the alert pilot stating that Det.3 was requesting two helicopters be scrambled as soon as possible. Maps for both aircraft were drawn up and flight planning accomplished. As the distance to the pick up site and return was greater than the computed radius of action, an alternate destination was established at 18°23’N, 103°39’E.

At 0815Z all crew members were briefed and takeoff accomplished at 0825Z. A climb was immediately started to obtain sufficient altitude prior to crossing the Mekong River. At 0825Z   “Leica 66” , an HU-16,  contacted the lead helicopter, call sign “Tick 22”. “Tick 22” was informed that “Leica”  would be escorting the 2 helicopters to the pick up site. At 0838Z “Tick 22”  and "41"  crossed the river at 4,800’ MSL.  The climb was continued to 5,300’ at which time both helicopters leveled due to a broken top overcast cloud deck. The flight was continued for about 20 minutes before locating an area where the climb could be continued. By 0915Z both “Tick” aircraft  were able to reach an altitude of 8,100’ .

After circumnavigating several known AAA positions “Tick 22”  was flying between layers with intermittent rain and decreasing visibility. “Tick 41” broke right to avoid any danger of contacting “Tick 22” during IFR conditions. After approximately 30 minutes of intermittent IFR conditions and mutiple tone transmissions, for homing purposes, both “Tick 22” and "41" broke out in the clear at 7,400’ . Contact was maintained between “Firewood Flight” (2 Navy A-1H’s) , “Leica 66” , and both “Tick “  aircraft throughout the mission. The steers transmitted by “Firewood” enabled “Tick 21” and "41" to locate the pick up site without having to fly over Route 7 and the river. 

At this time “Tick 22” requested that “Firewood Flight” suppress enemy ground fire in the immediate area. Both “Tick” aircraft arrived over the pick up site at 0955Z.  Both “Firewood” aircraft were orbiting in the area attempting to surpress fire coming from a position approximately ¼ mile from the downed pilot. One of the “Firewood” aircraft had already picked up a hit on a previous run down the river. At 0957Z  “Tick 22” visually spotted the orange and white parachute of the downed pilot plus hearing intermittent URT 21 beacon transmissions. “Tick 22”  started a spiralling descent to accomplish the hoist pick up. The downed pilot, Capt. J.J. Taliaferro, was situated on a very steep hillside covered with bamboo and heavy, dense undergrowth. He made several transmissions on his URC 11 radio and ignited a smoke flare to assist the helicopter crews in spotting his exact location in the trees. 

“Firewood Flight” continued to suppress enemy ground fire. This was accomplished with 20 MM as “Tick 22” made the approach. The hoist operator, pararescue man, and the pilot in the right seat were firing M-16 (AR-15) rifles to cover the pilot on the ground and to hold down fire coming from an area approximately 50 yards behind and below the hovering helicopter. “Tick 41” descended behind “Tick 22” and orbited 200 ft above the pick up area using all available personnel with M-16 rifles to hold down other hostile fire in the immediate area. 

A hover was established over the orange smoke. However, it was determined that the pilot was about 20 feet up hill from this position. The survivor then ignited a second smoke flare, and moved through the bamboo and undergrowth to reach the hoist sling. It was impossible to move the helicopter any nearer as the blades were clearing the trees by 5 feet or less and descent was impossible because of other trees and bamboo under the helicopter. The entire 100’ cable was extended ; however, the survivor had only a few inches of spare cable. It took approximately 4 minutes for the downed pilot to move the 20 feet from his original position to the hoist sling ( the undergrowth was so dense he could scarcely move....). He entered the sling without difficulty and the hoist was immediately started up. 

While the pick up was being accomplished the two “Firewood” aircraft expended seventy six 2.75 rockets to further suppress hostile fire in the area. As soon as the survivor was brought into the aircraft he immediately pulled his 38 cal. revolver and began firing out the rear of the helicopter. An immediate takeoff was executed and a zig zag course with 3 to 5 second legs was flown during climb out as tracer bullets were still being fired at the departing helicopter from a position down hill from the pick up site. 

“Victor Control” (an AirAmerica C-7A) had entered the area during the hoist pick up and along with the other mission aircraft escorted “Tick 22” and 41 out of the valley. After reaching 3,500’ above the ground all suppression fire was terminated. Both “Tick”  aircraft continued to climb to 10,000’ . “Victor Control” continued to give steer headings to “Tick 22”  to eliminate flying over any AAA or other hostile areas. After reaching 10,000’  and fuel status checked the decision was made to proceed to the Mekong River and then southeast to point of original departure. The additional fuel available was attributed to the altitude at cruise and lack of strong winds. “Leica 66” and the “Firewood” aircraft along with “Victor Control” escorted the two “Tick” aircraft to within 10 miles of final destination at which time they broke off to enter the local traffic pattern. 

The remainder of the flight took place without incident and final landing made at 1130Z.  “Tick 22” had 100 lbs of fuel remaining upon termination. “Leica 66”  departed  Nakhon Phanom AB  at 1206Z with the rescued F-105 pilot on board. Mission terminated for “Tick” aircraft. Total time flown during mission by “Tick” aircraft was 6 + 10 with 2 sorties.  5 + 15 of this time was flown over hostile territory. The fact that neither helicopter received any hits, can be directly attributed to the very excellent air cover supplied by the USN A-1H’s .  


The following details were provided by Joe Ballinger and published on the “USAF Rotorheads” website.   Source :  “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ ,  web master James Burns.

Capt. Ballinger :  “Taliaferro went down on the Black River on 17 May, in NVN and we were asked if we could make it. We did and that became our new job”. The successful rescue mission of Capt. Taliaferro resulted in all eight crew members on the HH-43’s being awarded The Silver Star.

NKP Mission 17May65 SilverStar Rotorheads

General Hunter Harris, commander of Pacific Air Forces, presented the Silver Star - the na­tion's third highest award for valor - to (L to R) Joe E. Ballinger, Bruce C. Hepp, Walter F. Turk, and Roberto Rodriguez  (at NKP , unknown date, ca. Sep65 , see CH-3C in background) . The 4 other receipiants were no longer at NKP :

In the U. S. at Hamilton AFB, CA , were Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle,  A2C Richard A. Wallace, and  A2C Marvin F. Brenaman. Listed as missing in action as a result of the rescue mission on 20Sep65 is A1C William A. Robinson.

1965 05 17 SilverStar Presentation Kaman RT

Photo published in Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Dec65-Jan66 , page 5


07.04      Second  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  02 June 1965  

               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-536-2Jun65 , IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA              


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-536-02Jun65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   unknown serial number/call sign

Flown by RCC  Capt.  Thomas J. Curtis  - other crew members unknown

HH-43B   unknown serial number/call sign

Flown by  Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle  -  other crew members unknown

SAR Objective  :  pilot  U.S. Navy  A-4E  151161    Lt. John B. McKamey    -    VA-23 

                              Shot down over North Vietnam,  near Hoa Son, ca. 20 M  NW of Vinh                                      *)

                                    *)  Book:  Campbell , Douglas E.  (2015)   - U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Aircraft Damaged or Destroyed During the Vietnam War  -  page 97


SAR Objective : pilot of USN A-4E .  Wingman notified SAR Destroyer who in turn notified a HU-16B in precautionary orbit over the Gulf of Tonkin. Time 14:27 hrs. The Albatross began moving south to water orbit opposite incident site. US Marines helicopters from Quang Tri were alerted via SSB for possible mission (location not confirmed at that time).

Nakhon Phanom HH-43B helicopters were alerted as well. An HC-54 on Laotian border orbit was alerted and assumed on scene commander duties vice HU-16B. The Huskies were scrambled from NKP after confirmation of the coördinates and passed OSC duties to HC-54, who would escort the helicopters to the site. Weather at NKP delayed the takeoff.  

The A-4E was hit by ground fire at low level, the engine quit and the aircraft caught fire. Objective bailed out and had a good chute. Observed by his wingman. Later observed picking up the chute and proceeding to hill approx 400 yards away. When helicopters arrived RESCAP made low passes and reported no signals from objective who had not been visible since picking the chute. RESCAP state they believe they would have seen any signal. No electronic signals received at any time.

Helicopters remained on high orbit for twenty minutes over site, then directed to return to Nakhon Phanom. Prepositioned fuel had been arranged for helicopters thru coordination by Udorn ASOC with USAIRA Vientiane and Air America but was not necessary. Navy A-1H escorted helicopters and USAF F-105 provided RESCAP.

RESCAP aircraft, making low passes on site after helicopters arrived, reported heavy small arms fire (one RESCAP received a hit) and occassional bursts of AA. Area is not heavily wooded and is heavily populated. The Rescue Mission was suspended due to lack of visual or electronic signals from objective. Possibility of capture because of populated area considered high.  RCC of the HC-54 was Capt. Schultz, and for the HU-16B, Captain Churchwell.

NOTE : pilot Lt. John B. McKamey was captured. He was released on 12 February 1973 in Operation “Homecoming”.  *)


07.05      Third  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam  ,  08 June 1965

                 Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-562-8Jun65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF  Collection, AFHRA              


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-562-08Jun65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0280   "Curse 22"    (Low bird)

Flown by RCC  Capt.  Thomas J. Curtis , Capt. Bruce C. Hepp (co-pilot) , A2C  David M. Cutillo (HM) , A2C  Richard A. Wallace  (PJ)

HH-43B   60-0279   "Curse 21"    (High bird)

Flown by  Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle ,  1st Lt. Walter F. Turk (co-pilot) , A1C  Francisco Alvarado (HM) , A2C Michael T. Henebry  (PJ)

“Invert”  Radar Controller  :  1st Lt.  James E. Foote

SAR Objective  :  pilot  F-105D  62-4290  “Teak 01”   Capt.  Harold W. Rademacher  -   354 TFW  Korat AB

                              Shot down over North Vietnam


The mission report, made up by RCC  Capt. Thomas J. Curtis (AFHRA file) : 

0924Z  -  “White 34” called “Invert” Control and advised that the pilot of “Teak 01” was ejecting in the vicinity of his target area.

0926Z  -  “Invert” Control called the Rescue duty officer and passed information called in by “White 34”. The helicopter RCC’s proceeded to radar operations.

0934Z  -  Initiated call to “Jimmy” via SSB and intercepted the duty officer’s call to me. He advised me of the ejection and to stand by for scramble of our helicopters. He also stated that “Buyer Charlie” (HU-16B from Da Nang AB) was enroute to the scene. Fuel requirements for the radius, and an out of ground effect hover had been preplanned and the auxilliary tanks were being filled with the required fuel at this time. 0955Z  -   Received a handline call from Major Lawrence. He advised us to scramble the helicopters and that “Buyer 44” (HU-16B)  was departing Udorn as soon as possible. 1005Z  -   “Curse 22” and "21" airborne and climbing to 9,000 feet. Crossed the Mekong River under Invert’s control as we were unable to contact either  “Buyer Charlie” or “Buyer 44”. 

“Milestone 604”, a U.S. Navy  RESCAP A-1H, joined with “Curse” Flight as we leveled at 9,000. An initial heading of 045°  was maintained to avoid known AAA positions. 1035Z  -   “Curse 22” and "21" turned to a heading of 085°  and proceeded direct to the target area. Established radio contact with “Buyer Charlie” .  “Milestone 604” still flying RESCAP for the flight. 1040Z  -  Established visual contact with “Buyer Charlie”  and advised “Invert” that the HU-16B would assume navigation for us. 1100Z  -   “Milestone 601”  (U.S. Navy  A-1H) was continuing to fly low RESCAP on the downed pilot and had a good mark on his location. He had received the URT-21 beacon at intermittent intervals in addition to a visual sighting of a flare. 1105Z  -   Requested “Milestone” to mark the target and advise “Curse” Flight of any ground fire or movement of unfriendlies in the area. “Teak Spare” (F-105D)  and “Milestone”  stated they had experienced no ground fire nor observed any movement of personnel. “Curse 22”  started a descent from 9,000’  and  “Curse 21”  was instructed to remain at altitude unless required to make the pick up. “Milestone 601” continued to fly low RESCAP and gave a final mark on the area.

1112Z  -   “Curse 22”  called for radio silence and then flew directly over the survivor on the first pass. A good URT-21 signal was received and the pilot also ignited a pen gun flare. Since the first pass was downwind, a hard 180°  turn was made to get in position over the smoke before it dissipated. An out-of-ground effect hover was established on the east side of the ridgeline, which was quite steep and covered by 100’ trees and dense undergrowth. The helicopter was lowered as much as possible into the trees and the full length of the hoist cable was required to reach the survivor. The hover required 28.5 lbs of torque initially, and 30 lbs after the survivor was in the sling. (Coordinates of pick up point -  105°51’30”E   18°08’ N). 

1117Z  -   The hoist pick up was completed and a climb was made directly over the area to 6,000’.  “Curse 21” joined up and a climb on course was made to 10,000’.  “Buyer Charlie”  departed for home plate and “Buyer 44”  assumed on-scene command.  “Curse” Flight  maintained 10,000’ over a broken to occasionally overcast condition until 35 miles from Nakhon Phanom. We found a hole and descended VFR below the clouds. “Milestone and “Teak” Flight continued to fly RESCAP until we crossed the Mekong River at 1225Z.  

1235Z  -   “Curse” Flight landed at Nakhon Phanom. Mission complete. 

The Rescued F-105D pilot was transferred to HU-16B  “Buyer 44” (pilot Capt. Brunner, 33 ARS)  and flown to Udorn AB, Thailand.

33 ARS HU-16B  “Buyer Charlie”  was piloted by Capt. Pratt , on TDY to Da Nang AB, Vietnam.

U.S. Navy A-1H aircraft  “Milestone 601”  and "604" were assigned to VA-196, based at USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA31) sailing in the South China Sea.

Aircraft with call sign  “White 34”  was probably a KC-135A.  


