Koehler, John Francis, SP 4

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Last Rank
Specialist 4
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
11H10-Infantry Direct Fire Crewman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1968-1969, 11H10, B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment
Service Years
1968 - 1969

Specialist 4

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSG William Putnam (Randy) to remember Koehler, John Francis, SP 4.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Apr 23, 1969
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Thua Thien (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Calvary Cemetery - Indianapolis, Indiana
Wall/Plot Coordinates
26W 032

 Official Badges 

101st Airbone Division Infantry Shoulder Cord

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  1968, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment
  1968-1969, 11H10, B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
SP4 Koehler was most likely a passenger aboard a UH-1H (#67-17697) from C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cafalry, 101st Airborne that was on a mission to create a new LZ (FB Airborne), rapelling both LRRP and Engineering team into the trees.  The helicopter was shot down, kllling 2 crewmen (gunner and crew chief) and 5 passengers.
Those lost:
SP4 Otto P. Barnhard (CE)
SGT Henry W. Cardwell [G]
SSG Julian D. Dedman
SP4 James P. Heim
SP4 John F. Koehler
SFC William F. Rocco
SP4 John W. Tiderencel
P & CP injured


Lucio Vazquez, at the time a crewman with C/2/17th Cav, remembers the incident:

This was my mission but SP4 Barnhart talked me out of flying that day and crewed in my place. The mission was to rappel a LRRP and an engineering team through some very tall trees so they could cut a new Landing Zone in the A Shau Valley. This was the first of four Hueys over this site which happened to be on a well-fortified NVA camp. I estimate the trees were well over 100 feet tall and that the team had a 150 foot rappel. The NVA shot the hovering Huey either with tracers into the fuel cell or with an RPG because the aircraft suddenly exploded without any call or signs of trouble. The front part of the ship with both pilots strapped in their seats separated from the rest of the Huey in the explosion and was blown well over 40 feet from the rest of the wreck. I believe one of the pilots was a CW3 and the other was a CPT. Both survived the explosion and the fall; but I seem to recall that the CPT died a few days later. The CW3's seat landed so that he was facing up toward the sky. He was paralyzed from the neck down. CONDOR BLUE aborted the mission but returned with another helicopter unit and more troops. This force was inserted at a few locations a hundred yards or so from the site of the exploded Huey. It took them 6 to 8 hours to recover the pilots and what remained of the others on the ship. I don't recall if the LRRPs or the engineers had any casualties, but I'd be surprised if they didn't.
Taken from the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Assn database

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