Incident Date 19621006 HMM-163 UH-34D 145790+ - Mechanical Failure
Tunney, Michael Joseph 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:013)
Hamilton, Richard Elmer Sgt Gunner HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:012)
Anderson, Thomas Edward Cpl Crew Chief HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:012)
Valentin Jr., Miguel Angel LCpl Passenger HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:013)
Pendell, Jerald Wayne Sgt Passenger HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:012)
Griffin, Gerald Charles LT FltSurgeon HMM-163 MAG-16 1962-10-06 (vvm 01E:012)
Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes
Submitted by: N/A, 20030803
Information on U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-34D tail number 145790
Date: 06/10/62 MIA-POW file reference number: 0015
Incident number: 62100606.KIA
UTM grid coordinates: BT470007
Casualties = 07 DOI, 01 INJ. .
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: 0015, USMCR in Vietnam P:83 ()
Summary: Crashed due to mechanical failure while flying SAR for a 20-plane
helilift southeast of Tam Ky.
Loss to Inventory
CP 1stLt TUNNEY MICHAEL JOSEPH KIA
CE CPL ANDERSON THOMAS EDWARD BNR
P 1stLt SINNOTT WILLIAM T WIA
1stLt GRIFFIN GERALD CHARLES, NOT, A
SGT HAMILTON RICHARD ELMER, NOT, A
HM2 NORTON GERALD OWEN, NOT, A
SGT PENDELL JERALD WAYNE, NOT, A:
LCP VALENTIN MIGUEL ANGEL JR, NOT, A
US MARINES IN VIETNAM
The official USMC history in a chapter titled “SHUFLY Moves North” states that the most serious incident recorded during the early operations in I Corps ironically resulted from mechanical failure rather than VC fire. It occurred when a search and rescue helicopter crashed and burned on a hillside 15 miles southeast of Tam Ky while covering a 20-plane helilift of 2d ARVN Division elements. This helicopter carried several mechanics and Navy medical personnel and was equipped with a hoist. Unable to land near the downed aircraft because of the thick jungle, other helicopters landed troops at the base of the hill with instructions to proceed to the crash site on foot. When the Vietnamese soldiers reached the downed aircraft after cutting their way through dense vegetation, they found the copilot, crew chief, and five other members of the task unit dead. The pilot, 1stLt William T. Sinnott, who was injured seriously, was hoisted through the trees and evacuated by an HUS which came to the rescue. The five Marines killed in the crash were 1stLt Tunney, SGT Hamilton, SGT Pendell, CPL Anderson, LCPL Valentin. Two Navy personnel, LT Griffin, a doctor, and Hospitalman Norton were also dead. These were the first deaths suffered by Marine Task Unit 79.5 since deploying to Vietnam.Submitted by: N/A, 20030803
As well as I can remember the way it all took place went like this:
A squadron of helos took off from Da Nang to insert ARVN troops on to the battlefield. The chopper in question apparently was having mechanical problems, so it separated from the pack and decided to fly back to the Danang Air Base.
About 5 to 10 miles or so from the base, the terrain becomes mountainous and looks just like a typical jungle. The helo flying back made it over the top of the mountain but when it got to the other side heading toward Danang something went wrong. The chopper came down through the jungle canopy and as it did it is my understanding Sergeant Hamilton must have jumped before it crashed. As it crashed it rolled down and on to the cargo door, trapping the occupants. The jungle was hacked up as it someone took a lawn mower to the spot as the helo descended. This took place about 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
Paramedics were sent up the mountain to help the survivors if any. The Sergeant Major came through to ask for volunteers to go up the next day to retrieve our dead (about 25 volunteers). We were flown to the base of the mountain the next morning and proceeded up the mountain on a jungle path carved by rain water. As well as I can remember it took about 1 to 2 hours to get to the site.
Sergeant Hamilton seem to be unscathed from the crash - no burns, nothing. I am assuming he died from the jump or exposure. The last time I saw him they were trying to sling his body out through the jungle canopy. As he got to about 30 feet he slipped out of the sling. We put him in a body bag and carried him back down the hill.
About seven of us proceeded to the crash site to retrieve what we could. As we got there the only thing left of the chopper was the overhead transmission, blades, struts and maybe some scattered pieces; the rest of the chopper was just burned up. We found somebody in the crawling position in the ashes on his hands and knees trying to crawl to the back of the chopper. We looked under the overhead rotor that was the only thing left of the chopper and found a few vertebra of someone. We never found Lt Tunney’s body. God bless him - a fine outstanding man, I loved him. There was nothing else left at the site except a pile of ashes, struts and overhead transmission and blades. We proceeded down the mountain with Sergeant Hamilton and the charred bodies in body bags.
Submitted by: Cpl Robert Mensick, Recovery Crew, 20130811
LOSS COORDINATES: N15 22 18 E108 38 34Submitted by: N/A, 20030803
I was there. The helicopter went down early in the morning, I and Dr. Hershberger left Danang after receiving an early morning radio message of a crash of one of our helicopters. We left Danang flying to Nha Trang on an Air Force C119 which had recently arrived at Danang at that time. At Nha Trang we met the rest of the Marine helicopters that had landed there after the crash. We had taken some basic medical gear with us and were flown by one of our Marine helicopters to the crash site.
Upon arrival Dr. Hershberg MD USN and one corpsman (a dental tech) were lowered by hoist to the crash site. At that time there were only 5 survivors. All seriously injured primarily by burns. The events relating to the bravery of at least one of the injured are detailed in the book written by Richard Tregaskis Vietnam Diary.
I was the Dentist assigned to the firsts Marine Air wing at that time..
One event that is not noted in the book is that of the almost incredible skill and courage of the pilot in command of the helicopter which hovered Into the trees and lifted out the lone survivor. That pilot was Lt. col. Robert Rathbun, USMC. As I recall it the smoke grenade that called the search helicopters led by Rathbun was tossed the morning after we got to the site by USArmy Sgt Hobart T Nantz In what I believe was the first casualty and rescue operation of Operation Shu Fly in Vietnam was executed by joint efforts of the Army, Navy, Air Force and United States Marines.
There were several ARVN troops at the site by that time as well as some US Army personnel. What was needed therefore was water, dextran, intravenous solutions and any supporting medications. I was flown back to Nha Trang where obtained as much as those items as it was possible to carry. Three of us - myself, and two navy corpsmen were flown back to the mountain but could not be lowered to the site as it was Dark. We were dropped off at the base of that mountain and walked up the mountain with the hydrating and medical supplies. It took several hours before we were able to find the victims of that crash. A detailed account of events leading to end of that mission which resulted in saving only the life of Lt. William Sinnott USMC can be found in the book by Richard Tregaskis Vietnam Diary.
Comment on Incident
SAR Mission covering ARVN trooplift. Crashed due to mechanical failure. 1/Lt William T. Sinnott, Aircraft Commander, survived crash with serious injuries.Submitted by: N/A, 20030731
Dept. of Navy Report of Casualty Valentin Jr, L/Cpl M.A.:
Died 6Oct62 southeast of DaNang South Vietnam result of burns and multiple injuries sustained while passenger in government helicopter which crashed.Submitted by: N/A, 20030731
HMM-163 "IN MEMORIAM" CEREMONY 09 Oct 1962
I am wearing Thomas Edward Anderson's MIA bracelet. It is in fragile condition after 20+ years.
I would like to send it to someone in his family instead of not wearing it anymore. I work in the road construction industry and do not want to risk losing it.