From the following website page  (biographies)  :  http://iagenweb.org/boards/wright/biographies/index.cgi?read=563870

 HAROLD W. “BUFF” RADEMACHER   -    rescued F-105D pilot  08 June 1965

It was on his second TDY to Vietnam in 1965 when his aircraft was shot down and he was wounded.  In Buff’s words, “On June 8, 1965 I was flight leader for four aircraft that were on a mission over North Vietnam.  At about 4:30 p.m. we were all set to hit a target of opportunity, a bridge protected with air defense guns.  I made a pass, drew fire and my F-105 took a single hit, but that one hit was all it took.  The plane was on fire and I had to eject.  My parachute came down in difficult terrain.  I was fairly well beaten up with facial cuts and some other injuries, and found myself on the floor of a deep ravine with high peaks on every side.  The area was densely forested; nothing could be seen but 100 foot-tall trees in all directions. I was in big trouble and I knew it, having gone down in North Vietnam at that early time in the war, my chances of being picked up and gotten out of there were really slim. The remaining three planes of the flight watched as I went down and kept that location on the ground in view.  As they circled the area, my second in command called for air rescue.  Unknown to me at the time, when air rescue was on the way they asked for an estimate of how long it would be before enemy troops could get to the downed pilot (me).  Looking down at the really bad spot where I was located, (the best way I can describe it, I was down in the bottom of a deep hole with trees all around), my second in command was only half joking when he replied that it would take enemy troops about three weeks, at the earliest, to reach where I was on the ground. He knew air rescue would not have to contend with enemy interference, but they were going to have a tough time getting me out due to the limitations of the rescue helicopter and its equipment in making a pickup, and especially so from my unfortunate place on the ground. In those early days the big long range H-53 “Jolly Green Giants” were not yet available.  Air rescue was equipped with small jet engine helicopters of the type in use at that time for emergencies at major airports in the United States.  They had limited range and were very ill-suited for air rescue service in our environment, but that’s what we had in 1965.  Two of those, each carrying an extra 55-gal. barrel of fuel inboard, had launched and they set down together and refueled well inside North Vietnam, enroute to my crash site.  One took on just enough fuel to return to base, while the other refueled with most of what was in both barrels, and it continued on north. That helicopter arrived over my location less than two hours after my plane went down.  But, I was still in plenty of trouble.  There were no open areas anywhere near me and the helicopter had limited loiter time.  They either had to get me out of there quick, or they had to leave without me.  There was no open space for the helicopter to descend safely below the tree tops, and the hoist cable was not as long as the trees were tall.  The helicopter came to a hover above me and lowered the penetrator  *), but it was still suspended above me after the cable was fully paid out.  Without hesitation, the helicopter slowly descended, bending down the tree tops, until finally I could reach the penetrator.  By 6:30, they had me out of there and on the way home.  That pilot and crew had just set a new record, making the northern-most rescue ever from North Vietnam at that time in the war.  They took a tremendous risk to save me and I owe them my life.”

                                     *) Note :  The forest penetrator was delivered to the detachment early in June 1965



07.06      Rescue  mission    -  09 June 1965      update 7/12/2020

                  Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-568-9Jun65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF  Collection, AFHRA

                 Source :    Book  LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) “PJ’s in Vietnam”, Northern PJ Press (2000) , page 417   

                 Source :   Book  Harrington, Scott. (2016). “They called it Naked Fanny”. Hellgate Press (page 147).    


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-568-9Jun65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0280     "Flesh 22"        update

Flown by RCC  Capt. Richard A. Laine , Capt. Joe E. Ballinger (co-pilot) , A3C  Darwin L. Devers  (HM) , A2C  Michael T. Henebry  (PJ)

 HH-43B scrambled from Det.Prov.3, PARC at Ubon AB : 59-1562  “Rescue 562”  update

SAR Objective :  crew  F-4C 64-0674  “Leopard 4”   Capt. Carroll D. Keeter , Capt. Jerry L. Getman  - assigned to  43 TFS / 45 TFS , 15 TFW  Ubon AB

                            Crashed  approx. 70 NM  SSW of NKP, Thailand                          update 


At 1305hrs the wingman (“Leopard 3”) of a F-4C in trouble notified the HU-16B which was in a precautionary orbit. The HU-16B  “Lilt 43”, as on scene commander,  scrambled a HH-43B from Nakhon Phanom AB, airborne at 0509Z.

Also one HH-43B from DET.Prov.3, PARC at Ubon AB was scrambled.

The F-4C ran out of fuel and crashed 60 NM SSW of Nakhon Phanom AB. The NKP Huskie arrived at the crash site first and landed at 0600Z in a clearing of rice paddies. They determined that the F-4C crew was in good condition , except for a few small scratches.

The Ubon based HH-43B “Rescue 562” with pilot Capt William F. Cunningham, Jr. (DET.Prov.3) landed at 0645Z and returned the survivors to their home base. The crewmembers for the Ubon Huskie are unknown.

“Flesh 22”  departed the location at 0700Z and landed at NKP at 0810Z.    update


Captain Joe Ballinger, co-author of the book “They Called it Naked Fanny”(page 151)  remembers :

The F-4C was returning from a bombing mission over South Vietnam and flying towards Thailand across Laos, when a request for a tanker (KC-135A) was heard by “Invert”, as he was running low on fuel. The pilot also notified that some of the ordnance did not release. The weather was very bad (Monsoon season). Several attemps to hook up failed. Then the F-4C flamed out. After the aircraft had crossed the Mekong River the crew abandoned the aircraft.

This incident was listed by the USAF as a combat save (the first F-4 combat loss) and since the Ubon Huskie picked up the two crew members, they were credited for the save.


07.07      Range Extension Fuel System  - part 2


From a USAF film in a series named  “USAF Air Rescue Operations, Nakhon Phanom AB, June 1965” ; Source :  National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, Reel 4.  The film can be viewed on YouTube -  Film (4)  :   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sUEHE7RwEo

The date for this part of the film was 10 June 1965. Seen is a more permanent internal fuel system, no more fuel barrels. Unfortunately there is no clear view of how the “new” REFS system looks like.

See website page for Bien Hoa (https://www.ragay.nl/hh-43-sea/bien-hoa  ), chapter 03.19 - two of these 150 gallon fuel tanks out of the Det.4 HH-43F’s were delivered to NKP ca. May 1965

Collage RangeExtension 1190

Range Extension Fuel System (REFS) , stills copied from the YouTube film (4) , 10 June 1965

Aux Fuel Tank at NhaTrang Ballinger The 150 gallon fuel tank, here photographed by Mr. Ballinger at Nha Trang AB during 1967


07.08      Rescue  mission    -  15 June 1965

               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-595-15Jun65  not available

               Mission -595- is however given in a 38th ARS letter with subject “Evaluation of ARS Saves in SEA”, dated 18 Oct 1965. This -595- mission was part of the Det (P) 2nd listing.


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-595-15Jun65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   unknown serial

Flown by unknown Det.Prov.2  crew

NOTE : The Book  Harrington, Scott.  “They called it Naked Fanny.”  Chapter 34, page 275,  “This and That Memories”, has the following comment by Joe Ballinger: “We picked up the crew and brought them back to NKP. Then we gave them assistance at the crash site while they recovered their bird”.


SAR Objective :  crew  HH-43B  59-1562  Det.Prov.3   Ubon AB : Capt. Vance E. Need (P) , Capt. Charles Proft  (CP), and two unknown crewmembers

Accident site in Thailand  

NOTE : the accident took place on 14 June , but the crew stayed with the aircraft until the next morning


The Mission Report is not availble. However, here is the story of what had happened, written by the pilot , Captain Vance Need  :

We had flown a routine mission from Ubon AB to Nakhon Phanom AB and were on our return trip when the accident happened. At approximately 4:45 PM on June 14, 1965, we were cruising along at 1,500 feet altitude and approximately 90 knots when there was a loud bang, flames shot out of the tail pipe of the engine and we immediately lost all power. I lowered the collective to the bottom and began looking for a landing spot. All I could see was trees except for one small cleared area. I headed for that area and made 2 emergency radio transmissions as we fell. I can still remember my exact words; "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, ”call-sign”  going down 10 miles southwest of Savannakhet." I repeated the same words the second time. As we neared the cleared area we were still above tree top level so I pulled back on the stick to stop our forward motion and leveled the helicopter to descend straight down. As we neared the ground, I pulled up on the collective to slow our descent but I ran out of collective before we ran out of altitude. We hit hard enough to drive one of the rear struts through the fuselage and the rotor blades sheared off on the high tree stumps in the cleared area but the helicopter remained upright. The only injury was when my co-pilot, Captain Chuck Proft, jerked his helmet off and scratched his cheek. 

Almost immediately the helicopter was surrounded by local inhabitants who formed a circle around us and sat on their haunches holding various weapons including crossbows and blunderbusses. After about an hour the Thai border patrol came by with approximately 8 or 9 men (This was an area with guerilla activity). One of the men was carrying a German Luger with a long barrel (I estimated 8 inches) and he pointed it at my co-pilot and said "Goodbye GI." That was the scariest time of the entire incident. The Lieutenant explained that his man could not speak English and those were the only English words he knew. Myself and a crew member went into the town of Mukdahan with some of the patrol and my co-pilot and other crew member stayed at the helicopter with the remainder of the patrol. We attempted to use a local field telephone to reach Ubon AB but were unsuccessful. We stayed in the home of a local official and returned to the helicopter early the next morning. Shortly thereafter we heard the beat of helicopter blades and I shot a flare into the air. We were soon rescued by a HH-43. 

The accident was caused by failure of a gear in the transmission which sits immediately in front of the engine air intake. Pieces of the transmission gear passed through the engine and destroyed it. The helicopter was placed under guard and mechanics came in and broke it down into pieces which were loaded onto a flat bed semi-trailer. The nearby road allowed them to take the helicopter by truck to Bangkok where it was repaired by Thai Airways and put back into service.

591562 14Jun65 NikhomKS VNeed scan166

HH-43B  59-1562 (Ubon), accident 14Jun65-photo by Vance Need

591562 14Jun65 Engine VNeed scan170

The accident was caused by failure of a gear in the transmission which sits immediately in front of the engine air intake. Pieces of the transmission gear passed through the engine and destroyed it  - photo by Vance Need



07.09      Fourth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  23 June 1965


               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  3-PARC-630-23Jun65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF  Collection, AFHRA              

               Source :   Book : Tilford, Earl H. , Jr.  “Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia”, Center for  Air Force History (1992) , page 66, 67 


Rescue Mission number 3-PARC-630-23Jun65      DET.Prov.2, PARC

HH-43B   60-0280   "Hobby 22"    (Low bird)

Flown by RCC  Capt. Bruce C. Hepp ,  Capt. Thomas J. Curtis (co-pilot) , A1C  Francisco Alvarado (HM) , A2C  James E. Poole  (PJ)

HH-43B   60-0279   "Hobby 21"     (High bird)

Flown by  1st Lt. Walter F. Turk , Capt. Stanley O. Schaetzle (co-pilot) , A2C  David M. Cutillo (HM) , A2C Michael T. Henebry  (PJ)

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4319   “Pine 01”   Maj.  Robert W. Wilson   -  357TFS, 355 TFW  Korat AB

                             Shot down over North Vietnam


FROM  Tilford ’s book : 


On 23 June 1965, Major Robert Wilson of the Takhli-based 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron was on a combat mission in an F-105D Thunderchief when he was hit by ground fire over south­western North Vietnam. Wilson ejected, parachuted towards a green jungle canopy and eventually found himself hanging upside­ down in a tree 150 feet above a shadowy jungle floor, gasping for breath and swinging from side to side. Wilson eventually cut himself free and used his survival radio to reach an HC-54 Skymaster which vectored a flight of four A-1H Skyraider aircraft to his aid. The Skyraider pilots sighted Major Wilson's parachute canopy and saw no enemy troops in the area. Wisely, they 'backed-off' and flew orbit at an anchor point some distance away so as not to lure North Vietnamese troops to the downed Thud pilot. Should the enemy intervene anyway, the Skyraider pilots were prepared to cover Wilson with 20-mm cannon fire and 500-lb bombs. Theirs was also a hazardous task, since they might have to fight at tree-top level where even a single bullet from an infantryman's rifle spelt danger.

For once, the short-legged HH­-43 helicopter was able to effect a rescue in the enemy's back-yard. More than an hour after Wilson's bail-out, an HH-43, guided by radio traffic from the HC-54, the A-1Hs and Wilson himself - swept down and, with a major effort by its PJ, plucked the pilot from the foliage. 

Mission Narrative , written by the  RCC of the HH-43B,  Captain Bruce Hepp  : 

  1. At 0618Z the alert duty pilot, located in Radar Operations at “Invert”, was notified that a pilot from “Pine Flight” was ejecting. A set of coordinates were given by the wing man. They were plotted on a map, and a flight plan was initiated. It was estimated that 25 gal of extra fuel would be needed. The 2 alert aircraft were fueled and all other necessary equipment was loaded. 
  1. At 0622Z a second set of coordinates (WE 82 76) were obtained from Invert Operations. These were plotted and found to be about 13 miles further north than the original set. Maps were drawn up with a flight plan route to avoid known enemy positions and AAA. 
  1. At 0638Z Maj. Lawrence at ASOC-V called to initiate an immediate scramble. All crew members prepared for takeoff. 
  1. At 0653Z both helicopters, “Hobby 22” and “21” were airborne. Contact was made with “Uncap 32”. Several steers were given by “Uncap 32” and “Pine Flight” aircraft, who were orbiting in the pickup area. 
  1. At approximately 0730Z both “Hobby” aircraft were cruising at 9,000 ft. Heavy cloud build-ups and moderate rain made navigation difficult. “Hobby 22” entered a cloud-bank and was unable to remain VFR. A 180° turn was initiated and “Hobby 21” was notified to start a turn in the opposite direction. A descend was started and “Hobby 22” broke out at about 7,500’ between layers. An orbit was established and steers were transmitted for “Hobby 21” who had become separated. “Hobby 22” located a hole and attempted to descend below the overcast so that the flight could be continued. After descending to approximately 1,500’ AGL, it was determined that the cloud cover extended to ground level. A climb was again started and “Hobby 22” leveled at about 8,500’. A light area was located and “Hobby 22” managed to get through to a semi-clear area and proceed VFR to the pickup site. 
  1. At 0810Z “Hobby 22” arrived over the pickup site and was receiving the URT 21 signal. The A-1H’s flying low cover made several passes over the area where the survivor was suppose to be located.  “Hobby 22” descended to 1,500’ AGL. A transmission from the survivor over guard channel, stated , “Helicopter turn right, turn right”. A right hand orbit was set up. The survivor was requested to fire a flare. He answered that he would give us some smoke. No smoke was observed as a descent was started. At approximately 300’AGL the parachute was spotted hanging in a tree top in the bottom of a small valley. The location was approximately ½ mile from the position originally indicated by the A-1H’s. One more orbit was required to position the helicopter over the survivor so a pickup could be accomplished. Approximately 60 feet of hoist cable was necessary to reach the survivor. He was located high in the top of a large tree. It was estimated that his position was about 150 feet above the ground. The helicopter hovered to within 2 or 3 feet rotor tip clearance from other trees which were beside the aircraft. Some rather careful maneuvering was required to thread the hoist cable down to the survivor. He entered the hoist sling at which time he dropped his survival equipment. The hoist was started up; however, the survivor became tangled in the shroud lines from his chute. The hoist was let down a short distance and the survivor kicked free. The hoist was again started up. No further complications were encountered. The pickup was completed at 0815Z and an immediate takeoff was initiated. A circling climb was utilised to obtain enough altitude to clear AAA in the imediate vvicinity. During the climb “Hobby 21” joined up with “Hobby 22” . “Hobby 21” had been orbiting over the pickup site while “Hobby 22” was making the pickup. A heading of 270° was established after reaching 6,500’. The climb was continued to 9,000’ . 

