Incident Date 19680602 HMM-265 CH-46A 152545+ - Crash aboard the USS VALLEY FORGE (LPH-8)
Muisener, Jack Ellsworth SgtMaj Gunner HMM-265 MAG-16/1stMAW 1968-06-02 (vvm 61W:015)
Wang, Andrew Jacob ABH3 Deck Casualty Ships Detachment USS Valley Forge 1968-06-02 (vvm 61W:018)
Reed, Philip Paul Cpl Passenger H&MS-16 MAG-16/1stMAW 1968-06-09 (vvm 58W:009)
DECK LOG OF THE USS VALLEY FORGE [LPH-8]
2 June 1968
1600. UNDERWAY AS BEFORE.
1631. CH-46A, BUREAU NUMBER UNKNOWN OF HMM-265, PILOT MAJOR RICHARD L. YANKEE, USMCR, 065394, ATTEMPTED TO LIFT OFF. HELO STARTED CLIMBING WHILE 4 CHAIN TIEDOWNS WERE STILL ATTACHED TO THE AIRCRAFT. THE AIRCRAFT ROLLED OVER ON ITS RIGHT SIDE AND COMMENCED BURNING AT LAT 10-50N LONG 107E. FLIGHT DECK AND CRASH CREWS WENT TO FIRE STATIONS.
1632-1638 (CONT) MAN OVERBOARD PORT SIDE FROM PERSONNEL ESCAPING FROM AIRCRAFT. MANEUVERING TO CLEAR MAN AND KEEP WIND FROM BLOWING SMOKE OVER ISLAND STRUCTURE. FLIGHT DECK FIRE AND CRASH CREWS COMBATING FIRE.
1638. MAN OVERBOARD STARBOARD SIDE.
1639. PORT LIFEBOAT IN THE WATER PROCEEDING TO SECOND MAN. CH-46A HELICOPTER FROM HMM-164 MANEUVERING TO RECOVER FIRST MAN OVERBOARD. AIRCRAFT CRASH CRANE PUSHED FLAMING AIRCRAFT OVER STARBOARD SIDE INTO WATER.
1640. FIRE REPORTED UNDER CONTROL. PORT LIFEBOAT RECOVERED SECOND MAN OVERBOARD.
1646. CH-46A RECOVERD FIRST MAN OVERBOARD. FIRE IS OUT. COMMENCED ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGE.
1655. RECOVERED PORT LIFEBOAT AND SECURED IT FOR SEA. SECOND MAN OVERBOARD IDENTIFIED AS McREIS, W.C. USN WAS TAKEN TO SICKBAY FOR EXAMINATION. FIRST MAN OVERBOARD IDENTIFIED AS REED, CPL USMC, SERIAL NUMBER UNKNOWN, WAS TAKEN TO SICKBAY. CONDITION APPEARED SERIOUS.
1731. SECURED FROM FIRE STATIONS. DEATHS FROM ACCIDENT WERE AS FOLLOWS: WANG, ANDREW J. ABH3, 9199503 USN ATTACHED TO THIS SHIP, STRUCK BY ROTOR BLADES, AND HUISENER, J.E. SGTMAJ, USMC OF HMM-265, GUNNER OF AIRCRAFT. DAMAGE TO THIS SHIP APPEARED TO BE MINOR AND CONFINED TO FORWARD STARBOARD SECTION OF FLIGHT DECK, ROUNDOWN, AND #2 AVGAS FUEL STATION. RESUMED MANEUVERING.
Command Chronology - HMM-265 June 1968
SgtMajor Jack E. Muisener died of burns received in an aircraft crash on board the USS VALLEY FORGE (LPH-8) on 2 June 1968.
Major Richard L. Yanke received minor wounds to his leg in an aircraft accident on board the USS VALLEY FORGE (LPH-8) on 2 June 1968.
I was on duty with Andy Wang the day of the crash. If I had not been sent to chow by a very adamant 2nd class petty officer, I would have been in Andy's place. It was a day with very limited flight ops and there was only a small crew on deck because we were only going to receive the one helo that morning.
