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 the following DET.3 members for all their contributions, personal stories, and for the many photographs.

        Entry 1965-1966:

        Mr. Jerry VanGrunsven (resigned as Captain, USAF), Mr. Vance Need (resigned as Captain, USAF),

        Mr. Joseph Sprague (resigned as Captain, USAF ), and Mr. Hank Howard (MSgt. USAF, Ret.) 

        Entry 1970-1971:  Mr. Roger L. Barre (SMSgt. USAF, Ret.)       


Johan D. Ragay

PRHA H-43 Historian

webpage updated 27 Nov 2021        (chapter 03.10   photocaption : Sgt. Benjamin Selph is seen at right,  22 July 1966)

webpage update   07 Mar 2023        (chapter 06.09  a serie USAF photos, taken on 19Nov70)

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   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)

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)

Later, during daylight on 21 July :  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 2240H 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 unknown.  Photos by Captain VanGrunsven 

591562 BROKEN ROTOR22Jul66 JVGrunsven2

591562 BROKEN ROTOR22Jul66 JVGrunsven3

Damaged HH-43B  59-1562  -  Sgt. Benjamin Selph 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, Det.3, 38th ARRS Commander, is seen in front of the aircraft  -  21 July 1966 - photo by Jerry VanGrunsven


1Lt. Joseph W. Sprague, pilot of “Pedro 70” (HH-43B 59-1562) during the initial flight, remembers:

Waiting for the last F-4 Phantom to return from night missions over North Vietnam.

Crash alert 2240 hours, 20 July, 1966. It is bad weather, raining, lighting, low clouds and fog.

“Pedro 70” with pilot Lt. Joseph Sprague and co-pilot Lt. Gordon Tooley, (not yet checked out as command pilot), takes off and we are in the clouds below 200 feet altitude. Ubon Air Base control tower gives us radar vectors to last known aircraft position, 6 ½ miles NE of Ubon Airfield, with a fire warning light and minimum fuel. For 45 minutes we are in the weather unable to see the ground, in that area, hopping to spot a fire, but not at an effective search altitude. Weather improves and we are able to descend below the clouds and stay out of the trees and fog. Still too low to effectively cover search area. After another 45 minutes with no discovery, we return to the air base for refueling and to get the second chopper and crew in the search.

This second chopper, “Pedro 88”, with Pilot Lt. Ronald Tubbs and co-pilot Captain Jerry VanGrunsven, has a base doctor and para medics. A C-130 Lamplighter crew heard our radio calls and asked to drop parachute flares to help light the area. After about another hour in the search, “Pedro 88” spotted the crash site. “Pedro 88” landed, shut down and the whole crew, pilots and medics, proceeded to the crash site through the under brush, about 50 yards from the parked helicopter.

“Pedro 70” remained air born and hovered with search light to guide the crew to the crash site and provide light for the recovery of the pilot. The F-4  GIB, pilot in the back, had attempted bail out at tree top level and did not survive.

The F-4 had made a belly landing and skidded to a stop after shearing the wings and complete nose cone from the aircraft. The pilot alive with multiple injuries and broken bones, his legs where dangling fully exposed to the next impact before the aircraft stopped. After about 30 minutes the pilot was removed, placed on a stretcher and carried to the parked helicopter.

“Pedro 88” now was ready to depart with the injured pilot but unable to carry all the crew. “Pedro 88” departs. “Pedro 70” lands and is preparing to pick up the other crew. While on the ground , parked in flight idle, rotors turning, a loud crash, rotor imbalance, something has struck the rotor blades. “Pedro 70” shutting down. Looks like about 4 foot of one of the rotor blades is missing. First thought, Lamplighter time to stop flare drop. C-130 acknowledges and its night again.  “Pedro 70” waits for “Pedro 88” to return to pick up the remaining crew members. “Pedro 88” brings one too many crew back for the pick up, so I get to stay by myself and wait for the last pick up and return to the base.

Long night, 4 1/2 hours of night flight time, with first 45 minutes logged as night weather.

All crew members received the Air medal for this mission.