One A-1H ("Locket 581") and “Uncap 32” escorted “Hobby Flight” back to “Invert” where a landing was made at 0925Z.  The survivor was transferred to the “Uncap” aircraft (HC-54)  for return to “Brigham”.    Mission closed for both “Hobby” aircraft. 

Note by Ragay : 

The RESCAP A-1H aircraft (US.Navy)  “Locket 581”  and “589” , were assigned to VA-152   and  stationed at the aircraft carrier “USS  Oriskany”  , sailing in the South Chine Sea. 

The HC-54 with call-sign  “Uncap 32” appeared to be HC-54D  O-72702 of 36 ARS , TDY to “Brigham” = Udorn AB.

The return of the F-105D pilot Major Wilson, with TAC patch,  appeared to have been documented in a USAF film series named  “USAF Air Rescue Operations , Udorn RTAFB, June 1965” ; Source : 

National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, Reel 9 and 10. 

Both film parts can be viewed on YouTube : 

(9)  :   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ait1Gxj1pNI    

(10) :    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk3hOReihgc

In the film, Major Lawrence is welcoming Major Wilson after the landing of the HC-54D

(note : Major Lawrence gave orders to scramble the HH-43B’s – see 3rd paragraph in the above mission report).

Collage part2 1190

These photos are stills copied from the above mentioned USAF films, presented on YouTube; National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, Reel 9 and 10.     

NOTE : The Book  Harrington, Scott.   “They called it Naked Fanny.”  Chapter 19, page 156, 157,  “Thud Driver in a Tree,” has  several photos of Major Wilson after arrival at NKP. The same day he was flown to Udorn.                            


Mission Narrative , written by the  RCC of the HU-16B,  Captain Donald Hollfelder  : 

  1. This report reflects action taken by “Figmo Bravo” on Det 3 PARC Mission Number 630, 23 June 1965. “Figmo Bravo”, HU-16B 10058, of the 33 Air Rescue Sq was commanded by Captain Donald C. Hollfelder. Additional crew members were: Captain David P. Westenburger, co-pilot; 1st Lt Donald S. Price, Navigator; SSgt Frank J. Trombino, Radio-Operator; A1C James M. Allen, Flight-Mechanic; A1C Eldrige M. Neal, Pararescue; and SSgt Patrick Abernathy, Photographer. 
  1. Cronology of Events : 

1415H  “Figmo Bravo” intercepted the following call on UHF Guard “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, This is “Pine Two”. “Pine” lead has been hit, bailed out over target, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY”. At this time “Figmo Bravo” was on SAR Patrol at Coordinates 18:10 N  106:35 East with “Locket 581” and Wingman (two Navy A-1H Aircraft) as Rescap. Climb was immediately commenced from 2000 feet, SAR patrol altitude. Captain Hollfelder responded to the distress on guard obtaining bailout coordinates and bearing to distressed pilot. Simultaniously, Det 3 PARC was notified of the emergency via single side band. “Figmo Bravo” then returned to UHF SAR patrol frequency and advised “Texaco” , a U.S. Navy Destroyer, of the emergency. “Pine Flight” left distress scene due to low fuel. 

1425H  “Figmo Bravo” crossed the coast of North Vietnam west bound, 10 miles north of Dong Hoi at 7,000 feet and climbing. “Locket Flight”  was in loose trail formation. The coastal weather was 2,500 feet scattered, 5,000 feet broken, Tops 7,000 feet. Det 3 PARC was notified of penetration, estimate for the search area of 1446H and helicopters were requested. Bailout position was confirmed as 4 miles west 17 degrees 52’ N  105:52 E with “Pine Two”. “Texaco” was advised of our departure from SAR Patrol station and intentions. 

1436H   Det 3 PARC advised that “Uncap 32” , a HC-54, was also enroute to the area and that a top cover of fighters was on the way. 

1440H  UHF radio contact was established with “Uncap 32” who had received a different set of bailout coordinates. It was mutually decided that “Uncap 32” would commence search at his coordinates and “Figmo Bravo” would commence at 17:52’ N  105:52’ E. 

1446H  “Figmo Bravo”  arrived on scene at 11,000 feet and commenced an expanding square electronic search using a two mile track spacing. 

1449H  On the third leg of the search pattern a loud distress homing signal was received. Bearings indicated “Figmo Bravo” was over the downed pilot. Captain Hollfelder assumed on scene command. “Uncap 32” was directed to proceed to 17 52’N  105 52’ E at 12,000 feet. “Locket Flight’ was sent down to attempt to pin point the survivor with their UHF homers while making low passes. Det 3 PARC was advised of the situation. 

1502H  “Uncap 32”, “Whiplash” (F-4C High cover) and “Bango Flight” (F-105) were all on station. “Hobby 21”  and “22”  HH-43F ’s were enroute. Weather was low soattered, high broken to overcast with light rain, thunder storms surrounded the area. “Figmo Bravo” commenced decent to 6,000 feet for more effective visual and electronic pin pointing of the downed pilot. “Uncap 32” was to maintain altitude, assist in vectoring “Hobby 21” and “22” to the area and keep “Invert”  (RADAR) appraised of the on scene situation. 

1530H  “Locket 581” reported sighting a pen gun flare from the downed pilot. Det 3 PARC advised that there were known flack positions 5 miles north and 5 miles south of the bail out site. Location of flack positions was relayed to all aircraft by “Figmo Bravo” and East/West flight path was recommended over the bail-out site. Rescap aircraft were further advised to keep a look out for troops moving into the area. “Locket 581” acknowledged. 

1532H  “Figmo Bravo” established radio contact with “Pine Lead” , the downed pilot on UHF Guard. “Pine Lead” advised that he was OK and had no broken bones. Captain Hollfelder acknowledged and suggested that he conserve his radio batteries by maintaining radio silence until the choppers entered the area. ETA of the choppers was relayed to “Pine Lead”  as 1550H. Voice contact with survivor could only be made directly over his position. 

1550H  “Pine Lead” again called on Guard stating that he was OK and that the A-1 Rescap had just passed directly over head. Captain Hollfelder advised that weather had caused a slight delay of the choppers. Their ETA was now 1610H. Captain Hollfelder again suggested that “Pine Lead” conserve his batteries pending arrival of the choppers. 

1610H  “Hobby 22” arrived and commenced a circling descent from 8,000 feet. While “Figmo Bravo” and “Locket 581” pointed out the downed pilot’s position. 

1612H  “Pine Lead” began vectoring “Hobby 22” into him on Guard. 

1613H  “Pine Lead” set off the day end of a Mark 13 Flare. The orange smoke was clearly visible to all. 

1617H  Hoist pick-up of “Pine Lead” was completed by “Hobby 22”. Det 3 PARC was advised. 

1618H  “Locket Flight” was assigned to escort “Hobby 21” and “22” to Nakhon Phanom accompanied by “Uncap” and “Bango” aircraft. “Figmo Bravo” commenced climb to 10,000 feet and relinquished SAR Control to “Uncap 32”. 

1625H  “Figmo Bravo”  departed scene east bound at 10,000 feet and established radio contact with “Texaco”. 

1645H  “Figmo Bravo” recrossed the coast of North Vietnam at 10,000 feet descending and reestablished SAR Patrol with “Locket 589” , Navy A-1H  as Rescap. 

1800H  “Figmo Bravo” was released from SAR Patrol by Det 3 PARC.

Specific Comments. 

Communications with Det 3 PARC were excellent throughout the mission. Services of Rescap and Top cover aircraft were both adequate and timely. 

The great value of the UHF distress homer and UHF voice communications employed by the downed pilot cannot be overemphasised. Without these electronic signals, this pilot could not have been located from the air. He had landed in a heavily forrested area and his chute was not visible. 

A faster and longer range helicopter stationed at Nakhon Phanom would immeassureably reduce time period during which SAR Forces and survivors are exposed to possible attack by hostile forces. In this instance the on scene time could have been cut in half if faster helicopters with IFF capability had been available to make the pick-up. 

Cooperation between the various forces on scene was especially outstanding in view of intermittant UHF contacts resulting from the requirement to constantly change between UHF Guard for homing/survivor contact and UHF 364.2 SAR Frequency for coordination of on scene forces. No common VHF coordination was possible due to an apparent lack of operable VHF Equipment on “Uncap” and “Bango” aircraft.


07.10      Photos  June- July 1965


600280 NKP Mid1965 Ballinger Mutza

HH-43B 60-0280 and 62-4510 (background) at NKP  mid-1965-by Joe Ballinger, via Mutza



624510 NKP LaotianVIPs Ballinger Mutza

HH-43 62-4510 Capt Ballinger with Royal Laotian AF representatives, NKP mid 1965 – coll. Joe Ballinger, via Mutza

In the photo Ballinger in the center, to his right side Lt. General Vang Pao (with beret), to his left side Brig.General Thao Ma (Commander of R.LaotianAF).


HH43B Jun65 coll Ballinger Mutza

The Ballinger Det. Group    ca. June 1965    HH-43B   60-0280    -   photo credit Ballinger via Hellgate Press

Front Row:   SSgt Roberto Rodriguez; CMSgt Tom Luty; TSgt Chester E. Rainey; Capt. Tom Curtis; Capt Joe Ballinger; Capt Bruce Hepp; 1st Lt. Walt Turk; Capt Dick Laine; Capt. Stan Schaetzle;

Back Row: A1C Francisco Alverado; A1C William Robinson; A2C Robert Evans; A2C  Michael T. Henebry; A2C David M. Cutillo; A3C Darwin L. Devers; A1C John H. Stewart; A2C Arthur N. Black  A2C Donald May (*); A1C Richard A. Wallace; A2C Marvin Brenaman; A1C Harry L. Hart, Jr.

(*) correction 17Jul2021, thanks to Mr. Donald May


HH-43B 60-0280  reached the 1,000 Hrs mark sometime during second half 1965 

600280 1000Hr NKP 1965Ballinger

HH-43B  60-0280  passed 1,000 Hrs flying , NKP  unknown date 1965

Left to right: Dick Laine, "Speedy" Alverado, David Cutillo, Joe Ballinger

Photo collection Joe Ballinger, published in  “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ ,  web master James Burns.


08.      1 July 1965 : Activation of 38th ARS  -   with   DET.1, 38ARS   at Nakhon Phanom AB


A major reorganization took place on 01 July 1965 with the activation of the 38th ARS   -  based at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam.   Lt.Col. Edward Krafka became the first commander.

The 38th ARS acted as a headquarters for all ARS helicopter detatchments which as of then became PCS units. All HH-43 aircraft were assigned to the 38th ARS as Detachments:  DET.1 to eventually DET.14.

All aircraft which were flown in from CONUS as of Aug 1964, became permanently stationed in the region. The DET’s at Nakhon Phanom AB, Bien Hoa AB and Da Nang AB had a primary mission of aircrew recovery (ACR). Five  PJ ’s became assigned per DET. 

The PSP runway and ramp was still in place and remained so up until the second half of 1968. 


FROM : AFHRA file K717-0414-1 , CHECO Report SAR 1961-1966, dated 24 Oct 1966,  page 36-37:

Escalation of the war

Increased operations in Laos and strikes against North Vietnam placed new demands on SAR forces in the spring of 1965. Although Air America rescue operations in NVN were not specifically authorized, on several occasions Air America pilots crossed the border to make pick-ups. It was agreed, however, that since Air America could not make a full time commitment of SAR forces, and there were political risks involved in using Air America aircraft to cross the border, USAF aircraft should be introduced and staged forward to positions from which they could reach into NVN. The State Department, in an effort to keep official an visible American activity in Laos at a minimum, suggested that Air America continue to furnish the major SAR effort in Laos. However, the additional helicopters, STOL aircraft, and communications equipment necessary for the company to do this were not forthcoming, and the Air Force was requited to assume major coverage in Laos also.

The USAF capability to perform this mission was greatly improved in July 1965 with the arrival, from Eglin AFB, of the two TAC CH-3C helicopters. These were stationed at Nakhon Phanom. From Udorn the HH-43's were staged forward to Lima sites in Northern Laos to give limited coverage in the central part of NVN. Fuel cells were prepositioned at the Lima sites for their support.

With this USAF buildup, direct SAR support from Air America in Laos was needed less. Air America continued to provide SAR for the RLAF, their own operations, and on an on-call basis for U.S. aircraft. At present Air American continues to furnish the USAF SAR forces with staging sites, weather information, and intelligence, all of which are indispensable to successful operations.

The USAF SAR equipment and its disposition in the summer and fall of 1965, was still an interim proposition. The longer range and greater speed of the CH-3C were significant improvements, but their small number, and their lack of survivability in combat, limited their effectiveness. One of the two helicopters assigned was usually out of commission. Consequently, they could not be employed as a pair. This single mode of operation is avoided if at all possible.  


08.01   Delivery of two CH-3C to Nakhon Phanom AB  


Capt. George C. Martin

Capt. James P. Stambaugh

Capt. Fred M. Liebert

1st Lt. George Warren

1st Lt. Orville N. Keese

TSgt. Michael Hoffman

SSgt. Eddie Walker

SSgt. Jim P. Byrd

SSgt. Francis L. Hill

SSgt. Curtis W. Pert

SSgt. Lee R. Diggs

SSgt. George A. Johnson

SSgt. George Thayer

P   DET  CO  *

P   *

P   *

P   *

P   *











A1C  Bing Gibson

A1C  George R. Alston

A1C  Jerry H. Price

A1C  Sheldon C. Tart

A1C  James B. Armenia

A2C  Harry W. Hylander, Jr.

