Kaman HH-43B Huskie -  based at  -  Ubon Air Base, Thailand    1965-1966


591561 Arrival 14Apr65 VanceNeed


Ubon aerial view VNeed 109B


625978 13Mar66 JVGrunsven


591562 Almost Dry 24May66 JVGrunsven

F4C 37551 Need96B 900



591562 Jul66 JVGrunsven



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 Mr. Jerry VanGrunsven (resigned as Captain USAF), Mr. Vance Need (resigned as Captain, USAF), Mr. Joseph Sprague (  ...... ), and Mr. Hank Howard (MSgt. USAF, Ret.)  for all their contributions, the personal stories, for the many photographs.

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


 01.  Kaman HH-43B Huskie -  based at   -  Ubon Air Base, Thailand    1965-1966    


01.01    Organization  1965-1966

DET.7, CARC at Wurtsmith AFB, MI, augmented by selected personnel from other detachments, and the two helicopters from DET.3, CARC at Grand Forks AFB, ND deployed as a unit on a high priority movement to Thailand.

Personnel and the two Huskies became assigned to DET.Prov.3, PARC upon arrival at Ubon AB, Thailand. Det.Prov.3 was designated and organized on 14 April 1965

(source : File K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.1-page 11, IRIS00491703, in USAF Collection, AFHRA)


UNIT          HH-43B



DET.Prov.3, PARC

14 Apr 1965

01 Jul 1965


01 Jul 1965

08 Jan 1966


08 Jan 1966

08 Feb 1969


Ubon aerial Howard2873 4

Ubon AB   1965 , photos by Hank Howard 

01.02    Aircraft assigned




from Grand Forks AFB   14 Apr 1965  - 30 Mar 1966  crash-damage

to DonMuang AB and futher to Kaman, Bloomfield, CT - repaired



from Grand Forks AFB   09 Apr 1965  - 14 Jul 1969   to U Tapao AB

crash-damage 14 Jun 1965 - repaired at Don Muang by Sep 1965



as replacement for damaged  59-1562 :

from Naha AB  30 Jun 1965  -  28 Feb 1973  to Takhli AB



from Minot AFB  15 May 1966  - 29 Jun 1966  to Takhli AB 


01.03      Prior to assignment of the first Huskie unit  -  March 1965

On 02 March 1965  “Operation Rolling Thunder “ began. This was a systematic bombing campaign, starting at 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.

 On this day one HH-43B from Det.Prov.2, PARC at Nakhon Phanom AB was sent to Ubon AB to stand alert. Huskie 60-0280 with pilots 1st Lt. Fred Glover and 1st Lt. Neil McCutchan spent all day here.  Neil remembered : 

We 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”.


01.04      The Build up

The continued buildup of SAR forces during the first half of 1965 closely paralleled the general strenghtening of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. In April 65, Detachment 3 (Provisional) Hq PARC, was formed at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. This was followed by creation of Det.5 (Prov) at Udorn, Thailand in May 65. Each unit was equipped with two HH-43B helicopters, which were quite suitable for operations outside of the combat zone.  (source : File K717.0414-1, Checo Report USAF Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia 1961-1966, in USAF Collection, AFHRA)



AFHRA file K318.203  , dated 31 Dec 1966


02.         The arrival of the FIRST group of personnel


02.01      From Det.3, CARC  Grand Forks AFB, ND   to   Det.Prov.3, PARC  Ubon AB

 The following detailed report was written by Hank Howard, MSgt, USAF,  Ret.:

The deployment started in January 1965 with aircrew certifications, readiness and record inspections, power of attorneys, shots for tropical areas, affairs and building readiness. Grand Forks AFB, ND was a huge SAC B-52 base located near the Canadian border in a frigid cold terrible place. 

We started to systematically build mobility kits for all different systems which we would deploy with, this included the parts buildup for FSK’s and firefighting gear. We deployed with two  HH-43B’s two FSK and trailers, two alert crew six pack pickups and several boxes of rotor blades and spares and roll on roll off movility kits for the mechanics tools and spares. We disassembled the two HH-43 in the Hangar assigned to Air Rescue and Air Defense Command and a base C-47 storage point. 

We had lots of support from Civil Engineering squadron and SAC Base Supply personnel and the medical unit on the base. This deployment would be among the earliest TDY’s underway from a CONUS base and there was a lot about it unknown. First off we, the underlings, had no idea where the hell we were going and it was kept secret until we go to Wake Island out in the Pacific. 

I remember some uniqe thinks happening that included the disassembly of the rotor stantions uprights, rotor blade boxes, and problems loading them on C-124’s. Likewise there were no  plans or instructions for the removal or TO’s for removal of tail (or empennage) sections and tail pipe stack exhaust. So special crating had to be built for those items and designed for pallet on/off loading onto aircraft. Kaman sent two tech factory reps in for disasembly and oversight. Also a RAM team of civilians assisted from Hill AFB to advise on preparing the choppers. Both required defueling and purging fuel line and systems. 

