Dempsey, Jack Taylor, COL

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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
1542-Infantry Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Officer)
Primary Unit
1966-1967, Delta Aviation Battalion
Service Years
1943 - 1967



Five Overseas Service Bars

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Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Fort Smith
Last Address
Coalgate, OK

Casualty Date
Mar 26, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Vinh Binh (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
17E 050 / Section 3 Site 2137-L

 Official Badges 

Army Staff Identification Infantry Shoulder Cord Honorably Discharged WW II Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961

French Fourragere

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 2nd Award
Aviator Badge (Senior)

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1943, 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry (OCS) (Fort Benning, GA)
 Unit Assignments
83rd Infantry DivisionDepartment of the Army (DA)13th Aviation Battalion1st Aviation Brigade
Delta Aviation Battalion
  1943-1945, 1st Battalion, 331st Infantry
  1943-1945, 83rd Infantry Division
  1964-1966, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (ODCSPER)
  1966-1967, 13th Aviation Battalion
  1966-1967, 1st Aviation Brigade
  1966-1967, Delta Aviation Battalion
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
  1944-1945 Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of the Bulge
  1944-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)/Advance to the Rhine
  1945-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
  1945-1945 Central Europe Campaign (1945)/Victory in Europe Day (VE Day - 8May45)
  1945-1945 US Occupation of Germany (WWII)
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
 Colleges Attended 
Oklahoma State University
  1939-1943, Oklahoma State University
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

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Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army

13th Combat Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade,
Date of Action: March 26, 1967
HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 1633 (April 12, 1967)


The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Jack Taylor Dempsey, Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with 13th Combat Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade.

Colonel Dempsey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 26 March 1967 while flying in support of an airmobile assault near Tam Binh.

As Commander of the 13th Aviation Battalion, Colonel Dempsey was observing the progress of one of his units conducting an airlift of Vietnamese troops into a besieged landing zone. Enemy fire around the ravaged area was devastating, and one of the troop helicopters was shot down during the first lift. As a medevac aircraft attempted to effect a rescue, it was also hit and crashed. Unmindful of the extreme dangers,

Colonel Dempsey dauntlessly chose to go to the aid of the downed crews himself. He radioed for gunships to provide support and, disregarding the advise of his mission commander, started the treacherous approach. Flying under the cover of an air strike, Colonel Dempsey fearlessly ordered his pilot to dive through the hail of Viet Cong bullets.

Despite the hostile fire that was hitting the helicopter, he would not be deterred from his mission. Even when the downed crews waved him off, Colonel Dempsey ignored their warning and flew on into the landing zone. In this gallant effort to save his men, he was fatally wounded when hostile fire raked the helicopter just before landing.

His unimpeachable valor and profound concern for the welfare of others will serve as a source of lasting inspiration to all those who knew him. Colonel Dempsey's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. 

Name: COL Jack Taylor Dempsey
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 03/26/1967 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 45.8
Date of Birth: 06/02/1921
Home City: Coalgate, OK
Service: IN branch of the regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: 13 AVN BN
Major organization: other
Service: IN branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 17E-050
Short Summary: Shot through the head while landing his UH-1D C&C to pick up downed flight crews from his battalion. He was CO of 13th CAB.
Aircraft: UH-1D
Service number: O37816
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 1983
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: aircraft commander
Started Tour: 05/16/1966
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
Length of service: 22
Location: Vinh Binh Province IV Corps.

Additional information about this casualty:
According to a letter published in the Spirng 2002 Knight Letter (from the 114th Aviation Assocation) from Dick Buerr, Don Casper was the other pilot with Colonel Dempsey on this mission. Dick states: "He (Don) was a long tall drink of water, who had been the Operations Officer in the 175th Outlaws when I was the Operations Officer in the 114th for a month or so earlier the previous Spring, so we had worked together in our sister companies and kew each otehr pretty well. Don was the battalion S-3 at the time. On that day, Easter Sunday 1967, Don was sitting on the ramp in the back of a UH-1 waiting to be evacuated to the hospital in Saigon while I stood by the aircraft and talked to him briefly. He held an oxygen mask intermittently to his face as we talked and a pressure bandage over a wound in his chest. It took me a little while to realize I shouldleave him alone until I saw that he would put the mask to his face and gasp for air after talking to me. When my feeble brain finally came out of flight idle, I realized he was in tough shape and got out of there to keep from bothering him. I knew he had to be restrained from his attempts to get the Colonel out of the aircraft but I didn't know the extent of his wounds. Bob Reid's comments in the last newsletter indicated he had been hit six times in the chest."

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Protestant - no denominational preference
The following information 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 04/19/2002

Any discussion of the history of the 13th Combat Avn Bn (Delta Bn) should include March 27, 1967. This was the date, Easter Sunday, when 13th Avn Bn Commander Col. Jack T. Dempsey was shot down and killed flying "Delta Six". I remember all the officers running to the flight line in civilian clothers to fly to the combat operations area to see if there was anything they could do to help. No one knew at the time that Col. Dempsey was already dead, killed by enemy ground fire. Later the main Bn HQ offices were renamed Dempsey Compound.