A2C  Garold L. Isenhour

A2C  Bibbye J. Gonzales

A2C  Roy E. Scherzer










*  4485 Test Wing, 4488 Test Sq. (Heli)    4485 OMSq    +  4485 A&E Maint. Sq.

 credit:  Book  Harrington, Scott. “They called it Naked Fanny” , Appendix (A), page 316


There remains some conflicting information concerning the exact day on which the two CH-3C ‘s arrived. 

From  the Book   Anthony, Victor B.  and Sexton, Richard R.  “The War in Northern Laos  1954-1973,”  Center of Air Force History, USAF, Washington, DC  (page 167):

    ……………..   General McConnell in Washington approached the other chiefs and they authorized two unmodified (unarmored, no SSB radio) CH-3C’s to be sent by Tactical Air Command to Nakhon Phanom for ninety days temporary duty.

Fuel was flown to the Lima sites (in Laos), and the first HH-43 staging flights took place on June 26. Two days later, the Royal Thailand Government authorized the deployment to Nakhon Phanom of the two CH-3C’s and between twenty and forty personnel. 

The Individual Aircraft History Records for the two CH-3C (63-9676, 63-9685) also give 28 June 1965 as delivery date.

AFHRA File K318-2-Jan-Dec65-Vol. 1 Narrative,  IRIS 00491703, page 30,  indicates delivery of the two on 3 July 1965. The Book by Tilford has 5 July as date (page 66) and the Book Harrington, Scott. “They called it Naked Fanny.”, page 323  has July 6th 1965. 

The two CH-3C aircraft were assigned to DET.1, 38 ARS at Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand.


CH3C 639685 639676 NKP HarringtonCH-3C 63-9685 and 63-9676 at NKP ca. Aug65  ;  Published here thanks to Mr. Scott Robinson - author of the Book “They called it Naked Fanny”, Hellgate Press (2016)


CH3C 639676 4488TestSqn

CH-3C 63-9676   4488th Test Squadron (Heli)  at Eglin AFB, FL  ca. 1965 - unknown credit, coll. Ragay


FROM : “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ ,  web master James Burns.

Mr. Ballinger’s comment : The two CH-3C aircraft, serial 676 and 685 , were delivered from Eglin AFB, FL (TAC, 4488 Test Sqdn (Heli) to Ubon AB, Thailand.  At Ubon there were hangars and line maintenance to help put the helicopters back together. They had the 1250 shp engines, and a mickey mouse internal detachable hoist.   

Capt. George Martin, Capt. Phil Stambaugh and Capt. Fred Liebert were the original CH-3C pilots  who flew missions along with the HH-43s. Most of the time the CH-3Cs worked alone (one bird) out of Lima Site 36, at Na Khang, Laos for the deep north missions. The first pickup by a CH-3C was made on the 27 July.  

Aircraft 63-9685 was shot down on 6 November 1965. Aircraft 63-9676 was flown to Udorn AB on 23 December 1965.

Ballinger: How did the Jolly Green get their name ?

When the H-3 guys got there, we checked and the H-3 was not listed in the AFSAL (Armed Forces Security Agency List) , a listing with call-signs to be used during missions.

So I asked George Martin (CH-3C pilot) and collegues, what the nickname of their bird was. They said some called it "Big Mother", and others "Jolly Green". So I gave them their choice and they choose "Jolly" with 76 and 85. Approved by ASOC at Udorn. 

CH-3C 63-9685 made the first combat rescue pickup using the call sign  "Jolly Green 1" on 27 Jul 65. This is the first time the call sign  "Jolly Green" was used in a combat rescue.  (comment Ragay :  this appeared to be incorrect , see chapter 08.04)

From  the Book   Anthony, Victor B.  and Sexton, Richard R. “The War in Northern Laos  1954-1973,” Center of Air Force History, USAF, Washington, DC  (page 180) :

During October 1965, however, the shortcomings of the CH-3C’s  in search and rescue became apparent. They surpassed the HH-43B’s  and H-34’s  in range and speed, but their lack of armor plating raised the odds against survival in combat. On November 5, a CH-3C from Lima Site 36 was sent into North Vietnam to look for an A-1E that had been conducting an electronic search for a downed F-105D. When it arrived in the area where the A-1E went down, the CH-3C was hit by ground fire and the crew bailed out. A Navy rescue heliccopter en route to the scene was also struck by ground fire and made an emergency landing in North Vietnam. The second CH-3C was on its way to the first site when it got word of the Navy aircraft in distress. It diverted and, aided by other Navy helicopters, rescued all the crewmen. None of the ships had enough fuel to fly to the other crash site. Eventually, the SAR for the first CH-3C was called off and the crew was listed as missing.


08.02      Fifth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  07 July 1965 

               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  38-677-7Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF

                               Collection, AFHRA       (researched document on REEL 31113, page 669-71)   

Rescue Mission number  38-677-7Jul65      DET.1, 38 ARS


Flown by unknown crew


Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4232  Capt.  Don Ira Williamson  (KIA)   - 12 TFS, 18 TFW   Korat AB

Shot down over North Vietnam  06 July 1965 


From AFHRA filed Rescue Report:

Alerting agency: USAF HU-16 on prepositioned orbit in area relayed info from downed pilot’s wingman to 38 ARS at 07/0004Z. HU-16 scrambled two HH-43B helicopters from Nakhon Phanom. HC-54 scrambled to assume preposition orbit, vacated by HC-54 which was diverted to escort the helicopters. Requirement laid on for RESCAP aircraft to escort HH-43 and HC-54 and also for downed pilot.

Downed pilot landed in highly populated area containing network of roads and bridges. Topography consisted of flat valley , rice paddies, and small knoll spotted with trees. Aircraft were on scene continousily for hours and failed to re-establish contact with downed pilot after initial contact was lost. Further attemps to locate pilot considered futile. Commander 2ndAD concurre in suspension of further search effort.

Additional info : A good chute was observed by wingman. Chute disappeared within a few minutes after pilot hit the ground. A beacon signal was received for several minutes after pilot was on ground. And several intermittant signals were reported while helicopters were enroute to scene. No positive transmission or visual contacts made in period of 20 minutes during which helicopters were in the area before being forced to depart due to fuel status.

HU-16 and RESCAP remained in area while HC-54 escort helicopters to recovery base (Lima Site) for refuel and return to scene of incident. HC-54 made medium altitude reconnaissance and electronic search of area with negative contacts. RESCAP made minimum altitude sweeps of area with negative sightings. Two RESCAP A-1E aircraft hit by ground fire while making low visual passes. Both aircraft returned safely. No contacts with downed pilot established before helicopters were again forced to depart due to low fuel.  


08.03      Rescue  mission  into  Laos    -  24 July 1965 

               Source :   Rescue Mission Report  38-744-24Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF  Collection, AFHRA    update    

               Source :  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11 , IRIS 00491713 , page 4,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA        


Rescue Mission number  38-744-24Jul65      DET.1, 38 ARS

HH-43B     60-0279   "Iron 21"    (Low Bird)  *  update

Flown by RCC  Capt. Thomas J. Curtis,   (co-pilot), and  …….

HH-43B     62-4510   "Iron 41"    (High Bird)   update

Flown by  Capt. Bruce C. Hepp, 1st Lt. Walter F. Turk (co-pilot), and …………

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4373  "Mercury Lead"  Maj. William J. McClelland   - 80 TFS, 6441 TFW   Takhli AB

Flame-out over Laos, pilot ejected                                                                                     update

Airlifted by HH-43B to Nakhon Phanom. Transferred to HC-54 at Nakhon Phanom and taken to Udorn AB

                       * From Combat Mission Narratives - AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-page 4 :  Capt Thomas J. Curtis was the pilot of the HH-43B helicopter, who picked up Major William J. McClelland, the F-105D pilot. This rescue mission involved flight in excess of 260 miles over unfamiliar territory, under marginal weather conditions , and without navigational aid.


Major players in this Rescue Operation :       update

Alerting agency :

ASOC at Udorn AB notified at 1110H =  0310Z hours

and GUM at Da Nang AB at  0334Z hours

USN    A-6A    VA-75   “Flying Ace 508”    BuNo 151585

crashed 105 Mi  NW of Da Nang AB - at 16-30N  106-12E   (Laos) ; home station Aircraft Carrier USS Independence CVA-62 

USAF  HU-16B  TDY to DET.7, 38ARS “Wipe Bravo”

as command and control aircraft  flying over S.China Sea ;  home station Da Nang AB, RVN

USMC  UH-34D  HMM-161  “Rutledge 6-0”  and “Rutledge 6-2”

as Rescue aircraft from FOL Quang Tri ; home station Phu Bai, RVN

USN      A-1H   VA-25  “Canasta 573”  and  “Canasta 577”

as RESCAP ; home station Aircraft Carrier USS Midway CVA-41  ;  573/BuNo 137523 , 577/ BuNo 139768

Pilot names : Lt. Abe Abrahamson and Lt(jg) Nick Daramus - upon return to the carrier they logged 7.8 hours in the saddle.  update

USAF   F-105D  80th TFS  “Mercury Lead”   62-4373

pilot ejected after flame out - crashed within 25 miles from the A-6A site

USAF   HH-43B  DET.1, 38ARS  “Iron 21” and “Iron 41”

as Rescue aircraft from Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand

USAF   HC-54D  “Spud 30”  36/79ARS  TDY to DET.5, 38ARS

as command and control aircraft from Udorn AB, Thailand

USN or USMC   “Vapor 3” ; “Cotton Picker 4” ; “Whiplash” ;  “Decoy”

all unknown aircraft types as RESCAP

USN    A-1H  VA-25   “Canasta 574”  and  “Canasta 576” 

as RESCAP , after return of the UH-34D’s after refueling ; home station Aircraft Carrier USS Midway CVA-41


Rescue Mission Report written by the RCC of HU-16B “Wipe Bravo” , pilot Captain Edward M. Brunner  (48th ARS , TDY to DET.7, 38th ARS at Da Nang AB):      update :  complete report

  1. At 0334Z “Wipe Bravo” received instructions from GUM to divert from the scheduled relief assignment for “Wipe Bravo” and to intercept and accompany “Rutledge 6-0” and “6-2” to a reported bailout site, coordinates 16:30N, 106:12E. Bailout call sign was “Flying Ace 508”.  “Bravo” was instructed to assume on scene command for SAR activities. At this time “6-0” and “6-2” had been scrambled and were already enroute and about 40 miles from the site. “Bravo” elected to remain over water and parallel the coast line Southeast bound to avoid hot areas and then proceed inland roughly on the same track as “6-0” and “6-2”. This route placed “Bravo” an estimated 100 miles from the site. Enroute “Bravo” climbed to 10,500 feet. 
  1. Overland the weather was an overcast layer bases ragged 1500 feet to 2500 feet and tops 8000 feet to 9000 feet. Another overcast had a base at 15,000 feet tops unknown. Visibility between layers was 15 miles. Visibility below the lower overcast was 5 miles to 10 miles and down to one mile in numerous scattered rainshowers. Occasional small breaks in the lower overcast permitted brief glimpes of the ground from altitude. However, these breaks closed as rapidly as they formed. These conditions prevailed throughout the entire activity. 
  1. The terrain was hilly to mountainous with occasional valleys having an average elevation of 1000 feet. Hills averaged up to 2000 feet with occasional mountains up to 4000 feet. 
  1. Numerous aircraft were already on scene while “6-0” and “6-2” and “Bravo” were enroute. All aircraft were working Primary SAR UHF. Transmissions stated that two chutes were visible on the ground about 400 yards apart. One survivor was visible near one chute. Numerous aircraft monitored URT-21 transmissions. One aircraft reported voice communication with one survivor, and about this time weather began closing in overhead the site. 
  1. At 0415Z “Bravo” estimated a position 30 miles from the site and “6-0” and “6-2” reported almost at the site. At this exact time “Mercury Lead”, an F-105 providing high RESCAP, declared a fire warning light, then a flame out, and that he was bailing out. His wingman “Mercury 3”, reported a good chute and that it was descending into the lower overcast. “Mercury 3” immediately went into an orbit over head that position. 
  1. “Rutledge 6-0” and “6-2” were now in the general area of the original site and “Bravo” was in the general area of the second site. The two sites were estimated to be 25 miles apart. 
  1. “Mercury 3” almost immediately reported receiving a strong UHF Guard tone at his position. “Bravo” took a steer on “Mercury 3” and went to that position. Arriving there “Bravo” also monitored a strong tone which was a continuous UHF tone and definitely not a URT-21 transmission. This tone could be monitored only in a small area and was easily lost. The URT-21 tone at the original site continued but was periodic and also easyly lost. No visual contact could be made with the ground except by “6-0” and “6-2” who were operating at 1500 feet to 2000 feet at the original site. “6-0” and “6-2” continued working the original site with a "Whiplash" and a “Decoy” aircraft. “Bravo” continued at the second site with “Mercury”  and “Cotton Picker”. For 30 to 45 minutes all aircraft periodically monitored signals at both sites but with continuous loss of signals. The numerous transmissions began to hamper any attempted operation of the ARA-25. At this time “Bravo” elected to concentrate all efforts on the stronger continuous UHF tone at the second site. “Bravo”  requested “6-0” and “6-2” to proceed to the second site. However, it was now near fuel bingo time for “6-0” and “6-2”.  “Rutledge 6-0” declared bingo at 0500Z and was cleared to depart. “6-0” stated his estimated time for return would be 0730Z. By now “Canasta 573” and “577”  had arrived to provide RESCAP for “Bravo”.  “573” and “577” found a hole in the lower overcast and went down taking over for “Cotton Picker 4”  to search the second site at low level. Visibility was poor. At 0550Z “573” spotted a chute in the trees. At 0630Z  “573” spotted “Mercury Lead” and reported the survivor was waving. At about this same time “Bravo” was notified by GUM that “Spud 30” was escorting “Iron 21” and “41” from INVERT (Nakhon Phanom AB) and all were airborne and enroute. At 0615Z “Bravo” contacted “Spud 30” who gave his position as 30 miles from “Bravo”. “Spud 30” utilized the APX 28 for distance to “Bravo”.  “Bravo” notified “573”.  “Canasta 573” advised a rainshower was moving toward the survivor and visibility was decreasing. “573” requested the ETA of “Iron 21” and “41”. “Bravo” gave an estimate of 20 minutes. It was understood by “Bravo” that “573” then reported his bingo as 25 minutes away. So “Bravo” took advantage of another break in the overcast to descend and relieve “573” until “Iron 21” and “41” could be vectored in.  “Bravo” arrived at 2500 feet and three miles from “573” and “577” when “573” suddenly decided his bingo was 1000Z. “Bravo” remained in the area at that altitude. “Spud 30” steered on “Bravo”.  “Iron 21” and “41” descended from 8500 feet through the same break used by “Bravo”.   “21” and “41” went through the light shower and “573” indicated the position of the survivor. “Mercury Lead”  was picked up by “21” or “41”  (unknown) at 0655Z.  “Iron 21” and “41” climbed back to 8500 feet and departed for INVERT in company with “Spud 30”. “Bravo” and “Canasta 573”  and “577” climbed to 9000 feet and proceeded to the original site. 
  1. Enroute “Bravo” made radio contact with “Vapor 3” who reported he was receiving the URT-21 signal. “Bravo” took a steer for “Vapor 3”. Upon arriving that position “Bravo” was able to monitor the URT-21. “Bravo” attempted voice communications but had no success. “Canasta 574” and “576” had by now come upon the scene and took over as RESCAP for “Bravo”. “Canasta 573” and “577” went down to search visually. At 0745Z “Bravo” made radio contact with “Rutledge 6-0” and “6-2” who were inbound to the site for the second time. “6-0” and “6-2” were given steers and came back into the general area at 0800Z. At 0804Z “573” spotted one chute and the survivor. At 0810Z  “577” spotted the other chute and the survivor. “6-0” and “6-2”  made visual contact with “573” and “577”.  “6-0”  coordinated with “573” , “6-2”  coordinated with “577”.  Both “6-0” and “6-2” experienced difficulty spotting the exact site due to the neccessity to operate at low altitude in poor visibility and weather, but “573” and “577” continued making low passes until “6-0” and “6-2” were within range to make voice communication with the survivors.  “Rutledge 6-0” completed a pick up of one survivor of  “Flying Ace 508” at 0822Z.  “Rutledge 6-2”  completed a pick up of the other survivor at 0827Z. “6-0” and “6-2”  elected to proceed at low altitude to HUE PHUBAI.   “573” and “577” could not operate VFR low enough so they both climbed out and were cleared to return to home station. “Bravo” remained at 8000 feet with “574” and “576” and escorted “6-0” and “6-2” to HUE PHUBAI. “Bravo”, “6-0” and “6-2” landed at 0920Z.  “Canasta 574” and “576” were cleared to return to home station. The survivors were transferred to “Bravo” and transported to DaNang AB. “Bravo” landed at DaNang at 1005Z. The survivors were immediately turned over to the Flight Surgeon.  
  1. The primary aircraft and the individuals responsible for the success of this mission were “Canasta 573”, “577”, “574” and “576” who were able to get down and make the actual spotting of the survivors and then indicate the positions to the helicopters. And also “Rutledge 6-0” and “6-2” and “Iron 21” and “41” who were able to operate in the limited weather conditions and around the hazardous terrain to make the actual pick ups.  
  1. UHF communications were good. There was no unnecessary “Chatter”. All stations were aware of when to maintain radio silence for the low level communications attemps with survivors. 


