1972

TO LISTEN TO GEORGE JONE'S 50,000 NAMES ON THE WALL

64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71   73

 

1972

01

21

O-2 1LT

Joseph J.

Slifka, Jr.

31542

DNH, helicopter crash in river

SVN; TF1AE, Quang Nam Prov., YC974359, drowned after crash 28km N of Kham Duc

21 Jan 71- Joseph J. Slifka, Jr. ILT 0-2, USASF, TF1AE, OPS 35. NOTE:  a correction to the cause of death of Lt Slifka is extracted from Chapter 38, SFA’s Newsletter, May-June 2004:  The message below was originally printed in the November 1994 issue of The Green Beret:  The 5th Group Commander at that time was COL Ken Bowra KA “El Cid”, he had been a personal friend of 1Lt Jospeh J. Slifka.  He knew I had worked the mission but had never been able to find out the true story of Lt Slifka’s death.  I recently read a piece in the MACVSOG website with some assumptions from someone from CCS that were totally untrue.  Hence this reported will set the record straight.  Those involved from CCN were RT Connecticut lead by Kevin “Snake” Smith, RT Habu the Bright Light Team, lead by Lemuel McGlothern, and the air assets from MLT-1 located in Phu Bai, RVN.  The actions of both recon teams, the Navy UDT divers, and the combined air assets were instrumental in the success of this mission  Smurf Sends…..ATTENTION EL CID:  MSG follows/Reference question you asked pertaining to 1LT Jospeh J. Slifka Jr., MIA 20 Jan 71, then listed from missing to dead non-hostile on 21 Jan 1972//I was the airborne controller (Covey Rider) flying out of MTL-1 at Phu Bai, and I worked the mission on both dates.  I arrived on station to relieve another Covey, who had just extracted RT Connecticut from a hot LZ.  I got a visual on the extraction package of slicks and guns.  They were following the blue line east through a remote mountain pass near the Lao border.  Knowing they were low on fuel, I instructed slick lead to follow us back to the launch site.  After several moments I heard lead say, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday, I’m going in!”  We turned West just in time to see him crash land on a sandbar in the river.  Aboard the aircraft was a crew of four, SSG Kevin “Snake” Smith, the One Zero, his One Two, Lt Slifka, and four CIDG team members.  Snake radioed that all was okay, the bird was shut down and the guns removed.  Swiss seats were tied together, then Snake swam to the North bank and began ferrying the rest across using the chopper as an anchor point.  While this was taking place, I had to send the slicks and guns home because they were low on fuel.  I ordered up TAC air, a set of Gunfighters (F-4s) that were scrambled from Da Nang with an ETA of ten.  Also, two Navy fighters were diverted from the trail with residual 20mm.  Our launch sergeant, MSG Chuck Dover, had been monitoring our situation and said help was on the way.  Before the transfer to the North bank could be completed, the team began to take SAF from the wood-line and was returning fire. We could see the muzzle flashes so we laid down a mark and ran in the Navy jets expending their ordnance.  Our Gunfighters arrived with a TIC lineup on board of napalm, CBU, and frag bomb with fuse extenders. The strike was laid in and suppressed the enemy fire.  Snake called that he had an American missing and when last seen the American was covering the team from the sandbar. He team began ground search of the river bank, and we low-leveled to assist.  The river had a sand bottom and was crystal clear.  I spotted Lt Slifka’s body about two hundred meters downstream, in a deep pool at the edge of a waterfall.  The extraction package arrived and the team was extracted with the aircrew.  CPT Walter S. Mullen, our assistant launch officer, hovered above the pool in the chase bird and attempted to recover the body with a grappling hook.  He was not successful, as the body was hopelessly snagged in the branches of a submerged tree.  Our covering guns reported a village hidden under the jungle canopy, and the Cobras placed fire on it with rockets and 40mm.  I received a call that Snake was inbound with swimming gear and ropes to attempt a recovery.  This attempt also failed because the river was too swift; without scuba gear and weight belts it was an impossible task.  By this time the crashed Huey had settled onto it’s right side of the sandbar, but was in no danger of being swept into the current.  Snake requested and received permission to make a recovery attempt on the following day. Preplanned air was ordered and two Navy UDT divers were sent up from Da Nang.  If the recovery went smoothly the RT would do a BDA of the village, which was to be hit with a devastating air strike. Also, the Brite-Lite team would be used to cover from the South bank.  Additional slicks and guns would sit on strip alert with a round-robin turn around for constant air cover from insertion until extraction.  Our intel sergeant, SFC Kenny Anderson, provided the intel pictures I had taken of the target. He suspected the hostiles in the target area to be part of one of the NVA Food Production and Transportation Battalions known to work the area.  Chuck Dover briefed all concerned on how the operation would work.  Timing and start-up time would begin when Covey reported the target clear of ground fog.  We launched our 0-2 at about 0900 hours on 21 January and climbed to 12,000 feet.  We began our normal sneak and peek through the clouds to observe the target which was socked in.  We busied ourselves by checking known or suspected AAA and SAM sites on both sides of the fence; we also noted likely avenues of approach ot the tyarget area.  B 1000 hrs the fog had dissipated, and I reported this to home plate.  At that time Chuck gave the order to play ball.  The teams launched and our first set of Gunfighters arrived above us.  Our set of Sandys had just left NKP and were climbing to altitude.  With all assets on station we went down to lay in the mark on the village. Our fast movers rolled in and each dropped a large WP bomb, creating a roaring inferno. Next they droped combination of delays and daisy cutters.  Our capping A1Es requested to dump that nape to increase playtime, and we had them hit the eastern and western edges of the village.  When they returned to cap they reported over four hours playtime left.  At eight minutes out we released our second set of Gunfighters to prep both Las with napalm and 500 pound daisy cutters.  Both teams hit their LZs at the same time and had them secured in short order.  We put both sets of Cobras in a racetrack pattern to prevent any reinforcements from entering the area and to suppress any AA threat.  I called ABCCC (Hillsboro) and reported the target box hot. Then Snake reported that he was on the sandbar and he had divers in the water.  Using the Huey as as an anchor point, they belayed the divers down stream.  My greatest worry at that time was that of the belaying team being hit without safety ropes the divers would be lost over the falls and onto the rocks below.  After what seemed forever, the Snake reported that the Lieutenant’s body and divers were recovered. Both divers were completely exhausted, and we sent in the chasse bird to picked them up.   With the recovery completed, we initiated the BDA when our fresh Cobras came on station.  We sent both sets of guns to orbit on the flanks and sent in the Sandys to bomb and strafe the front of the RT.  The team could not get into the village due to the fires and secondary explosions. They did get some good intel pictures and examined some fighting positions.  In addition to some enemy equipment, they recovered quite a few farming implements.  Both RTs were extracted without further incident and the target box was reported cold.  My last act was to order the guns to destroy the drowned Huey, and we watched as some of the wreckage slipped over the falls.  The post mortem examination revealed that Joe drowned; we understand his family had a hard time dealing with this because he was an Olympic class swimmer.  We will never know exactly how this tragic accident happened, but Kevin and myself have tried to describe the incident as accurately as possible after 22 years//END MSG/Sluggo. Nothing Follows.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

