242nd Aviation Company - "Muleskinners"
(Assault Support Helicopter Company)
Republic of Vietnam
| 66-19011, Boeing build number B-269, was a CH-47A helicopter. The U.S. Army acceptance date was 16 November 1966. The administrative strike date was 23 July 1968. 66-19011 accumulated at least 760.0 aircraft hours.
In approximately November 1966, 66-19011 was assigned to the New Cumberland Army Depot (NCAD), near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
In approximately January 1967, 66-19011 was assigned to the 177th Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC), 3rd Army, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In February 1967, 66-19011 was assigned to Post Supply, 6th Army at Fort Ord, California.
In April 1967, 66-19011 was assigned to the Test and Evaluation Command (TEVALCOM), 6th Army, located at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
In June 1967, 66-19011 was assigned to the United States Army Flight Detachment in the Republic of Vietnam (USARV).
In August 1967, 66-19011 was bailed to Bell Helicopter (headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas), in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN).
In September 1967, 66-19011 was assigned to the 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) "Muleskinners", 1st Aviation Brigade, located at Cu Chi Base Camp in the RVN, where it remained until it was lost due to an accident.
On 23 September 1967, while on a logistics support mission and transporting a sling load at 1,800 feet and 85 knots, 66-19011 received enemy ground fire from gun launched, non-explosive, ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size (7.62 mm). 66-19011 received three hits that struck the fuel and main rotor systems, as well as the structure. A self-sealing fuel tank developed a leak (which tank was struck is unknown). The helicopter continued flight and accomplished all mission objectives. The aircraft was repaired in theater. At this point, 66-19011 accumulated 266.0 aircraft hours.
On 23 July 1968, 66-19011 was lost due to an accident at grid coordinate XT675145. All five crew members and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The aircraft was engaged in a re-supply mission. The aircraft was operating on a single ship mission and had refueled approximately 20 minutes prior to the crash. One sortie from Cu Chi to a field location had been completed since refueling, and the aircraft was returning for a second sortie. A tape recording obtained from the tower monitor, Cu Chi tower, revealed no unusual transmissions. Normal clearance for approach and landing at Cu Chi, east POL point were given. No distress or unusual communications were heard by other aircraft monitoring the tower frequency. Twelve seconds time lapsed between the time tower gave final clearance until a screeching noise came over the air. The noise is believed to be the radio equipment on board the aircraft shorting upon impact. The pilot did not acknowledge his final clearance from Cu Chi tower; however, just prior to impact the transmission "Roger" came over the FM frequency in a calm tone, which was monitored by SP4 Williams, re-supply rigger. Williams recognized the voice as that of the pilot with whom he had talked, approximately one minute earlier. It is believed that the pilot was "Rogering" Cu Chi tower but had mistakenly transmitted over FM. It is the conclusion of the board that the pilot had no warning of failure. Witnesses interviewed were first attracted to the accident by a loud "pop and clapping noise." At this time the aircraft was at approximately 150 - 200 feet absolute altitude. Attitude at this time was normal as viewed by three CH-47 qualified aviators observing the aircraft. The pilot of the aircraft in traffic behind 66-19011 reported to the board that the front rotors were turning slightly less than normal and the aft rotors appeared to be close to a stop. Shortly thereafter, the aft pylon was seen separating from the main part of the fuselage. Upon separation, the aft pylon rolled to the right, away from the fuselage and fell to the ground. A small bright flame was seen on the fuselage at the place of separation. The main section of the fuselage then turned approximately 120 degrees to the left and struck the ground tail low. The attitude of impact is substantiated by damage to engine tail cones. Small parts were observed flying from the aircraft prior to impact. Flame quickly engulfed the fuselage. Cause of the crash was thought to be transmission failure (which transmission failed is unknown).
The last known location of 66-19011 was in the Republic of Vietnam.
Aircraft status: Crashed.
|Pictured below is 66-19011 after the wreckage was recovered and returned to the company area:|
|SP5 Roger G. Montgomery, Crew Chief, with the Muleskinners from 1967 to 1968 recalls: "…Late morning, or early afternoon (not sure) on 23 July 1968, I was working in the combining transmission area of my aircraft, 65-08024, and had my back turned to the south, with the air traffic going into and out of the POL [petroleum, oil, lubricant] / Supply Pick up point. At this time I heard a very loud pop (more like a snap, only very loud), instinct told me it was incoming rocket fire (sounded very much like a 122 mm). I threw myself backwards on my back onto the tunnel covers, and immediately rolled to my left, onto my stomach, to slide down off the aircraft. At this time (like milliseconds), I also heard loud clapping noises, and my attention was drawn to a Chinook flying over the gravel pit, shooting its approach into POL. From my angle it looked like it was flaring, but simultaneously was "flying apart". I saw the aft pylon separate, and as I said later, "It looked like some little helicopter flying away on its own". The main fuselage seemed to go nose up, or perhaps the tail just dropped abruptly. Anyway this is how I last saw it, as it dropped out of site behind the RPG [rocket propelled grenade] fence, and into the gravel pit. Immediately, a large ball of flame appeared from up out of the pit along with a loud explosion and you could feel the impact in the area. This all happened in seconds, but there was a slow motion feeling about it. Some guys came up as I was getting down from the ship, and we were excited and wondering who's aircraft it was (not wanting it to be ours), or which it was, if it was ours. For some reason at the time, I had in my head that it was 008. I don't know why I thought that (It was a sort of, hard luck aircraft). Anyway, we ran up my APU [auxiliary power unit] and put on helmets and tuned in our Flight Ops. The audio traffic was already frantic, and still no one knew who's, or which aircraft it was. Operations told everyone to stop talking and tried to call each Muleskinner aircraft in turn, for a SITREP [Situation Report]. Finally, I believe, it was one of our ships that came to the wreckage site and reported it was 66-19011. All souls on board perished. One crewman got free from the aircraft, and I don't know who (it was always a different name each time you heard the story). It was said though, that his only apparent injury was a crushed skull, from flying debris. Soon after the crash I was asked to give a statement of what I saw. This is how I remember it. It was a very sad, almost nerve shattering day for me. I was near DEROS [Date Eligible Return From Overseas - when a soldier would return from assignment] and worried about "making it". So I went to the Flight Platoon and turned in my gear and requested to terminate flight status. They accepted! A few days later we had a nice service for the departed Muleskinner crewmen. I kept a little "Sunday Missal". On the page with "Mass For The Departed", I penciled in the names Mather, Deese, Seidel, Werning, and Duer. They were our departed brothers. The crash investigation, as I recall, said it was a forward transmission failure, and said the filter clogged with a foreign substance. They said the first indication of trouble was probably a chip light, with almost immediate seizure and disintegration, since no apparent trouble had been reported."|
|This aircraft was piloted by:|
|W01 Randy Richard Wernig, Aircraft Commander, July 1968 (KIA)|
|CW2 Thomas Wade Duer, Pilot, July 1968 (KIA)|
|Your Name Here.|
|This aircraft was crewed by:|
|SP5 Danny Eugene Deese, Flight Engineer, July 1968 (KIA)|
|SP5 Donald William Seidel, Crew Chief, July 1968 (KIA)|
|SP4 Harry Michael Mather, Door Gunner, July 1968 (KIA)|
|Your Name Here.|
|Passengers Killed in the Crash|
|CPT David George Mitchell|
|PVT Richard Lee Rousseau|
|242nd ASHC History|
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