Helicopter UH-1H 68-15255

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-15255
The Army purchased this helicopter 1268
Total flight hours at this point: 00001074
Date: 05/31/70
Accident case number: 700531031
Unit: A/101 AVN
The station for this helicopter was Phu Bai in
Number killed in accident = 0 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
costing 8736
Source(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Army Aviation Safety Center database.

Crew Members:
AC O3 NICHOLS JN

Accident Summary:

 AFTER ACFT DROPPED FLARES IT WENT DOWN TO PICK UP WIA IN LZ ACFT HAD BLADE STRIKE ICDT DMG \

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Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-15255
The Army purchased this helicopter 1268
Total flight hours at this point: 00001760
Date: 02/18/71 MIA-POW file reference number: 1706
Incident number: 71021810.TXT
Unit: A/101 AVN
South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: YC481785
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: 1706 ()
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
CE SP4 DEMSEY WALTER EDWARD JR BNR
G SP4 JOHNSON GARY LEE BNR
AC CW2 BERG GEORGE PHILLIP BNR
P WO1 WOODS GERALD ERNEST BNR

Passengers:
 SGT LLOYD ALLEN RICHARD, AR, PX, BNR;


REFNO Synopsis:
Personnel in Incident: Gerald Ernest Woods; Walter E. Demsey; Gary L. Johnson; George P. Berg (all missing from UH1H); Allen R. Lloyd; Ronald L. Watson (missing from Special Forces team) YC481785
SYNOPSIS: WO Gerald E. Woods, pilot; WO George P. Berg, aircraft commander; SP4 Gary L. Johnson, door gunner; SP4 Walter Demsey, crew chief; were assigned to Company A, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. On February 18, 1971, their UH1H was dispatched as part of a flight of four on an emergency patrol extraction mission on the west side of the A Shau Valley in Thua Tin Province, South Vietnam. The patrol to be rescued included Sgt. Allen R. Lloyd, Capt. Ronald L. Watson and SFC Samuel Hernandez, part of Special Operations Augmentation, Command & Control North, 5th Special Forces Group.
The team was assigned to MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
During the attempt to recover the patrol, Woods' helicopter came under heavy fire and had to leave the pick-up zone with Lloyd, Watson and Hernandez attached to the three-staple rig. While in flight, the rope broke, and Hernandez fell 30-40 feet, landing in double canopy jungle. He was rescued the following day. The helicopter continued a short distance, and was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire, crashed and burned.
On February 19, a Special Forces recovery team was inserted at the crash site to search the area. Woods and Berg were found dead in their seats. Johnson's body was found in a tree. One leg of Demsey, the burned crew chief, was found in the cargo compartment. All remains were prepared for extraction, and the team left to establish a night defensive position. En route, the team found the remains of Lloyd and Watson, still on their rope slings, in the trees on the edge of a cliff. Because of the rugged terrain and approaching darkness, the rescue team leader decided to wait until morning to recover these two remains. However, the following morning, the search team came under intense fire, and the team leader requested an emergency extraction, and in doing so, left all remains behind.
All the crew and passengers on board the UH1H downed on the border of Laos and Vietnam west of the A Shau Valley that day were confirmed dead. It is unfortunate, but a reality of war that their remains were left behind out of necessity to protect the lives of the search team who found them. They are listed with honor among the missing because their remains cannot be buried with honor at home