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. 



PROVISIONAL  INFORMATION       for the years  1970-1971


06.       DET.3    years  1970 - 1971  


06.01  Rescue Mission 15 Jan 1970  (#1)

Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-38-01-15Jan70, IRIS No. , in USAF Collection, AFHRA ( microfilm REEL47662, fr090-095)          

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-01-15Jan70      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”    

Flown by  Capt. Michael C. Kiefl  (AC);  Capt. Allen E. Spalt (co-pilot);  Sgt. John D. Chilson (FE) ;  Sgt. Jeffrey W. Fehr (MT) 

HH-43B   60-0258   “Pedro 08”    

Flown by  Capt. Marvin A. Cleveland (AC) ; Sgt. Ronald L. Kaylor  (FE)

Objective :  F-4D  66-8820  “Stromy 03”    pilot  Major Tommy R. Warren  (killed) , WSO  1Lt. Ralph D.  Leblanc    -  366 TFW, Da Nang AB

Mission Narrative :

“Pedro 88” scrambled for precautionary orbit and intercept of “Stormy 03” inbound with battle damage and the front seater unconscious. The rear seater was going to attempt the landing, however, after some difficulties, he initiated ejection of both crewmembers about 13 NM east of the airfield, at 0607Z. “Pedro 88” returned the fire suppresion kit to the alert pad and headed for the scene.

“Answer 75” (RF-4C) was circling the ejection site and reported both crewmembers touching the ground as “Pedro 88” was half way to the scene. He then directed “Pedro 88” to the crewmembers and “Pedro 88” landed near the pilot’s parachute in a dry rice paddy at 0618Z and all crew members, except the AC deplaned. It was discovered that the pilot had suffered fatal injuries, most likely prior to ejection. He was placed on a litter, covereed and loaded on the helicopter.

“Pedro 08” took off from the alert pad at 0615Z and was directed by “Pedro 88” to pick up the navigator due to “Pedro 08” ’s proximity to the site and the lack of room inside “Pedro 88”. “Answer 75” again directed the helicopter to the navigator and “Pedro 08” landed next to him in a rice paddy at 0631Z.

“Pedro 88” took off at that time and “Pedro 08” followed at 0636Z with the navigator. “Pedro 88” RTB at 0645Z and “Pedro 08” RTB at 0650Z.

One combat save.

Floyd R. Dooley, Major, USAF



06.02  Rescue Mission 15 Jan 1970  (#2)

 Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-38-02-15Jan70, IRIS No. , in USAF Collection, AFHRA ( microfilm REEL47661, fr197-202)            

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-02-15Jan70      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”    

Flown by  Capt. Michael C. Kiefl  (AC);  Capt. Allen E. Spalt (co-pilot);  Sgt. John D. Chilson (FE) ;  Sgt. Jeffrey W. Fehr (MT); Capt. John R. Pettigrove (MC) doctor  8th USAF Dispensary


Objective :  Seriously injured Thai girl - Miss Lamyai Bontong -

 Mission Narrative:        

One Thai National non-combat non-aircrew member save is credited.

At 1139Z  DET 3, 38 ARRS launched “Pedro 08” with medical doctor on board. In addition to regular crew, after notification of seriously injured Thai girl, 13 NM East of the base. “Pedro” was guided to the scene by an OV-10 (23th TASS) circling overhead, who had coordinated setting up lights at the LZ with ground parties. The patient had a severely traumatized left leg and thighi and had suffered severe loss of blood. An IV was initiated immediately and “Pedro 08” flew here to the base, where she was transferred to a waiting ambulance, 1200Z. She has since been air lifted to U-Tapao Afld, Thai for further treatment.

From Mission Narrative :

Floyd R. Dooley, Major, USAF



And from Kaman RotorTips, issue  Mar-Apr 1970 - page 12

Det 3 Saves Thai Girl

An HH-43 launched in the dark from Ubon Airfield, Thailand, after word was received that a seriously injured Thai girl was bleeding severely and in need of immediate medical attention. At the pickup site, 15 miles from Ubon  Capt Michael C. Kiefl found an approach route between 100-foot trees and landed in a small clearing illuminated by a truck's headlights. The border of the site was out­lined by flashlights. With the patient aboard, a restricted area takeoff was made and the patient was soon at the hospital.