We also had a major job of deciding what to take and not, we surely didn't need snow shovels. But we were told we would have two C-124’s and the mobility gear would be split evenly. Air Rescue in those days did not have checklist for deployments and forward basing choppers.

I remember that we worked thru blizzards and took off from Grand Forks in a blizzard condition for western pursuits. 

That was on 20 March 1965. The crews that flew us were from a MATS unit out of Tinker AFB, OK (1707th ATW).  We first went to Hill AFB, UT for refueling and a overnight crew rest. MATS crews could only fly a specific number of hours and take breaks.

Next we went to Travis AFB, CA and remained here three days with our two loaded C-124 carrying the two Huskies, two FSK’s and two pu trucks. Included aboard was our personal gear, firefighting gear, spares,mobility kits, tail fin and rotor blades, office chairs, desk, Technical Library and basis aircraft records and filing cabinets all of it aircraft palletized. 

After our stay at Travis we took off  (25 March) for a 12 hour ride to Hickham AFB Hawaii and another crew rest, three days in beautiful warm HI and Honolulu. We then flew (29 March) another 10 hours in "Old Shakey’s" to Wake Island, a dot island in the Pacific and a god forsaken place that was abuzz with military aircraft enroute to Nam and Thailand. Oh yes another two day crew rest and it was next off to Clark AFB in the Philippines (01 April). Here we spent five days (02-06 April) and went to jungle survival school on Mount Pinatobo, where we learned a lot about snakes and the jungle canopy and how it would affect us in rescue situations. 

(07 April) - Our next stop was Da Nang, Vietnam and I really thought this is where we would end up, we refueled here and under orders were ordered out of Nam to Ubon, Thailand. We crossed over the Central Plains of South Vietnam and across Laos at a very low elevation within picture taking range.

A four hour flight and we arrived at Ubon, Thailand  (07 April).

The base designation at the time was RAAF Ubon with a Aussie outfit with CAC Sabre aircraft (Australian variant of the F-86F), RAAF No. 79 Squadron, who had been at Ubon since 1962. The Aussies greeted us with a two plane flyby for each arriving C-124. Scared the crap out of us.

(here ends the report written by Hank Howard

591561 Arrival 14Apr65 VanceNeed

HH-43B 59-1561 being unloaded from a C-124C assigned to 1501 ATW  -   Ubon AB  14 April 1965

Note : the Huskie was still in full MATS scheme, including MATS emblem; at left is Capt. Chuck Proft, at right (front) is Capt. Mike Langford  - photo by 1st Lt. Vance Need 


591561 15Apr65 VNeed

HH-43B 59-1561 being assembled at Ubon AB  15 April 1965 - photo by Vance Need


591561 91562 VNeed95B rood 25

HH-43B 59-1561 and 59-1562 at Ubon AB during April-May 1965.      Note : aircraft still in full MATS scheme, including MATS emblem - photo by Vance Need 


F4C 37551 Need96B rood 25

HH-43B 59-1561 or 62 at Ubon AB during April-May 1965.      At right : recently deployed  F-4C 37551 and 37606 from 15th TFW, with TAC crest and flash.               - photo by Vance Need.

On 24 July 1965 aircraft 37551 belonged to a flight of four F-4C’s from Ubon which were tasked as a MIGCAP mission for an F-105 strike on Lang Chi, North Vietnam. A SA-2 SAM missile exploded under F-4C 37599 “Leopard 02” which became the first loss to a SAM. The same explosion badly damaged aircraft 37551, but it made it back to Ubon AB.   History in part from website : https://houseofphantoms.com/hop/Pulsar/en_US.CMS.display.244./f-4c-63-7551


Ubon Office Maint Jul65 Need97

Office and Maintenance building , Ubon AB  July 1965 - photo by Vance Need

591562 14Jun65 VNeed logo

Right-side of 59-1562, photo 15 June 1965 by Vance Need, with two stenciles

  • the upper one is of unknown origine, but may be a tag placed by the AustralianAF F-86F squadron crew
  • the lower one was tagged by a member of Det.Prov.2 at Nakhon Phanom AB (text : “naked fanny”)


02.02      FIRST GROUP  -    TDY  personnel

April 1965  -   October 1965


Capt. William F. Cunningham Jr. (P)

Capt. Michael F. Langford (P)

1stLt Vance E. Need (P)

Capt. Charles Proft (P)

Capt. George H. Church (P)