08.04      Sixth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  27 July 1965 

                 Source :   Rescue Mission Report  38-754-27Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   

                Source :  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11 , IRIS 00491713 , page 4,5,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA         


Rescue Mission number  38-754-27Jul65      DET.1, 38 ARS

CH-3C   63-9685   "Shed85"

Flown by RCC  Capt. George C. Martin,  1Lt. Orville N. Keese (co-pilot), SSgt. Curtis W. Pert (FE),  SSgt. George Thayer (PJ)

 HH-43B            “Pedro 01”   assigned to  DET.5, 38 ARS, Udorn AB

Flown by unknown crew                                                                                                                                       

HH-43B            “Pedro 02”   assigned to  DET.5, 38 ARS, Udorn AB

Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4407  “Dogwood 2”  Capt. Frank J. Tullo   - 12 TFS, 18  TFW   Korat AB

Shot down over North Vietnam, Loction  ca.35 NM  Northwest of Hanoi


From :  Combat Mission Narratives  - AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-page 4,5 :

Four F-105 aircraft were downed while flying against surface to air missile sites in North Vietnam. Of the four downed aircraft only one chute was reported. A CH-3C helicopter which was prepositioned at a forward site in Laos (Lima Site 36), was launched to recover survivos. It entered the same area where the four aircraft had been downed, approximately 35 miles west of Hanoi, and was led to the downed pilot by RESCAP aircraft. The survivor was on a heavily wooded slope and marked his position with red smoke. The helicopter was forced to hover at approximately 80 feet above the pilot due to the high trees. After the pilot had put on the hoist harness and was raised 10 feet a hoist malfunction occurred. The crew was unable to lift the pilot the remaining 70 feet manually. The crew decided a landing would have to be made in order to rescue the survivor, so they flew to a rice paddy ½ mile away with the survivor dangling 70 feet below the helicopter. Immediately after landing and recovering the survivor the helicopter came under automatic weapons fire and received 3 hits, one of which missed the fuel tanks by 6 inches. The remainder of the return journey was uneventful. CH-3C aircraft commander was Capt. George C. Martin, and rescued F-105D pilot was Capt. Frank Tullo. 

Narrative Report, Mission Number 38-754-27Jul65 , as written by Captain Reeves, who was the Rescue Crew Commander on HC-54D with call-sign “SPUD 29” , serial number 42-72666 , 36th ARS on TDY to DET.5, 38th ARS at Udorn AB. 

Captain Reeves’ Report:

This report concerns mission 754, which was flown on 27 July 1965. The crew members of the HC-54D were: RCC Capt Robert R. Reeves, 48th ARS ; co-pilot, Capt Emmett E. Williams, Jr. , 36th ARS; Navigator, Capt Harrison N. Yoneda, 36th ARS; Flight Mechanic, TSgt Floyd L. England, 36th ARS; Flight Mechanic, SSgt Antranig A. Gurvnlian, 48th ARS; Radio Operator, SSgt Newton C. Boykin, 54th ARS. Mission objective was to escort a CH-3C helicopter, call-sign SHED 85, to LIMA SITE 36, then orbit site 36 and standby for possible recovery of downed pilots. 

At 0420Z, we departed Udorn AB, Thailand. We arrived at orbit area ALPHA (20-00N 104-29E) at 0449Z. At 0500Z SHED 85 was intercepted. We contacted 03Z, an Air America aircraft, for Lima Site 36 and site 98 weather. 03Z reported some holes in broken layers and alright for arrival of SHED 85 at site 98. He reported site 36 weather to be overcast with bases at 5,500 ft. The overcast had a hole 20NM wide and visibility was good. From our position the weather looked unfavorable in all quadrants as far as could be seen.

SHED 85 was somewhat concerned with the weather at both sites, but continued on to site 98 which was enroute to site 36. At 0610Z  SHED 85 landed at site 98 to refuel. Because of the questionable weather he felt that a refueling stop was necessary in the interest of safety.

Two HH-43B helicopters from Udorn, PEDRO 1 and 2, also landed at site 98 approximately the same time. SPUD 06, another HC-54D from Udorn had escorted the PEDRO choppers to site 98. Together we orbited site 98 while waiting for SHED 85 to refuel.

SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2 were remaining at site 98 on alert.

At 0620Z we were advised that the weather at site 36 was favorable for SHED 85 to land. We attempted contact with SHED 85 on UHF and HF which he had been advised to maintain contact on while at site 98. We attempted contact through PEDRO aircraft without success.

At 0642Z we finally contacted PEDRO 2  and he advised SHED 85 to take off ASAP as directed by Hq 38 ARS. SHED 85 advised us he would have fuel for 2+00 hrs flight when reaching site 36, providing he landed and dropped off some personnel and other weight. His ground time for refueling was 25 min. and this would give him 4+00 hrs of fuel.

SHED 85 and SPUD 29 departed site 98.

At 0725Z we heard a call to BRIGHAM (Udorn Radar) over UHF, giving the following position of HEALY-2 who went down 21-00N  105-18E. We advised SHED 85, SPUD 06, and Hq 38th ARS.

38th ARS advised us that CHESTNUT flight was due over target in 20 min and would provide RESCAP.

At 0740Z CHESTNUT 20 advised that CEDAR 2 had also gone down at 21-05N  105-14E.

At 0753Z 38th advised CHEVY fligth would be in target area for RESCAP at 0803Z.

At 0755Z we advised SHED 85 to take on enough fuel for 3 trips to target area and return as per 38th ARS instructions. 85 advised he could only make 2 trips.

At 0810Z  SHED 85 landed at site 36 and refueled.

PEDRO 1 and 2 were close behind and also refueled at 36.

At 0810Z LEOPARD and CHEVY flights advised they were in the area and had negative electronic signals or visual of any of the downed pilots.

At 0813Z VICTORY LEAD relayed through WHIPLASH flight that DOGWOOD 02 had gone down at 21-00N  104-58E.

At 0825Z DOGWOOD 01 relayed that an electronic signal had been received from DOGWOOD 02 at 21-13N  104-56E.

At 0832Z 38th ARS advised that SAM ENVELOPE was effective for 45NM radious of Hanoi. We were advised to remain clear and not approach the 45 NM radious above 1500 feet. This message was relayed to all aircraft in the target area.

At 0902Z  DOGWOOD Flight departed target area.

At 0914Z SHED 85 departed site 36. CHESTNUT and CHEVY flights departed area and WHIPLASH entered the area. We escorted SHED 85 via site 107 to the Black River 6 NM west of Yan Yen, North Vietnam.

At 0940Z one CHESTNUT aircraft who had remained on scene reported that he had sighted the pilot in an isolated area and that he was O.K. He estimated the elevation to be 2000 feet and was receiving electronic contacts each 15 minutes.

At approximately 0942Z SPUD 06 requested RESCAP as he was behind us and approximately 25 NM south of us.

At this time we only had 2 A-1H's for low coverage. The RESCAP flights coming in were having to leave for refueling on the tankers or returning home plate. We requested all available RESCAP in order to help cover SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2. We especialy needed low coverage for search, however we were advside that all A-1H’s  and A-1E’s were committed on missions.

At 0947Z  DART 98 and CANASTA 3 entered the target area.

At 1005Z  PANTHER 120 and SUNDOWN 112 entered the area.

SHED 85 was advised to contact CANASTA flight for vector into target area.

At 1025Z we reached the Black River and orbited to stay out of 45NM range of Hanoi.

SHED 85 continued heading 070  as vecored by CANASTA flight.

At 1030Z PANTHER and SUNDOWN flights departed area and CHESTNUT 3 and COBRA flights arrived on scene. CHESTNUT 3 was sent low to help with low cover of SHED 85.

At 1026Z we advised SPUD 06 that LEOPARD (F-4C  Ubon) and COBRA flights were inbound and to contact them for RESCAP in their area. We also sent WHIPLASH flight to their area to cover until COBRA and LEOPARD came on scene.

At 1038Z  CANASTA 572 and CANASTA 574 *)  sited SHED 85 and lead him to the survivor at 1049Z and at 1102Z SHED 85 advised he could not hoist the pilot up due to a hoist malfunction. He was vectored to a clearing by CANASTA flight where he landed.

At 1113Z SHED 85 reported that the pilot had gotten out of the horse collar and was on board in good physical and mental condition. 

At approximately this time SPUD 06 advised they were given instructions to return to site 36 as no visual or electronic contacts had been made at any of the other locations.

At 1114Z we vectored SHED 85 to our orbit position and at 1120Z we departed orbit with SHED 85 enroute to site 36.

At 1143Z Hq 38 ARS requested to know if any aircraft were available at site 36 to evacuate the pilot. SHED 85 reported a malfunction with one of his engines **) and felt that a night flight under these conditions was too hazardous to risk. PEDRO 1 and 2 were of the same opinion.

There were no other aircraft available for evacuation so 38th ARS advised that Air America would evacuate him the next morning.

At 1210Z two Air America helicopters took off and orbited site 36 in order to vector us in as it was dark. They also ignited 4 oil drums by 1220Z.  

Along with SHED 85 we arrived over site 36.

The two Air America choppers led 85 down and he was on the site at 1228Z.

He reported ground fire damage and advised he would talk to tech rep before departing.

We vectored SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2 into site 36 at 1232Z.

The 2 Air America choppers lead PEDRO 1 and 2 down to site 36.  

At 1259Z we departed site 36 with SPUD 06.

We landed at Udorn AB at 1405Z. SPUD 06 landed approximately 1415Z. 

*)   Pilot names for Canasta Flight were : Lt. Cdr. Edwin A. Greathouse and  Lt(jg) Jimmy S. Lynne  ; aircraft “574” was  a A-1J  BuNo 142021 VA-25  code NE-574 


From the website  “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ web master James Burns -Newsletter “Rotor Wash” - Comment by DET.CO. Capt. Joe Ballinger :

Most of the time the CH-3C’s worked alone (one bird) out of Lima Site 36 for the deep north missions. When George made their first pickup, the hoist went down and only came part way back up. They had to carry Tullo on the end to a rice paddy and have Pert, HM, and Thayer, PJ pull him in. The engines were not only small, they power deteriorated badly, and George had to over boost and over temp getting out of there. They had to change one engine when they got back to Site 36. They didn’t have any remote area stands to change it, so the guys threw a rope over the rotor blades, dropped out the bad one, and put on a good one that Air America flew in. 




CH3C Capt Tullo 27Jul65 LaPointeCD

Capt. George Martin and Capt. Frank Tullo (at right); in the door, SSgt. Curtis Pert – unknown location (Lima Site 36 ?), 27 Jul 1965

Photo from the collection of Robert LaPointe.


The foremost problem during this mission was the enormous amount of UHF traffic working 364.2 . SPUD 06 was escorting and controlling PEDRO 1 and 2 into one area as we were doing the same with SHED 85. RESCAP was coming in and out so rapidly that it was almost impossible to keep record of the aircraft. This was due mainly to the short bingo times for the majority of the aircraft. This also created a heavy workload on UHF. There was a shortage of A-1H’s for low level search and cover. Most of the jet aircraft were too low on fuel to provide low level search.