06.03  Rescue Mission 30 April 1970

 Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-38-03-30Apr70, IRIS No. , in USAF Collection, AFHRA ( microfilm REEL47661, fr260-262)           

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-03-30Apr70      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”    

Flown by  Capt. John S. Bouchard (AC); Capt. John C. Smith (co-pilot); Sgt. Gerald E. Kent  (MT); SSgt. Jon A. Knox (FE)


Objective :  Med.Evac of SSgt. Byron R. Harris (AFCS, 1982 Comm.Sqn), location 16-04N 103-39E

Narrative :

One AirForce non-combat non-aircrew member MedEvac. DET.3, 38 ARRS launched “Pedro 88” at 1150Z after notification of an AirForce member suffering from unknown causes – resulting in extensive body swelling, nausea, and unconsciousness.

“Pedro 88” proceeded to the 1982 CommSq remote site at Roiet – 85 NM of Ubon. Members at the site assisted in providing communications, lighting for the landing area, and fuel. Sgt Harris remained semi-conscious during the return trip. Patient released to hospital personnel at Ubon at 1510Z.


06.04   Group Photo

Photo from collection David Oakes, photo-date 11 May 1970   (also published in Kaman Rotor Tips,  issue Aug-Sep-Oct 1970, page 13)

DET3 38ARRS DavidOakes 11May70 

Front, left to right:       

SSgt. Hubert R. Perkins; TSgt. James H. Cordwell; Maj. George L. Schmidt (Commander); Capt. John M. Higbie; Capt. David J. Parker; Sgt. Richard C. Holmes; Sgt. Lawrence E. Holt; Sgt. Gerald R. Kent.


Sgt. Terry P. Ourso; Capt. John S. Bouchard; SMSgt. Frank L. Kroupa; Capt. John C. Smith; SSgt. William J. Selke; SSgt. Robert T. Graves; SSgt. John R. Raplee;  SSgt. Jon S. McDaniel;  SSgt. Eric L. Samuelson;  Sgt. David R. Oakes;  TSgt. Glenn O. Durham   (USAF photo)



06.05   Mission  12 June 1970

 Source: Rescue Mission Report  3-38-04-12Jun70, IRIS No. , in USAF Collection, AFHRA ( microfilm REEL47661, fr273-277)            

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-04-12Jun70      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B   60-0258   “Pedro 08”                              one non-combat save

Flown by  Capt. John S. Bouchard (AC); Capt. John M. Higbie (co-pilot); Sgt. Jeffrey W. Fehr  (MT); SSgt. Eric L. Samuelson (HM)

HH-43B   62-5978   “Pedro 88”    

Flown by  Major George L. Schmidt (AC); Capt. David J. Parker (co-pilot); SSgt. Jon A. Knox  (HM); SSgt. William J. Selke (FF); Sgt. Lawrence E. Holt (FF)

Objective :  F-4D  66-8770  “Brushy 1”  engine failure -  pilot Capt. Richard Massari (killed); WSO  1Lt. Eddie T. Payne  -  8 TFW, 25 TFS  Ubon AB


From Mission Narrative Report :

