Incident Date 19670405 VMO-6 UH-1E 151852+ - Hostile Fire, Crash as result of command-detonated bomb in Medevac LZ
Parker, Thomas Aquinas HM1 Corpsman-Crew MAG-36 1stMAW 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:106)
Shadburne, Brooke McKay Capt Pilot VMO-6 MAG-36 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:108)
Scruggs, Joseph Allen Cpl Crew Chief VMO-6 MAG-36 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:107)
Dean, Alan James Capt Co-Pilot VMO-6 MAG-36 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:105)
Bristow, Glenn Truman HN Corpsman G/2/7 1st MarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:101)
Toepritz, Richard 2ndLt Medevac Crew - Grnd G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:109)
Moore, Leonard Irvin LCpl Medevac Crew - Grnd G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:106)
Kauffman II, Michael Monroe HM2 Corpsman G/2/7 1st MarDiv 1967-04-07 (vvm 17W:116)
Kessinger, Kenneth Martin Cpl Medevac Crew - Grnd G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:105)
Guerra III, Bert PFC Medevac Crew - Grnd G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:104)
Cupp, Ernest Bryan Sgt Medevac Crew - Grnd G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:103)
Cote, Robert Francis LCpl Medevac G/2/7 1stMarDiv 1967-04-05 (vvm 17E:102)
In Duc Pho, during Operation DeSoto, an infantry lookout stepped on a mine and his foot was injured. A medivac was requested.
At the time, I was a First Engineer attached to the Infantry Company in the operation. I was called over to check the medivac landing area for boobie traps. I found nothing visible, but still told the medivac not to land just in case there was a pressure detonated mine.
The medivac hovered above the ground. I loaded the wounded marine into the stretcher. I moved a few yards away, and ducked down to avoid the rotor wash of the copter.
All of a sudden, there was a loud explosion. I was thrown a distance. I turned around, and there was no helicopter, only 1 Marine on fire. I threw him to the ground, and put out the flames. I was stunned and said to myself I have to get off this hill.
Seeing what happened, Marines set up on the other hilltop, rushed to our aid. As I was walking down the hill in a daze, there was another big explosion. This was the 500 lb. bomb. So there were actually two explosions. The first explosion couldn't have been the 500lb. bomb because I would not have survived it as I was so close. The second larger explosion wound up killing more Marines.
I don't remember much after that. I thought we would be over-run that night. I took one of the dead Marine's M16s because I only had an M14. Nothing happened that night. The next morning, the captain instructed me to go back to the hill and blow up the remains of the helicopter so the enemy could not use it. This is how I remember what occurred that night. It still haunts me today. I always wondered who the people were that were killed because I was attatched to the infantry and didn't know anyone there personally. I have been in therapy at the VA for this and other horrific incidents that I experienced during my year in Vietnam.
When I went to the The Wall in Washington, I had an empty feeling that I didn't know the guys killed that night to look for their names. Now I know from reading your article. Thank You.
The comments before are all basically correct. I was with Golf/2/7 we were opconned to 3/7 for Operation DeSoto in April 1967 in Duc Phu.
The day before the incident I was on patrol and spotted one USMC tank atop one of two hills. Didn't think much of it then. Next day my company did a sweep towards the two hills which were very close to the water. We shot up alot of VC and civilians as I recall. I remember firing on several VC in the water and one young girl being brought in shot in the arm or leg. We had many captured weapons and did quite a bid of damage that day but I didn't feel good about it.
Late in the afternoon the Captain decided to split the Company and stay the night upon two hills. My platoon (2nd.) went to the south hill and the other plt(s) went to the north hill. (The hill I saw the tank on the day before). My squad had just reached the top when a small explosion occurred and we saw/heard that on the other hill a Marine was hit. I had a very good view of the opposite hill because it was lower and barren.
Two choppers came for the medevac and as one hovered above, the other came in but did not touch down. I was watching. The stretcher with the wounded man came up and an explosion erupted and it was all gone, in an instant. I saw the front of the chopper catapult south.
The chopper circling then left. I can only imagine what they thought. It was not yet dark so my squad was directed to cross the hill into the small valley and assist with the wounded. I was volunteered. Another squad leader came up and said to sit tight - he would take a few men from his squad and help.
At least one more explosion occurred from that valley - but I think there were two. They were big and all night we searched for the dead and wounded. By morning I searched the base of the hill and found wires (which I think were rigged just that day to take out the tank the next time it set up on the hill). I also found the body of the squad leader that took my place and many other buddies when the sun came up.
