Cristman, Frederick Lewis, CW3

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Last Rank
Chief Warrant Officer 3
Last Service Branch
Warrant Officer (pre-2004)
Last Primary MOS
100B-Utility/Observation Helicopter Pilot
Last MOS Group
Transportation Corps (Officer)
Primary Unit
1971-1971, POW/MIA
Service Years
1966 - 1971

Warrant Officer (pre-2004)

Chief Warrant Officer 3

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
North Carolina
North Carolina
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Linda Willcox-Family to remember Cristman, Frederick Lewis, CW3.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Mar 19, 1971
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
04W 058

 Official Badges 

1st Aviation Brigade

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2014, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Aviator Badge (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
1st Aviation Brigade48th Aviation Company (AHC), 1st Aviation Brigade11th Aviation GroupPOW/MIA
  1970-1971, 1st Aviation Brigade
  1970-1971, 48th Aviation Company (AHC), 1st Aviation Brigade
  1970-1971, HHC, 11th Aviation Group
  1971-1971, POW/MIA
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1971-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)/Operation Lam Son 719
 Colleges Attended 
Catawba College
  1968-1968, Catawba College
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
"Lam Son 719 was a large-scale offensive against enemy communications lines which was conducted in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese would provide and command ground forces, while U.S. Forces would furnish airlift and supporting fire...
Phase II of the operation involved an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, while U.S. Air Forces provided cover strikes around the landing zones.

During one of these maneuvers, CW2 Frederick L. Cristman was flying a UH1C helicopter (serial #65-9489) with a crew of three - SP4 Paul A. Langenour, door gunner, WO1 Jon M. Sparks, co-pilot, and SP5 Ricardo M. Garcia, crew chief. - covering a downed U.S. helicopter during a rescue effort. Cristman's aircraft flew as the trail ship in a flight of two UH1s on their armed escort mission.

The landing zone (LZ) was under fire, and the pilot of the downed craft was a buddy of Fred's. He worked the area with his minigun while another helicopter successfully extracted the pilot. Cristman and his crew continued to work the hot LZ  while other helicopters came in. His gunship was hit by enemy gunfire. Christman radioed in to the flight leader that his transmission oil pressure caution light was on, and that he was making an emergency landing on the LZ. This was verified by the lead aircraft, who made several passes over the downed helicopter. Cristman's aircraft crashed into the ARVN perimeter..."   Source:

From this point on the details of the incident grow murky. All scenarios essentially agree that a mortar exploded on the top of the helicopter. The gunner (Langenour) was the first out of the aircraft and joined ARVN forces at the perimeter. Langenour has said the other three men were alive when he jumped out. One version seems to indicate the three were killed instantly by the first mortar. Others hold that the three successfully exited the aircraft, but were knocked to the ground by the concussion from the explosion. At the time enemy forces were encrouching on the area and heavy groundfire and additional mortar fire rained on the LZ. The flight leader's aircraft was heavily damaged and was forced to leave the area. Langenour eventually returned to a U.S. military area. What happened to Cristman, Sparks and Garcia will likely remain a mystery. Most likely the three did escape the initial mortar hit and were killed by NVA mortar shells and gunfire, however in 1973 a Vietnam defector claimed a man looking like Cristman (the defector identified Cristman from a photograph) was captured alive, but died later died, and that the rest of the crew were buried nearby. This story, however, hasn't been verified. All three were initially declared MIA, but later officially declared dead. Their bodies have never been recovered.
Not Specified
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