Vietnam Ribbons


AC-47 Spooky Crew Losses





Date: December 17, 1965
Assigned: 4th ACS - Tan Son Nhut AB
Acft: S/N 43-49492
Location:

The first AC-47 gunships arrived in Vietnam in November 1965. Their guns had been removed in order to lighten the aircraft for the trans-Pacific flight. The guns would not arrive until a month later. In the meantime the aircraft were put to work on courier and cargo flights. The 4th Air Commando Squadron (ACS) lost their first aircraft, AC-47D serial number 43-49492, on a courier flight between Tan Son Nhut and Phan Rang on 17 Dec 1965. The wreckage was located on 23 Dec and the bodies of the nine men ( four 4th ACS flight crew members and 5 passengers) on board the aircraft were recovered.

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Robert William Abbot (Pilot) Maj 45 Delmar, NY married KIA Panel 04E - Line 19
Robert Lloyd Abernathy (Copilot) Maj 37 St Louis, MO married KIA Panel 04E - Line 19
Francis Richard Buckley (Navigator) 1Lt 26 Los Angeles, CA single KIA Panel 04E - Line 20
Claude Wesley Mathews (Flt Eng) A1C 25 Franklinville, NJ single KIA Panel 04E - Line 21
             
John Monroe Chappell (passenger)
12th Civil Eng Sqdn
TSgt 36 St Louis, MO married KIA Panel 04E - Line 20
Thomas Newton Sloan (passenger)
12th Civil Eng Sqdn
TSgt 28 Minneapolis, MN married KIA Panel 04E - Line 20
Ralph Leon Hinson (passenger)
12th Supply Sqdn
SSgt 30 Macon, GA married KIA Panel 04E - Line 21
Johnson Ashley Meade (passenger)
12th Civil Eng Sqdn
A1C 24 Dover Foxcroft, ME married KIA Panel 04E - Line 21


Date: December 24, 1965
Assigned: 4th ACS - Danang AB
Acft: S/N 45-1120
Location: Laos, Day Mission
Call Sign: Spooky 21

The following information is posted on numerous websites.

On December 24,1965, at 0728 hours, an AC47D gunship, call sign "Spooky 21," departed DaNang Airfield, South Vietnam on an armed reconnaissance/strike mission over the panhandle of Laos. They were to monitor enemy activity moving through this region known to contain several arteries of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. The crew consisted of Lt. Col. Derrell B. Jeffords, pilot, then Capt. Dennis L. Eilers, co-pilot, Maj. Joseph Christiano, navigator, TSgt. W. Kevin Colwell, flight engineer, MSgt. Larry C. Thornton and SSgt. Arden "A. K." Hassenger both aerial gunners. The planned flight path was from DaNang to the target and back to DaNang. The gunship was due to return to base at approximately 1330 hours.

Weather conditions in the target area included scattered clouds at 500 feet with variable heights to the top of the clouds; 10,000-foot high-scattered patches of ground fog, and stratus clouds that descended into the jungle covered valleys. To the west of the target area, the ceiling of cloud cover was only 1,500 feet high.

Spooky 21 was directed by the airborne command and control aircraft to its primary target located approximately 32 miles northeast of Saravane City. As the gunship made its way westward, it was diverted to a second location 18 miles east-northeast of Saravane. Shortly before contact was lost with the gunship at 1050 hours, one of the crew broadcast, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Spooky 21" over the UHF emergency frequency. The aircrews of two separate aircraft who were also operating in this sector heard the gunship's final radio transmission.

At 1448 hours, an extensive search and rescue (SAR) operation was initiated. During the entire search effort, SAR aircraft were subjected to intense enemy ground fire emanating from the jungle below. The search was terminated at 1500 hours on 26 December when no trace of the aircraft or crew was found. At the conclusion of the search, military personnel determined the aircraft was downed by enemy action and weather conditions played no part in its loss. At 1530 hours on Christmas Eve 1965, Kevin Colwell, Joseph Christiano, A. K. Hassenger, Dennis Eilers, Larry Thornton and Derrell Jeffords were declared Missing in Action.