It was in the late afternoon after almost completing a 24 hour medevac stand-by in which the two crews had flown numerous missions. The pilots had been alternating duty between the pick-up bird and the gunship.
I can not say for sure but I believe Al Dean was flying the right seat and opted for the pick-up for this flight. We were just north of the II Corp line about 5-6 miles from the beach. The pick up was on a large flat hill top and I believe there were 2 wounded with 4 marines carrying them on litters.
We were directed to the northeast area of the hill to avoid the area to the south of the hill from which the Marines were receiving sporadic fire from the enemy. We received no warning of potential mines that I can recall.
The slick made a spiraling approach to the LZ while the wounded waited with the 4 men carrying them. As the bird flared into a hover in preparation for a landing, the four marines began to run to the bird with the wounded. Just before the bird set down from their hover a huge explosion occurred and everyone and everything just disappeared. The crew in my plane was stunned, shocked and in disbelief.
We made contact with the troops to the south of the hill who had no explanation of what had happened. We made immediate contact with the DASC to request additional Medevac pick-up birds and another gunship. They estimated about 1 hour before their arrival. We then made contact with a headquarters base located on the west side of the hill. To conserve fuel we landed at there position. We were able to learn in detail the ground situation and maintain contact to be ready to assist and provide cover for the birds enroute.
Dark fell in the interim, but the planning we were able to do while at the HQ and the coordination with the troops on the ground allowed us to return to the same general area of the blast, and pick up all the KIA and wounded without further incident. The flight home was IFR on top, low fuel and a radar controlled let down over the water. Radar instructions were as usual "You are cleared VFR when you can see the water." There were many tough flights, but none so emotionally devastating. The loss of good friends in such a quick and unexplainable way lingers with me to this day. We learned later that it was a 500 lb. bomb with wires leading from it that caused this most unique and horrible incident. Any family members who wish to contact me are more than welcome.
Comment on Incident
UH-1E medevac mission – A wounded Marine was being transported to a huey under hostile fire when a mine was detonated during a medevac landing in the LZ. Marines rushed to aid the injured from the first explosion when a second explosion (a booby-trapped 500 lb bomb) was command detonated, killing the Marines rushing to the aide of the wounded Marines and crew from the first explosion. Most died immediately. HM2 Kauffman died two days later. Crew was from VMO-6 and other Marine and Navy personnel were from G/2/7.Submitted by: Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association, 20030804
On April 5, 1967 we were setting in for the night and a listening post was to be established on the opposite hill. At the first explosion, I ran down the hill I was on and up the other hill to find Bob Cote had been severely wounded. He had a through and through wound in his lower abdomen.
I yelled for a Priority 1 evac and began bandaging his wounds, trying to stem the flow of blood. Within fifteen minutes, I could hear the chopper coming in. Due to the slope of the hill and the fact that we did not know what caused the explosion, the chopper eased in and hovered inches of the ground. The Marines picked up Cote, who we had on a poncho and had him about half way through the door and I had just stepped in past the cockpit to throw his gear in. The last thing I saw was a flash of reddish orange comming from under the bird.
When I came to, the chopper was gone and the hill was on fire. By this time Lt Toepritz, Glenn Bristow, Jim Bolten and several other Marines had come up the hill to aid in getting the new casualties off the hill.
I had been taken back to the other hill and was waiting for the next evac when there was another explosion. Not long after that, a Chinook [possibly a Marine H-46] came in to evacuate the casualties. The next day the remains of the rest of those killed were brought in to Chu Lai. I just recently learned about the com wire that it is said was used to cause the explosion.
I was a Lance Cpl rocket man in 2nd. Plt. G/2/7. I was there and saw the whole thing.
The day before the incident, I was directed to climb a tree, near our Duc
Phu base camp, given binoculars, and told to keep watch.
I noticed a tank on top of a small hill in the direction of the water and
near where we were heading the next day. (I didn't know then, where we were
heading the next day)
The next day we headed out as a company and did a sweep in a hill area by
the ocean. We encountered some enemy fire and returned it. Some weapons were
found. It started to get late and we head out to find a defensive position to set
up in, before it got dark.
2nd. Plt. Climbed the southern part of the hill while 1st. and 3rd. and I
believe headquarters climbed the northern part of the hill. A depression
I was on the highest point of the Sothern hill ridge and heard the first
explosion ( the bobby trap) Later I heard and then saw two choppers coming
to our hill from the North.