          Hank Howard

-       and 12  others

DET.CO    DET.7, CARC  Wurtsmith

DET.7, CARC   Wurtsmith

DET.7, CARC   Wurtsmith

DET.3, CARC   Grand Forks

DET.3, CARC   Grand Forks

DET.3, CARC   Grand Forks


02.03    Overview of known  RESCUE  MISSIONS      1965-1966


09 June 1965

27 February 1966

13 March 1966

28 April 1966

17 May 1966

20-21 July 1966

13 September 1966

20 September 1966

27 December 1966

crew  F-4C   “Leopard 4”

crew  F-4C

crew  F-100F

one  injured Thai civilian

crew  F-4C

crew  F-4C  “Mallard Lead”

crew  F-4C

crew  Turbo Porter (“Air America”)

crew  F-4C


02.04   Call Signs used by Det.3  aircraft


“Rescue 562”   for HH-43B  59-1562   on 09 Jun65

“Pedro 70”        for HH-43B  59-1562   on 20-21 Jul66

“Pedro 88”        for HH-43B  62-5978   on 20-21 Jul66 



02.05      Rescue  mission    -  09 June 1965

                  Source:   Rescue Mission Report  DET 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 DET 3-PARC-568-9Jun65           a DET.Prov.2, PARC (NKP)  Mission

HH-43B   59-1562   “Rescue 562”   from  DET.Prov.3  at Ubon AB

scrambled from Ubon after HH-43B from Nakhon Phanom AB was scrambled earlier (see below).

Pilot: Capt William F. Cunningham, Jr.,  and   .......

HH-43B   60-0280   "Flesh 22"    from  DET.Prov.2  at Nakhon Phanom AB

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

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  60 NM  SSW of NKP, Thailand


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, call sign “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.

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” (NKP), 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.


02.06      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           a DET.Prov.2, PARC  (NKP)  Mission

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:

                       1stLt. Vance E. Need (P) , Capt. Charles Proft (CP), and two unknown crewmembers 

Accident site in Thailand, 10 miles SW of Savannakhet

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


The Mission Report is not available. However, here is the story of what had happened, written by the pilot, 1st Lt. Vance Need , Det.Prov.3, Ubon AB:

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 leftside 14Jun65 VNeed


591562 front left 14Jun65 VNeed

HH-43B    59-1562     accident   14 June 65  -  all  photos by  Vance Need 

591562 right 14Jun65 VNeed167

591562 engine VNeed1



03.          TDY   personnel   replaced   by   PCS      -  October 1965


03.01      SECOND GROUP  -  PCS  personnel

Oct 1965  -   Sep 1966                  

Capt. Henry P. Fogg

Capt. Jay M. Strayer

Capt. Israel Freedman

Capt. Gerald B. Van Grunsven

1Lt. Ronald C. Tubbs

1Lt. Joseph W. Sprague

SMSgt Donald J. Zecha

Capt Shelley C. Davis

TSgt John J. Kelly

TSgt or SSgt Benjamin Selph

SSgt David C. Guthrie

A1C David G. Stainback

AlC Reedus L. Haraway

A1C William R. Nilsen

A1C  William E. Woodford

A2C Raymond E. Stokes

P  -  Det.CO
















Capt. Strayer was TDY to Det.10, 38 ARS from  ca.25Dec65 and until ca Feb66

Capt. Freedman was probably replaced by 1Lt. Gordon O. Tooley  ca. July 1966


03.02    Quarterly History      Det.3, 38 ARS     October - December 1965

               Source :  File  K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Supporting-Documents-IRIS00491713 - pages 52-53, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Det.3 was assigned to the 8th TFW (F-4C) for the purpose of rendering LBR support.

Detachment Commander : Capt. Henry P. Fogg. He replaced Capt. William F. Cunningham on 04 Oct 1965.

The mission of Det.3 was to render LBR support to the 8th TFW. The unit mission was more hazardous than normal in the fact that the fighter aircraft carry ordnance for combat missions. In furnishing local support, the detachment had the normal range of 75 NM to the north and west, but was limited to less than 50 miles to the east and south by the borders of Laos and Cambodia, respectively. Due to geographical location, Det.3 was not normally called upon to render ACR support, but could furnish such (with limited range), if required. Det.3 also had the capability of base support other than rescue if the primary mission was not jeopardized in any way. 

Operations: Det.3 accumulated a total of 197:00 flying hours during the reporting period (Oct-Dec65). This includes 94:00 hours for operational flights and 100:00 hours for training flights. Operational flights include 83:00 hours flown in precautionary orbit with the FSK in support of armed take-offs or in-flight emergencies and 11:00 hours for other base support missions. There were no combat missions flown during this period.

Personnel:  This unit is manned by 6 officers and 13 enlisted men.

Equipment : The detachment is equipped with three Kaman HH-43B helicopters configured with the standard fire suppression and personnel recovery equipment.

Additional Data and Remarks:

Unit Facilities furnished by the base include a 145’ x 185’ PSP helicopter pad located on the north end of the flight line and a 20’ x 80’ newly-constructed wooden building adjoining the pad which houses both operations and maintenance and in addition, serves as an alert facility. Both the operations area and the alert lounge are air-conditioned.

Problem Areas. During this quarter (Oct-Dec65) Det.3 encountered only one problem of major significance in acarying out its mission, and that was in the area of supply. Due to the low priority of an LBR unit in SEA, Det.3 has only maintained 2 of its 3 helicopters operational since 8 October. One helicopter has remained NORS throughout this period due to non-availability of parts. During December, however, supply channels in Thailand were re-organized and the problem appears to be sightly alleviated.