The CH-3C crew seemed to lack confidence in our ability to navigate. He continually asked where he was and if we knew our position. This created more excess traffic on UHF. I recommend that two separate frequencies be used when two missions are being processed in close proximity. This of course would have to be coordinated in advance for RESCAP aircraft arriving on scene. 

Particularly worthy of note was the risk SHED 85 took in continuing to the target area even though one of his engines had flamed out on landing at site 36 enroute. Also CANASTA 572 and 574 stayed on scene to guide SHED 85 to the survivor. They stretched their bingo time 30 minutes rather than leave the survivors position. The Air America helicopters and ground lighting were responsible for speedy location of site 36 during darkness. Without them it is possible we may not have found it at all. 

Overall this rescue was successful due to the combined efforts and cooperation of all elements involved. The TACAN on the destroyer LOCAMOTIVE was invaluable in pin pointing our positions. Due to the increased traffic through site 36, I recommend placement of some type of homing BEACON there.

It would help more than anything I can think of to recommend. Actually a portable TACAN at site 36 would probably the best solution. In this area the helicopters fly high enough to receive TACAN. With TACAN equipment installed their capability would be increased considerably.



08.05      Seventh Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  28 July 1965 

                Source :   Rescue Mission Report  38-761-28Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA      update

                Source :  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11 , IRIS 00491713 , page 5,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA        


Rescue Mission number  38-761-28Jul65      DET.1, 38 ARS


Flown by RCC  1Lt. Walter F. Turk, Capt. Joe Ballinger (co-pilot), SSgt Roberto Rodriguez (HM), A2C Robert W. Evans (PJ)


Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  A-4E  149962    LT JG Grant R. Townsend, Jr.   – VA-23

Shot down over North Vietnam


From :  Combat Mission Narratives - AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-page 05:

A USN A-4E was downed over North Vietnam. A USN A-1H   (pilot  Cdr. Ettinger) update  notified the HC-54D on precautionary orbit at 0510Z. update   At 0520Z USAF A-1E’s were scrambled from Udorn AB. update Two HH-43B helicopters were scrambled from Nakhon Phanom at 0523Z. The downed pilot was located by A-1E  RESCAP aircraft which led the helicopters to the scene, 50NM of Bong Hoi (or 65 miles ENE of NKP  update). The A-1E  aircraft had to conduct continuing attacks against hostile troops that were attempting to reach the downed pilot. As the helicopter moved in for the pickup the A-1E ’s laid down covering fire. The survivor was located on the side of a hill, and in order for the helicopter to manuever over the pilot to effect the pickup it was necessary to have the blades come within inches of the side of the mountain. The pickup was successful and an uneventful flight back to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand followed. The aircraft commander of the HH-43B making the pickup was 1Lt Walter F. Turk, and the survivor was LT JG Grant R. Townsend.

The survivor was taken to Udorn AB by USAF A-1E.  update


08.06      Eighth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  24 Aug 1965 

               Source :  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11 , IRIS 00491713 , page 6,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA        


Rescue Mission number  38-860-24Aug65      DET.1, 38 ARS

CH-3C  63-9676   “Jolly Green 76”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Phil Stambaugh, George C. Martin (co-pilot), SSgt Francis Hill (HM), A1C James Armenia (HM),  SSgt. George Thayer (PJ)


SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4351   Maj. Dean Andrew Pogreba   – 36 TFS, 6441 TFW  Takhli AB

Shot down over North Vietnam


From :  Combat Mission Narratives - AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-page 06:

Major Dean Andrew Pogreba was flying an F-105D which was hit immediately prior to bomb release while running on a target in North Vietnam. He bailed out a short distance from the target and hid in a fallen tree as he had heard the voices of people searching for him. About 25 miles west of Thanh Hoa, NVN.

A-1E RESCAP aircraft arriving over him came under 37 MM AA fire, one A-1E was hit but made its home base safely. A CH-3C was scrambled and was directed to Maj. Pogreba’s position by the A-1E RESCAP aircraft that had visual contact with him. The CH-3C helicopter made a pickup from a 60 foot hover due to high trees. The CH-3C aircraft commander, Capt Phil Stambaugh, then made an uneventful flight to NKP with the survivor. 

The following photo taken from “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ ,  web master James Burns - web page :  “Historical Air Force Helicopter Firsts and Helicopter Records” 

CH3C 639676 24Aug65 Rotorheads website

The CH-3C flight crew was Phil Stambaugh (P) in the door, Left to Right George Martin (CP), George Thayer (PJ), James Armenia (HM), Dean Pogreba (F-105 Pilot), and Francis Hill (HM)


08.07      Sept-Nov 1965  -  Dramatic increase of Rescue Missions

From :  Book : LaPointe, Robert L. (SMSgt USAF, Ret.) “PJ’s in Vietnam”, Northern PJ Press (2000) , pages 134-135

The last four months of 1965 brought a dramatic increase in the number of rescue missions being flown. Between August and December, at least 34 SAR missions were executed. In 1965, the largest number of SAR missions occurred in a single three month period, September to November. The venerable HH-43B/F carried most of the load with 20 missions. The HU-16B accomplished 13 and the CH/HH-3’s flew 7.


08.08      Ninth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  20 September 1965

               Source 1: Rescue Mission Report  38-950-20Sep65 , IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (on microfilm REEL31113, p551-557)

              Source 2:  AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.2-C1-Narrative, Chapter VII,  CombatLosses SEA, pages 190-192 and Supp.Doc. para7C page 7, IRIS 00491704, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  

              Source 3:  Harrington, Scott. , “They called it Naked Fanny”, Hellgate Press (2016) , Chapter 29 – names of crewmembers “22” and “21”, pages 236-238


Rescue Mission number  38-950-20Sep65      DET.1, 38 ARS

HH-43B  62-4510  “Duchy 41”   (Low Bird)

Flown by RCC  Capt. Thomas J. Curtis, 1Lt. Duane W. Martin (co-pilot), A1C William A. Robinson (HM), A3C Arthur N. Black (PJ)

HH-43B  60-0280  “Duchy 22”   (High Bird)

Flown by Capt. Richard A. Laine, Capt. Bruce C. Hepp (co-pilot), SSgt Roberto Rodriguez (HM), A2C Michael T. Henebry (PJ)

HH-43B  60-0279  “Duchy 21”   - scrambled to meet “Duchy 22” on it’s return flight

Flown by Capt. Joe E. Ballinger, Capt. Walter F. Turk (co-pilot), A3C Darwin L. Devers (HM), A1C Richard A. Wallace (PJ)

CH-3C  63-9685   “Organ 85”     - scrambled from Lima Site 36 to crash site

Flown by   - unknown

SAR Objective:  pilot  F-105D  61-0082  “Essex 4”  Capt. Wilis E. Forby   – 334 TFS, 355 TFW  Takhli AB

Shot down over North Vietnam


HH-43B 62-4510, “Duchy 41” piloted by Capt. Thomas J. Curtis was shot down by hostile ground fire at 1653 hrs at 18°01N  105°47E, 38 NM south of Vinh, North Vietnam and 10 NM  inside the western border of that country, while attempting to rescue an Air Force F-105D pilot. 

From:  Rescue Mission Report  38-950-20Sep65 , IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (on microfilm REEL31113, p551-557), written by 1st Lt. Larry D. Head, TACC Rescue Control Element, 23 September 1965:

On 20 September 1965, HC-54, “Herod 30” was on a normal orbit mission number 950 at Lima Site 36. CH-3C, “Organ 85”, was on ground alert also at Lima Site 36.

At 0710Z “Compress” advised “Herod 30” that “Essex 4” was shot down and the pilot successfully bailed out at coordinates 18.06N – 105.42E. “Essex” flight was remaining on the scene. At 0711Z “Herod 30” was directed by “Compress” to proceed to the crash site via coordinates 17.38N – 105.38E where we would rendevous with two HH-43 choppers, “Duchy 22”  and “41”  out of Nakhon Phanom, and two A-1E aircraft, “Sandy 11”  and “12”  out of Udorn. We advised “Organ 85”  to remain on ground alert at Lima Site 36 and monitor HF radio. At approximately 0730Z UHF contact was made with “Duchy 22”  who was already in contact with “Sandy” flight. “Duchy22” and “41”  with cover from “Sandy” was estimating the area at 0840Z and could remain on station fifty minutes. “Herod 30”  could make an orbit position eight miles south of the crash site at 0822Z.

Top RESCAP had previously been requested by “Compress” and were also enroute. At 0745Z UHF contact was made with “Essex 3”. He had the downed pilot’s beeper on 243.0 loud and clear, but no voice contact. “Hudson”  flight arrived at the crash site and was briefed on the area by “Essex 3”. “Essex 1” and “2” were cycling on the tanker. At bingo fuel “Essex 3” appointed “Hudson” in command as fighter coordinator and went to recycle off the tanker. At 0813Z “Hudson”, who also had the beeper loud and clear, advised that his doppler indicated the coordinates as 18.00 – 105.41E.  At 0820Z “Herod 30” overtook “Duchy” and “Sandy” flights at 40NM on the 055 degree radial of CH65 TACAN (Nakhon Phanom). We continued 15NM further to our orbit point. “Herod 30” arrived on orbit at 0825Z and assumed role of on-scene commander. We orbited on 055 degrees between 55 and 65 NM CH65 TACAN at FL120. We advised “Hudson” when the choppers would arrive and of their limited time on station. “Sidewinder” flight arrived and was shown the area by “Hudson”.

We briefed all fighters that we wanted a maximum effort to pin point the downed pilot’s position and to determine if there was any ground fire prior to the choppers arrival. “Duchy” also talked to the fighters to clear and questions he had. All fighters plus “Herod 30” had the beeper, but no voice contact. We requested “Sidewinder” to go to guard and attempt voice contact al low level over the area. No contact was made so we asked that he transmitt in the blind on guard that choppers were enroute and for the downed pilot to show himself or signal by smoke or any other means possible when the choppers appeared over his position. This he did. At 0838Z “Sandy 11” and “12” let down into the area. “Sandy” nor “Sidewinder” flights experienced any ground fire. They appeared to have the position pin pointed and “Duchy 22” and “41” were satisfied the area was safe for a pickup attempt.

At 0845Z as the choppers were letting down through a hole in the broken deck of clouds “Sandy 11” took a hit in his right wing.  Damage appeared slight. “Duchy” continued to let down. Ground fire was increasing slightly and troop movement was noted in adjacent areas. At 0900Z “Sandy” fired on a patrol. At 0903Z  “Essex”  sighted colored smoke in a wooded area. 0907Z “Duchy”  thought he had a man spotted. “Duchy 41”  proceeded in. “Duchy 22” and “41” and “Sandy” flight switched to guard frequency. All other aircraft remained on SAR primary 364.2 . At 0910Z SAR frequency became jammed by aircraft that were not on the scene. “Herod 30” asked “Compress”  if  “Victory”, “Eggshell”, “Fleetfox”, “Buckboard”, or “Age Bravo” were to be involved in the rescue effort ? If not, to clear the frequency. They also advised by us on UHF.

At 0915Z “Duchy” and “Sandy” were proceeding along the ridge line.  0923Z “Duchy 41” has pilot spotted near the wreckage. Apparently fire broke loose from everywhere. “Duchy 22” was hit by ground fire at 0928Z and one crew member on board was injured.

“Duchy 22” also advised that “41” was shot down. “Sandy” said “Duchy 41” did not auto-rotate but went straight in. At 0937Z “Sandy 12” brought “Duchy 22” out of the hot area and “Sandy 11”  stayed at the chopper crash site.

“Herod 30” directed two Navy A-4E’s, “Decoy 307” and “405”, to rendevous with us and “Duchy 22” for escort to Nakhon Phanom. We then told “Sandy 12” to return to crash site with lead and suppress fire with the RESCAP available until our return.

At 0950Z “Duchy 22” advised that the injured man was alright, but they had a large amount of fuel spillage inside the chopper and fuel was leaking badly. They requested a direct route to Nakhon Phanom and were in doubt about making it all the way. “Herod 30” requested another chopper be scrambled from Nakhon Phanom to intercept crippled “Duchy 22”.

At 0955Z “Duchy 22” said that when he was pulling out of the hot area ground fire appeared to be pouring into the crash site from all directions and that “Sandy” was doing an excellent job suppressing it. He also said there was a man on the ground near the wreckage waving a yellowish cloth. “Sandy” saw a pen flare in addition to the smoke seen by “Essex”.              “Duchy 22” ’s opinion was that it was a big trap !  No one saw anyone get out of “Duchy 41”. 

At 1000Z “Duchy 21” intercepted “22”  15NM out of Nakhon Phanom. “Duchy 22” requested crash equipment stand by and stated his intentions on landing. He also made limited transmissions due to fuel and fumes inside his aircraft. At 1004Z “Herod 30” returned to orbit position. “Decoy” flight contacted “Sandy” and expended ordnance. “Sandy” flight remained on the crash sites the remainder of the day directing strikes on troop movements, ground fire, and gun positions.

TAC Command Post advised “Herod 30” that any aircraft with ordnance remaining would recycle off the tanker until all was expended. There was excellent cooperation among the fighters as they passed the job of fighter coordinator from one to another without any prompting from us. The fighter in command would turn inbound flights over to “Sandy” who in turn would direct them to targets, being particularly careful to stay well clear of the possible survivors that would be in the vicinity of the crash sites.

Flights involved were “Essex”, Hudson”, “Sidewinder”, “Decoy”, “Lincoln”, “Cadillac”, “Bango”, “Pontiac”, and “Oldsmobile”  (“Oldsmobile the only flight not expending ordnance, due to late arrival). At 1016Z “Sandy 13” and “14” were inbound. At 1035Z  TAC Command Post requested to know if target justified heavy ordnance. “Sandy” plus fighter coordinator advised negative and “Herod 30” requested light ordnance and especially rockets.

At approximately 1045Z “Herod 34” arrived in the area with “Organ 85”. TAC Command Post advised us to notify “Oldsmobile” not to expend, but to hold for escort of chopper if necessary. At 1110Z “Herod 30” was advised by “Sandy” that it was getting too dark for further strikes or pickup attempt by “Organ 85”. “Herod 30” determined another pickup attempt was not feasible.