As I was returning from chow I heard the crash alarm going off and saw a guy running across the deck on fire. For an instant I thought one of the fuel guys had caught on fire until I looked a little farther to my right and saw the a/c on fire. We all started charging the crash with hoses, but had to clear the deck because of all the small arms ammo exploding. I was hit in the butt as I turned to jump into the catwalk.
After the ammo stopped exploding we resumed fighting the fire. As we moved up the catwalk we found Andy; nothing could be done for him so we continued on to put the fire out. There was another member of the crash crew with the remote controls for the crash crane up on the bow using the crane to push the plane over the side.
After we had the fire out, which burned a hole through the flight deck, we were cleaning up and found the body of the gunner in the forward life net. I did see the guy that was on fire and jumped over the side - recovered by another 46. I was under the impression that he didn't survive but you listed only 2 killed so he must have made it. I know the guy that took him off the winch cable had his burned skin down the front of his clothes. I have some pics of the deck after the fire. Haven't looked at them in years but still remember it like it was yesterday.
I was the Gunners Mate on the forklift that had just loaded the ammo and saw the whole incident and was also hit by the debris in the chest. Saw the helicopter on its side on fire and all the rest that happened. I just happened to look up my ship and started looking into things about the time was in the Navy and showing my carrier to family while was in Da Nang. Please contact me as I was a witness to the whole thing.
It is unbelievable to accidentally come across this after 41 years. I remember the whole thing and just loaded the chopper with ammo and watched everyone run while the H-46 chopper was on fire.
I'm surprised there was no mention of the squad of Marines that was standing on the flight deck at the time of the accident. I and about 13 other Marines (stationed on the USS Valley Forge) were waiting for that particular helicopter to take us to the USS Thomaston [LSD 28]. I was 19 years old at the time.
My recollection of the incident?
I made many landings and takeoffs from the VF on many different helicopters. Correct me if I'm wrong. The procedure was to warm up the bird and take off from the flight deck, make a circle around the ship then land amid ship beside the island structure where we (the Marines) were waiting to board. If we would have boarded beforehand, I would probably not be here to tell this. I've always been impressed by vertical flight - takeoff and landings - so my eyes were trained on that helicopter as it made its fateful crash.
I remember seeing Andrew Jacob Wang, USN (although I didn't know his name at the time) standing in front of the chopper with his left arm parallel to the deck across his abdomen, his right elbow resting on top of his left fist, and his right arm in the air with his right hand in a clinched fist. I am assuming that is the position used to let the pilot know to "HOLD". I did not see Mr. Wang give the command to TAKE OFF. When permission was eventually given to take off, he would then extend his right arm high in the air and with a few circular motions of his arm point off the deck in the direction to take off. This did not happen. At that point the chopper began to rev the engine to take off. I remember the engine seemed to be under a lot of strain to take off. The rotors don't usually pop so loud without a lot of weight on board and we weren't on board yet.
The first sign of trouble was the front of the chopper rapidly lifted off the deck first because of the sudden release of the chain binder that held it to the flight deck, snapped. The rear rotor was about to hit the deck because of the high rate of pitch of the cockpit. Just before the rear rotor hit the deck, the choppers binder that held the right landing gear snapped also. At that point the chopper, (still lashed to the deck by its left landing gear) made a quick tilt to the left and came down hard directly on its left side. At that same time I witnessed Mr. Wang disappear in a cloud of red mist. It appeared to me he was cut in half by the rotor or just dropped to the deck like a wet rag. I could see pieces of the rotor were flying across the flight deck. I'm sure I saw a member of the flight deck crew literally jump up as a large piece of rotor passed under his feet. Had he not jumped I'm sure he would have had his feet cut off. I think the piece of rotor slammed into the front landing gear of a parked helicopter breaking the chain binder holding it to the flight deck. It was over in a matter of seconds.
Directly after the impact it got real quiet. We just stood there in disbelief. It seemed a good 8 to 10 seconds before the flight deck loud speakers came to life and the loudspeakers blaring out orders. Crash crews and fire teams were ordered to the scene. All non-essential personnel were ordered to clear the flight deck. I then saw the horizon of the sea tilt hard to the left as the VF made a hard right turn. It was an unusual site to see the ocean at a tilt like that but I know it was the ship that was tilted. Most of the Marines ran to the hatch on the Island structure to get below. I defied the order to go below and stayed topside to witness this huge yellow tractor with an even larger plow move into position to plow the burning chopper off the right side of the flight deck into the South China Sea. It made an eerie sound as it fell to the sea and floated a while before it sank to the depths.
