Incident Date 19650331 HMM-163 UH-34D 150572+ / YP-13 - HMM-163 UH-34D 150568+ / YP-3 - Hostile Fire
Eliason, Wendell Theo 1stLT Pilot HMM-163 MAG-16 1965-03-31 (vvm 01E:098)
Magel, James Edward 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-163 MAG-16 1965-03-31 (vvm 01E:098)
This mission was immortalized in the famous photo essay by Larry Burrows in Life magazine, which was published in early April, 1965. Jim Magel and Ted Eliason were not in the same aircraft. Ted Eliason was the HAC [helicopter aircraft commander] of another H-34 and Don "the Shadow" Wilson was his copilot. Dale Eddy was the HAC of the H-34 copiloted by Jim Magel. It was this aircraft that was the focus of the rescue attempt shown in the photo essay. Of the four crew members, Jim Magel was KIA and the other three were all seriously wounded. Ted was KIA a few seconds later as his a/c was lifting off the LZ.
YP-13 was the bird that Larry Burrows was in. The title of his piece in Life was "One Ride With YP-13" My bird was YP-10. This was a troop lift of ARVN paratroopers into a very hot LZ. Only 6 or 7 of us made the third and last trip because of battle damage and wounded crew on the two previous trips. It was on that trip that Magel and Eliason were KIA, in separate a/c. It was also on this trip that Benny Mann earned his Navy Cross (see below) for the rescue of Dale Eddy and his crew chief, Sgt. Garner. In addition to our own casualties, the Army gunships assigned to the mission had two of their four birds shot down covering us. I remember that they made their final gun runs firing their pistols out the doors because they had run out of rockets and M60 ammo.
HMM-163 After Action Report 31 Mar 1965
MISSION 3-1056-1 31MAR65
3 A/C BUNOs 148810, 150572, 148827
All three A/C hit
A/C utilized: 3 UH34Ds
Departed 0759 - return wx. Departed 1006
Total Passengers: 82 military
#1 A/C MANN, B.H.; HAMILTON, D.E.; UNKNOWN; UNKNOWN
#2 A/C EDDY, D.; MAGEL, J.E.; GARNER, C.A.; OWENS, B.J.
#3 A/C GAJEWSKI, F.J.; CARE, J.D.; LABOMBARD, R.J.; UNKNOWN
1ST A/C SUSTAINED THREE HITS, 2ND A/C SHOT DOWN IN ZONE; 3RD A/C SUSTAINED 7 HITS, DOWN AT 5TH REGMT.
/s/ B A MANN
HMM-163 After Action Report 31 Mar 1965
MISSION 3-1056-1 31MAR65
3 A/C BUNOs 150726, 150568, 150727
All three A/C hit
A/C utilized: 3 UH34Ds and 5 UH1Bs (US Army)
Danang to Quang Tin to LZ to 5th Regt HQ to LZ to 5th Regt HQ to LZ to Danang.
Total Passengers: 105 military
#1 A/C EWERS, N.G.; WRIGHT, B.N.; WOJANOWSKY; CLEM, E.
#2 A/C ELIASON, W.D.; WATSON, D.; CONRAD, L.F.; UNKNOWN
#3 A/C BERREY, C.; MCCAMMON, J.F.; BUSBY, H.; JAEGER, M.R.
Landed in the middle of VC. Maybe a trap. Control used LZ approx 1000 m. NW. Briefed numerous waveoffs. Lt Eliason KIA. All crewmen this strike earn battlestar on wings.
/s/ N G Ewers
The unknown tail number for the 2 marine kia's of HMM-163 on 033165 was YP3. My dad is Gunny Garner [Rocky]. His was the helo shot down that caused YP13 to enter the LZ the fourth time.Submitted by: Michael D. Garner, son of crewchief, YP-3, 20030801
A date in time I have not forgotten, nor ever will.
I served with the greatest "Marines" ever, and was so proud.
Mom clearly remembers this story. We were living at 1013 Mirosal Street, Santa Ana (about a 10-minute drive to the front-gate of MCAF Santa Ana). Mom recalls when the Life magazine (issue: 16 April 1965) was released, and the anger & sadness that settled amongst the officers/enlisted aircrew & maintenance wives of MAG16/ HMM163...the hardships they experienced without a program of support that today's military (soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard) have...such as, MWR office, Chaplain's office, and the Navy/USMC OMBUDSMAN program. The wives made do on their own driving to one another's home in Tustin and Santa Ana consoling and keeping the faith...doing exactly what Army/ 1st Air Cav wives did as was clearly shown in the Randall Wallace directed 2002 film: "We Were Soldiers".
Dad’s P-MOS [Primary Military Occupational Specialty](7335- Pilot VMH/M/L) and S-MOS [Secondary Military Occupational Specialty](6402- A/C Maint Officer) was assigned to AIR FMFPAC/ 1stMAW/ MAG-16/ HMM-163 during the period (04 Oct 64 – 20 Oct 65). Reference: NAVMC 123 (2)-PD “Chronological Record of Duty Assignments”.