1LT Joseph Slifka was the only American casualty resulting from a helicopter crash in a river some 28 kilometers north of Kham Duc. The only known US helo loss in the area was UH-1H tail number 69-15083 from the 116th AHC, but there is no confirming evidence that 1LT Slifka was aboard 69-15083 - he may have been aboard a Vietnamese helo.

1972

01

28

O-2 1LT

Lawrence M.

Oxx, Jr.

31542

DNH, vehicle crash

SVN; TF1AE, Thua Thien Prov., BT046762 4k NW of Marble Mountain

1972

01

28

O-2 1LT

Panormitis

Stavlas

2120

DNH, vehicle crash

SVN; TF1AE, Thua Thien Prov., BT046762 4k NW of Marble Mountain

28 Jan 28 Jan 72  Panormitis Stavlas, 1LT 0-2, Club Officer, Lawrence McFie Oxx, 1Lt 0-2, USASF, TFIAE (CCN), Da Nang, Ops 35  TF1AE (CCN) died as a result of a vehicle accident. (See 21 JAN 71 regarding Stavlas).killed in vehicle crash (non hostile) 4k NW of Marble Mountain,Thua Thien Province,South Vietnam-RR. Lt Oxx is remembered by one fellow SOG member as being a large man, like an Ox, who snored loudly. On one mission, the team had him wear his gas mask at night to help keep him quite.

 

1972

02

13

E-5 SGT

James W.