It was at that point that the thick acrid smoke passed by me and I understood why I should have left the flight deck when I was ordered to do so. It was impossible to inhale it, I just gagged. A short time later I witnessed a couple of Navy crewmen carrying a body on what seemed an olive drab litter across the flight deck to an elevator to the next deck down. I assume that was Andrew Jacob Wang. We never did make it to the USS Thomaston that day. I believe all landings and take offs were secured for that day. Unfortunately, that was not the worst situation I was to see in my time in VietNam.
Submitted by: Arthur G. Martin, 1st hand witness, 20100317
One of our compartment entrances was just to the right over the edge of the ship near the forward Bomb elevator located up on flight deck.
I had come out and was enjoying the sunshine looking out over the sea. I saw Andy Wang and waved to him. Little did I know this would be the last time I would see him alive again. He was getting ready to direct an aircraft about 50 yards away from and attempting to take off.
For some reason the pilot tried to lift off with all four of his hold down chains still attached. I notice Andy was giving him the hold signal but the pilot was trying to lift off. When this occurred the chains broke on the left side and allowed the aircraft to roll over on its right side. The rotors, striking the deck, broke apart with several pieces hitting Andy, knocking him down, killing him.
The craft burst in to flames and ammunition was firing off right and left - this hampered the fire party from getting to the fire. I witnessed personnel running from the aircraft - they were burning and one jumped over the side. I heard later that both had died. I was able to avoid injury by ducking behind the forward bomb elevator on the flight deck. I have never forgotten that terrible day.
Andy had just finished lunch and was reading a letter from home when he was asked by the air boss to relieve a fellow crew member so he could go to chow. He and the others will never be forgotten.
Even though it has been 43 years, I remember it like it was yesterday.
HMM-164 had either 2 or 3 aircraft with blades folded parked forward of the island on the starboard side. I was working on the aft section sitting on the access door for the hydraulic rotor lock when I heard the explosion. I did not see what happened before that.
I came off the aircraft to the flight deck to see a man running on fire and jumping off the port side of the ship. I seen the crane pushing the burning CH-46 off the ship. They were sounding all hands to muster on the hangar deck and except for the crew manning the fire hoses the flight deck was empty.
Myself and another person who I later found out was a Corpsman were the only 2 people on the flight when we see a CH-46 was coming in with a person hanging on a sling just under the chopper. We grabbed a litter and with no LSO on deck we brought the chopper to a hover, released the person to a litter, waved off the chopper and took him to an elevator and to sick bay.
I knew how to operate the elevator from the months at sea watching the Navy do it. When we went from the hangar deck to the smaller elevator to sick bay the doctor was treating someone from the crash and told us to take him back to the hangar deck but the Marine being treated told him to take care of him first.
The funny thing is I was never asked why I missed the Hangar deck muster for man overboard. I was never asked anything about what happened that day.
HMM-265 SITREP 2 June 1968
HMM-265 completed all fragged missions except Mission #26 due to loss of Aircraft at sea.Submitted by: Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Assoc, 20070411
I was an 18 year old 2nd class Boatswain's Mate serving aboard the USS Valley Forge in 1968. The year of this incident was my first cruise, of three, I made with the Valley Forge to Viet Nam.
When the man overboard announcement went off. I looked over the side and saw a man go by in the water. The port side lifeboat crew was manned by four men and was 16 feet long. We began to ready the boat for launch. Boatswain Eno, who was a Warrant Officer in charge of 2nd Division, arrived to coxswain the boat. We began to launch.
Launching a 16 foot motor whaleboat from an aircraft carrier is tricky. Itâ€™s done from a height that I estimate to be between 70 and 80 feet and it was done while the Valley Forge was underway. The Valley Forge was at maneuvering speed and did not slow down. And on this day I remember that the seas were far from calm. Thank God for training; we got the boat in the water. All of us were scared to death.
While heading to pick up the man that we saved I will always remember looking back over my shoulder and seeing all the black smoke rising from the Valley Forge and wondering - are we going to have a ship to go back to?
