Incident Date 19631008 HMM-361 UH-34D 148781+ - HMM-361 UH-34D 148759+ - Mid-air Collision during SAR, hostile fire in area
Denton, Manuel Reyes HM3 Corpsman-Crew HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:029)
Ritchey Jr., Luther Edmond LCpl SAR Crew HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:031)
Jameson, Larry Duane Sgt Crew Chief HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:030)
Lessig, Daniel Kepner 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:029)
Harris, William Thomas Capt Pilot HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:030)
Rice, Claude HN Corpsman-Crew HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:030)
Davidson, Donald Frederick LCpl SAR Crew HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:029)
Skoviak, Ronald Frank Cpl Crew Chief HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:031)
Richardson, Arthur Gene 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:030)
Whitehead Jr., Charles F WO1 Pilot HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:031)
Farrell, Bruce Charles LT FltSurgeon HMM-361 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:030)
Tuthill, Charles Preston Cpl Photographer MABS-16 MAG-16 1963-10-08 (vvm 01E:031)
Conclusion of Investigative Report by Maj. Robert V. Reese, HMM-361: "The place of the accident [site of the wreckage] was identified as 240 degrees, 43 miles from Danang, RVN."
"The subject men were killed when their helicopters crashed while on a combat rescue mission in South Vietnam. The actual cause of the crashes could not be determined; it is presumed that the men died as a result of injuries sustained in the crashes. Their deaths are not attributable to the intent, fault, negligence or inefficiency of any person in the naval service."
"About 081930H October 1963, the pilot of the L-19 [Army] lost visual and radio contact with the two helicopters and returned to base. Prior to both aircraft being declared overdue or assumed missing, search operations were initiated. Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the search was discontinued until first light of the next day, 9 October 1963."
"Rescue operations - at first light 9 October 1963, two squadron helicopters accompanied by an O-1B weather reconnaissance aircraft were launched on a search for the missing helicopters. The search aircraft sighted the wreckage ... The first troop carrying helicopter made an approach to the landing zone and was fired at by an enemy automatic weapon, hit, wounding the copilot and killing an RVN trooper in the passenger compartment."
"During one troop lift, the wreckage of the second Marine helicopter ... was found within approximately 500-600 yards from the first crash site in dense jungle growth with no apparent survivors ... Enemy small arms fire continued intermittently throughout the period. At the completion of operations, three Marine pilots had been wounded."
On 10 October 6 bodies from one aircraft and the body of the pilot of the second a/c were recovered. The next day three additional bodies were recovered from the other aircraft. The remains of LCpl Ritchey and HM3 Denton were not recovered (thorough search within a 250 yard radius). "Due to the condition of the wreckage, conclusive evidence existed beyond a reasonable doubt that both were dead and that they had died in the same accident at the same time as the other crew members."
The Virtual Wall
a. CASUALTY LIST for UH-34D 148759
Name, Rank, IDNo, Service, Date of Death, CasCodes, Prov
DAVIDSON, Donald F. LCpl 1928576 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
RICE, Claude HN 5472522 N 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
RICHARDSON, Arthur G. 1stLt 084399 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
SKOVIAK, Ronald F. Cpl 1863559 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
TUTHILL, Charles P. Cpl 1883723 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-6 03
WHITEHEAD, Charles F. WO 051318 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-4 03
b. CASUALTY LIST for UH-34D 148781
Name, Rank, IDNo, Service, Date of Death, CasCodes, Prov
DENTON, Manuel R. HM3 5287032 N 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
FARRELL, Bruce C. LT 663304 N 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
HARRIS, William T. Capt 065229 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-4 03
JAMESON, Larry D. Sgt 1299735 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
LESSIG, Daniel K. 1stLt 080903 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
RITCHEY, Luther E. LCpl 1928239 M 10/08/1963 A1-B-5 03
Comment on Incident
See Photos at 361 Crash Site, 1963
Submitted by: Roger Lawson, HMM-163, 20030731
An article written by David Kranz of the "Argus Leader" of Sioux Falls SD, it is reported that a Vietnam veteran named Doug Haugstad while on a humanitarian mission in Vietnam was handed a package by a middle aged woman that contained two brittle teeth, and a military dog tag with the name: Ritchey, Luther E. Jr. This woman told him these items came from a helicopter that had crashed during the war. This happened near the village of Tuy Hoa, about 100 miles south of DaNang. The woman told him, "Here, take them back.”