C133A ca1966 JVGrunsven

A  MAC  C-133A s/n 56-200x, parked on the parallel taxiway for unloading, sometime during 1966.

There was very little ramp space at Ubon at that time - photo by Jerry VanGrunsven


03.03      Rescue  mission    -  27 February 1966

                   Source:  Kaman Rotor Tips, Issue  June-July 1966 -page 3,18

                   Source:  pdf file on Internet, compiled by Steve Darke (steve.darke@pswltd.com)       

Rescue Mission number DET 3-38-xxx-27Feb66      DET.3, 38th ARRS


Flown by RCC  Capt Israel Freedman, Capt Jay M. Strayer (co-pilot), SSgt Benjamin Selph (HM), AlC Reedus L. Haraway (MT)


Flown by    ??

SAR Objective :  crew  F-4C 64-0742  Capt J.C.Kahl  and  1Lt G.H.Hall     -     8th TFW, 433rd TFS

Crashed  approx. 8 NM on final from Ubon AB, Thailand

 From:  Kaman Rotor Tips:

Not all rescues in Southeast Asia are made under fire, of course, but HH-43 crews are still confronted with other hazards from natural causes during their missions. One of the most recent of these involved the after-mid­night flight of a HUSKIE crew from Det 3, 38th ARRSq, Ubon AB, Thailand. Capt Israel Freedman, RCC; and Capt Jay M. Strayer, copilot, were in a precautionary orbit with the FSK when they saw an F-4C explode eight miles away while on final approach. Both occupants ejected. Captain Freedman returned to the ramp, dis­charged the fireman and FSK and picked up the crew chief, SSgt Benjamin Selph. Flying through darkness and heavy haze layers, the HUSKIE pilot used voice sig­nals from the downed pilot as a guide and picked him up in a rice paddy. The copilot was picked up a few minutes later and was treated for back injuries by the other HH­43 crewman, Alc Reedus L. Haraway, medical tech­nician, as the chopper headed back to the base. 

(note : no report given in official USAF JRCC Forms)


03.04      Rescue  mission    -  13 March 1966

                   Source: all information gained from personal notes by HH-43B pilots Gerald VanGrunsven, Joseph Sprague and F-100F pilot Marion Tuttle

                    (note : no report given in official USAF JRCC Forms) 

Rescue Mission number DET 3-38-xxx-13Mar66      DET.3, 38th ARRS

1st Mission - the recovery of the two pilots

HH-43B    possibly 59-1562

Flown by RCC  1st Lt. Joseph W. Sprague  (pilot), and  TSgt John J. Kelly (HM), SSgt Benjamin Selph  (HM), SSgt David C. Guthrie (FF)

SAR Objective :  crew  F-100F  58-1221 , part of OT&E  “Wild Weasel I”, assigned to TAWC, Eglin AFB and TDY to Korat AB (6234th TFW Provisional). The F-100F was part of a detachment of  F-100F’s in a new role as “Wild Weasel” aircraft. They flew anti-SAM missions over North Vietnam under codename “Iron Hand”. 

Aircraft crashed  about 20 miles North East of Ubon AB after engine developed series of severe compressor stalls followed by flameout. Air start attempts unsuccessful. Crew ejected successfully, no injuries.


F100F crew Ubon 13Mar66 JSprague HH-43B with pilot 1st Lt. Sprague after return from the crash site, 13 March 1966 - photo collection Sprague

at right the F-100F crew : Maj. Marion A. Tuttle (pilot) and Capt Donald E. Clark, Jr. (EWO)


Rescue Mission number DET 3-38-xxx-13Mar66      DET.3, 38th ARRS

2nd Mission - return to the crash site for investigation

HH-43B   62-5978

Flown by  Capt Jay M. Strayer (pilot), Capt Gerald B. VanGrunsven (co-pilot), and ?? 

HH-43B   59-1562

Flown by   1st Lt. Joseph W. Sprague (pilot), and ??


Pilot Captain VanGrunsven remembers :

We would fly military people to investigate the crash and to disarm any weapons which may have survived the crash, also help any civilians who may have been injured or had property damaged. The F-100 hull was only in part , many pieces  like a droptank, refueling boom and a tail fin. Much was smashed and melted. 


591562 13Mar66 JVGrunsven1

Ubon AB  13 Mar66 , F-100F pilot and EWO (Electronics Warfare Officer) at left , HH-43B pilot Capt. Jay Strayer  HH-43B  at right  ; aircraft 59-1562  is waiting - photo by  Capt. Jerry VanGrunsven

591562 13Mar66 JVGrunsven2

The F-100F crew and other military people were flown to the crash site with two HH-43B, aircraft  59-1562 (in front) and 62-5978 (background)  -  photo by J. VanGrunsven

F100F mainbody 13Mar66 JVGrunsven

The hull of  F-100F 58-1221  at the crash site  13 March 1966  ; F-100F and HH-43B crew and investigators at right  -  photo by Jerry VanGrunsven

