Incident Date 19690423 HMM-161 CH-46D 153336+ [YR-36] - Hostile Fire
Barr, Allan Vaughn 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-161 HMM-161/PROVMAG-39/1stMAW 1969-04-23 (vvm 26W:030)
Squadron Command Chronology - HMM-161 - April 1969
Again, HMM-161 was fragged for the assault of LZ JUNIOR (YD 013643) by troops of the 2nd ARVN Division. The assault was completed despite heavy rifle and mortar fire. The second aircraft into the zone was hit by fire and rolled down the hill trapping the pilots. The pilots were freed after 7 hours, but the copilot received ALPHA injuries.
After Action Report - HMM-161 - 23 April 1969
Flight Code 1R5
Flt Time 1.5 hrs
First T/O 08:30
Last Landing 10:00
Support for 2nd ARVN Div
Crew Chief: Clayton
Sixteen (16) passengers carried on one (1) mission
We were the second aircraft of a six plane troop lift taking ARVN's back to LZ Junior, the day after HMM-161 had lost a plane in the same zone to a command detonated mine (LCPL Bazemore KIA Incident 690422).
The first plane landed in the LZ with no problem. We started our descent and just a few feet before touchdown, I saw small arms fire hitting the LZ. I called to the pilot that we were taking fire, when I felt a hard jolt which shook through the plane. We impacted the ground (the Aft Pylon Section had detached just above the fire extinguisher compartment deck).
Maj. Durante (Pilot, I believe) started pulling up on the collective but the nose of the plane was the only part of the plane going up, so he let the nose down. The plane started moving or sliding forward, off the mountain top, so he lowered the collective and the plane rolled forward and to the left turning upside down and came to rest against a tree 8-12 inches in diameter, keeping us from rolling to the bottom of the mountain (it would have been a long way to the bottom).
My Gunners (Cpls. Keech and Ford) and I were able to get up right away and we went to the cockpit area to check on the pilots. We found them both trapped and unable to get out. A stump had pushed through the center windscreen trapping the pilots hand between the stump and co-pilots seat, the pilots seat had broken loose and was laying on top of the pilot. Lt Barr was strapped in his seat, upside down. The instrument panel had collapsed onto his knees, just enough to keep us from freeing his feet from the floor of the cockpit, preventing us from releaseing his seat belts as he was upside down and still in his seat. Cpl. Keech and I removed the pilots side escape door and pushed the seat out of the cockpit. I still have the vision of the seat rolling and thrashing down that mountain and was very glad the little tree had stopped us from taking that same journey.
Cpl. Ford was on the radio (which we took from the ARVN radio man) calling the flight leader to let him know our situation and that we needed a crash crew rescue team to get the pilots out of the plane. The flight leader told the other planes to take the troops back to the pick up zone and return to base.
When the rescue team arrived, I was taken out of the LZ to Quang Tri Medical because of my injuries.
I was shocked, when told later that day Lt. Barr had not made it. Lt Barr's professionalism and bravery was evident to all involved.