We kept going and a man appeared ahead. I donâ€™t know how this happened but we never had to steer around and look for him; we went directly to him. And this is the other memory that I will always have. You could see that this man was burned badly and that he was swimming, very desperately, for his life. He was moaning and he was so glad when we got him in the boat. Iâ€™ve had the memory of being able to save this man with me all my life. I was happy to have been part of this effort. I wish I could find out the name of the guy we saved.
EDITOR'S COMMENTS: The information from the USS Valley Forge Deck Log indicated "RECOVERED PORT LIFEBOAT AND SECURED IT FOR SEA. SECOND MAN OVERBOARD IDENTIFIED AS McREIS, W.C. USN WAS TAKEN TO SICKBAY FOR EXAMINATION. FIRST MAN OVERBOARD IDENTIFIED AS REED, CPL USMC, SERIAL NUMBER UNKNOWN, WAS TAKEN TO SICKBAY. CONDITION APPEARED SERIOUS."
I remember that day well, It was a hot Sunday afternoon. I was in the Pilot House actually steering the ship at the time, and saw the entire tragic incident unfold from directly above and behind it.
It appeared to me as though only the nose wheel was still chained to the deck and that the bird flopped over on its back as it tried to take off. The Bridge Officer ordered a hard turn as "Man Overboard" was sounded. I grabbed the ships wheel as close to the bottom as I could and pulled up hard on the slick varnished wooden rim. Because it was so hot that day my sweaty hand slipped off the wheel as I spun it bringing my chin down hard on the wheel and cutting my lip. There was blood down the front of my white T shirt but no one, including myself, noticed it at the time.
The fire fighters did an amazing job of getting that fire under control as the ammo on board the helicopter "cooked off" in the heat of the fire. I remember hearing rounds whizzing past the bridge, and how quickly the removal equipment was gotten into action. A tragic day that will never be forgotten, no matter how many years pass by.
I was the Crew Chief aboard the CH-46 Helicopter that was destroyed in this accident. I'm looking for as much additional information and/or pictures of this incident as possible. I would greatly appreciate any help or assistance provided. Thanks.
I was an MR-3(Petty Officer 3rd class Machinery Repair). Had fire party on this day, though my duties kept me on the fringes of this particular incident.
I have only one thing to add, its probably not going to add much, but how ever, I remember a Cruise book published and compiled by the Ship's Special Services Office. This book listed all personnel and contained literally hundreds pictures of a wide variety of subject matter, including this a/c crash. I remember a particularly striking photo of the Crash Tractor (Tilly) as it pushed the still burning helo over the side.
I don't have my copy of the book anymore, it was stolen from me last year. The original price was 65 cents. If you could locate one these you will find potentially a bunch of very interesting info and maybe a close up of Andy Wang. This would be a long shot as these close ups were completely random.
I know there is one of me operating a lathe in the A Division section - maybe there is one of Andrew Wang in his Division section. Good Hunting I hope you can find something helpful. I do know Andy was mentioned specifically - just inside the rear cover page under those who gave there lives during the WesPac criuse 67-8; I have seen reference to these books somewhere in history pages on the Valley Forge here on the net.
Andrew Wang was my grandfather. He never got to meet my mother and she has spent her life missing him and searching for information about him. Every few years I look to see what new information is available on the internet. Today I found this website ... and I just cried to read the descriptions of his death ... Please, if anyone has any more information about him, any pictures, anything, please contact me. His death has left a huge hole in my family. We only have one tiny picture of him - I have his eyes, and so do my sons. Please help us learn more about this man. Thank you.Submitted by: Nikki Holland, Granddaughter of Andrew Wang, 20120418
It was all surreal at the time. I was on the carrier deck at the time, heard the crash, looked up and saw that black smoke pouring over the side and knew what had happened. I do remember what a fantastic job the crew did to contain the fire. Don't think anyone who was there that day will ever forget it.Submitted by: Bob Cravens, Radioman RM3 67-68 on the USS Valley Forge, 20100303
CPL Philip Reed was my uncle I never got to meet him but trying to find out about him if anyone has any information please shoot me an email with any pictures/info you might have thank you in advance