Preparatory to operations STARLITE and DAGGER THRUST...as did many other designated Helicopter Aircraft Commanders, Dad had acquired over 4,000 flight hours by June 1965, and was a qualified division leader in combat. CWO Berrey received a citation awarding his “Air Medal Gold Star in lieu of Fourth Award” (RAF: tjr, 1650, 15 June 1965):
“Chief Warrant Officer BERREY a designated Helicopter Aircraft Commander has completed twenty (20) helicopter support missions in support of Republic of Vietnam Forces. All of these missions were flown into unsecured landing zones where hostile fire from insurgent communist guerrilla forces (Viet Cong) actually was received or could reasonably have been anticipated…/s/ Norman G. Ewers, LtCol, USMC, Commanding Officer”
Navy Cross CITATION
NAVY CROSS Citation for Major BENNIE H. MANN, JR., USMCR, HMM-163, 31 March 1965
“For extraordinary heroism as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander and Division Flight Leader with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE in Quang Bin Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 31 March 1965. Participating in a seventeen-aircraft flight transporting assault troops of the Fifth Vietnamese Airborne Battalion, Major Mann along with the entire mission, was scheduled to make three assault landings into an area defended by an estimated force of two companies of insurgent communist (Viet Cong) guerrillas. During the first landing, his aircraft was hit in the engine compartment by intense enemy automatic weapons fire. Although he was experiencing aircraft power and control malfunctions, he continued to lead the attack a second and third time into ever increasing hostile fire. When, after lifting off from the third assault landing, he saw a downed aircraft and wounded crewmen under enemy attack in the landing zone, he unhesitatingly turned his aircraft around and braved the intense enemy onslaught for a fourth time in order to rescue the crew of a stricken helicopter. Displaying exceptional leadership and courage, he directed the rescue efforts, and when his crewmen and copilot were taken under fire by the nearby enemy, he fearlessly hovered his helicopter between the enemy and the crewmen in order to shield their rescue efforts. As a result of his courageous actions, inspiring leadership, and extraordinary airmanship, Major Mann contributed significantly to the successful assault mission and to saving the lives of several of his fellow Marines. His heroic conduct and selfless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
"Two Men Rescued-They're in Bad Shape. Not until YP13 pulled out of range of enemy fire were Farley and Hoilien able to leave their guns and give medical attention to the two wounded men from YP3. The copilot, 1st Lt. James Magel, was in bad shape. When Farley and Hoilien eased off his flak vest, they exspoused a major wound just below his right armpit. "Magel's face registered pain." Burrows reported, "and his lips moved slightly. But if he said anything it was drowned out by the noise of the copter. He looked pale and I wondered how long he could hold on. Farley began bandaging Magel's wound. The wind from the doorway kept whipping the bandage across his face. Then blood started to come from his nose and mouth and a glazed look came into his eyes. Farley tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but Magel was dead. Nobody said a word."
Larry Burrows Photo
My dad was on the other side of YP-3 returning fire alone. Billy Owen and Jim were lifted out on YP-13, leaving Dale and my dad behind. YP-14 saw muzzle flashes from dad returning fire and came back into the LZ and picked up Dale and my dad. For my Dad's actions that day he was awarded the Silver Star.
Jim used to babysit my brother (Michael D., my sister and me) I remember him making supper for us and reading to us before we went to bed.
I just went to the Wall and got a rubbing of Jim's name for dad, GySgt C.A.Garner, USMC(ret), who is alive and well for a 72 yr old man.
Request for Information
I married Suzanne Magel in 1961 and got to know her brother, Jim Magel, through the years until he joined the Marines and left for duty. We became close during those years and Suzanne (Sue) and I feared for his safety when he shipped for VietNam. The family was standing on the observation deck at the St. Louis Municipal Airport when Jim came to me and said, "Bob, I know you will do this anyhow, but please take care of mom and dad. I am not coming back from this war". What a prophetic statement to make just before he left for California and then to be sent to Vietnam.
Upon his death, this magazine was published without notifying the parents or getting their permission. Jim came back in a flag-draped coffin accompanied from San Francisco by a Lt. Colonel who stayed with the body and watched over the family and comforted the parents for 3 days during the open casket viewing and through the funeral and burial. The Colonel never left the side of the body and the parents. He was most consoling to mother who saw him as a replacement for Jim. The entire family appreciated this as it was a most astounding action on the part of the Marines. It made the entire service and mourning much easier to bear and for the family to witness the pride the Marines have in their men, even in death.
The funeral included a fly-over of 5 jets and a three gun salute. When finished, the six Marine pallbearers folded the flag into a triangle and placed it on the lap of Jim' mother. Then the Lt. Colonel collected the three empty rifle shells and placed them on the flag for her. This was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever seen.
The magazine was on the magazine racks within one day after the funeral. No time to heal properly and then to be shocked by this photograph was nearly more than mother could bear. Jim got a BA degree in History and often said he wanted, some day, to go down in history for some major accomplishment he had done. He got his wish as his photo and name keep popping up in publications using this photo and the story of his death.
I would appreciate a copy of this website and any other materials you may have of Jim. I am consolidating materials for a memorial book that I plan to prepare for my wife and for the family. Any videos that may have been taken of the incident, or for that matter, any photos or videos of Jim prior to this incident would be greatly appreciated. I will be glad to pay postage or any reasonable price for duplication of photos and/or DVDs. If you have any comments to add to your experiences with Jim at the base, or in flight with him, I would appreciate those comments as well. Thank you.
GySgt CA "Rocky" Garner has been called home to be with his savior, Jesus. He crossed the river on 6 May 2016 @ 1430 at Madigan Army Medical Center.