At 1113Z “Compress” advised “Herod 30” they could not evaluate conditions, for us to use our own discretion. We advised “Compress”  we would haress troops and keep aircraft over the area to discourage any ground search until total darkness. This would be a last resort to aid escape and evasion of the downed “Essex 4” and possible survivors of HH-43 crash.

At 1123Z  “Sandy” spotted two possible stobe lights, approximately 100 yards apart, one mile from crash site. They were yellowish in color and ground fire plus darkness prevented thorough investigation.

At 1130Z all aircraft departed for home bases. 

A slightly different review of actions is gained from AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.2-Support Doc., para 7C:18, page 7:

After their arrival in the area the HH-43B pilots orbited in a clear area until pilots of the combat air patrol (CAP) aircraft reported a good beacon fix and the sighting of a red smoke signal. Captain Curtis flew to the indicated position and requested radio silence -- his last radio transmission.

Visual contact was made with the downed pilot, when suddenly ground fire broke loose from all around the survivor's position. The HH-43B crashed while attempting to make a pickup.

The second HH-43B, “Duchy 22” that had been orbiting short of the pick up site, immediately proceeded toward the crash scene. The helicopter crew jettisoned the internal auxiliary fuel tank to make room for survivors. They encountered ground fire enroute to the area and spotted the helicopter wreckage which seemed fairly well intact, on the first pass. As the helicopter positioned itself for a suitable approach to the pickup area it was under continuous ground fire and as it came to a hover 50 feet above the wreckage a massive and continuous barrage of automatic weapons fire erupted around the helicopter. A white pin flare was also observed at this time although no survivors were spotted. The helicopter was taking a series of hits at this time and initiated an immediate take off.  Continual heavy fire was received for the next three minutes. The pararescueman was hit on his flak vest by flying debris but did not suffer any injury. Fuel was running into the aft section of the cabin. 

Thirty-two sorties and over 107 hours flown in seven models of aircraft (HC-54D, F-4C, F-105, A-1E, KC-135, HH-43B, and CH-3C) went for naught -- ARS, the Rescuers, had been prevented from rescuing its own and was forced to designate the four men as missing in action (MIA)  -- the first loss by ARS in the Southeast Asia conflict. 

Later the MIA was reclassified as POW. On 12 February 1973, Captain Curtis and Forby and Airmen Robinson and Black were released by the DRV and returned to the US as part of “Project Homecoming”. Lt. Martin never returned home. He had also been captured, but was later killed during an attempted escape. (source : Book  “PJ’s in Vietnam” , by Robert L. LaPointe , pages 137).  In 1966 he and a Navy LT Dieter Dengler escaped from the Pathet Lao prison camp in Laos. Lt. Martin was murdered by a Laotian villager July 20, 1966. Lt Dengler was eventually picked up by a Jolly Green.

600280 Duchy 22 p234 fr HellgatePressHH-43B 60-0280 “Duchy 22”  at NKP after its return from Rescue Mission 20Sep65. It was badly damaged and needed repair (engine, transmission, blades).

photo credit  Harrington/Ballinger via Hellgate Press



08.09      Rescue  mission  into  Laos    -  21 September 1965                 

                 Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-954-21Sep65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA    update

                 Source:  Harrington, Scott. , “They called it Naked Fanny”, Hellgate Press (2016) , Chapter 30, page 253      


Rescue Mission number  38-954-21Sep65      DET.1, 38 ARS

CH-3C  63-9685    “Organ 85”  

Flown by RCC  Capt. George C. Martin, 1st Lt. George W. Warren (CP), SSgt. Lee R. Diggs (crewchief), A1C Sheldon C. Tart (FM), A2C Roy E. Scherzer (PJ)      update


SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  61-0200   Capt. Frederick R. Greenwood   – 562 TFS, 23 TFW  Takhli AB

Shot down over North Vietnam -  Greenwood ejected from his aircraft that had been hit by 57mm AAA fire when attacking a target near the Mu Gia Pass.

Greenwood was rescued from Laos and flown to NKP, from there into a HC-54 to Korat AB.  update


 update - the complete report:                         

  Narrative Report of 38 ARS Rescue Mission 21 Sep 65, written by RCC Capt. George Martin: 

We were notified of a downed pilot at approximately 1600H hours on the 21st September. The crew proceeded immediately to the aircraft and was notified thru the tower to take off ASAP. Some difficulty was encountered in starting the helicopter number one engine, which would not develop power and considerable effort was expended by pilot, co-pilot and ground crew before engine could be made to operate properly. This resulted in a delayed takeoff at 1620H.

Prepositioned HC-54 and HU-16 diverted from orbit position to objective area, A-1E ‘s  scrambled from Udorn for CAP.

Beacon picked up by CAP aircraft and HC-54 “Herod 34” in addition voice contact was made. CH-3C did not pick up beacon, and had voice contact at approx ¾ of a mile.

Capt. Martin continued: We proceeded Northeast at 9.000 ft to the P/U site, by-passing known enemy concentrations. We had no known fighter cover enroute. About 5 miles west of the target an F-105 made a steep diving pass right past the chopper and we observed him all the way down. Right at ground level he pulled up and a voice said “ he’s right there”.  I said: “was that the 105 talking ?“. The F-105 pilot replyed: “ affirmative” and we had the target located.

At this time we started a letdown from 9.000 ft and having about 1.800 pounds of fuel in the main tanks, I jettisonned the remaining 250 gallons in the aux tank.

The pilot was down in the roughest terrain I have yet seen in SEA. I immediately had some doubt that we would be able to get down to him. At this point the survivor was unobserved but his chute was easily seen. The pilot ignited 2 red flares (believed to be pen gun).

The flares were easily seen but not the pilot. Due to his almost inaccessable position, I was forced to maneuver slowly over the chute flying a series of 4 circles, 2 to the right and 2 to left. I heard ground fire on both right hand circles and believe we took a hit on the second one, during most of this time we had two way voice contact with the survivor who was attempting to talk us to his position.

At this point I should like to recommend that if he had had red smoke instead of flares he would have been seen immediately.

Establishing a hover about 100 feet above his parachute I asked him once again for his position from the chute. I was surprised to hear him say “you’re too low, I’m above you“.  I was hovering next to a near vertical wall of solid rock and as I looked up I saw him perched on a small ledge.

Fortunately I was able to raise the helicopter to a position about 50 feet above him with the rotor tips approximately 10 feet from the rock wall.  This “rockwall” extended around us on three sides, east, south and west and it was necessary to hover in sideways on a easterly heading to reach his position. If he had been 10 feet closer to the wall we wouldn’t have been able to reach him and as this wall rose at least 500’ above us, all of the cable and rope was useless.

The pilot was able to position himself properly on the tree penetrator but did not use the safety strap. As soon as he was firmly seated on the apparatus I moved off in a slow climb to the east. The survivor was hoisted aboard within the next 2 or 3 minutes.

Pickup was accomplished at 1025Z. During the departure more ground fire was heard and at least 4 people were seen firing. We returned the fire and one of the four was seen to fall.       >> note, written on original report : ARS first “Kill”  -- gunner was HM Sheldon Tart  --

Shortly before the pickup, 2 A-1E ‘s, “Sandy” flight 1 and 2, arrived and performed low CAP. As the helicopter departed they expended rockets in close proximity to us and the helicopter was rocked severely for several seconds. We were glad to have them there but were not advised that they were going to fire.

The return trip was uneventful and landing was made at NKP at 1100Z.

I had requested doctor and ambulance stand by, as survivor had suspected broken ankle.

HC-54  “Herod 34” landed at NKP to airlift survivor to Korat AB.

The helicopter sustained two small arms hits, resulting in 8 holes. No major components were hit.

I wish to commend all members of my crew who performed in a highly professional manner. 

A personal message from Colonel Smith, Commander PARC to Capt George C. Martin:

The outstanding performance displayed by you and your aircrew on 21 Sep 65 is recognized and appreciated by myself and all members of the Air Rescue Service in the Pacific area.

Your professionalism reflects high credit on yourselves and the U.S. Air Force. Please convey my personal congratulations to all participating crew members.


09.   Shortage of aircraft  --  25 August up to late September 1965 

  • Already since 25 August CH-3C 63-9676 needed engine change and did not fly up to 25 September because there was no spare engine available. On September 26 it made a test flight with a newly delivered engine (Source: Harrington, Scott “They Called It Naked Fanny”, Chapter 28, page 229)
  • 20 Sep 1965: Huskie 62-4510 “Duchy 41” was shot down and Huskie 60-0280 “Duchy 22” became grounded with battle damage received during the same Rescue Mission.
  • 21 Sep 1965: Huskie 60-0279 also needed an engine and transmission change and was grounded as of 21 Sep. (source: Harrington, Scott “They Called It Naked Fanny”, Chapter 29, page 240)
  • This reduced the 5 aircraft-unit to just ONE CH-3C for rescue alert missions as of 21 Sep. And there was a call for a mission that day !
  • Huskies from Det.5, 38 ARS at Udorn AB were sent to NKP to perform strip alert.
  • Two Det.5 aircraft were present on the following days : 25-27-28-29 September 1965 (source: AFHRA file, History Det.5 on microfilm REEL 31113, p192-196)
  • Both 0279 and 0280 were back in commission around 29 September, and were standing alert again – with the assistance of two Det.5 pilots (1st Lt. Bill Wirstrom was one of them) 


10.   The END of Det.1, 38 ARS  operations - early October 1965         Aircraft reassigned to Det.5, 38 ARS at Udorn AB, Thailand 

               Source 1: Harrington, Scott “They Called It Naked Fanny”, Chapter 31, page 259

               Source 2: AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-Support Documents, IRIS 00491713, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  - Hist. Oct-Dec65, page 20-21,and DET.5 History page 67-70.   


Detachment 1, 38th ARS came to a sudden end very early in October 1965, upon ending of the TDY duty of the Ballinger Group. Captain Ballinger left NKP as last person on 10 October 1965.

Also the Group of George Martin ended their TDY during the month of October, although some elected to stay with the new arrivals.

Det.1 was not de-activated, it was transferred to Phan Rang AB, RVN – active on 15 January 1966. The two HH-43B’s and the two newly arrived HH-43F aircraft (on 05 October), as well as the two CH-3C ‘s were reassigned to Det .5, 38 ARS at Udorn AB.

Detachment 5 took over the coverage that Det.1 had been furnishing at Nakhon Phanom, in addition to the other areas they had been covering. Det.5 had 3 HH-43B’s for LBR and for Air Crew Recovery missions.

However, the Huskies and CH-3C’s remained present at NKP on a daily basis. NKP became a forward operating base, as Lima Site 36 in Laos did.

Major Baylor R. Haynes became commander of Det.5 on 04 October 1965. 


11.   Rescue Missions with NKP as Forward Operation Location and former DET.1 aircraft        October – December 1965


HH43F Oct Nov65 AFHRA vGeffen

Two HH-43F were delivered to NKP on 05 Oct 1965, serial numbers 62-4511 and 62-4525.  This USAF photo, copied from unknown AFHRA file (thanks to T. van Geffen), has no date. 



11.01   Tenth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  27 Oct 1965

               Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1069-27Oct65 , IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (on microfilm REEL31113, p580-582)


Rescue Mission number  38-1069-27Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43  unknown serial  call sign

Flown by RCC    unknown


Flown by unknown crew


Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-8E  150655  “Feedbag 115”  LT Dennis A. Moore    – VF-191  NM-105

Shot down over North Vietnam   -  Pilot ejected near village Man Nuong, he was captured.

Released on 12 Feb 1973 during Operation Homecoming


Wingman of “Feedbag 105” notified HC-54 on precautionary orbit at 1420H and HC-54 diverted to incident site. The weather in the area of last known position: thunderstorms, ceilings down to zero, visibility down to zero, heavy rain, solid clouds from 1500 to 25000 feet.

HC-54 alerted CH-3C at Lima Site 36 for scramble and at 1430H  two HH-43’s from Nakhon Phanom were alerted.

Additional info: aircraft reported downed by SAM. Wingman reported good chute and beacon. He was receiving the beacon for the 20 minutes his fuel permitted him to remain in area. No other aircraft have reported later beacon contact. HH-43’s from Nakhon Phanom, CH-3C from Lima 36 and HC-54 were not able to get into incident site due to severe weather. CAP aircraft were initially unsuccessful, but just prior to darkness were able to get into area for approx 20 minutes but with negative contact with survivor.

The next day, 28 October, aircraft started at first light with search of the area and remained on station until 1111H. No beacon or visual contact was made with “Feedbag” after the initial short contact period when he first went down.

The mission was suspended because search visually and electronically remained with negative results. Suspending has been coordinated with Dep Comdr 2ndAD at Udorn.

Total sorties / flying hours by type aircraft and agency: 

For 27 Oct65

F-105              8 sorties

KC-135           1 sortie

USN A-1H      2 sorties

USAF A-1E    2 sorties


HH-43             2 sorties

CH-3C             1 sortie

HC-54             1 sortie


for 9 plus 00 hours

for 3 plus 50 hours


for 7 plus 00 hours

not available

for 5 plus 00 hours

for 1 plus 35 hours

for 5 plus 00 hours

For 28 Oct 65

F-105                     4 sorties

KC-135                  1 sortie

USN  A-1H            2 sorties

USAF A-1E           2 sorties

USN  F-4               2 sorties

USAF  HC-54        1 sortie

USArmy  CV-2B   1 sortie


for 20 plus 30 hours

for   4 plus 15 hours

for   8 plus 30 hours

for 10 plus 00 hours

for   1 plus 30 hours

for   4 plus 00 hours

for 20 plus 10 hours


11.02      Rescue  mission  into  Laos    -  28 Oct 1965

               Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 22 and 77, in USAF Collection, AFHRA      


Rescue Mission number  38-1073-28Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43F  unknown serial  “Pedro 01”      (62-4511 or 62-4525)

Flown by RCC  Capt. Donald R. Burdeaux, Capt. William R. Uhl (co-pilot), A1C Lyle J. Tadewald (HM), A1C Harry W. Birtel (PJ)

HH-43B  unknown serial  “Pedro 02”      

Flown by  RCC Capt. Charles E. McMillan, Capt. Charles P. Rush (co-pilot), A2C Andrew C. Paparella (HM)

SAR Objective :  crew  F-4B  150626   LCDR A.M. Lindsey and  LTJG Robert W. Cooper  – VF-41   USS Independence (CVA-62)

Shot down over Steel Tiger area of southern Laos   


Narrative Of Rescue Mission  38-1073-28Oct65, as written on page 77 of AFHRA file IRIS00491713 - NOTE : in this report two HH-43F aircraft are mentioned, while the JRCC Save Form indicates that Captain McMillan flew in a HH-43B.