These items were eventually sent to the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii and they said that tests showed they were almost certainly the remains of Ritchey. This should bring some closure to the family and squadron members who knew LCpl Ritchey. The newspaper item included a picture of Ritchey and a UH34D...
DoD announcement 04 Aug 2008
HM3 DENTON, has been identified and was buried at Arlington:
"As a result of the remains turned over in 2000 and 2001, and of those
recovered from the crash site in 2002, Ritchey´s remains were identified
in 2003. Some of these remains could not be individually identified, and they are included in a group representing the entire crew. Denton´s
remains are in this group, which will be buried together in Arlington."
Casualty Recovery Information
I am an Active Duty HMC who assisted in finding the remains of HM3 Denton and LCPL Richie outside of Da Nang in 2002...I was on the '69th and '70th JFA with JTF-FA. I am now attached to 1st MAW (Futenma) on Okinawa and will be dedicating a POW/MIA wall in our clinic on Futenma with a plaque we found with HM3 Dentons name as well as the Medical officer and HN's name who also died in the same helo crash...Please feel free to email me any time
On May 14th, 2008, after waiting for word for nearly 45 years, the family of Manuel Denton was informed that enough circumstantial and forensic evidence had been gathered to identify his remains and a funeral was planned for Arlington.
On August 5th, the DoD formally announced identification of Corpsman Denton's remains.
On August 7th, a full military funeral was held attended by many of his family, a large contingent from the Pentagon and Bethesda Naval Hospital and more than 100 others. Escorting the procession and standing as honorary honor guard was a local Vietnam Veteran Motorcycle Chapter.
Corpsman Manuael Denton, USN was buried along with Lt. Bruce Farrell, USN (the Squadron Flight Surgeon) and two Marine crewmen, Luther Ritchey and Daniel Klessig.
God Bless them all.................Semper Fi,
Love You, Dad
Shortly after my 5th birthday, I remember that knock on the door. Watching from the top of the staircase, I watched my mother fall to her knees, clutching my unborn sister. My father had made the ultimate sacrifice. The next few weeks were a blur: military suits, tall women with big hats, tears dropping on my head 21 gun blasts. Ten days after Daddy's death, my third sister was born: the bright spot during a dismal time. How proud he would have been...For 32 years I wondered how he died. Finally in 1995, I visited Washington, D.C. and was proud and honored to see his name on The Wall. A few years later, we took our mother to witness this sight. I could ask "why" and never receive an answer, but I cherish the knowledge that Daddy died doing what he loved most besides his family - serving and protecting the great country we live in...The United States of America! I think of you daily even after 48 years and know that your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren love you!
Proudly, Your Daughter Dee
Manuel Denton was the first person that we met on the flight upon arrival in Japan. This 23 year old was scared, but Denton greeting an great personality put me at ease. Denton was respected by all who knew him; loved to fly and I consider it a privilege to have served with him
William Tye HM-3 1st MAW MABS-12 H&HS-1
HM3 Manuel Reyes Denton, Corpsman
LCpl Luther Edmond Ritchey Jr., HMM-361
Sgt. Larry Duane Jameson-KIA in Vietnam on 10/8/1963. On 10/8/1963, a USAF pilot had been shot down (Captain Dean Wadsworth) about 40 miles south of Danang, South Vietnam. Two Marine helicopters of the 1st Marine Air Wing (HMM-361) were immediately dispatached from the Danang airfield to effect a search-and-rescue mission. Due to the urgency, we have never been able to sort out who was with each helicopter - but we know that there were a total of 9 Marines and 3 Navy Corpsmen onboard. They had arrived at the position of the downed pilot, and one of the helicopters started taking ground fire as it started to descend. These hits caused it to go into a tail spin, and it rotated into the second helicopter - causing both to crash/burn, killing all 12 men. The carnage was so bad that two of the remains (1 Marine, 1 Corpsman) were never found/identified, and subsequent searches for the pilot were unfruitfull - he also is listed as one of our MIA's. This incident became the largest number of US servicemen killed in the war up to that date on a single day. What's interesting is that Larry Jameson was trained as a Avionics Technican - and as the war escalated, he would never have been onboard for this type of mission - but he, along with 3 other technicians had gone along on that fateful day......a true Marine.