Summary of SAR Actions : DET 3, 38 ARRS was notified by Ubon Tower at 0200Z of a suspected crash. Rapcon had lost radio and radar contact with “Brushy 1” following missed approach 8 NM NNE of Ubon. “Pedro 08” launched at 0220Z under radar vectors to last known position of “Brushy 1”. Enroute “Pedro 08” observed a flash of light and fire on the horizon and proceeded towards the area, maintaining VFR. Weather at launch and in the crash area was 300 to 500 foot ragged ceiling, visibility 6 miles, very light rain. Rapcon lost radar contact with “Pedro 08” at approximately 6 miles due to low altitude flown. “Pedro 08” proceeded an estimated 4 miles further to the fire area, arriving at 0230Z, and identified the area as the crash site (debris scatterd around a deep hole in the ground). Upon arriving, a beeper was heard on guard channel and radio contact established with a survivor (“Brushy Bravo”). Bravo directed “Pedro 08” to his position approximately 300 yards from the crash. Pedro 08 landed and picked up “Bravo”, who was in a state of shock. He was unable to give any details concerning the crash or possible condition of “Brushy Alpha”. After a 15 minute visual and radio search for “Alpha” with negative results, “Pedro 08” RTB at 0300Z and turned “Bravo” over to medical personnel. “Pedro 08” returned to search the crash area for visual or radio contact with negative results. The fire in the area had gone out and the exact crash site could not be relocated due to deteriorating weather. “Pedro 08” RTB at 0420Z. “Pedro 88” had assumed search at 0410Z but RTB at 0500Z with negative results due to poor visibility. “Pedro 08” launched again at 0525Z to arrive at the crash site at first light. A landing was made at 0545Z and “Alpha” located fatally injured approximately 100 feet from the crash. “Pedro 08” departed the site at 0605Z and RTB at 0615Z and the human remains turned over to medical personnel.


06.06   Major Schmidt


DET3 RTips Aug1970 page12 small 

From Kaman RotorTips, issue Aug-Sep-Oct 1970, page 12         "Southeast Asia"


By Sgt James Replogle

UBON RTAFB, Thailand - Two semi-articulated counter­rotating rotors with blades made of various kinds of wood, fiberglass, aluminum, stainless steel and a fiber cover, make the aircraft unique.

Pilots, firemen, medical technicians and mechanics working together for a common goal make the job unusual. Together they form Detachment 3, 38th ARRSq at Ubon RTAFB.

The unit flies the HH-43 "Pedro" helicopter in support of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. "Our mission," said Maj George L. Schmidt, detachment commander, "is to provide local base rescue including suppression of aircraft fire, air­crew recovery, and medical evacuation."

The Pedro, with the fire suppression kit, intercepts air­craft that are attempting an emergency landing. If an air­craft should crash, the Pedro will land next to it, dropping off a fire suppression kit and two firefighters. Pedro then utilizes strong rotor downwash to roll fire extinguishing agent across the fire and provide cooling and oxygen for the trapped aircrew. The suppression kit contains about 80 gallons of water, five gallons of foam agent and compressed air. When deployed, it has enough of the foam-water mix­ture to lay down a cleared area to the cockpit of a burning aircraft.

The mission of the Pedro crews is to get in fast and rescue the downed aircrew. "Our job actually isn't finished there," Major Schmidt said. "The helicopter then acts as a flying ambulance and takes the recovered aircrew to the nearest hospital for medical attention."

Additional capabilities of Detachment 3, and the HH-43 are to transport explosive ordnance disposal teams to a crash site, to pick up bailed-out aircrews in dense jungle areas and to perform emergency medical evacuations from remote sites. 

A Pedro crew consisting of two pilots, two firemen, a medical technician, and a helicopter mechanic maintains a 24-hour alert. The rescue crew can be airborne within 30 seconds. "With a unit such as this," Major Schmidt said, "it takes practice to help the men perfect their duties."

The aircrew often practices for their primary mission­fire suppression and aircrew recovery-at a fire pit which has been set up just off the Ubon runway. The helicopter is flown within 50 to 75 feet of the flames and the suppres­sion kit and firefighters are dropped off. Immediately, the firefighters proceed to cut a path through the flames while the helicopter is hovering above and behind them. The crews also practice hoisting men out of the jungle and other emergency situations that they may encounter.

Practice fires are fought both during the day and at night. The late evening drills are designed to enhance the crews' depth perception, which is normally impaired because of inadequate light.

Five other Pedro detachments are located in Thailand, and all are self-contained.

Like Detachment 3, most of the units are equipped with two Pedros and must perform their own maintenance. "Our maintenance men perform all tasks except for specialties such as repairs on radios and electronic gear," Major Schmidt said.

The Pedro crews' motto exemplifies the atmosphere in which they live..."These Things We Do That Others May Live." 