On 28 October 1965, two HH-43F helicopters departed Nakhon Phanom Air Base to locate and recover two pilots whose jet aircraft  had been shot down while on a mission over Laos. Immediately upon reaching the area, the lead helicopter checked in with the HU-16 which was directing the operation, and received vectors to one of the downed pilots chute. While “Pedro 1” (lead helicopter) proceeded with the recovery of the downed pilot, the HU-16 spotted the second parachute and directed “Pedro 2” to the area. “Pedro 2” made three low passes over the immediate area before the second survivor was sighted. The distressed pilot was standing in elephant grass approximately twelve feet tall, with 100 feet trees surrounding him. The hoist was lowered and the survivor was brought safely into the helicopter. The pilot had to exceed the torque limitations of his aircraft in order to be able to maintain his precarious hovering position over the tall trees. While leving the area, “Pedro 2” was fired upon by hostile forces, but was able to escape undamaged. Enroute back to Nakhon Phanom, the flight mechanic did an outstanding job of administering first aid to the rescued pilot who had suffered several cuts and burns. The only paramedic on the scene was in the lead helicopter, “Pedro 1”.

Mission 38-1073-28Oct65, as written on page 22 of AFHRA file IRIS00491713:

A USN F-4B crewed by LCDR A.M. Lindsey and LTJG Robert W. Cooper encountered difficulty while on a mission over Laos and ejected. His wingman notified the prepositioned HU-16, that in turn notified the RCC at Udorn AB, Thailand. Two A-1Es and one HC-54 were scrambled from Udorn AB, and two HH-43’s took off from Nakhon Phanom. While SAR Force was enroute, a Navy A-1H that had been diverted into the area picked up an emergency beacon, and shortly thereafter sighted two chutes. Each of the two HH-43’s picked up one crewmember, as the two had landed about one mile apart. The pilots of the two HH-43’s , Capt. Burdeaux and Capt. McMillan, flew the survivors to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand.


11.03      Eleventh  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  01 Nov 1965

               Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 23, in USAF Collection, AFHRA      


Rescue Mission number  38-1088-1Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43  unknown serial 

Flown by RCC   unknown

HH-43B  unknown serial

Flown by  unknown

CH-3C  unknown serial

Flown by  unknown

SAR Objective :  pilot  A-4E  151142   LCDR Billy V. Wheat  – VA-86   USS Independence (CVA-62)

Shot down over North Vietnam, between Vinh and Dong Ha


Mission 38 ARS-1088-1Nov65

On 01 Nov 65, Lt. Cmdr. Billy V. Wheat ejected from his A-4E over North Vietnam. His wingman noted the successful bailout and alerted the HU-16 on precautionary orbit over the Gulf of Tonkin, which in turn alerted the rescue center at Udorn AB, Thailand. An HC-54 was diverted to the scene, and two HH-43 aircraft were scrambled from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. Occasionally beacon signals were heard, but no visual nor voice contact was made by the time the HH-43’s had reached their bingo fuel time.

A CH-3C had been scrambled from Nakhon Phanom to relieve the HH-43’s on station. The CH-3C made voice contact with the downed pilot who was able to direct the helicopter to his location, and the rescue technician was lowered to assist the injured survivor into the hoist. Following the successful pickup (approx. 75 NM NE of NKP) the survivor was taken to Nakhon Phanom where medical assistance was standing by. 


11.04      Twelfth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -    06-07 November 1965           

                  Source 1:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 24-25, in USAF Collection, AFHRA      

                  Source 2: Book  Fey, Peter “Bloody Sixteen - The USS Oriskany and Air Wing 16 During the Vietnam War”, U of Nebraska Press (2018), pages 96-101  (see* here below)

                  Source 3: Supporting Documents - file K318-2-1965-Vol.2, IRIS00491704, pages 192-197, in USAF Collection, AFHRA     see **)


Rescue Mission number  38-1110-6Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

CH-3C  63-9685  “Jolly Green 85”        scrambled on 06 Nov. from Lima Site 36 for pilot “Sandy 12”       -  JG 85 was shot down                             

Flown by  RCC  Capt. Warren Lilly, 1Lt. Jerry Singleton (co-pilot), SSgt. Arthur Cormier (all three POW - returned on 12Feb73) , plus SSgt. Berkley Naugle (FE), he was rescued by USN SH-3A “Nimble 62” on 06 Nov.

CH-3C  63-9676  “Jolly Green 76”        scrambled on 07 Nov.   From Lima Site 36

Flown by  RCC Capt. Norman Kamhoot, Robert A. Weekley (co-pilot), William J. Warren (FE), William G. Daniels (PJ)

Two HH-43F  lauched on 07 Nov.  (possibly from Udorn - according to Book PJ, page 151-152)    


SAR Objective for “Jolly Green 85”: pilot  A-1E  52-132469  “Sandy 12”   Capt. R.E. Bolstad  -   602 ACS, 6251 TFW  at Udorn AB                                                               POW  (returned)

SAR Objective for “Jolly Green 76”: crew of USN SH-3A 148993  “Nimble 62”  LT JG Terry Campbell (pilot), and LT JG Mel Howell (co-pilot)   -   HS-2  USS Oriskany

                                                  Note :  “Jolly Green 76”  was under repair at Lima Site 36 on 06 November

What happened between 05 and 08 November -in short: 

05 Nov

F-105D shot down over NVN - very bad weather and approaching darkness - rescue attempt next morning 06 Nov.

06 Nov

Two A-1E’s launched from Udorn to F-105D crash site -  “Sandy 12”  shot down

CH-3C “Jolly Green 85”  scrambled for “Sandy 12”          - CH-3C shot down

USNavy SH-3A “Nimble 57” diverted to crash site CH-3C , escorted by two A-1E’s, one, “Sandy 14”, was shot down;  “Nimble 57” back to carrier for fuel - 

“Nimble 62” returned to crash site, accompanied by three USN A-1H, flew to CH-3C crash site  and rescued SSgt Naugle, the SH-3A returned to home, carrier  USS Independence

07 Nov

USN SH-3A “Nimble 62” launched from USS Independence to CH-3C crash site, escorted by four USN A-1H RESCAP aircraft.

“Nimble 62”  was hit by AAA , made an emergency landing on hill top in NVN

one RESCAP A-1H (134563) was hit, made a wheels up landing at Da Nang AB

USN UH-2A "Angel 7" diverted to location of “Nimble 62”  and rescued two crewmembers

CH-3C “Jolly Green 76” scrambled for “85” crash site, diverted to location of “Nimble 62” and rescued two crewmembers

08 Nov

two A-1E’s launched from Udorn to crash site. Both hit    -    returned to Udorn

Rescue missions suspended



NOTE : Source 3 **) stated that from a debriefing with SSgt. Naugle and the crew of the SH-3A who rescued him, the call sign was “Nimble 62”  and not “Nimble 57” (as stated in Source 2).

Mission Narrative:

On 05 Nov 1965 an F-105D, call sign “Oak 1” (pilot  LtCol. George C. McCleary  - KIA), was missing over North Vietnam. His wingman had last seen him going into the clouds. The weather in the area was rapidly deteriorating and no signals were being received.

On 06 November, two A-1E‘s, “Sandy 11” and “12”, went into the area to search for “Oak 1”. During the course of the search, “Sandy 12” was hit by ground fire, and the pilot bailed out. His wingman observed him on the ground. A CH-3C was scrambled from Lima Site 36 in Laos, and two more A-1E’s were sent from Udorn, but “Sandy 11” was not able to relocate the downed pilot prior to his bingo fuel time.

The CH-3C, “Jolly Green 85”, was hit by ground fire in the search area. The four man crew bailed out, and four good chutes were observed by their A-1E escort. Voice and beeper contact was made with at least one crewmember, and a visual sighting was made (SSgt. Naugle). ( * the other 3 crewmembers landed in a village and were captured).

At this time, the on scene commander received a call stating that the Navy had a helicopter enroute to the search area  (*  SH-3A “Nimble 57” from HS-2 with pilot LTCDR Vernon Frank).

Two A-1E’s, “Sandy 13” (Capt. George W. Koronsbein **))  and “14”, were sent to the coast to escort the SH-3A “Nimble 57” in, and close to the location of the wreckage of the CH-3C,  “Sandy 14” was hit by ground fire. A transmission from him stating he had been hit followed, but there was no further contact.(Capt. G.G. McNight - POW, returned)

At this time it was already completely dark.

The remaining A-1E and “Nimble 57” remained in the area until the helicopter had to depart due to fuel limitations (* back to home station carrier USS Independence).

**)  SH-3A “Nimble 62” (with the crew of “Nimble 57”, as stated in Source 2) returned to the search area, accompanied by Navy A-1H RESCAP aircraft “Locket One”. Two A-1H aircraft “Locket Three and Four” joined the flight. The A-1H’s picked up a beeper in the vicinity of the CH-3C bailout location. Soon after this, voice contact was made and the Navy SH-3A, “Nimble 62”, went in low to attempt visual contact.

It was dark, but fortunately the survivor had a cigarette lighter which was used to signal the  helicopter. His flashes were observed and Sgt. Naugle, a crewmember from the downed “Jolly Green 85”, was picked up and taken to the carrier. The only injuries Sgt. Naugle suffered were slight burns on his hand.

The following morning (07 November)  SH-3A “Nimble 62” (Source 3 reported this call-sign as “Nimble 02”)  from HS-2, piloted by LT JG Campbell, returned to the search area in an attempt to locate additional survivors. While enroute, a MIG alert was received, and “Nimble 62” descended to get between cloud layers at 2000 and 3000 feet. As it flew over a hole in the bottom cloud deck it was hit by automatic weapons fire. The fuel lines were  ruptured and a rapid loss of fuel was experienced forcing the pilot to make a controlled landing on a hill top in North Vietnam. One of the two A-1H aircraft that escorted “Nimble 62” was also hit, however, both A-1H’s made it safely to Da Nang; although the severly damaged A-1H had to make a gear up landing.

A short time later, another Navy helicopter, a Kaman UH-2A Seasprite, call-sign "Angel 7", assigned to HC-2 DET.62 and TDY to the USS Richmond K.Turner as a guard “Angel” helicopter, arrived at the landing site of “Nimble 62” and was able to pick up 2 of the 4 crewmembers. (* low on fuel the UH-2A headed for Lime Site 36 in Laos and later, with aid of Air America, the survivors arrived at Udorn).

CH-3C  “Jolly Green 76”, was enroute to the bailout site of “Jolly Green 85” when informed of the Navy helicopter in distress. It diverted to the landing scene of “Nimble 62” and picked up the remaining two crewmembers (pilot and co-pilot). In order to hover it was necessary to dump fuel which precluded its continuing on to the CH-3C bailout area. The two Navy survivors were taken to Udorn.

On the morning of November 08, a first light search was initiated in the CH-3C bailout area. Several passes were made and no ground fire was observed by the A-1E’s that were receiving a beeper. However, as more aircraft entered the area to attempt to pinpoint the beeper heavy ground fire erupted. Two A-1E’s were hit and had to withdraw; both landed safely at Udorn.

Due to the intensity of the ground fire, the further recovery of survivors was deemed to be not feasible without additional losses. The mission was suspended on 08 Nov.


11.05      Thirteenth  Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  18 Nov 1965

               Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 26, 81 in USAF Collection, AFHRA      


Rescue Mission number  38-1141-18Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B  serial  unknown  “Pedro 1” 

Flown by RCC  Capt. John B. Reiderick, 1Lt. Charles R. Sweet (co-pilot), A2C Charles E. Veasey (HM), A1C Harry W. Birtel (PJ)

HH-43    serial unknown    “Pedro 2”

Flown by  RCC  1Lt. Frederick T. Dykes, 1Lt. Kenneth G. Griffis (co-pilot), A2C Philip D. Carlson (HM)

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  61-0062  Captain Larry C. Mahaffey  – 469 TFS, 6234 TFW Korat AB

Shot down over North Vietnam, 35 NM SW of Vinh


Narrative of Rescue Mission: 

On 18 November 1965, Captain Larry Mahaffey’s F-105 was hit by ground fire over North Vietnam. He turned towards the mountains and ejected when he lost control of the aircraft. He landed in trees 100 feet high, and made no attempt to reach the ground. The HC-54 on prepositioned orbit headed toward the bail out scene and two HH-43’s,  “Pedro 1” and “Pedro 2”, were scrambled from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. The downed pilot made contact with RESCAP aircraft utilizing his URC-10 radio. The downed pilot’s position had been plotted as being dangerously close to confirmed concentrations of hostile anti-aircraft emplacements, and in the same area that HH-43B “Duchy 41” had been shot down while attempting a rescue operation on 20 September 1965.

 Enroute to the area, “Pedro 1” and “2” encountered weather and rain of such intensity that portions of the rubber covering was peeled off the rotor blades of “Pedro 1”. Positive contact with the downed pilot had not been established when the Pedros arrived on the scene. A search was initiated by both helicopters and the general area was thoroughly explored for fifteen minutes. An emergency beeper tone was suddenly heard by “Pedro 1” and voice contact was established between the downed pilot and the helicopter. A flare from the distressed crewman revealed his exact position to “Pedro 2”, who directed “Pedro 1” to the spot. The helicopter was brought to a perfect hover over the pilot who was tangled in a dense mass of limbs and vines. With the aid of the forest penetrator, and after five minutes of maintaining a motionless hover, the pilot was brought safely into the helicopter, and the return trip was started. As “Pedro 1” moved away, there was an unidentified movement in some bushes nearby. It was thought that the movement might have been made by some natives, but there was no ground fire encountered and the departure was executed safely. Both helicopters returned safely to Nakhon Phanom Air Base.  


12.   End of this review - the History of Huskie presence at NKP -  however ........


Huskies returned to NKP

DET.9, 38 ARRS was relocated from Pleiku AB, RVN to Nakhon Phanom AB on 16 February 1970. It fulfilled the LBR role until 10 September 1971, deactivation date of DET.9, while the  helicopters continued to operate here as LBR-DET of 40 ARRS until February 1975.



last update 05/07/2023