Kiehne III

91B4S

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; TF1AE, Quang Nam Prov., BT075714, in the former CCN dispensary

13 Feb 72- James W. Kiehne III, SGT, USASF, Medic, TF1AE-KIA. Virtual Wall has his cause of death as "Non-Hostile." killed in accident at former CCN dispensary Quang Nam Province,South Vietnam

06 Apr 72- John Henry Call III, ILT 0-2  of Potomac, Md; Alen Jones Avery, TSGT E-6 of Auburn, WA, Roy Dewitt Prater, TSGT E-6 of Tiffin, OH; 37TH ARRS, CPT Peter H. Chapman OF Centerburg, Ohio 3RD AIR RESCUE GROUP, 7TH AF James Harold Alley, SGT E-4 601st Photo Flt, USAF of Plantation, FL; and William Roy Pearson, SGT E-4, USAF, , MACSOG 80 (Recovery Studies Division) Aircrew of a Jolly Green Giant on a search mission searching for missing air crew members, their helicopter was shot down All were KIA-Remains Identified September 25, 1997.

Two Thailand-based EB-66 aircraft (30th Air Division, call signs BAT 21 and 22) were providing pathfinder escort for a cell of B52s bombing near the DMZ. BAT 21 took a direct SAM hit and the plane went down. A single beeper signal was heard, that of navigator COL Iceal Hambleton. No contact was made with the other crewmen and it was assumed they (MAJ Wayne L. Bolte, pilot; 1LT Robin F. Gatwood; LTC Anthony R. Giannangeli; LTC Charles A. Levis; and MAJ Henry M. Serex) died in the crash. An Army SAR team consisting of two UH-1H "slicks" and two UH-1B Cobra gunships were dispatched at once. As they approached Hambleton's position just before dark two of the helicopters were shot down. One, a Cobra (Blue Ghost 28) reached safety and the crew was picked up. The other, a UH-1H from F Troop, 8th Cavalry, 196th Brigade, had just flown over some huts into a clearing when they encountered ground fire and the helicopter exploded. Jose Astorga, the gunner, was injured in the chest and knee by the gunfire. Astorga became unconscious, and when he recovered the helicopter was on the ground. He found the pilot, 1LT Byron K. Kulland, lying outside the helicopter. WO John W. Frink, the co-pilot, was strapped in his seat and conscious. The crew chief, SP5 Ronald P. Paschall, was alive but pinned by his leg in the helicopter. WO Franks urged Astorga to leave them, and Astorga was captured. He saw the UH-1H hit by automatic weapons fire, exploding with the rest of the crew inside. Astorga was released by the North Vietnamese in 1973. The following day (03 Apr 72), an OV-10A (NAIL 38) entered Hambleton's area and was shot down. The crew, William J. Henderson and Mark Clark, both exited the aircraft safely. Henderson was captured and released in 1973. Clark evaded capture for 12 days and was subsequently rescued. Later on 03 April, another Army UH-1H, not associated with the ongoing SAR effort, was shot down in the same area. This aircraft (from HHQ, 37th Signal Bn, 1st Signal Bde) was crewed by WO Douglas L. O'Neil, pilot; CW2 Larry A. Zich, co-pilot; SP5 Allen D. Christensen, crew chief; and SP4 Edward W. Williams, gunner. No contact was made with these men and they remain missing in action. On 06 Apr, a decision was made to attempt to pick up Hambleton and Clark using an HH-53 Jolly Green from the 37th ARRS - this was Avery's aircraft. According to the FAC who witnessed the crash, the Jolly came in low and fast, but over a heavy concentration of large weapons. The FAC tried to warn the Jolly off, but was too late - the Jolly was hit, caught fire, rolled on one side and crashed, killing the whole crew. On April 7 another Air Force OV-10A went down in the area with pilot USAF Captain Bruce C. Walker and observer Marine Captain Larry F. Potts aboard. Walker evaded capture for 11 days; his last radio transmission to SAR forces to not to make a rescue attempt as the enemy was closing in. It is reported that Potts was captured and died in Quang Binh prison. Both men remain unaccounted for. Hambleton and Clark were picked up, but the others were not - 5 men from BAT 21, 4 from the F Troop UH-1H, 1 from NAIL 38, 4 from the 37th Sigs UH-1H, 6 from the Jolly Green, and 2 from the second OV-10 ... 22 men in all. Of these 22, Astorga and Henderson were released in 1973; the remaining 20 continued as Missing in Action.

The status of the missing servicemen (as of 09 Aug 2001) is

Nine of the twenty men lost have come home.

1972

05

26

E-6 SSG

Charles D.