Det 3, 38th ARRSq, 3rd ARRGp (MAC)

Activated - 14 April 1965

Total number of sorties since activation - 6,000

Total number of rescues made since activation - 48

Total number of aircraft saved since activation - 2

Number of sorties this year - 130

Number of rescues this year - 4

The detachment has been accident/incident free since activation.           (Ragay: some doubt here; see chaper 03.05)

One HH-43 62-5978, has logged 2,450 to­tal hours and HH-43 60-0258 has 3,100 total hours. 


 06.07     Group Photo

photo copied from Facebook , posted by David Oakes    -    date ca. Apr-Jul 1970

DET3 38ARRS Oakes Sept70

1st Row:  SSgt. Bob Siegfried; Commander Maj. Larry Smith; Sgt. Richard Holmes; Sgt. Al Alshouse; next Unknown; Sgt. Lawrence Holt;  SSgt. John Knox; SSgt Roger Barre; Sgt. David Oakes 

2nd Row:  Light colored suite Unknown; Unknown; Unknown; Medic Unknown; Sgt. Gerald Kent; SSgt. Phil Smith; Capt. Samuel Ferguson 

3rd Row:  TSgt. Maintenance Unknown; Capt. John Bouchard; Unknown; Sgt. Dean Arnett;  Commander Maj. Lowell Ketchum; Capt. John Higbe.



06.08   Group Photo

Photo and list of names provided by Roger Barre     -       photo date ca. Jul-Sep 1970

DET3 1970 RogerBarre

1st Row: John Tucker (Maintenance);  Sgt. Lawrence Holt (Fireman); SSgt. Robert Siegfried (FE & Maintenance); SSgt. Jon A. Knox (FE &Maintenance); Sgt. Al Alshouse (Maintenance); Capt. Leas Deacon Dickey (Pilot) 

2nd Row: (in light colored suite) Maj. Lowell D. Ketchum (Det 3, 38th Commander, Pilot); Capt. Leonard (Pilot);  SSgt. Phil Smith (FE & Maintenance);  SSgt. Roger Barre (FE & Maintenance);  Medic, Unknown;  Sgt. Fred L. Jessee (FE &Fireman) 

3rd Row: SSgt. Eric Samuelson (FE & Maintenance);  Capt. Samuel L. Ferguson (Pilot);  Sgt. Dean Arnett (Admin Support); Dan Chambers (Medic);  SSgt. Rick Sheets (FE & Fireman); Payton (FE & Maintenance); Anderson (Engine Maintenance);  SSgt. Richard C. Fonner (FE & Maintenance); Capt. John S. Bouchard (Pilot) 



06.09   Photos   June - October 1970


DET3 38ARRS 28Jun70 RogerBarre01

28 June 1970 -  Det.3, 38 ARRS hanger with HH-43B  60-0258 with Det.3 logo above ;  photo Roger Barre


F4D 667505 30Jun70 coll Barre3751

30 June 1970 -  8th TFW F-4D 66-7505 “FG” ; Roger Barre : "Our Hanger and our taxi way was about 300 to 500 feet from the 8th TFW (Wolf Pack) F-4 Phantom planes that were in position in the arming and disarming area. Then they would run up there engines before taken off to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia  missions. As they were taxing by me, I gave them a salute and they returned a salute to me. I do remember this every day and think about it. I was so honored to do that, because I knew their missions were extremely dangerous"



                       DET3 beer coaster Sep70 cor

Sept 1970, A beer coaster map from Ubon NCO Club Open Mess - collection Roger Barre

DET3 FCF 20Sep70 coll Barre751

20 Sep 70  SSgt Roger Barre (FE), pilot Capt. John Bouchard (photo), complete a Functional Check Flight (FCF) on the Transmission chip light that was cleaned, checked, reinstalled and eliminating the caution light on the chip light.                  collection Roger Barre

DET3 FCF 20Sep70 RogerBarre851

20 Sep 70  -  a Functional Check Flight (FCF) on the Transmission chip light. Helicopter was released for flight - photo collection Roger Barre