F100F 581221 6234TFW Internet2

F-100F  58-1221  at  Korat AB  ca. Nov65-Early66 , USAF photo, copied from website  www.f-100.org 

625978 13Mar66 JVGrunsven1

HH-43B 62-5978 taking off after the inspection of the crash site, 13Mar66  - photo Jerry VanGrunsven

591562 13Mar66 JVGrunsven nw

HH-43B  59-1562 near the F-100F crash site, 13Mar66  - photo  Jerry VanGrunsven



03.05      Training Mission    -  30 March 1966

                   Source 1:   3rd ARRG  Hist , 01 Jan- 31 Mar 66  (VHPA website pdf file no VHPA 178)

                   Source 2:  USAF Accident/ Incident Report, HQ AFSC/JAR, Kirtland AFB, NM        


Training Mission   30 March 1966                                                 DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B    59-1561

Flown by  Capt Israel “Izzy” Freedman (pilot),  1Lt Joseph W. Sprague (co-pilot), SSgt David C. Guthrie (FF) , A1C David G. Stainback (FF) , A2C Raymond E. Stokes (FF)


Crash location :  4 NM  Northwest of Ubon AB. 


From : 3rd ARRG History file :

One HH-43B assigned to the 38 ARRS was involved in an accident. The findings of the investigation board resulted in the accident being declared a major aircraft accident. On 30 March the HH-43B SN 59-1561 in question sustained major damage when it crashed during an attempted recovery from an off base practice autorotation. Dollar loss was estimated to be  $56,184.00 and the aircraft will be out of service for approximately ninety days.

Note by Ragay : Aircraft 59-1561 was transferred to Don Muang AB, Thailand on 21 April 1966 for depot level repair, but was later transferred to Kaman at Bloomfield, CT for further repair (arriving there on 13Aug66). After repair the aircraft was transported to Tan Son Nhut AB on 07Jul67, for assignment to DET.6, 38 ARRS at Bien Hoa AB. 

NARRATIVE of accident :

  1. General : HH-43B, SN 59-1561 crashed on 30 March 1966, 4NM Northwest of Ubon AB, Thailand while on a Local Training Flight and sustained substantional damage. 
  1. History of Flight : This flight was scheduled for 1+30 hours transition training to include hoisting procedures, cargo hookup and general aircrew duties for two replacement firemen.

The planned training was completed in approximately one hour without leaving the traffic pattern of the base. The pilot advised the tower that he was leaving the traffic pattern and was proceeding north north west of the base at an approximate altitude of 1500 ft. MSL. After traveling approximately four miles away from the base the pilot made two 360 degree level turns. One was made to the right and one to the left. Straight and level flight was maintained for a few minutes and then the pilot initiated an autorotative maximum rate descent on a heading of approximately 190 degrees. The throttle was decreased to flight idle during the initial descent. Upon descending to an altitude of approximately 300 ft above the trees the pilot increased the throttle to full open, stopped the rate of descent and initiated a normal climb to an altitude of 500 to 600 feet above the ground. All systems operated normally. After climbing to approximately 600 feet above the ground the pilot called out “Forced Landing” and again reduced the throttle to flight idle and entered an autorotative descent, turning to a final approach heading of 260 degrees. At this time, all systems appeared normal to the co-pilot. At approximately 200 feet above the trees the pilot leveled the helicopter and increased the collective pitch, intending to initiate a normal power recovery. The co-pilot noted the N2 (rotor RPM) was at 230 RPM and was decreasing. The rate of descent was slowed ; but not stopped. The aircraft continued to descend to an altitude 100 feet above the trees. The pilot noted that the engine was still running by checking EGT, however, the exact temperature was not noted. He did not check N1 or N2 at this time, nor did he change the position of his controls.

Upon reaching the level of the trees (approximately 75 feet) , forward airspeed and rotor RPM had deceased to a degree that did not allow adequate control to affect a safe landing. At approximately 10 feet above the ground in a level altitude, the pilot increased the collective pitch to full up and held the throttle against the full open stop. A flare was attempted with no apparent change in rate of descent or attitude. The aircraft touched down in a level attitude with a forward speed of approximately 10 knots. Touchdown was made in rough terrain at a harder than normal rate. Both front gear sheared on contacting the rough ground. The aircraft rocked forward, the nose dropped, the fuselage tilted forward, dug in, pivoted on its nose and rolled over coming to rest on its right side approximately 180 degrees from the initial approach direction. The co-pilot moved the throttle to the shut-off position to stop the engine and the pilot turned off the battery. The firemen evacuated the aircraft through the rear door. The pilot and co-pilot evacuated through the rupted nose bubble. There were no injuries.

