Chinook #65 07999 of the 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (named Love Craft but known as “Patches”) flew into the area of III Corps known as the Mushroom (named after the bend in the Saigon River resembling a mushroom) to pick up some empty fuel blivits from Navy PRB’s. On board were five crewmembers and fifteen passengers. As they came in on short final, they were fired on by Viet Cong soldiers who were waiting for them.
The aircraft was struck by three RPGs. The first hit the starboard engine igniting the fuel tank. Another his amidships and the third by the front door breaking off the nose. The aircraft crashed in a ball of fire. Four men died immediately, five more would die of their injuries later. Of the twenty men on board three had finished their tour and were going back to be processed out of Vietnam. Six were on their way back to basecamp to go on R & R.
This is the basis for a book I am writing called THOSE LEFT EBHIND. The story does not end with the crash. The story continues about the families and survivors of this horrific incident.
It is hard to believe anyone survived. Everyone on board was injured. Some with severe burns.
The passengers and crew:
CWO Ed Whittle (242nd)
WO Robert Henry (242nd)
MSG Robert Ivey (12th Infantry)
SFC Lowell Ketchum (12th Infantry)
SFC Thomas Campbell (12th Infantry) KIA
SFC Elroy Simmons (13th Artillery) DOW
SSG Carey Pratt (14th Infantry) DOW
SGT Robert Oldham (12th Infantry) KIA
SGT Dennis Martin (14th Infantry) KIA
SP4 Ross Bedient (242nd) DOW
SP4 David Schultz (242nd) KIA
SP4 Rickey Wittner (242nd)
SP4 James Coleman 12th Infantry)
SP4 Richard Green (12th Infantry)
SP4 Roy Harris (12th Infantry) DOW
SP4 Harlen Metzger (14th Infantry)
SP4 Michael Vullo (725th Maint. Bn.) DOW
PFC Melvin Chase (725th Maint Bn.)
PFC Bruce Thompson (12th Infantry)
PFC David Schwab (12th Infantry)