Hatley, Joel Clinton, SP 4

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Last Rank
Specialist 4
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
67N10-UH-1 Helicopter Repairer
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1971-1971, 67N10, 158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)/C Company
Service Years
1969 - 1971

Specialist 4

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Home State
North Carolina
North Carolina
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGT Kevin Hatley to remember Hatley, Joel Clinton, SP 4.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Mar 05, 1971
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
panel 04W, line 024

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 Unit Assignments
158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)/C Company
  1971-1971, 67N10, 158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)/C Company
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1971-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)/Operation Lam Son 719
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
On 8 February 1971, South Vietnamese President Thieu announced Lam Son 719, a large-scale offensive against enemy communications and supply lines in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The mission was to interdict the flow of supplies from North Vietnam. The South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) would provide and command ground forces, while US forces would provide airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the US from Vandegrift Base Camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, as the US Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones. On 5 March 1971 Captain David L. Nelson, Aircraft Commander; Warrant Officer Ralph Moreira, Pilot; Specialist 4 Joel Hatley, Crewchief; and Specialist 4 Michael E. King, Door Gunner, comprised the crew of the lead elicopter (tail # 67-17341), call sign "Auction 01." Auction flight consisted of the second group of ten aircraft on a combat assault mission in an overall air armada of 40 Huey helicopters inserting ARVN troops into Landing Zone (LZ) Sophia in conjunction with Lam Son 719. The Hueys' were to insert the ARVNs, then return to Khe Sanh to refuel, rearm, and load the next wave of troops to be inserted. The combat assault into LZ Sophia was the final stepping stone toward the ultimate objective of Tchepone, Laos, a village roughly 20 miles from the border that was known to serve as a major hub for the NVA supply activities on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. LZ Sophia was located just south of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, and because of its close proximity to it, some of the flight path approaches took the helicopters to the northwest and over Laotian territory. To complicate matters further, during October 1970, the NVA positioned 2 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) batteries with more that 200 pieces of heavy artillery in the area. Because of this, nearly every aircraft participating in this overall mission, including the command and control aircraft that flew at 5,000 feet, was hit by AAA fire. In addition to the AAA batteries, American aircraft had to contend with SA-7 missiles as well as enemy helicopters and fighters that were also operating in the area of LZ Sophia. Auction flight followed Chalk flight, the first set of 10 helicopters in the armada, into the release point over which all the Huey's turned left before making the final approach to the LZ. The release point was a river bend just west of a hill occupied by an NVA 23mm battery. In the very low visibility caused by smoke, haze and the chaos of battle, Chalk 01, missed the spot to execute the hairpin turn to the south before final approach and flew too far west over entrenched NVA AAA positions. As Capt. Nelson turned toward the south, he radioed that his aircraft had been hit in the fuel cell by 23mm AAA fire, they were trailing fuel, his door gunner had been wounded in the head and several of his 11 passengers were also wounded. Capt. Nelson made radio contact with the command and control aircraft stating, "…I broke off the LZ on long final. I'm heading back to Kilo Sierra (Khe Sanh) at this time. I've got a gunner hit in the head, some of my troops are hit, and the aircraft's hit pretty hard…and I was losing fuel…but I've stopped loosing fuel now…so I'm just heading back…to Kilo Sierra." The other aircraft disembarked their troops and were on their way back Khe Sanh when some of the other aircrews reported seeing a helicopter believed to be the lead aircraft below and well out in front of them. As they watched Auction 01, it burst into flames, exploded twice in the air, then crashed and exploded again on impact. As soon as the ball of flame was seen, attempts to make radio contact with the flight leader were made, but all attempts were unsuccessful. No formal air to ground search was attempted because of known enemy AAA batteries and the large number of communist ground troops operating in this region. All four crewmen aboard the Huey were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. The crash site was located in a very long narrow jungle covered valley between a rugged mountain range to the south and a river flowing from the northwest to southeast through the center of the valley, and roughly ½ mile from each one. A major artery of the Ho Chi Minh Trail paralleled the river to the north of it and another mountain range farther to the north of the road. From 5 to 10 January 1990, a joint American/Lao excavation team excavated the remnants of a Huey crash site in Laos presumed to be the one David Nelson, Joel Hatley, Ralph Moreira and Michael King were aboard. On 21 September 1990, the US government announced "the remains of all four men were successfully accounted for." For David Nelson and Joel Hatley, no remains were identified. The remains [were buried] in one casket in Arlington National Cemetery on 5 October 1990 under a headstone bearing the names of the four crewmen.

(Edited from original source: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/aircrew-0http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/aircrew-03051971.htm)
Vietnam Wall Panel coords 04W 024

Joel Clinton Hatley was born on October 24, 1948 and joined the Armed Forces while in Albermarle, North Carolina. He served in the United States Army, and attained the rank of Spcialist 4. Joel Clinton Hatley is listed as Missing in Action.