On Easter Sunday Col Jack Dempsey gave his life in Vinh Binh Provience South Vietnam while trying to rescue "his boys" who had been shot down in a hot landing zone. For his courage that day Col Dempsey was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross-the nation's 2nd highest award for heroism in action. The Col. is buried in Arlington Cemetary. I was proud to have known him and proud to have served in his Battalion during the war. I will never forget this true hero.
Posted by: Joe O'Donnell

My record of Col. Dempsey's final flight is told in "OUTLAWS IN VIETNAM," a book I have written about our helicopter flying experiences in the Mekong Delta of RVN. He was my Bn. commander, and I rescued his copilot on that fateful day of March 26, 1967 during the Battle of Easter Sunday. He was the third ship shot down that day, and until I flew into LZ Alpha, we thought him still alive. Don Casper was the Lt. Col. flying with Delta 6, and informed me that Dempsey was dead when he reached my bird, Outlaw 23. It was a very exciting day, to say the least, and we all owe our lives to the heroics of the gunships protecting us during the extraction of the down crews. Jerry Daly in "Viking Surprise", the Soc Trang smokeship, saved us all in this daring rescue by 4 Hueys for the pickup of the wounded aviators and downed crewmembers. MACV advisors who helped out that day stil contact me.
Posted by: DAVE EASTMAN, OL 23,-24
Relationship: He was my commander

But, on that fateful day in the landing zone 40 years ago, Myhre, flying a UH-1 HUEY called "Outlaw 17," was shot down by enemy fire. The time was 8:50 a.m. A MEDEVAC helicopter swept in to pick up Myhre and his crew. But the enemy, the Vietcong, shot that aircraft down. Then, 40 minutes later, Col. Jack Dempsey, commander of our parent unit, the 13th Aviation Battalion, circling high overhead, radioed that he would attempt another rescue. Gunship pilots on the scene advised against it. Dempsey flew down to the landing zone and was killed instantly."

Notes on the 83rd ID in WWII:

The 83d Infantry Division arrived in England on 16 April 1944. After training in Wales, the division landed at Omaha Beach, 18 June 1944, and entered the hedgerow struggle south of Carentan, 27 June. Taking the offensive, the 83d reached the St. Lo-Periers Road, 25 July, and advanced 8 miles against strong opposition as the Normandy campaign ended.

After a period of training, elements of the division took Châteauneuf-d'Ille-et-Vilaine, 5 August, and Dinard, 7 August, and approached the heavily fortified area protecting St. Malo. Intense fighting reduced enemy strong points and a combined attack against the Citadel Fortress of St. Servan caused its surrender, 17 August. While elements moved south to protect the north bank of the Loire River, the main body of the division concentrated south of Rennes for patrolling and reconnaissance activities. Elements reduced the garrison at Ile de Cézembre, which surrendered, 2 September. On 16 September 1944: the only surrender of a German Major General B. H. Elster to US-troops with 18,850 men and 754 officers at the Loire bridge of Beaugency. The movement into Luxembourg was completed on 25 September. Taking Remich on the 28th and patrolling defensively along the Moselle, the 83d resisted counterattacks and advanced to the Siegfried Line defenses across the Sauer after capturing Grevenmacher and Echternach, 7 October. As the initial movement in operation "Unicorn," the division took Le Stromberg Hill in the vicinity of Basse Konz against strong opposition, 5 November, and beat off counterattacks.

Moving to the Hurtgen Forest, the 83d thrust forward from Gressenich to the west bank of the Roer. It entered the Battle of the Bulge, 27 December, striking at Rochefort and reducing the enemy salient in a bitter struggle. The division moved back to Belgium and the Netherlands for rehabilitation and training, 22 January 1945. On 1 March, the 83d advanced toward the Rhine in Operation Grenade, and captured Neuss. The west bank of the Rhine from north of Oberkassel to the Erft Canal was cleared and defensive positions established by 2 March and the division renewed its training. The 83d crossed the Rhine south of Wesel, 29 March, and advanced across the Munster Plain to the Weser, crossing it at Bodenwerder. As opposition disintegrated, Halle fell on 6 April. The division crossed the Leine, 8 April, and attacked to the east, pushing over the Harz Mountain region and advancing to the Elbe at Barby. That city was taken on the 13 April. The 83rd established a bridgehead over the river.

On 11 April 1945 the 83rd encountered Langenstein, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. At the camp, the troops found approximately 1,100 inmates. The inmates were malnourished and in extremely poor physical condition. The 83rd reported the death rate at the camp to be 500 per month. Also, that the prisoners had been forced to work 16 hour days in nearby mines, and were shot if they became too weak to work. After liberation, the death rate continued at approximately 25-50 people per day, due to the severe physical debilitation of the prisoners.



The Battalion Headquarters and troop area, adjacent to Can Tho Airfield, was named Dempsey Compound on 1 July 1967. The compound is named in memory of Colonel Jack Taylor Dempsey, Battalion Commander from 1 August 1966 to 26 March 1967. Colonel Dempsey made a heroic attempt to rescue the crews of two helicopters which had been shot down in a landing zone early Easter Sunday morning. His helicopter was less than five feet from touchdown in the landing zone when heavy Viet Cong fire took his life. His last words, "I am going in after my men," have since become a part of the Battalion heritage and serve as an inspiration to all battalion personnel. Colonel Dempsey was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his gallant actions on that day.

The Invitation.Col. McDaniel was also the first 164th Combat Aviation Group (CAG) Commander when it was formed from the Delta Group, from 15 January 1968 - 29 June 1968

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