The last known location of Spooky 21 was over the rugged and densely forested mountains that were laced with a well-established network of roads and trails of various sizes running in all directions. It was also located approximately 6 miles west-southwest of Ban Solou, 7 miles south of Un Tai, 18 miles east-northeast of Saravane and 36 miles west of the Lao/South Vietnam border, Saravane Province, Laos


NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Derrell Blackburn Jeffords Maj 41 Phoenix, AZ married MIA Panel 04E - Line 37
Dennis Lee Eilers 1Lt 28 Cedar Rapids, IA single MIA Panel 04E - Line 37
Joseph Christiano Maj 44 Rochester, NY married MIA Panel 04E - Line 36
Larry C Thornton MSgt 34 Idaho Falls, ID married MIA Panel 04E - Line 38
William Kevin Colwell TSgt 45 Glen Cove, NY married MIA Panel 04E - Line 36
Arden Keith Hassenger SSgt 30 Lebanon, OR married MIA Panel 04E - Line 37


Date: March 9, 1966
Assigned: 4th ACS - Danang AB
Acft: S/N 44-76290
Location: Thua Thien, South Vietnam


On 9 March 1966, Capt. Willard M. Collins, pilot; Lt. Delbert R. Peterson, co-pilot; Capt. Jerry L. Meek, navigator; SSgt. John G. Brown, flight engineer; SSgt. James Turner, Jr., aerial gunner and SSgt. Robert E. Foster, aerial gunner; comprised the crew of a C47 gunship, call sign "Spooky 70," that departed DaNang Airfield on a close air support mission for the A Shau Special Forces Camp, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. At 1300 hours, when the gunship was approximately 2 miles south of the Special Forces camp, Capt. Collins initiated a left hand turn to position the aircraft for a firing pass. At the same time the enemy opened up with anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire and hit the C47 several times in the right engine. Capt. Collins feathered the #1 engine and notified the crew they "were going in." After they crash landed, the crew got out, surveyed the damage and collected their survival equipment and weapons. SSgt. Foster was injured in the crash and Lt. Peterson began first aid on him. At the same time Capt. Collins began working the survival radio. Capt. Meek loaded all the M16s and set up a perimeter defense outside the aircraft. About 10 minutes later, Capt. Meek was shot and wounded by a Viet Cong (VC) guerrilla who was closing on the downed aircraft. The pilot of an L19 Bird Dog Forward Air Controller (FAC) aircraft spotted the aircraft and crew through the dense jungle and called in A1 Skyraiders to provide air cover for the downed aircrew. Capt. Meek told Lt. Peterson they needed a sentry at the rear of the airplane because it was a blind spot. Delbert Peterson put on his survival vest and crawled around past the tail into the undergrowth with his M16. Before the Skyraiders could make a pass, the right side of the C47 was raked with enemy machine gun fire killing SSgt. Foster outright and mortally wounding Capt. Collins. Capt. Meek called out to Lt. Peterson and SSgt. Brown. John Brown acknowledged he was all right, but there was no response from Delbert Peterson. At approximately 1520 hours, search and rescue helicopters arrived on site and made a circular pass over the crash site. While one descended to a ground hover approximately 25 feet away from the nose of the C47, the other remained overhead. Capt. Meek ordered SSgt. Brown to make a run for the helicopter. SSgt. Turner, who had been on the inside of the aircraft, kicked the remnants of the emergency exit door out of the right side. John Brown, James Turner and Jerry Meek all made it to the rescue helicopter at the same time. As it lifted off the ground, the crew and passengers searched the area around the C47 for Delbert Peterson, but none saw any trace of him. About 20 minutes after the three crewmen were rescued, a Special Forces ground team arrived at the crash site. They found the bodies of Capt. Collins and SSgt. Foster where they had fallen near their aircraft. However, during their search, which included the area in and around where the co-pilot was last seen, they could find no sign of Lt. Peterson. Further, they found blood spots or blood trails leading away from the crash site. Because of the heavy enemy presence in the area, the Special Forces team was unable to bring the bodies of Willard Collins and Robert Foster out with them. Willard Collins and Robert Foster were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. Because there was a strong probability Delbert Peterson was captured, he was listed Missing in Action. The location of loss placed the gunship 10 kilometers north of the A Shau Valley and 2 miles south of the Special Forces Camp they were to provide air support for.


NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Willard Marion Collins Capt 37 Quincy, IL married MIA Panel 05E - Line 131
Delbert Ray Peterson 1Lt 26 Maple Plain, MN single MIA Panel 05E - Line 133
Robert Eugene Foster Sgt 38 Lockport, NY married MIA Panel 05E - Line 132


Date: March 13, 1966
Assigned: 4th ACS - Danang AB
Acft: S/N 43-49268
Location: Quang Nam, South Vietnam
Call Sign: Spooky 73

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Howard William Henninger (pilot) Capt 33 Hanford, CA married MIA Panel 06E - Line 3
Robert Edward Pasekoff (copilot) Capt 36 Pittsburgh, PA married MIA Panel 06E - Line 4
Gerald Everett Olson (navigator) Capt 29 Winter Haven, FL married MIA Panel 06E - Line 4
Gene Edmond Davis (flt eng) SSgt 38 Evansville, IN married MIA Panel 06E - Line 5
Edwin Everton Morgan (loadmaster) TSgt 39 Salisbury, NC married MIA Panel 06E - Line 4
Marshall Irvin Pauley (gunner) SSgt 25 Milton, WV married MIA Panel 06E - Line 5
Dean Arnold Duvall (gunner) Sgt 21 Monticello, IN married MIA Panel 06E - Line 3


Date: May 15, 1966
Assigned: 4th ACS - Ubon
Acft: S/N 43-49546
Location: Laos
Call Sign: Spooky 10

On 15 May 1966 an AC-47 gunship, call sign SPOOKY 10 (tail number 43-49546), departed Ubon RTAFB, Thailand, on an armed reconnaissance flight in central Laos. At 1745 hours SPOOKY 10 established radio contact with the airborne command and control aircraft giving their status and position. The pilot transmitted again at 2100 hours, stating situation normal, but giving no position. There was no further radio contact with the aircraft and it did not return to base as scheduled. An aerial search began at first light on 16 May and continued throughout the day. No signs of SPOOKY 10 or its crew were located. The 8 Americans and the 2 ARVN aboard Spooky 10 were listed Missing in Action on termination of formal search efforts. On 7 June an intercepted Pathet Lao radio broadcast described an American C-47 aircraft shot down over Laos on 15 May by a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery unit, PAVN Group 559. The report indicated all crewmen were killed.

The following information was derived from the website:

Task Force Omega website.

Additional information can be found at:

National Alliance website.


On 7 June, some three weeks after the AC47D disappeared without a trace, a Pathet Lao radio broadcast was intercepted by US intelligence that described an American aircraft shot down over Central or Southern Laos and included in its list a reference to a C47 that had been shot down by a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) unit, PAVN Group 559, on 15 May. The report indicated all 10 crewmen were killed.

On 3 and 4 August 1994, a senior representative of the Vietnamese Office For Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) had a chance encounter while in Saigon with a retired member of the People's Army of (North) Vietnam (PAVN), also known as North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The retired soldier related personal knowledge of a May 1966 crash of an American C47 in Laos that killed 10 crewman. This information was substantiated by a review of PAVN Group 559 records.

On 3-4 August 1994, a team from Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) traveled to Khammouan Province, Laos to investigate a reported crash site believed to be that of Spooky 10. As the team surveyed the area, they found aircraft wreckage and several aircrew-related items. Between 15 January 1995 and 1 September 1996, several JTFFA teams returned to this location to excavate the crash site and "the three burial pits where the bodies of 10 or 11 men" were reportedly placed. The team found only a single-person burial pit. They found no trace of either reported multiple-person gravesites in or around the area.

During the 6 excavations, the teams recovered wreckage consistant with an AC47D. Additionally, one size 10 jungle boot, a single dogtag bearing the name of James Preston and a metal Captain's bar from a flight suit that was correlated to Marshal Tapp, the only Captain assigned to this flight. The team found and excavated the gravesite recovering 22 teeth or tooth fragments, 16 of which showed restorations. When the site was closed on 1 September 1996, the human remains were consolidated and transported to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) for examination.

In May 1999, US Air Force Mortuary Affairs presented each family with a highly inconclusive briefing book outlining the findings of CIL-HI's identification of the 22 teeth/tooth fragments and 23 small bone fragments. The CIL-HI report specified "the 22 teeth/tooth fragments matched the antemortem dental records and radiographs for Major Jensen to the exclusion of the other crewmen" involved in the incident and were positively identified as his.