DET3 FCF 20Sep70 RogerBarre001

20 Sep 70  Flying down the runway after completion of the FCF  -  collection Roger Barre

DET3 3Oct70 coll Barre301

4 Oct 70   Medic Name Unknown; Fireman name Unknown; Major Lowell Ketchum (Commander/ Pilot); Capt. John Bouchard (Pilot); SSgt Roger Barre (FE) -- getting ready for a training flight  - collection Roger Barre

DET3 16Oct70 coll Barre201

16 Oct 70  SSgt Roger Barre (FE) and SSgt John Knox (FE) -- cleaning the windows on the Huskie - collection Roger Barre

001 0258 19Nov70 107626

SSgt. Elgie H. Jackson (left), SSgt. Alfred G. O’Brien (medic, center) inspect the hoist, while Sgt. Bernard G. Schweighauser looks on - USAF photo 107626


002 0258 19Nov70 viaBarre

Inspection of main rotor blades due to 10 hours of flight time. SSgt. Roger Barre with Capt. Leonard (pilot) watching the process -  collection R. Barre

003 600258 19Nov70 107623

Crew boards for take-off - USAF photo 107623

004 600258 19Nov70 107619

HH-43B being started - USAF photo 107619

005 600258 19Nov70 107617

HH-43B 00258 taking off from Ubon AB - USAF photo 107617

006 600258 19Nov70 107618

00258  hovering over F-4D “FP 786” being towed - USAF photo 107618

007 600258 19Nov70 107621

Hovering and hoisting in a mannikin during a practice rescue exercise - USAF photo 107621

008 600258 19Nov70 107615

HH-43B practicing a live hoist over Ubon AB - USAF photo 107615

009 0258 19Nov70 viaBarre

Continuing the live hoist. Pilots were Capt. Leonard and Capt. Leas Deacon Dickey, hoist operator SSgt. Roger Barre (FE), and the “survivor” was Sgt. Al Alshouse (MT) - collection R. Barre

010 600258 19Nov70 107628

The “survivor”  entering the cabin ; DET.3 hangar in the background - USAF photo 107628 

011 600258 19Nov70 107622

HH-43B coming in for landing - USAF photo 107622 

012 0258 19Nov70 Fonner1

Aircraft 00258 , crew unloading the “survivor”  - collection R. Fonner 

013 600258 19Nov70 107624

Medical technicians practice litter unloading - USAF photo 107624 

014 0258 19Nov70 Fonner2

“survivor” being taken from litter - collection R. Fonner 

015 Ubon 19Nov70 107627

Sgt. Lawrence E. Holt (left) and SSgt. Elgie H. Jackson check the helicopter’s FSK - USAF photo 107627 


06.10  Rescue Mission  27 February 1971

 Source: Kaman Rotor Tips, issue May-Jun-Jul 1971, page 11  

Rescue Mission number DET.3-38-01-27Feb71      DET.3, 38th ARRS

HH-43B    unknown serial and call-sign

Flown by  Capt. John M. Higbie (AC); Capt Samuel L. Ferguson (co-pilot); SSgt. Richard C. Fonner (HM);  Sgt. Jack W. Demler  (MT);  SSgt. Blake C. Dow (FF);  Sgt. Fred L. Jessee (FF)


Objective :  F-4D  66-8774  -  pilot  Capt Rodney D.Collins (killed); WSO  1Lt. Eddie T. Payne  -  8 TFW, 25 TFS  Ubon AB


From Kaman RotorTips, issue  May-Jun-July-1971, page 11            "Airborne Fireman Flies to Work in HH-43"

UBON RTAFB, Thailand                                        Story by SSgt Roger A. Crescentini                

Everybody knows that most firemen ride big, red fire trucks, don rubber boots and rain coats and wield hooks and axes atop long ladders to rescue fire disaster victims from second-story windows.

At Ubon, there are a few additional duties for firemen at­tached to Det 3, 38th ARRSq.