I believe these were Huey's, not the regular CH-34's or Sea knights we
usually had. As one hovered and circled above the other came in. A team
(possibly 3 plus a corpsman) were carrying the man, who tripped the booby
The chopper hoovered but did not touch down, on the right lower hill across
from me, about 75-100 yards away. When the team was loading the wounded man,
a powerful explosion occurred and everything seemed to disintegrate, except for
the very front nose and cockpit, which catapulted in a high arch over my
part of the hill and landed south of the hill.
My squad was told to saddle up to go over to the other side of the hill to
help. Another squad, led by Sgt. Reynolds (sp) told us to sit tight and he
led his squad over instead. He was wearing a green t-shirt.
Minutes later another huge explosion occurred from the depression between
both ridges. And possibly another. It was dark now and we were told to
saddle up and go back down the hill the way we came up. I assume 1st and 3rd
Plt were also told to get off the hill because we all ended up together at
the hill eastern base. All night I heard the cries and screaming of the
wounded they were able to bring down. I don't believe there were any more
medivacs that night.
As soon as it was light, I was volunteered to go back up the hill and search
for wounded and dead. I went to the depression between the two ridges and
saw several bodies where the third explosion occurred and saw the body of
Sgt. Reynolds in what was left of his green t-shirt. I was told to climb the
hill to where the chopper exploded and search for more bodies. I saw several
but focused on the head and torso of a Sgt. From 1st or 3 rd plt. He was a
big Marines Marine but his lower part from the waist down was gone. I
remembered him from a few days previous when we let his plt pass and take
the lead. It's funny. The different plts really didn't know the guys too
well from the other plts. I was worried about more booby traps and I though
his body might have been booby trapped so I tied a rope around him and
pulled him a few feet down the hill. He wasn't booby trapped. I searched for
the rest of him but to no avail.
I was approached by someone who said I was to follow them down the hill and
met with a General and his staff that had just arrived. I was told to
explain what happened. I did and one of the Generalâ€™s staff took notes.
I was told to join a squad to search the base of the hill for wires. We did
and wires were found at the north west side of the hill leading west out
into the field.
We were later choppered to another hill to spend the night. I believe the
command detonated mines on the hill were set for the tank, should
it return. Unfortunately, the chopper became a better target.
It's been 50 yrs but Golf company got it's ass kicked all over Duc Phu and I
remember it like yesterday. We were op/coned to 3/5 (I believe) and being
op/coned as a single company to another BN; never works out well.
IT DEFINITELY DID NOT happen over the water. It happened in a land area south of Chu Lai, down towards Quang Ngai, more specifically someplace like Nui Dang. As I recall, Brooke and Al et al took the flight as a medevac "slick" on the evening/night of April 5, 1967. They flew the flight that night in support of Operation Desoto, and since it was for an "emergency" medevac, they had the Corpsman on board the aircraft, as well.
When they arrived at the pickup location, apparently the grunts were concerned about the security of the LZ, and they weren't even sure if the landing area was clear of mines. As I recall, shortly after they landed the Huey, and while the grunts were loading the helicopter with the WIA’s, an explosion occurred and took out a number of Marines, including the Huey medevac "slick" and all four crew members.
Later, during daylight, wires were found and traced from the crater made from the explosion to a cave. I believe they found evidence of a bag of rice, and that VC/NVA had been in the cave with some sort of electrical device that would allow them to detonate the bomb on command. It was just a matter of watching, eating the rice and waiting for the right occasion to blow the bomb. I say bomb because later they found evidence that documented the explosion was the result of a 500 or 1000 lb. "dud" U.S. bomb. Apparently, the VC/NVA had discovered the unexploded device and decided to use it against U.S. or RVN Forces. It just so happened that it turned out to be Brooke and crew, plus ++.
It was our tank, A34, that was on the hill the day before. We had a squad of grunts and a very brash infantry lieutenant on the hill with us. We were part of a blocking force for a sweep in the "valley" below us. I remember watching the grunts go up the hill below us late the next afternoon. And I remember very vividly the Huey medevac and the gunship above. I saw at least 4 Marines, but probably more, running to load the wounded guy on the helicopter.
Just as they were at the door there was an explosion - and the way I remember it, it was the big one first - a huge shock wave radiating out over the hilltop. There was absolutely nothing to be seen of the Huey, it just disapeared- only fire on the hilltop. It was horrific.
I believe that there were several more KIA's than indicated in the report - I think it was 18 in total. All night AC-130's dropped flares and I think everyone was thankful for that. The Duc Pho area was littered with booby traps - and a lot of command-detonated dud aerial bombs that just ripped the infantry guys. It seemed like every day it happened - and Operation Desoto was a very long operation.