Despite the inconclusive results of the group identification and the lack of finding mass graves during the excavations, a forced group burial took place in Arlington National Cemetery on 13 December 1999. When questioned about their feelings about the group burial, Lavern Reilly's brother stated, "authorities just want to close the case. Military officials didn't identify each individual, but declared the men identified and accounted for despite a lack of dental records and DNA evidence." James Preston's daughter added, "They're going to have the ceremony whether we go or not."



NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
George William Jensen (pilot) Maj 41 Seattle, WA married KIA Panel 07E - Line 61
Marshall Landis Tapp (copilot) Capt 40 Los Angeles, CA married MIA Panel 07E - Line 63
George Winton Thompson (Navigator) 1Lt 26 Beckley, WV single MIA Panel 07E - Line 63
James Arthur Preston (loadmaster) SSgt 27 Bowdon, GA married MIA Panel 07E - Line 62
James Ellis Williams (Flt Eng) Sgt 27 Oxford, MS single MIA Panel 07E - Line 63
William Louis Madison (gunner) Sgt 31 Lexington, KY married MIA Panel 07E - Line 62
Kenneth Dewey McKenney (gunner) A1C 21 Auburn, MA single MIA Panel 07E - Line 62
             
Lavern George Reilly (observer, spare pilot)
377th Cmbt Spt Group
Maj 40 St Paul, MN married MIA Panel 07E - Line 62


Date: June 3, 1966
Assigned: 4th ACS - Ubon
Acft: S/N 43-48925
Location: Laos
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Harding Eugene Smith Maj 48 Los Gatos, CA married KIA Panel 08E - Line 5
Theodore Eugene Kryzak Capt 34 Buffalo, NY married KIA Panel 08E - Line 3
Russell Dean Martin 1Lt 29 Bloomfield, IA married KIA Panel 08E - Line 4
Harold Eugene Mullins TSgt 36 Denver, CO married KIA Panel 08E - Line 4
Luther Lee Rose TSgt 31 Howe, TX married KIA Panel 08E - Line 2
Ervin Warren SSgt 30 Philadelphia, PA married KIA Panel 08E - Line 5


Date: January 8, 1967
Assigned: 4th ACS - Danang AB
Acft: S/N 43-49124
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Charles William Robertson Capt Malden, MA married KIA Panel 14E - Line 2
James Donald Goodman 1Lt 26 Little Rock, AR married KIA Panel 13E - Line 131
Joseph E Wilkinson Maj 37 Selma, AL single KIA Panel 14E - Line 4
Raymond Medina SSgt 27 San Antonio, TX married KIA Panel 14E - Line 1
Cecil Truman Thompson SSgt 31 Sabetha, KS married KIA Panel 14E - Line 2
Dana Richard Kelley A1C 25 San Carlos, CA married KIA Panel 13E - Line 130
Lonny Leroy Mitzel A2C 23 Red Lion, PA married KIA Panel 14E - Line 1


Date: March 28, 1967
Assigned: 4th ACS - Danang AB
Acft: S/N 44-76534
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
William Hadley Hosea Capt 30 Acton, IN married KIA Panel 17E - Line 67
Herbert Charles Rice Capt 32 Hamburg, NY married KIA Panel 17E - Line 69
John Bishop Cabana Capt 27 New Castle, NH married KIA Panel 17E - Line 66
John Larue Brim SSgt 24 Princess Anne, VA married KIA Panel 17E - Line 66
James Lewis Fields SSgt 34 Mobile, AL married KIA Panel 17E - Line 67
Guy Joseph Brungard TSgt 35 Haines City, FL married KIA Panel 17E - Line 66
Robert Edwin Ruonavaara A1C 23 Healdsburg, CA married KIA Panel 17E - Line 69


Date: April 16, 1967
Assigned: 4th ACS - Tan Son Nhut AB
Acft: S/N 43-48921
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Burnett Neal Maj 37 Dallas, TX married KIA Panel 18E - Line 96
Bruce R Williams Maj 37 Detroit, MI married KIA Panel 18E - Line 99
Clifford C Barnett 1Lt 29 Hobart, IN married KIA Panel 18E - Line 90
Frederick Edward Barnette SSgt 39 Clifton Forge, VA married KIA Panel 18E - Line 90
Robert Wendell Davis SSgt 31 Oklahoma city, OK married KIA Panel 18E - Line 92
Thomas Alfred Preaux SSgt 39 Ceco, IA married KIA Panel 18E - Row 97
Michael Jeff Stephens A1C 21 New York NY single KIA Panel 18E - Row 98


