KIA INCIDENT: 19690607-1 HMM-364 Vietnam

Brothers (& Sisters) Killed in Action in USMC Helicopters or while assigned to USMC Helicopter or Tiltrotor Squadrons

19690607-1 HMM-364 Vietnam

Download PDF

Incident Date 19690607-1 HMM-364 CH-46D 153397+ / YK-9 - Mechanical Failure, Crash

Pankuch, Bruce Alan PFC Crew Chief HMM-364 MAG-16 1969-06-07 (vvm 23W:104)
Archbold, John Christopher Maj Co-Pilot HMM-364 MAG-16 1969-06-07 (vvm 23W:094)

PANKUCH BRUCE ALAN : 2203364 : USMC : PFC : E2 : 6341 : 23 : MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS : OH : 19690607 : Air Loss Crash Land : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam (Da Nang) :03 : 19460331 : Cauc : Protestant/single : 23W : 104
ARCHBOLD JOHN CHRISTOPHER : 063706 : USMC : MAJ : O4 : 7501 : 39 : PORTSMOUTH : NH : 19690607 : Air Loss Crash Land : Copilot : body recovered : Quang Nam (Da Nang) :20 : 19291017 : Cauc : Roman Catholic/married : 23W : 094

Epilogue – from HMM-364 website

Epilogue – from HMM-364 website (
1stLt. Casciano survived the crash sustaining 2nd and 3rd degree burns (extent unknown). LCpl. Mills suffered lacerations of his left eye and nose, plus 2nd degree burns on his left forearm. Maj. Archbold and Pfc. Pankuch did not survive the crash.
Lt.Col. Larry W. "Slick" Britton recalls, "I was the Squadron Safety Officer at the time and conducted the investigation of YK-9's crash. Upon arriving at the crash site, with the assistance of the Grunts from LZ Eagle, we began retrieving the wreckage of YK-9. One of the Grunts found the Ramp & Hatch manifold, brought it to me and asked if it was important. The Ramp & Hatch manifold was installed on the right rear side of the aircraft to allow the Crew Chief to raise and lower the ramp and hatch to embark or offload personnel or supplies. As soon as I saw the manifold I knew we had something because the safety wire that was attached to either side of the manifold, and went though a plug at the end of the manifold, was in place while the plug was missing. This screw in plug had failed and was allowing hydraulic fluid to blow out under 1500 psi. When Pfc. Pankuch informed his pilot of the leak, Lt. Casciano followed the appropriate emergency procedures by activating the Isolation switch which should have isolated the Utility Hydraulic System (ramp & hatch, etc.) from the #2 Boost System. Pfc. Pankuch told Lt. Casciano the leak had apparently been stopped."
"Further investigation as to why activating the isolation valve failed to stop the leak revealed that there was a hydraulic line running from the Utility/#2 Boost Reservoir to the Ramp & Hatch manifold which was separate from the rest of the system and, therefore not affected by the Isolation valve. This line allowed hydraulic fluid under 50 psi. pressure to flow to the Ramp & Hatch manifold to provide "make-up" pressure to move the pistons inside the manifold. We all know what a mess high pressure hydraulic leaks make in an aircraft, there is hydraulic fluid every where. Therefore, when Pfc. Pankuch witnessed the reduction of the 1500 psi. blow out, the 50 psi. leak was masked by the abundance of hydraulic fluid already inside the aircraft."
"The statement from Lt. Casciano revealed that he did not intend to attempt a flight back to Marble Mountain. He realized that LZ Eagle was a one bird zone which would not allow another maintenance crew to land and repair the damage. His call over the radio that he was going to 'fly low and slow' was to move the aircraft down to an LZ known as the Rock Crusher which was located at the bottom of Hill 364. As Lt. Casciano lifted he experienced control problems, attempted to return to LZ Eagle but was unable to do so. For some reason, the Number One Boost System was unable to provide the necessary control response or authority. With the loss of the Utility and Number Two Boost, the crew of YK-9 ceased to be crew members and were simply passengers from that point on".
"I think that Boeing Vertol (manufacturer of the CH-46) changed the design, after the crash of YK-9, so the entire Utility/#2 Boost system would be isolated by activating the Isolation Valve."
"The Grunts on LZ Eagle were extremely helpful after the crash, attempting to rescue survivors, securing the area and even rigging ropes down the side of the mountain to the resting spot of the wreckage (it was about a 60 - 70 degree slope). A few days later, we filled a couple of large parts cans with beer and ice, painted the cans purple and placed the 'Fox' stencil on them and delivered them to the Marines on LZ Eagle. To our surprise the Grunts immediately started pulling the beer out and dropping it on the ground. Once the beer was out, they took the ice and put it into their cans of drinking water. Apparently they had no trouble getting beer on top of Hill 364, but they said they hadn't had ice up there for a year! After that, we would take a couple of cans of ice up there whenever we could."