(Source: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/aircrew-0http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/aircrew-03051971.htm)

CPL Joel Clinton Hatley, Vietnam Veteran, Native of Albemarle, NC.

Specialist Four Joel Clinton Hatley was a casualty of the Vietnam War. As a member of the Army, SP4 Hatley served our country until March 5th, 1971 in Laos. He was 22 years old and was not married. Joel died when his helicopter crashed. His body was recovered. Joel was born on October 24th, 1948 in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. SP4 Hatley is on panel 04W, line 024 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for 2 years.

It has been 31 years and I still miss you. For years I hoped that we would find you alive somewhere. Words can not describe the loss I feel in your absence. Mom wrote a poem for Joel and I would like to share it with anyone who will read it. To this day I still cry when I read it.

A Picture, A Flag, and A Gold Star Pin. By: His Mother. That night I kissed my son Goodbye, and watched his plane soar to the sky. Little did I know as he held my hand, that soon he'd lie in some strange land. I still can see his smiling face, and feel his arms in last embrace. His quiet voice and tender touch, his loving ways all meant so much. He said, "Mother please don't cry tonight." I said, "I won't", I promised with throat so tight. I held him close; I loved him so, and it hurt so much to see him go. I'll be alright and I luv ya'll, were his last words going down the hall. He waved goodbye going to the plane, and suddenly I felt strange. I thought - he's going where he's never been, tho 'Nam was his destination again. I didn't know why - couldn't understand - but "Heaven" flashed through my mind then. I felt we had really said goodbye, and he truly was gone to the sky. I felt strange peace and calm within, and I felt I'd never see him again. I watched his plane go out of sight, as he was lost in the still, dark night. I love my son. Why must he go? My heart cried out, now it ached so. He went to 'Nam, but I soon learned, he really was lost, never to return. MISSING IN ACTION...the telegram read, but inside I knew our Joel was dead. He'd been shot down, the helicopter lost...Dear Lord! My son! Oh, what a cost! And then we wait and wait and pray, and hope we'll hear that he's OK. The time was short, tho it seemed so long. The grief was great but love was strong. Each day seemed like a million years, as time was washed away with tears. At last word ccame, and what I knew within my heart, was finally true. KILLED IN ACTION...this telegram read, crashed in flames..no survivors it said. KILLED..NOT MISSING now it read, My Joel! My Joel! Our Joel was dead! Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Oh no, no please! And then I fell on bended knee. Dear God! I cried in unbelief, my heart exploded then in grief. The tears then like a river did flow; our Joel! Oh Lord! What a way to go! In crushed rememberance of his love, I bowed my head to God above; to thank Him for that life so sweet, and prayed someday again we'd meet. I felt his hand and tender touch, his last goodbye all meant so much. Just then I saw his face, his smile, and my heart raced across the miles. To join his heart in that last breath, to share his fate, to share his death. To die with him in burning flames, to leave with me only his name. There's no remains, no grave to be, nothing except sweet memories. A picture of him is left instead, and a folded flag to show he's dead. Always I'll look at the smiling face, of the picture I hold here in his place. Always I'll hold in grief and strife, this flag as if it were my life. Always a Gold Star Pin I'll wear, in memory of a life so sweet and fair. A Picture, A Flag, and a Gold Star Pin, I'll always hold in the place of him. Written by Mom(Evelyn Hatley). inga4kids, He is my brother.

Rest easy brother Joel. Its been a long time. I will remember until my mind can do so no longer. Mike Hatley U.S. Army 1972-1975, Mike Hatley, anthony231@adelphia.net

He was my High school buddy, Joel ole buddy, you will not be forgotten. Love, David Grey, 2100 Mirow Place, Charlotte, NC 28270, dgrey@carolina.rr.com.

For: US Army Veteran, Joel Hatley: This sound bite tape reflects the chaos around LZ Sophia on 05 March 1971. Machine guns for triangular ambush sites of the American helicopters. LZ Lolo. The amount of AAA fire forced an awkward approach into the LZ, referred to in Dolphin 29 was shot down in flames, "29's on fire, 29's on get Dolphin 29's crew. David Nelson, C/158 (WORWAC class 67-3). Captain Nelson took heavy fire while ARVN (South Vietnamese) soldiers were also hit. National Cemetery Information obtained from: http://www3.servtech.com/ americal/174/sound.htm1. Mark L. Graf.

In Search of family for Joel Clinton Hatley SPF USA. I am searching for family members or friends that knew this man. For 17 years now, I have worn this red metal bracelet with his name on it. I have gained information from this site that has laid many questions to rest that I have had regarding this gentleman. Now, I am on a wild destination to search for his family and possibly return the bracelet to them, if they would like and are willing to talk to me. If not, I completely understand. I received emails and information, and so glad that I have. I look forward to continuing hearing from others, as well. Christi Ingle-Warlick.

He served with Charlie Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 101st Aviation Group, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, "Screaming Eagles", USARV.

He was awarded Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Air Medal with Multiple Oak Leaf Clusters.
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