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The following is an account of the crash of U.S. Army helicopter CH-47B tail number 67-18445 on 26 August 1970 as provided by three eyewitnesses. The crash resulted in the deaths of the four crewmen and 27 passengers. There was only one survivor, pilot Eric Reid. The lost crew consisted of CW2 Daniel W. York (KIA), SP4 George E. Tefft (KIA), SP4 Joel C. York (KIA), and PFC Hima D. McDougall Jr. (KIA). The 27 passengers included SP4 William Anderson Jr. (KIA), SP4 Stuart L. Barnett (KIA), SP4 Dennis G. Batesel (KIA), PFC Theodore F. Bedra (KIA), PFC Paul E. Bridgett (KIA), PFC Wesley O. Cody (KIA), SGT Onnie D. Duncan (KIA), SP4 Curtiss Estridge (KIA), PFC Florentino Flores (KIA), SP4 Isiah C. Garnett (KIA), SP4 James M. Ginn (KIA), PFC Thomas S. Hickman (KIA), 1SG Albert L. Johnson (KIA), SGT Fred C, Kraemer (KIA), PFC Curtis J. Manring (KIA), PFC Ruben Martinez-Zayas (KIA), SGT Robert P. McMaster (KIA), PFC Michael L. Morgan (KIA), SP4 Dwight P. O'Brien (KIA), PFC John L. Piersol (KIA), SP4 David P. Reese (KIA), SP4 David E. Rose (KIA), SP4 Lee E. Salters (KIA), SP4 Hector M. Sandoval (KIA), SP4 William D. Thorpe (KIA), PFC Charles G. Wehrheim (KIA), and PV1 John W. Widdows (KIA).
First eyewitness account: Hit by enemy fire on final. Pilot heard an explosion. Aircraft crashed into trees and burned. Internal load of 105 mm ammo began exploding. Of the crew of five and 20 PAX aboard, the pilot was sole survivor. My recollection may be a bit hazy after 36 years. I was filling sandbags with Hugh O'Connor. Watched the RPG actual hit the left jet pod on final approach to what we affectionately called LZ Judy. Couple of things need corrected. There was no 51 cal. machine gun fire. The bird was loaded with white phosphorous for 81 mm mortars, not 105mm. The flight was from Kham Duc. A platoon from 431 was pulled off the bird, replaced by a platoon from Delta of the 21, along with the Delta 1SG. Don't remember any detonations like 105mm's, just a huge white smoke cloud after skidding down the mountain. Three days later we had to police the body bags of those poor souls. (From: SGT Allen, HHC 21)
Second eyewitness account: I was a direct observer of the downing of the Chinook at LZ Judy on 82670. I totally disagree with any statements made about an RPG. I heard a burst of what could have been AK fire and the ship started going down. The pilot was able to bring the nose up temporarily and then down it went nose first. The door gunner did return fire as soon as they took fire. I agree with the internal weapons being 81MM WP rounds. (From: Ken Ruesch, LTC U.S. Army [RET])
Third eyewitness account: I was in Co. E attached to Co. D and we were told to start loading the CH47 with all the ammo and mortar boxes on the LZ at Kham Duc. While loading, the CO grabbed four of us and told us to load our gear and a radar unit onto a Huey and meet up with everyone at the next LZ which at that time we didn't have a clue where we were going. We had been blowing everything we weren't going to haul out up and there was a lot going on. We heard that intel had it that we were going to get hit again like in '68. Anyway, we beat the CH47's to LZ Judy and unloaded our gear and started hauling it up the hill. The LZ was in a saddle below the hill. I remember a CH47 land and offload a platoon and another CH47 was in a holding pattern, waiting for everyone to clear the LZ. I was resting, looking across at the CH47 which was hovering about straight across from me when I heard AK 47 fire and it appeared to be hitting the chopper right below the from rotors. I heard maybe tens rounds. There's no mistaking AK fire when you're on the ground. I would have been on the right side of the chopper to the front and I could see the right side pilot looking out and down for a place to land. I could see that the saddle had not cleared out and the only place the chopper could go down was in the draw below the saddle. If he would have landed on the LZ he would have killed a lot of ground troops. I lost sight of the chopper when he went into the trees and could see debris flying including tree branches. I heard that two guys were killed from pieces off the blades but this was never confirmed. I remember looking at the guys on the LZ and they were all looking down into the draw and were heading down that way. After I heard the chopper hit, I don't remember how much time went by before the explosions started. I know that it burned for a couple of days. We heard a couple of stories. One the transmission had come through and killed the pilot, another that a medic had made it out but had a hole in his head and died later, another that someone made it out and clear but had been burned. I know that someone was medivaced and it's good to hear the co pilot made it. I think it was him who I saw looking out the right side. I know from experience (35 years in law enforcement as an investigator) that everyone sees things different and hears things different even though they experience the same event. I don't remember ever hearing anyone say anything about a RPG, only AK fire. I've seen the reports about the RPG but didn't know where they came from. I know I'll never forget that day and the friends that I lost. The day we had to go down to the crash and start hauling the body bags back up the hill was not a good one either. With each bag we passed up the hill, you could see it in everyone's eyes wondering which friend this one was. We heard that all the troops ended up in a pile in back and were burned. The condition of the body bags only confirmed this. This information came from the co pilot Eric 'Ric' Reid. (From: Dan Hodge) [Info and eyewitness accounts taken from vhpa.org]