591561 30Mar66 JVGrunven

CH3E 639689 ca03Apr66 JVGrunsven1

Crash date of this 59-1561 was 30Mar66 - these photos were taken a few days later, when the HH-43B was recovered by a CH-3C 63-9689 of the 20th HeliSqn (then based at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam - but as of late Apr66 at Udorn AB)  ;  note HH-43B "1562" in the background - all photos by Jerry VanGrunsven

CH3E 639689 ca03Apr66 JVGrunsven2


 03.06      Mission    -  28 April 1966

                    Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-38-05-28Apr66, IRIS No. 1009282, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (microfilm REEL31113, fr1055-57   ;  and  SEA Save Tabulation Sheets, Non-Combat)    

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-05-28Apr66      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B                  midnight flight

Flown by  1Lt. Joseph W. Sprague ,  and ? 


Objective :  two containers of ordnance dropped from 8th TFW  F-4C   on 27Apr66 at 2330Z

One non-combat save :  1 Thai National

 From : AFHRA Microfilm Reel 31113 - frame 1055-57 : 

Midnight flight - dispatched one HH-43B at 0000Z 28 Apr 66 to search for dropped ordinance, location 15 DEG 25 N   105 DEG 04 E.

The Rescue Mission Report available on REEL 31113 only gave briefly descriptions. The dropped ordnance caused death and injuries to 6 Thai nationals on the ground.  Two people died after reaching medical facilities, one was critically injured and flown to the 8th TAC Dispensary at Ubon AB, while  3 people were treated and returned to home village.

ONE SAVE was credited for this Rescue Mission. 


03.07      Missions    -   May-Jun 1966


591562 RonTubb JVGrunsven

Digging for bomb JVGrunsven23nw

This Huskie must be 91562, The date on the slide is Jun 1966, the other ship with no numbers on the side was 91561, which crashed on 30 March.  Pilot Ron Tubb is sitting in the pilot seat. This place is north of Ubon AB, our mission was to locate some 1000 pound bombs that had inadvertently released from an F-4C as it was outbound the night before.  The bombs were not armed so they did not detonate. We located them so that the ordnance people could 'dispose'  of them.  They blew them up.  Photos by Jerry  VanGrunsven 

Digging for bomb JVGrunsven24nw

                                                                                                                                    note the HH-43B in the top right corner of this photo


625978 Apr66 JVGrunsven

Bomb detonated JVGrunsven25.JPG

This was another incident with lost ordnance.

HH-43B 62-5978 is sitting in a clear area , ca. April-May1966  near Ubon at some sort of accident site. Probably an unplanned weapon release enroute to where ever they were going - photos by Jerry VanGrunsven.


591562 Almost Dry JVGrunsven

HH-43B 59-1562  “Almost Dry”  - photo by Jerry VanGrunsven

The mission on the day of 'almost dry' photo was to search for an unexploded bomb.  These missions usually involved a lot of flight time.  I see a log book entry on 24 May66 of over 5 hours flight time in 91562. This could well be the date of that mission.


03.08      Mission    -  17 May 1966

                   Source: pdf file on Internet, compiled by Steve Darke (steve.darke@pswltd.com)        

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-xx-17May66      DET.3, 38th ARRS


Flown by   ?? 


Objective :   F-4C 64-0717   8th TFW, 433rd TFS  damaged during reconnaissance mission and written-off after runway overrun at Ubon AB

Pilot Capt D.G.Rokes and  WSO  1Lt   E.S.Osbolt  survived



03.09      Aircraft overhaul    -  June- July 1966

                   Source:  File K318.2 , Hist.ARRS Jan-Jun 66, Vol.5 - “Minutes of Staff Meeting”, dated 10 June 66,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA: SEA HH-43 Modification

Aircraft S/N 59-1562 was the first SEA HH-43B for overhaul input, on 07 June 1966. The work was done by DET.7, APRFE at Don Muang AB, Thailand. Overhaul was in compliance with TCTO 1H-43(H)B-579, Self Sealing Fuel Cells, and TCTO 1H-43(H)-506, Loud Hailer and Camouflage Painting SEA HH-43. The  aircraft was back at Ubon AB on 28June 1966. 


591562 Jul66 JVGrunsven4

591562 Jul66 JVGrunsven

HH-43B 59-1562  at Ubon AB in July 1966, in fresh camouflage scheme, applied shortly before this day, during overhaul at Don Muang AB, Thailand. This was the very first Huskie (worldwide) with camo paint - photos by Jerry VanGrunsven


03.10      Rescue  mission    -  20-21 July 1966

                   Source :  Rescue Mission Report  3-38-06-20Jul66, IRIS No. 1009285, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (on microfilm REEL31113, frame 1090-93)

                   Source :  Kaman Rotor Tips, issue Nov-Dec66 - page 13   "Southeast Asia"  

Rescue Mission number DET 3-38-06-20Jul66      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”

Flown by  1Lt. Ronald C. Tubbs (pilot),  Capt. Gerald B. VanGrunsven (co-pilot), TSgt Benjamin Selph (HM), Capt Shelley C. Davis (FS, Flight Surgeon)

HH-43B   59-1562   “Pedro 70”

Flown by RCC  1Lt. Joseph W. Sprague,  1Lt. Gordon O. Tooley (co-pilot), A1C William R. Nilsen (MT), A1C  William E. Woodford (RS), A2C Raymond E. Stokes (RS)

Later, during daylight  HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”  returned to the crash site with the investigators and the weapons people.

