Incident Date 19670427 HMM-263 UH-34D 148071+ - Mechanical failure, Crash at Sea
Dallas, Richard Howard LCpl Crew HMM-263 SLF 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:101)
Pennington, Ronald Keith LCpl Passenger A/3rdEngBn/BLT 1/3 3rdMarDiv 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:104)
Osborne Jr., Samuel William PFC Passenger A/3rdEngBn/BLT 1/3 3rdMarDiv 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:103)
Dyer, Blenn Colby LCpl Passenger A/3rdEngBh/BLT 1/3 3rdMarDiv 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:103)
Castro, Reinaldo Antonio Sgt Passenger A/3rdEngBn/BLT 1/3 3rdMarDiv 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:100)
Benton, James Austin LCpl Passenger A/3rdEngBn/BLT 1/3 3rdMarDiv 1967-04-27 (vvm 18E:100)
1/3) : body NOT recovered : Offshore, South Vietnam : 01 : 19460927 : Cauc : Protestant/single : 18E : 104
1/3) : body NOT recovered : Offshore, South Vietnam : 00 : 19460121 : Negro : Catholic/single : 18E : 103
1/3) : body NOT recovered : Offshore, South Vietnam : 01 : 19440601 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 18E : 103
1/3) : body NOT recovered : Offshore, South Vietnam : 06 : 19400412 : Cauc : Roman Catholic/single : 18E : 100
Comment on Incident
On take off from aft platform of ship the a/c lost power and crashed into the
water. Troops from Battalion Landing Team 1/3 of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade were aboard the aircraft.
Comment on Incident from Task Force Omega
Submitted by: N/A, 20030804
Marine amphibious troops stationed aboard ships would use the Sikorsky H34s to insert troops into mission areas. By doing so, the Marines could travel light while completing sea-based assaults, then returning to their ships after each operation to prepare for the next one.
On 27 April 1967, LCpl. Richard H. Dallas was a crewman assigned to a UH34D helicopter transporting members of the 9th Marine Amphibious Battalion (MAB) out to a US Navy ship. On board the Seahorse were passengers LCpl. James A. Benton, Sgt. Reinaldo A. Castro, PFC Samuel W. Osborne, Jr. and LCpl. Ronald K. Pennington, who were all assigned to Headquarters and Supply Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/3, 9th MAB. Also on board was LCpl. Blenn C. Dyer from BLT 1/5, 9th MAB.
Just before the aircraft crashed into the South China Sea, the pilot made an emergency Mayday call and gave their position. Search and recovery (SAR) operations were launched immediately for the downed crew and passengers and rescue helicopters were on site within minutes of the loss. SAR personnel were able to rescue the pilot and co-pilot of the Seahorse along with some of the passengers from the two companies being transferred. However, they were unable to find any trace of James Benton, Reinaldo Castro, Richard Dallas, Blenn Dyer, Samuel Osborne and Ronald Pennington. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, all six men were listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
The Seahorse was approximately 70 miles east-northeast of Chu Lai and 106 miles east-southeast of Da Nang, in the adjacent water where Quang Nam and Quang Tri Provinces join, South Vietnam, when the pilot made his last radio transmission.
The Marine Corps believes the five passengers and one crewman drowned in this Maritime accident when they were unable to escape the downed helicopter before it sunk to the bottom of the South China Sea. Likewise, it is unknown if the Seahorse crashed because of battle damage or a mechanical failure.
Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely the remains of the men killed in this tragic loss at sea can ever be found. However, for other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.
I was a machine gunner with Delta 1/3 on the date the UH-34D crashed. We had transferred over to the USS Point Defiance that day. Delta Company was landing by tracks the next morning. Because there was no berthing available on the Point Defiance we stayed on deck until we loaded on the tracks.
I was located by the flight deck and watched the 34 being loaded. The Marines were carrying all of their gear. I heard the pilot apply power, watched the 34 lift off. It immediately slide over the side of the Point Defiance hitting the water within 50 feet of the ship.
The ship sounded its alarms and search lights came on. I saw two heads bobbing in the water. The tail section was about 5 feet out of the water and disappeared within seconds. We were told that there were only two survivors of the crash.
Yrs. have passed, but remember this incident clearly. Watched the bird take off, dip' blades, and hit the ship. The bird sank fast. Navy crew members of ship ran out with M-1 rifles to keep any sharks off survivors if they came. Saw only a few crew members swimming and no grunts. We where loaded down with full gear and ammo for the operation ahead.Submitted by: Michael L. Meeker, 1 Bn/3rd MAR on operation, 20030804
LOSS COORDINATES: N15 33 19 E109 47 15Submitted by: N/A, 20030804