Gipson

12B4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; D Co, 10th SFG (TDY), AR783883, in Kontum approx 500 meters south of the airfield

26 May 72- Charles D. Gipson, SSG E-6, USASF, TFIAE (CCN)-KIA KIA approx. 500metres from Kontum airfield,Kontum Province,South Vietnam (sniper) (The Virtual Wall has him beng assigned to Co D, 10th SFGA as well).   TF1AE roster sent to me by General Bargwell, he is listed as being in Recon company June 1971. A special note is noted by his name:  "KIA Apr 72, Sent back from Ft Devens for 1 Special Mission"-Note by Major General Eldon Bargwell. Although he was assigned to Co D, 10th SFGA, he was KIA'ed out of TF1AE.

 

1972

06

5

E-6 SSG

Thomas M.

Lejeune

97B40

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; SOG-21 Security, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-3 CPT

James F.

Hollis

32162

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; SOG-35 Tng Adv, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-3 CPT

Walter S.

Mullen

G9668??

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF1AE Ass't S-3, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-4 MAJ

Calvin T.

Gore

31542

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF1AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-5 LTC

Ronnie A.

Mendoza

32126

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF1AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-4 MAJ

Nicholas

Quinones-Borras

3315

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF1AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-5 LTC

Andrew F.

Underwood

31542

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF1AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

E-5 SGT

Kenneth L

Barnett

05B4S

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF2AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

E-7 SFC

Andee, Jr.

Chapman

05C4P

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF2AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

O-3 CPT

Charles L.

Flott

31542

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; TF2AE, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

1972

06

5

E-5 SGT

Michael L.

Hutson

05B4S

DNH, DWM, fixed wing crash

SVN; C-3??, Pleiku Prov., China Airlines C-46 crash, BR130480 37k east of Pleiku on Hill 5089

05 Jun 72-Ronnie A Mendoza, LTC- Andrew F. Underwood, LTC 0-5, Calvin T, Gore, MAJ 04; Charles L. Flott, ILT 0-2, Amdee Chapman, Jr., SFC E7 Kenneth L. Barnett, SGT E-5, USASF, Task Group, Nicholas Quinones-Borras, Major, James F. Hollis, Cpt,  Walter S. Mullen, CPT, Thomas M. Lejeune, SSG; Michael L. Hutson, Sgt; Strategic Technical Directorate Advisory Team-10 their aircraft was shot down after take off and died as a result of ongoing MAC SOG type missions after the official closure of SOG. All KIA.an Air America C-46A, registry EM-2, was conducting a round robin flight from Saigon with enroute stops at Ban Me Thuot, Hue/Phu Bai, Pleiku, and again at Ban Me Thuot before returning to Saigon. The C-46 departed Hue/Phu Bai for Pleiku with 32 people on board - 3 aircrew, 11 US military, 14 SVN military, 1 SVN civilian, and 3 Air America mechanics. The aircraft crashed on approach to Pleiku, killing all on board. The 11 US military members, Note: 

 

This was a Sad Day for SOG. My Co and two Commo men from Special Mission Force Were On This Plane along with other great Americans. I was the Ground Commander of the Recovery Force. The Plane Went Down on June 5 Th. 1972. The weather was Socked in. It Took about six Days to find the Crash Site. We had to repeal in and lift the Bodies out on
Strings. The Mountainous area and the Turbulence would not lets us Land. If any one knows any of these Men . Please let me Know . Especially if you Know where some of the Next of Kin Are.= bobbypruett@yahoo.com

POSTED 2/19/07: Walter Steve Mullen was a very close friend.  He grew up in Brownsville, TX, and played football at Texas AM, 1965-69, as an offensive guard; he was commissioned as a 2d LT in 1969.  His first assignment was the 2/509th Airborne in Mainz, Germany. From there he went as a CPT to Special Forces School enroute to MACVSOG in Phu Bai in 08/71.  He became a team leader for missions into Laos.  On multiple occasions he visited me when he had free time (2/504th, 101st Airborne).  After six months of insertions, he was asked if he would take a desk job in Saigon looking at recon photos of the areas he had covered.  In the spring of 1972, Anloc became the heated area of NVA concentration.  Steve was asked to go on recon missions over the area in a fixed wing plane.  The plane was shot down on 06/05/72 in Laos, and Steve's body was not recovered. For multiple years Steve was listed as MIA.  I never learned what information changed that status to KIA some time later.  The nature of his death was revealed to me by the colonel in charge of his unit when I was waiting for my flight home at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Submitted by: Ron Male USMA, 1969

17 Nov 1998

A letter from my Dad -Saigon, 18 October, 1971. In his own words.
The words nor the man will ever be forgotten. I love you Dad.

