Kaman Rotor Tips logo  August - October 1966 - page 6

"Downed Huskie Crew Saved"  

 (add by Ragay :  this was the mission of  63-9712 as "Pedro 74"  on 6 June 1966 --  please read the personal accounts by the crew  in PedroNews of January 2005 –“Heroes” by entering this link : http://users.acninc.net/padipaul/pnl_12_2004_4heros.htm
--- the mission is also described  in “PJ’s in Vietnam”, by SMSgt Robert L. LaPointe – pages 226-228 )

An HH-43F fell victim to Viet Cong gunfire while evacuating wounded recently, but the crew was rescued and the downed chopper recovered soon afterward. The chain of events began just after one of two HUSKIES, from Det 6, 38th ARRSq, Bien Hoa AB, RVN, had hoisted a wounded soldier aboard from the dense jungle and was preparing for a second rescuee. Suddenly bullets began tearing their way through the plexiglass on the pilot's side of the HH­43F and TSgt Richard A. Connon, the hoist operator, was struck in the calf and thigh. Capt Harold D. Salem quickly pulled the helo away from the direction of the enemy fire and, as the rotor RPM began dropping, Capt Dale L. Potter, the copilot, radioed that they had been hit. Seconds later, A2c Frederick L. Sanger reported oil pouring through the ceiling into the cabin.

The oil caution light was glowing and the tree tops were a scant 75 feet below but Captain Salem managed to check the helicopter's descent and then, a few seconds later, climbed to 200 feet as the rotor RPM leveled off. Despite the oil loss, the pilot continued onward for two miles to a small clearing where he landed without further damage to the rescue chopper. Just before touchdown the oil pressure dropped to zero and the engine oil temperature began to rise sharply. With weapons at the ready, the helo crew jumped out to secure the area and seconds later the second Det 6 HUSKIE, piloted by Capt Charles P. Nadler, landed to assist. Others aboard were Capt Karl G. King, the copilot, Alc Gerald C. Hammond, Jr., helicopter mechanic, and SSgt David E. Millets, rescue specialist. Two armed UH-1B Army helicopters, which had been flying escort for the evacuation mis­sion, provided protective cover over the clearing as the wounded soldier and Sergeant Connon were hurriedly transferred to the second HUSKIE. As the HUSKIE lifted off, one escort helicopter landed, picked up Airman Sanger, and took off - then the other dropped down to evacuate Captains Salem and Potter.

Meanwhile, Maj Maurice G. Kessler, commander of Det 6, had taken off from Bien Hoa in another HUSKIE as soon as he heard that one of his crews was in trouble. With him were 1stLt Mark C. Schibler, co­pilot, Alc Alexander Montgomery, helo mechanic, and A3c Gordon C. Thayer, rescue specialist. This helo met the returning HH-43F and, after finding out all had been saved, Major Kessler escorted it to the hospital. After ground troops moved in to secure the area, the two Det 6 HUSKIES returned to the clearing and the battle-marked HH-43F was quickly prepared for airlifting by SSgt William D. Cole, SSgt Larry G. Vance, Alc Richard N. Strobaker and A2c Charles H. Burnett. Less than three hours after being downed, the HUSKIE was lifted from the clearing by an Army CH-47 and returned to base for repairs and future rescue service. (Three of the pilots who participated in this mission have logged 1000 hours each in the HUSKIE during the last few months. Their photos appear on page 17 - reprinted here :.)


A few weeks later in a similar incident (add by Ragay : this was mission Det 1-3-52-28 July - 1966), the two-man crew of a downed Army helicopter (Ragay : near Dak To) was rescued by an HH-43F from Det 9, 38th ARRSq, Pleiku Airport, RVN. The UH-1B had crashed at night in such heavy jungle it could not be located despite an intensive search. The next morning Capt Richard L. Cardwell and his crew returned and located the wreckage after one survivor was able to light a flare. SSgt George E. Schipper, pararescue specialist, was lowered from the HUSKIE and managed to free the seriously injured crew chief who was then hoisted to the helicopter and taken to an Army aid station. Sergeant Schipper remained on the ground and an hour later had managed to extricate the injured pilot. He was also hoisted to the rescue helicopter and flown to the aid station. Afterwards both Army men were taken to the hospital at Pleiku. Other members of the HH-43F crew were Capt Dale R. Tyree, copilot; A2c William L. Houghtaling, crewman; and Capt Al Asendorf (MC), doctor.


last update : 12/04/2017