Flown by Capt. Gerald B. VanGrunsven (pilot), Capt. Henry P. Fogg (Co-pilot), TSgt Benjamin Selph (HM)

SAR Objective :  crew  F-4C 63-7695  “Mallard Lead”  pilot Capt  Robert A. Walmsley (pilot) and  WSO  1Lt  S.W. George    -    8th TFW, 555th TFS

Crashed on approach to Ubon AB, Thailand   - 15 NM  NE of Ubon


The crew of “Pedro 70” and “88” all were awarded the Air Medal for this mission.

From the AFHRA Rescue Mission Report :

Initial SAR request at 1535Z on 20 July - dispatched one HH-43B on 1540Z (or 2340H local time).

“Pedro 88” used ARS-25 direction finder in locating survivor pilot, trapped in wreckage using URC-10. Surviving pilot was receiving guard transmissions, but did not attempt to transmit or was unsuccessful in transmitting on his URC-10 *). C-130 flares aided lighting crash site and aided ground search to locate body of co-pilot 100 yds from wreckage. 

*) In a later conversation between the F-4C pilot, Captain Robert Walmsley and Jerry VanGrunsven  concerning his survive radio, receiving only during the search and rescue, Captain Walmsley told Jerry that the reason for that was that when the nose broke off his F-4, he was fully exposed to the trees and plants in the forest as he slide along before stopping and that the transmit button on his survival was torn off or some way disabled therefore making it impossible to transmit.  He clearly saw us flying near and over him but had no way to tell us how close we were.

F4C 637695 21Jul1966 JVG1

F4C 637695 21Jul66 JVG2

F-4C   63-7695  “FG  695” of 8th TFW, 555th TFS , based at Ubon AB.       Date 21 July 1966

Crash-path  of  F-4C  63-7695              (all photos by Jerry VanGrunsven)

F4C 637695 21Jul66 JVG3

Captain VanGrunsven, pilot during the day mission of 25978 on 21 July, remembers:

The scene was near an F-4C crash which had happened at just before Midnight the night before (20Jul66).  The F-4C had been damaged by a missile and  had an engine fire and could not make it back to the runway.  It flew into the ground  and slide along for more then half a mile, the pilot still in the front seat, survived.  The field was overgrown with eight-foot high stalks of hemp interspersed with hidden tree stumps and sur­rounded by tall trees.

The weather was awful, very low ceiling, very limited visibility, drizzle and very dark night.  After a long search we located him and got him back to the base. 

Ship 25978 was partially dissembled for a maintenance inspection that night.  As soon as the search mission began the maintenance crew was called back to duty (about midnight) to complete their work and reassemble 25978 which they did in record time of about two hours. 

91562 returned for fuel about the same time as 25978 was ready to join the search with its operating direction finder.  We had the Flight Surgeon Doctor on board 25978.  The direction finder immediately locked on to the signal so we followed the needle and expected to find the guy right away but that did not happen.  The needle would home just fine and then swing around and seem confused.  We would fly on a little more then it would point back the other way so we would go back and again find nothing, very confusing.  91562 was useless without the DF so he began following us very close behind, then we heard his call "WE SEE IT, YOU JUST FLEW OVER THE CRASH'.  We saw nothing because the F-4 was so well hidden in the hemp field.  They saw the fuselage as we flew directly over it and illuminated it with our belly lights pointing directly down.  They came to a hover over it and were really surprised to see the pilot in his seat waving to them.  Since we had the Doctor we went in for the pickup and since I was co-pilot I got out to assist.  91562 hovered over head to illuminate the immediate area with its belly lights while we got the badly injured but conscious pilot out and onto the stretcher and into 978 for the flight back to base. It also was a hazardous situation because the F-4C pilot was sitting in an ejection seat for which the firing sequence had been partially initiated.

It was quite a scene with the rotor blade noise and wet hemp moving around wildly in the rotor downwash.  91562 remained at he crash sight and resumed the search for the back seat guy who was not in the airplane, the ejection seat had been fired so they knew he had ejected, but there was not another becon signal so we did not know his location or fate.  His body was located a short time later by two of the crew members of 91562 who did a ground search back along the trail the skidding F-4 had made before it stopped.  He ejected while the F-4 was sliding along through the small trees and hemp fields, He collided with tree limbs and was killed.  Ejecting was too late.  The back seat received no damage.  He would have been fine if he had stayed with the ship, really sad.  

Huskie 91562 was damaged shortly after we departed the crash site with the injured pilot on board 978.  91562 was being flown by Lt Joe Sprague and had just landed near the F-4C crash site to deplane some of the crew to do ground search near the crash when one of the turning rotor blades was hit by a freefalling parachute flare canister (3 foot long aluminum tube that contains the flare before its use).  The canister hit the rotor blade at about the control flap and broke the blade off at that location (except for the leading edge which was strong enough to withstand the impact).