POWNET - HM1 Thomas A. Parker, USN
PARKER, THOMAS AQUINAS
Name: Thomas Aquinas Parker
Rank/Branch: E6/US Navy
Unit: Marine Air Group 36, 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Date of Birth: 31 December 1937 (Huntington IN)
Home City of Record: Oxford IN
Date of Loss: 05 April 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 142841N 1985454E (BS753015)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: Hospital Corpsman First Class Petty Officer Thomas A. Parker was a
Navy corpsman assigned to Marine Air Group 36, 1st Medical Battalion, 1st
On April 5, 1967, Petty Officer Parker was assigned to a UH1E "Huey" medical
evacuation helicopter supporting Operation DeSoto south east of Nui Dang
Hill, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. While in a hover over a landing
zone, the Huey on which Parker was riding was hit by enemy fire and
[NOTE: Some Defense Department lists state that Parker's helicopter was lost
over water. DOD loss coordinates are in Binh Binh Province, about 25 miles
northwest of Phu Cat, and about 15 miles from the nearest point of Quang
Ngai Province. No reason for these discrepancies can be determined.]
According to witnesses, Petty Officer Parker died of wounds sustained in the
explosion of the aircraft. One Navy account states that because of heavy
enemy fire, his body could not be recovered. Another Navy account states
that an extensive search of the area was made and remains could not be
recovered. Parker is the only American missing on April 5, 1967, and the
U.S. Navy account of the incident does not tell the fate of the crew of the
helicopter or any of its other passengers (if any).
Parker was listed as killed, body not recovered. He is among nearly 2500
Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The cases of some
seem clear - that they perished and cannot be recovered. As some accounts
vary in content, like Parker's, it is not possible to determine the fates of
some. Others, however, are complicated. Many were alive and well when last
seen awaiting rescue. Others were known to have been captured by the enemy.
Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are
still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to secure their
In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?
Submitted by: Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association, 20140528
The action took place near the water as I stated above. I believe the correct coordinates are N14 46 02 02 E109 01 01 05, or close to it.Submitted by: Jay Fitzpatrick, I was there. Cpl. Fitz, Rockets, 2nd. Squad., 20130912
Homecoming II Project
LOSS COORDINATES: N14 28 41 E198 54 54 (BS753015) [WRONG COORDINATES - Should be N14 38 41 E108 54 54]
SOURCE: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.
SYNOPSIS: Hospital Corpsman First Class Petty Officer Thomas A. Parker was a Navy corpsman assigned to Marine Air Group 36, 1st Medical Battalion, 1stMarine Division.
On April 5, 1967, Petty Officer Parker was assigned to a UH1E "Huey" medical evacuation helicopter supporting Operation DeSoto south east of Nui Dang Hill, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. While in a hover over a landing zone, the Huey on which Parker was riding was hit by enemy fire and exploded.
[NOTE: Some Defense Department lists state that Parker's helicopter was lost over water. DOD loss coordinates are in Binh Binh Province, about 25 miles northwest of Phu Cat, and about 15 miles from the nearest point of Quang Ngai Province. No reason for these discrepancies can be determined.] According to witnesses, Petty Officer Parker died of wounds sustained in the explosion of the aircraft. One Navy account states that because of heavy enemy fire, his body could not be recovered. Another Navy account states that an extensive search of the area was made and remains could not be recovered. Parker is the only American missing on April 5, 1967, and the U.S. Navy account of the incident does not tell the fate of the crew of the helicopter or any of its other passengers (if any).
As a 36 year old, I am trying to find some history behind the people that I was named after - both killed in Vietnam. Thomas A. Parker was a good friend of my father, and 10 months after his death, I was born. I am honored to read the stories and accounts of what happend to him and the crew on that April '67 night. I also appreciate the photo.Submitted by: T.R. Oneal, named after Thomas Parker, 20040909
Bob Cote was my fire team leader and a very close friend. We had many good times together and he had me as his point man for the fire team. I was transferred out of 3rd sq. 20 min before the explosion.
After the chopper was blown, I was one of those Marines who ran through the flames to help rescue the survivors and put out flames. On my return back up the hill, I found that Bob had survived the explosion. Cpl Yamas, LCPL MacMury and myself attended his horrible wounds and as we bent down to dress them, the VC dettonated two very large bombs. The generals say they were 1,000 pounders, some reports say 500...since my helmet was blown 100 feet into the air and I was blown about 50' away, I would say they had lots of power!
