Nelson, David Lindford, CPT

 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Last MOS Group
Transportation Corps (Officer)
Primary Unit
1970-1971, 1981, 101st Airborne Division
Service Years
1970 - 1971



One Overseas Service Bar

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Fort Walters
Last Address
Kirkland/Seattle, Washington

Casualty Date
Mar 05, 1971
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
4W, 25/Sect 34, Grave 4439

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

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

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 Ribbon Bar

Aviator Badge (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)101st Aviation Group101st Airborne Division
  1970-1971, 1981, C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
  1970-1971, 1981, 101st Aviation Group
  1970-1971, 1981, 101st Airborne Division
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1971-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)/Operation Lam Son 719
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Silver Star

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Captain (Field Artillery) David Lindford Nelson, United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations in the Republic of Vietnam, on 5 March 1971. His actions, without regard for his own safety, reflect great credit on himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

General Orders: Department of the Army
General Orders No. 40 (October 27, 1972)
Action Date: 5-Mar-71
Service: Army
Rank: Captain


On March 5, 1971, during one of these maneuvers, a UH1H helicopter (Tail # 67-17341) was in a flight of ten aircraft on a combat assault mission inSavannakhet Province, Laos. The crew of the aircraft consisted of WO RalphA. Moreira Jr., pilot; Capt. David L. Nelson, aircraft commander; SP4Michael E. King, door gunner; and SP4 Joel C. Hatley, crew chief.

While on its final approach to Landing Zone Sophia, and at the time thepilot should have been making his final turn, Nelson radioed that theaircraft had been hit in the fuel cell and that the door gunner had beenwounded in the head. He then said they would attempt to return to the firesupport base on the same flight path as previously briefed.

After the other aircraft had disembarked their troops and were on their wayback to the fire support base, some of the other crewmen said they saw achopper believed to be that commanded by Nelson burst into flames, crash andexplode. As soon as the ball of flame was observed, attempts to make radiocontact were made with no success. No formal air to ground search wasattempted because of enemy anti-aircraft fire and ground activity in thearea. All aboard the aircraft were declared Killed in Action, Body NotRecovered.

In 1988 a former officer in the Royal Lao Army, Somdee Phommachanh, statedon national television that he was held captive along with two Americans ata prison camp in northern Laos. The Americans had been brought to the campat Houay Ling in 1978. One day Somdee found one of the prisoners dead in hiscell. Somdee identified the American very positively from a photo. His name,he said, was David Nelson. Nelson was Somdee's friend and he would notforget him. Somdee buried his friend with all the care he would a cherishedloved one, given his limited ability as a prisoner of war. Although Somdeehas been threatened, he has stuck to his story. Nelson's family is gratefulto know his fate, but outraged that David Nelson died over FIVE YEARS afterAmerican troops left Southeast Asia and the President of the United Stateshad announced that "all American prisoners of war had been released." TheU.S. Government did not inform the other families of this development.

January 5-10, 1990, a joint US/Lao team excavated the site of the crash ofthe helicopter lost on March 5, 1971. Not one piece of aircraft material wasrecovered, although an unspecified number of teeth and a ring were found. Noremains whatever were found that could be attributed to David Nelson, but onSeptember 17, 1990, the Defense Department announced that all four menonboard the aircraft had been positively identified and that the remainswould be buried in a "group" grave. When asked about the Somdee report, Ms.Shari Lawrence, a civilian working with U.S. Army Public Affairs Officesaid, "We are not concerned with that."

His remains were buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia along with the rest of the personnel from this incident.  Find A Grave Memorials:


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