Jeffery Robert Lejeune

 

October 18, 1971
Saigon, Vietnam

Dearest Son,

I am writing this letter to you to let you know how much your daddy misses you. You are only three years old, but you seem so much wiser than your age demands you to be. Mommy, Jennifer, and I are relying on you, our "little man," to help us get through this year in which we are apart. It is very difficult, I know, to be away from those you love, but I am very thankful that you are with mommy, because by being the beautiful, sensitive person that you are, you are able to stem some of the gnawing loneliness which mommy feels.

Jennifer is very lucky, she is too young to know the sadness which the three of us "older folks" feel. But one of the aspects of growing up is the unfortunate need to lose the things which we love the most. If we are very lucky, we find a greater love than we have ever known before when what we have lost is finally returned. Some people say, "Live for today, for tomorrow may never come." We, a family, are in a situation where "To live for today" can lead only to despair. We must seek that elusive "Tomorrow," for our "Tomorrow" is the only hope that we as a family have. And when our "Tomorrow" comes, we will look back and realize that we have gone through a lot of lonely "Todays." My only hope is that "Todays" such as these never befall us again. If we are lucky, we will look back on all of this year's "Todays" as one whole family, realizing that the oneness that we feel is partly a result of the separation which we have been forced to endure.

When you grow older, you will find that our separation grows dimmer in your memory. When this happens, you will again be able to start living all of the "Todays" of your life. Look on this period of our lives as a valuable lesson. Remember how you felt when you realized that daddy wasn't coming home for a long time. Remember, and do everything in your power to keep from doing the same thing to your children, and your wife, or to anyone that you love.

Sometimes, we are forced to do things which cause so much pain in other people. I was forced to come to Vietnam, thereby hurting you. But remember this - many times we are "forced" of our own choosing. Nineteen days ago, I would have been out of the Army, but I chose to reenlist. I knew when I signed those papers a year ago that I would be coming to Vietnam. A year ago, we were all together. Jennifer was only a dream in our hearts, and the future was bright. We were all very practical then. We thought of traveling together and seeing the world. We planned on how we would build our "dream house" together. We could think these thoughts for one reason - because we were together.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that living for today has its time and its place. But it is up to you to make sure that you can live life to the fullest every day of your life. Love cannot be rationalized. You can't look at your Vietnams as a necessary evil. You have the power to keep a Vietnam from ever entering your life. And I hope that after you've taken care of your life, that you will have enough love and enough desire to try to keep these Vietnams out of the lives of all of the people in the world. The future of the world is in your hands, and in the hands of all of the beautiful people like you.

Just remember this - nothing is worth the loneliness that we feel today. Sure, there are benefits to be derived from this time of separation. The biggest gift is that I have the chance to sit back and look at my life as a whole. If it wasn't for Vietnam, I would probably never write a letter like this to you. Someday, when you are older, I hope that you read these words and are able to understand how I feel now - without being forced to feel it yourself.

Your life is your own, Jeff, to do with as you see fit. Control your own destiny, and let no one stop you from doing what you believe is right. Let your heart - not just your mind - do your thinking for you. And if you follow these thoughts, you may be able to love someone as much as I love you.

Take heed to what mommy tells you, Jeff. Listen to her philosophy of love, because she is right. The world has lived a philosophy of hate for too long. It is time for a change.

Mommy has given me three reasons to have hope for the future - you, Jennifer and her self. If you can live life as your mother hopes that you will, and as I do too, this old world will have another chance. I only hope that you have someone in your life who means as much to you as mommy does to me. If you ever find this someone, and you are sure that she is the real truth in your existence, the only all-encompassing thought in your life, you will be ready to lead the greatest life that any man has ever lived. And, as the song goes, "once you have found her, never let her go."

To let her go means to feel as I do now - one letter from your mother in the past eight days, one letter to give me some tangible contact with home. If I wasn't here, I wouldn't need a letter. I would have my life around me all the time. But now, I feel worried, I feel lost, but most importantly, I feel so very, very alone, and loneliness is something which only you can prevent. My life, at this time, is built around two parts of the day called "mail call." May you never know what it is like to wait for one, only to find that there is nothing there for you. It's up to you Jeff.

So now I will close this letter to you. Remember that I love you all more that these few words can say. I only hope that someday, this love will be in your heart too. If it is, your life will have been a benefit to at least your own small part of a planet called earth, and your life will generate the greatest life you can give to another - a life of love.

Always,
Daddy

Webmaster:  sog1rlnoe@aol.com