After the explosion, we picked ourselves up, put Bob in a poncho, and carried him down to the CP area for evacuation. I also was wounded but not evacuated. For years I thought that Bob had died during the night, and it bothered me because I had promised to get him out alive. After many years, I was able to learn that he made it to the hospital alive and then later passed, so that actually relieved a lot of guilt that I felt.
He will always be in my thoughts and memories, and if anyone wants to contact me, I would be glad to share any pictures and memories I have. I am one of the few surviving members of third squad, because most of them were killed that day. I now am serving as a chaplain for the Civil Air Patrol and the VA Defense Force and also counsel veterans for PTSD.
My name is Rachel Zahm. I am the youngest of HM1 Thomas A. Parkers 5 children. I was 14 months old when my father was KIA. I am looking for any contacts or information about my father and those who might have served with him. Thank you for helping to answer some of the questions that have haunted me these 40 years. God Bless you all.Submitted by: Rachel (Parker) Zahm, Daughter of HM1 Thomas A. Parker, 20060320
Still searching for information about my Father, Thomas Parker.
Memorial - Huntington, INDIANA
A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Donald Campbell, a man who served with my father, Thomas A. Parker, while they were stationed in Vietnam in 1967. Recently my husband Joe and I were visiting Don and his wife Nancy in Chester, New Jersey. Don proposed a dream he had to erect a bronze statue of Dad in Huntington Indiana, dad's hometown. Don wrote to Mom and my four siblings, and asked for their blessing to move forward with the project. Once their blessing was given, he enlisted my help in getting the ball rolling.
I met with Mayor Brooks Fetters, and a committee of gentlemen to discuss the possibility of creating a Vietnam Veterans Memorial which would include the Thomas A. Parker Statue or T.A.P.S. This memorial will be located in the newly refurbished Veterans Memorial Park here in Huntington, Indiana.
Out of those who were killed in action, HM1 Thomas A. Parker is the only one whose remains were never recovered. April 5th, 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of Thomas' death and Mr Campbell sees this as a Welcome Home for a man who truly lived his life for God, Family, and Country and an opportunity to also honor all those who served and for those who might not have received the homecoming they deserved.
I am looking for any information you might be able to provide for family members of the following list of KIA's to contact so that we can invite them to the dedication ceremony Veterans Day celebration 2017. There are 51 Men from Indiana who are still considered MIA Missing In Action.
Vietnam Veterans KIA from Huntington County, Indiana:
Gary M. Archibald (Army) KIA 1968
Gary Ladd Biehl (USMC) KIA 1967
Gregorio C. Bustos (USMC) KIA 1968
Mike G. Bustos (Army) KIA 1965
Robert F. Elston (Army) KIA 1970
Gregory L. Fleck (Army) KIA 1969
Terry G. Graft (USMC) KIA 1969
Daryl L. Lowery (USMC) KIA 1969
Floyd R. Noe (Army) KIA 1967
James R. Paul (USMC) KIA 1967
Thomas D. Perry (Army) KIA 1969
Lloyd D. Pinkerton (Army) KIA 1967
Ronald e. Rogers (USMC) KIA 1970
Richard A. Scheiber (Army) KIA 1967
Thomas Wardrop III (USMC) KIA 1966
Thomas D. Worrel (USMC) KIA 1970
Thomas A. Parker (USN) KIA/ Body Not Recovered 1967
It is our goal to raise the necessary funds to complete this memorial, which will honor Tom and all those brave men from Huntington who served in Vietnam. The hope is to have a dedication ceremony on or before Veterans Day 2017. The estimated cost of the statue is around ,000. We have set a goal of raising ,000 to cover the costs of the entire memorial. The plaques, foundation, instillation and construction costs.
We refer to the Statue itself as T.A.P.S (Thomas Aquinas Parker Statue). Over the years I have been blessed by many people like Don Campbell who have shared their memories of the man dad was; the love and respect that they had for him. It amazes me how in such a short time here on earth, he inspired so many people by his faith, love, and compassion. Being only 14 months old when dad was killed, those memories and insights, and the relationships formed, have been a Godsend. I have been truly blessed! In all of this, Don's dream has become my own. I thank you for any assistance you can give in this worthy endeavor. Sincerely, Rachel Parker Zahm
**For a tax deductible donation, Checks can be made out to:
Huntington County Treasurer
Memo: TAPS / Vietnam Memorial
Donations can be sent to:
T.A.P.S. Memorial Fund
C/O Rachel Zahm
P.O. Box 551
Huntington IN. 46750-0551
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T.A.P.S. Thomas Aquinas Parker Statue/Vietnam Veterans Memorial