War Story:
I am in contact with the brother of Sp4 Walter Demsey who went to the crash site in the A Shau in 1993, visited it, put down a plaque that he pounded in a rock, and made a video tape that I have of his visit.
The brother has a homepage that I am searching for. It was on a "Vietnam Stories" of someone else.
I KNOW Clewell personally and he carries the burden of this loss, very heavily on his heart. It happened while he was leading his company, the Comancheros into Laos during Lam Son 719. He has the most burdened heart of all the aviation company commanders I talked to in 94 when I worked on the VHPA directory's story of Lam Son 719.
No one was tortured, etc, etc,....they just died.
On 16 Feb, 1971, WO George Berg, AC, Sp4 Gary Johnson, Gnr, Sp4 Walter Demsey CE and WO Gerald Woods, PP, were flying UH-1h 68-15255 in a flight of four on an emergency patrol extraction mission on the west side of the A Shau valley.
During the attempt to recover the patrol, which included Cpt Donald Watson, Sgt Allen Lloyd, and SFC Samuel Hernandez, buy use of stabo extraction rigs, the helicopter came under heavy fire and had to leave the pickup zone with the three men attached to the the three stabo rigs. While in flight SFC Hernandez rope broke and he fell about 30 to 40 feet, landing in double canopy jungle. (He was rescued the following day)The helicopter continued a short distance and was then hit by anti-aircraft fire, crashed and burned in the vicinity of YC 481 785.
On 19 Feb 71, a Special Forces recovery team (Bright Light) was inserted at the crash site to search ofr and recover the bodies of the crew and patrol. Both pilots were found dead in their seats. The gunner's body was found in a tree. One leg of the CE was found in the burned cargo compartment. (The CE was identified by the jungle boot on the foot. He was the only crewmember that wore jungle boots.) All remains were put in body bags on the top of the aircraft wreckage for extraction.
While the search team was moving away form the aircraft wreckage in order to establish a night defensive position, they found the bodies of CPT Watson and SGT Lloyd avbout 50 feet down a cliff with the sling ropes hanging in the trees the top of the cliff. It appeared as the helicopter was crashing, CPT Watson and SGT Lloyd were thrown through the air against the side of the cliff.
Because of the rugged terrain and approaching darkness, the search team leader decided to wait until morning to attempt to recover those remains. The following morning the search team came under intense automatic weapons fire, so the team leader declared an emergency and had the search team extracted. All remains from this incident were left behind.
I personally talked to that team leader that put the bodies in the bag, and had to leave them. He is a retired SF E-9 living in Southern Pines NC, today. He told me his story over beer, one cigarette after another, and tears. I hold the green berets of the 5th Special Forces Group(Airborne) in highest regard. I found this man through the Special Forces Association. I will always believe I should not have contacted him and let him have his peace. However, at the end of our visit, this big guy gave me a hug and said, "I feel better about talking about it."
I asked him if anyone had gotten to the crash site ahead of him, and he said no. There were no footprints and the bodies still had the weapons on them, one of the pilots had a camera strapped over the seat and it was still there. So after having looked that man in the eye, I truly believe everyone died on impact.
I have read a POW/MIA group from North Carolina's version of torture and execution of the crew, so I showed it to him. He got real pissed off and said they were out just trying to make a buck on the losses of his friend Sgt Lloyd.
Mike Sloniker, sloniker@erols.com

On Sunday (10 Nov 96) some of the members of the VVA were visiting her during the day. Someone noticed a Decoration Box wedged into the A/C's door handle. When we opened it we found an Air Medal with V device and a 101 Aviation Bn coin. The Decoration set was complete. We wondered about it but there was nothing further we could do. We will display the Air Medal along with the small hand-made wooden Cross that was also left. The Cross was left on the nose, between the two windscreens.
On Nov 12, 1996 a letter was posted to the Chapter from somewhere in Baltimore. The letter reads as follows:
While reading the Saturday Sun, I saw that the VVA was dedicating as a memorial, a UH-1C. I have yet been able to go near the Wall, but found myself being drawn to this ceremony, arriving shortly before it started.
On Sunday, I returned early in the morning and sat in the quiet chill hoping to finally make sense of it all. Before leaving, I placed an Air Medal under the handle of the pilots door, Why? I really don't know. But hopefully you found it, and to honor The Men Who Never Returned, will find a fitting place for it.
Each year around Veterans Day, IO have pulled out this story and relived this particular mission, and many more. I relived it again during the dedication on Saturday, maybe it's time to share it.

The Crew was:  WO Gerald Woods		A/C
				WO George Berg		Pilot
				SP4 Walter Demsey	       CE
				SP Gary Johnson		Gunner
I don't know the names of the Special Forces team members killed that day.
The date was: 16 Feb. 1971 The mission: CCN Support. The unit was: A Company, 101 Aviation Bn. (Comanchero's) Major Clewell was commanding.
I swapped birds with Demsey the day before, and was flying in the #3 bird on this mission. It took 2 days to get people on the crash site. From reports I later heard, 3 people had survived the crash with injuries, but had later been tortured then executed. Demsey was one of them.
Attached is a xerox copy of the U.S. Army Aviation Digest, August 1972, article titled "The Men Who Never Returned" by Major Robert L. Clewell, Data Center, USAAVS. In the article are the following clues: northern provinces, combat air-assaulted into the western mountains, deep in enemy territory, and high upon bouldery, forested ridge. The team repelled down to the ground. Team extraction was also by rope retrieval. Lead returned to pull the last three members of the patrol out and was shot down.
Here the letter ends with no signature. There is no return address on the envelope. All the clues that we have are contained above... We would like to find this vet and welcome him home and let him know that he is not alone. The challenge is to find out who he was and then to locate him. If we can get his name we can find him in Baltimore. We need his name. Any ideas?
From: Jim Henthorn November 1996

This record was last updated on 05/25/98

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The following is crew member information for this incident:

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Name: CW2 George Phillip Berg (posthumously promoted)
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Declared dead on 04/26/71.
Age at death: 24.6
Date of Birth: 07/16/46
Home City: Belford, NJ
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Flight class: 70-3
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-114
Short Summary: Shot down while extracting 3 men with ropes on west side of A Shau Valley. See Gerald Woods.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
Call sign: Comancheros
SSN: 326429430 Service number: 11772029
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 100B = Utility/Observation Helicopter Pilot
Primary cause: SVN-BNR
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: aircraft commander
Vehicle ownership: government
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Location: I Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Lutheran (Missouri Synod)
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 08/20/95