We were all very lucky that we did not get hit while we were in the air, the results would surely have been  fatal.  We were not aware of the falling canisters, no one told us, they just dropped them and hoped no one would get hurt.

The flare canister that hit 59-1562 was dropped by a C-130A flare ship **), usually to light up targets for the Fighter Bombers at night, but this time he was trying to light the area for the search and rescue effort we were on.  The problem that night was the very limited visibility and the fact that the only helicopter in operating condition, 91562, did not have an operating direction finder which was vital for the helicopter to home in on any survival beacon which may be operating.  The C-130 had a good direction finder and was receiving a good beacon signal but could not see anything because of the clouds and fog, so he dropped flares over the site in the hope the helicopter could find the guy.  It didn't work because the now wingless F-4 with its green paint was completely hidden by the high stalks of hemp and the fact that the crew did not know they were looking for a wingless F-4 with pilot still in his cockpit, they were looking for a parachute or flares from the downed pilot. 

**) From Internet/Wikipedia:  C-130A flare ships were based at Ubon AB since early 1966 , as a Detachment of the 6315th OpsGp, 315AD (from Naha AB, Okinawa). The mission received the call sign “Blind Bat”. 

591562 BROKEN ROTOR JVGrunsven1

HH-43B  59-1562 the day after the rotor blade incident of July 21, 1966. 

It was repaired at this place and flown out a few days later.  Photo at right:  the pilot with the helmet on is Lt  Ron Tubb, the other person is Captain Henry Fogg.  Photos by Captain VanGrunsven 

591562 BROKEN ROTOR22Jul66 JVGrunsven2

591562 BROKEN ROTOR22Jul66 JVGrunsven3

Damaged HH-43B  59-1562  -  Captain Henry Fogg, Det.3, 38th ARRS Commander,  is seen at right,  22 July 1966  -  photo by Jerry VanGrunsven

625978 21Jul66 JVGrunsven4

HH-43B  62-5978  in a field with eight-foot high stalks of hemp, Captain Henry Fogg is seen in front of the aircraft  -  21 July 1966 - photo by Jerry VanGrunsven



04.01      THIRD  GROUP  of  personnel

Sep 1966  -   xxx 1967


Capt. Dennis M. Chase 

and others

P   -   Det. CO





04.02      Rescue  mission    -  13 September 1966

                   Source:  SEA SAVE Tabulation sheets (on microfilm Reel31113 - frame 768-769)   NON-COMBAT-SAVES,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA

                   Source: pdf file on Internet, compiled by Steve Darke (steve.darke@pswltd.com)

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-8-13Sep66      DET.3, 38th ARRS


Flown by Capt. Dennis M. Chase , and ?


Objective :  crew F-4C  63-7640   pilot Maj. Paul H. Patterson, WSO 1Lt. Robert W. Thomas -   8th TFW  Ubon AB

Crashed  2 NM  South of Ubon AB



04.03      Rescue  mission    -  20 September 1966

                  Source:  SEA SAVE Tabulation sheets (on microfilm Reel31113 - frame 768-769)   NON-COMBAT-SAVES,  in USAF Collection, AFHRA

                  Source: pdf file on Internet, compiled by Steve Darke (steve.darke@pswltd.com)

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-11-20Sep66      DET.3, 38th ARRS


Flown by Capt. Dennis M. Chase , and ? 


Objective :  2 crewmembers  “Air America”  Pilatus Turbo Porter

Crashed  40 NM  SW of Ubon AB



04.04      Rescue  mission    -  27 December 1966

                  Source:  pdf file on Internet, compiled by Steve Darke (steve.darke@pswltd.com)

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-xx-27Dec66      DET.3, 38th ARRS


Flown by  ? 


Objective :  crew  F-4C  64-0833   pilot Maj. R.E. Gust, WSO Lt. G.D. Shepard  -  8th TFW, 555th TFS  Ubon AB

Crashed in Thailand after fuel transfer failure and fuel exhaustion. Crew ejected near Ubon AB



05.         End of this review - however,  Det.3 continued to fly Huskies from Ubon AB:


UNIT          HH-43B




08 Jan 1966

08 Feb 1969

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

08 Feb 1969

01 Jul 1971

DET.3, 3 ARRG, 41 ARRW

01 Jul 1971

20 Aug 1972 

DET.3, 40 ARRS, 41 ARRW

20 Aug 1972

Aug 1974


With :



from Grand Forks AFB   09 Apr 1965  - 14 Jul 1969   to U Tapao AB



from Naha AB  30 Jun 1965  -  28 Feb 1973   to Takhli AB

modified to HH-43F  Sep 1971



from Takhli AB  04 Jan 1968  -  13 Mar 1973   to Takhli AB

modified to HH-43F  Aug 1971



from  Tan Son Nhut AB   07 Feb 1973  - 22 Jul 1974  to U Tapao AB



from  Tan Son Nhut AB   07 Feb 1973  - 06 Aug 1974  to U Tapao AB



A follow-up of this review over the period  1967 - 1974  will be published later. 



update 01/04/2021