Sgt Fred L. Jessee, on a rotational assignment from the fire protection branch of the 8th Civil Engineering Squadron, flies to his work. The nine-year service veteran lists his main duty with the de­tachment as maintaining the 1,000-pound fire suppression kit lifted by the unit's HH-43B helicopters. The kit, or "bottle," as it is called by the unit members, is filled with five gallons of fire foam and more than 50 gallons of water. Sergeant Jessee must see to it that the equipment is in con­stant readiness, but most importantly, that he is primed to handle any situation.

"You have to know an awful lot about the different types of aircraft in use by the wing," he said, "and the ordnance they normally carry.

"Each type of ordnance has a different time factor in­volved until detonation when it is engulfed in fire...knowing how long you have before a bomb goes off can mean the difference in saving an aircrew member and getting into a big mess."

Once a fireman or other rescuer reaches the cockpit of a downed aircraft, he must know how to release or pry off the canopy to get to the crew members. He must also know what switches inside control environmental systems, such as the oxygen supply, and also know where the mas­ter and "safe" switches are in the aircraft.

During an emergency, Pedro members "scramble" into action. Sergeant Jessee and another fireman, plus medical technicians and other rescue specialists speedily board their alert aircraft, hook up to a fire suppression kit, and head toward the crash site. Many times, the chopper is in the air, hovering over the base in full readiness, "just in case."

According to Sergeant Jessee, its always better to just "take a ride and come back..."

(A mission in which Sergeant Jessee participated is describ­ed here below) 

Disregarding detonating ordnance in the immediate area, an HH-43 crew landed in a rice paddy and picked up the survivor of a fighter crash.

(27 February 1971) The mission began only 13 minutes earlier at Ubon RTAFB, Thailand, when the Pedro crew from Det 3, 38th ARRSq (MAC), scrambled in the early morning darkness.

As the helicopter was waiting for a position report from the battle-damaged aircraft which had declared an emer­gency, it plunged to the ground eight miles from the base. Capt John M. Higbie immediately headed the HH-43 to­ward the red glow which lit the sky to the northeast of the airfield.

Halfway to the crash site radio contact was established with the downed "backseater," but locating the survivor was difficult. At an altitude of 200 feet the ground could not be seen since there was no reflected light because of the overcast, and the floodlights were not effective due to the haze. Through vectoring by the survivor, his position was estimated and Captain Higbie decided to land in a near­by rice paddy that had been spotted with the landing light. The pickup was then made without incident despite the nearby explosions. Afterward, the HH-43 conducted a search for the missing "frontseater" until low fuel made it necessary to return to base.


Det3 Payne Party YahooGroup photo009

collection Richard Fonner

Det3 Payne Party YahooGroup photo001

collection Richard Fonner


06.11  Rescue Mission

 From Kaman RotorTips, issue Nov-Dec-1971,  page 28                                          "Southeast Asia"

Accident Victims Aided By Det 3

Two missions involving the evacuation of seriously ­injured military motorcyclists were flown by HH-43 crews from Det 3, 3rd ARRGp, Ubon RTAFB, Thailand.

On the first mission, Maj Lowell D. Ketchum and his crew flew to Pibol and landed in a soccer field surrounded by tall trees. The patient was placed aboard the helicopter and airlifted to the 8th USAF Dispensary at Ubon.

Others in the rescue crew were Capt Samuel L. Ferguson, copilot; TSgt Robert C. Payton and MSgt Jose A. Castillo, Jr., crewmen.

To evacuate the second accident victim, from the village of Amphoe Amnat Charoen, Capt James DeCerbo also landed in a soccer field. The field was surrounded by tall trees and power lines; three, 200-foot antennas nearby also presented a hazard. The patient was placed aboard the HH-43 and taken to medical facilities at Ubon.

With Cap­tain DeCerbo were 1stLt James S. Akovenko, copilot; Capt Wilbur G. Sandbulte (MC), flight surgeon; Sgt Jack W. Demler and SSgt Richard C. Fonner, crewmen. 

(Ragay :  so far dates for both mission are unknown  - should be close to publication in RotorTips , November 1971)



update 07/03/2023