Date: October 2, 1967
Assigned: 4th ACS - Phu Cat AB
Acft: S/N 43-48591
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Van Harold Newville Lt Col 48 Phoenix, AZ married KIA Panel 27E - Row 46
Arthur Raymond Coughlin Capt 41 Mobile, AL married KIA Panel 27E - Row 43
William Whitby Duck Maj 31 Quincy, FL married KIA Panel 27E - Row 43
Charles Joseph Rogiers MSgt 37 Rock Island, IL married KIA Panel 27E - Row 46
James Charles Krouse TSgt 36 North Highlands, CA single KIA Panel 27E - Row 44
William Ward Scoville A2C 20 Clark Lake, MI single KIA Panel 27E - Row 46
Walter Clarence Wright A2C 19 Las Vegas, NV single KIA Panel 27E - Row 46


Date: February 14, 1968
Assigned: 14th ACS - Phan Rang AB
Acft: S/N 43-49859
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Karl Merritt Waldron Jr Lt Col 47 Minneapolis, MN married KIA Panel 39E - Row 55
Edward Beeding Quill Jr Capt 33 San Francisco, CA married KIA Panel 39E - Row 52
Thomas Joseph Margle Capt 31 New Philadelphia, PA married KIA Panel 39E - Row 50
Warren Mitchell Dixon SSgt 23 Catlettsburg, KY married KIA Panel 39E - Row 50
Robert Kiyoshi Kawamura SSgt 28 Santa Clara, CA married KIA Panel 39E - Row 49
Roger Gail Lee SSgt 20 Hinton, OK single KIA Panel 39E - Row 49
James Harvey Bennett Sgt 24 Cynthiana, KY single KIA Panel 39E - Row 50
Brent Tosh Sgt 22 Cocoa, FL married KIA Panel 39E - Row 54


Date: May 4, 1968
Assigned: 4th ACS - Phu Cat AB
Acft: S/N 43-76207
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Donald Lweis Merry (pilot) Capt 39 Pass-A-Grill, FL married KIA Panel 55E - Row 23
Richard William Wackerfuss (copilot) Maj 36 St Paul, MN married KIA Panel 55E - Row 33
Edward Chester Krawczyk (2nd navigator) Capt 41 Warren, RI married KIA Panel 55E - Row 20


Date: May 4, 1968
Assigned: 4th ACS - Pleiku AB (Loss occurred at Phu Cat)
Acft: S/N 43-16159
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Leslie Earl Harris Jr Lt Col 44 Chattanoga, TN married KIA Panel 55E - Row 16
Teddy James Tomchesson Maj 38 Marlin, TX married KIA Panel 55E - Row 33
Barry Lynn Brown Capt 25 Dowell, IL married KIA Panel 55E - Row 4
James Edgar Bowman SSgt 34 Jonesboro, TN married KIA Panel 55E - Row 3
Douglas Joseph Cradeur Sgt 20 Sulphur, LA single KIA Panel 55E - Row 9
Roy Leo Lede Sgt 20 San Francisco, CA single KIA Panel 55E - Row 20


Date: September 1, 1969
Assigned: 4th SOS - Bien Hoa AB
Acft: S/N 43-49021
Location:
Call Sign: ...

NAME RANK AGE HOME OF RECORD MARITAL STATUS STATUS WALL PANEL
Robert Paul Acher Capt 27 Greensburg, IN married KIA Panel 18W - Row 18
James Sutherland Pitches Capt 32 Yonkers, NY married KIA Panel 18W - Row 21
Roy Colon Williams Jr 1Lt 26 Eagle Springs, NC married KIA Panel 18W - Row 22
Harry Herr Wecker MSgt 36 Harrisburg, PA married KIA Panel 18W - Row 22
William Warnie Alley TSgt 34 Richlands, VA married KIA Panel 18W - Row 18
Lester Melvin Cavallin TSgt 33 Tacoma, WA married KIA Panel 18W - Row 19
Albert Carl McBride TSgt 36 Leadville, CO married KIA Panel 18W - Row 20
Fred Winston Smith SSgt 38 Savanna, GA married KIA Panel 18W - Row 21

 

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