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Name: WO1 Gerald Ernest Woods
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Declared dead on 04/26/71.
Age at death: 21.1
Date of Birth: 01/22/50
Home City: Salem, OR
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Flight class: 70-13
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-119
Short Summary: Shot down while extracting 3 SF with ropes from West side of Aushau Valley. See George Berg.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
Call sign: Commanchero
SSN: 544468897 Service number: 56938616
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 100B = Utility/Observation Helicopter Pilot
Primary cause: SVN-BNR
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: pilot
Vehicle ownership: government
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - pilot
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Location: I Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Roman Catholic
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 07/20/96

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Name: SGT Allen Richard Lloyd
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Passenger.
Age at death: 22.0
Date of Birth: 02/21/49
Home City: St Charles, MN
Service: regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: SPECIAL FORCES
Major organization: Special Forces
Service: U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-117
Short Summary: Shot down while being extracted with ropes on west side of A Shau Valley.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
SSN: 474600494
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 05C4S = Radio Teletype Operator
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: passenger
Vehicle ownership: government
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - non-aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Lutheran (Missouri Synod)
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: enlisted personnel
This record was last updated on 07/29/95

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Name: CPT Ronald Leonard Watson
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Passenger.
Age at death: 26.3
Date of Birth: 11/11/44
Home City: El Paso, TX
Service: MI branch of the regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: SPECIAL FORCES
Major organization: Special Forces
Service: MI branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-119
Short Summary: Shot down while being extracted with ropes on west side of A Shau Valley.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
SSN: 462729563
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 31542 = 31 Peripheral Vascular Surgeon
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: passenger
Vehicle ownership: government
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - non-aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Roman Catholic
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: officer
This record was last updated on 07/29/95

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Name: SP4 Walter Edward Demsey, Jr.
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Crew Chief.
Age at death: 21.4
Date of Birth: 09/17/49
Home City: Glendora, NJ
Service: regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Service: U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-115
Short Summary: Shot down while extracting 3 men with ropes on west side of A Shau Valley.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
SSN: 149426942
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 67N2F = UH-1 Helicopter Repairer
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: crew chief
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 12/01/70
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Methodist (Evangelical United Brethren)
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: enlisted personnel
This record was last updated on 07/30/95

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Name: SP4 Gary Lee Johnson
Status: Body Not Recovered from an incident on 02/18/71 while performing the duty of Gunner.
Age at death: 22.7
Date of Birth: 06/07/48
Home City: Malibu, CA
Service: regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Service: U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 05W-116
Short Summary: Shot down while extracting 3 men with ropes on west side of A Shau Valley.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15255
SSN: 571688112
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: *
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: door gunner
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 12/01/70
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Length of service: *
Military grid coordinates of event: YC481785
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Relgion: Protestant - no denominational preference
The following information is secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: enlisted personnel
This record was last updated on 07/30/95

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The following is Goldbook information on US Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-15255
It is provided here as an ESTIMATE of the history of this helicopter and is not intended to be the final authority.
This helicopter was purchased by the US Army in 1268.
Please provide any additional information on this helicopter to the VHPA.

DATE  FLT HRS    UIC      UNIT          AREA          POST          COUNTRY
6812   0    0 W0Y6AA OS TO CONUS      ITR CONUS                   AVCOMITR
6901  28   28 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6902  99  127 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6903  86  213 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6904  94  307 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6905  59  366 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6906 103  469 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6907  89  558 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6908  93  651 WACJAA A BTRY 377 ARTY  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6909  76  727 WACFAA 326 MED 101ACD   VIETNAM                     RVN     
6910  58  785 WACJAA A-377 ATY 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6911  45  830 WACJAA A-377 ATY 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
6912  31  861 WACJAA A-377 ATY 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7001  54  915 WACJAA A-377 ATY 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7002  80  995 WACJAA A-377 ATY 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7003   3  998 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7004  45 1043 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7005  31 1074 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7006 126 1200 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7007  54 1254 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7008  88 1342 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7009  82 1424 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7010  44 1468 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7011  94 1562 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7012  90 1652 WAB3A0 A-101 AHB 101AB  VIETNAM                     RVN     
7101 108 1760 WAB3A0 A 101ST AHB      VIETNAM                     RVN     
7102   0 1760 WAB3A0 A 101ST AHB      VIETNAM                     RVN     

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Please send additions or corrections to:

Gary Roush
43 Overbrook Road
Painted Post, NY 14870

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Printed from databases on: 01/25/99

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