Submitted by: N/A, 20030821

MAG-16 Command Chronology - June 1969

HOSTILE: 071400H Jun69. 5 miles NW Danang, Quang Nam Province, RVN. Crew of CH-46D on routine resupply mission. Shortly after takeoff from mountaintop A/C was observed to turn 180 degrees and crach nose first into the mountain. A/C burst into flames and fell down side of mountain. ARCHBOLD [copilot] and PANKUCH [crew chief] were killed. MILLS [gunner] suffered lacerations of left eye and nose, plus 2nd degree burns on left forearm. CASCIANO [pilot] received 2nd and 3rd degree burns thermo 40%.

Submitted by: N/A, 20030827

Comment on Incident

Hydraulic failure on assigned logistical resupply mission.

At approximately 1400 hours, five miles northwest of Da Nang, 1stLt Casciano was lifting from LZ Eagle (Hill 364) when Cpl. James Huebner, who was flying in the chase aircraft as a gunner, recalls this transmission from YK-9, "We've got some hydraulic problems and we're going to take it low and slow.” Cpl. Huebner further recalls, "I could see that the aircraft was noticeably in trouble. The pilot tried to return to the LZ but did not make it. I saw it turn 180 degrees; pitch down and crash nose first into the side of the mountain. It then burst into flames and rolled down the mountain. The pilot of my aircraft (I don't remember the other crew members names) immediately landed in the LZ. The crew chief and I, as well as grunts from LZ Eagle, started searching for survivors. We found J.D. Mills climbing back up the mountain toward the LZ and I escorted him back to my aircraft. We immediately lifted, leaving our crew chief [pilot] at the site to continue searching for survivors, and flew J.D. to the hospital at Da Nang. 1stLt Carmine A Casciano and L/Cpl. J D Mills survived the crash. Information provided by James L. Huebner, Cpl. USMCR; Larry W. "Slick" Britton, Lt.Col. USMCR(Ret)

Submitted by: N/A, 20030821

Personal Narrative

I live in Florence, Kentucky and I need your help. Or at least I hope someone will talk to me or give me some info. I am a 44 years old, my name used to be Nancy Lovas (now Nancy Buck).

All my life, I have missed my Uncle Bruce and its a mystery to me. He was my Mom's little brother, my uncle, who was like a super hero to me. I know he was a mari8ne and I found his name on your website.

Truthfully, I really didn't understand what was going on at this time, I just remember one time he came to visit us in Parma and I got into an ant hill while he was there. Yes, the little black creatures with eight legs and antena!

I think he had some kind of uniform on, and I was hollering about the ants all over me and he came and hosed me off in the back yard! Crazy huh? He was really tall and skinny but he picked me up and swung me on a swing for what seemed like hours and hours. Then I think we went in my sandbox and played and then my Mom and my Grandma had a big picnic and he had to leave again. I never saw him again.

I just remember Uncle Bruce as tall with dirty brown/dark hair, kind of bald like my Grandpa Cy, and he had light eyes (maybe green? that's me and my mom's color). I hope you guys know him and can tell me something. If I'm wrong, just tell me, it's okay.

The next thing I remember was my Dad came and told me that Uncle Bruce had died in "The War", as he put it, "Serving Our Country". And your Mom is very upset but it will be okay. I just remember laughing. How wierd, I think I was stunned and nervous-- I-can't-believe-this-Oh-My-God-how-is-my-Mommy-and-why-why-how-uh-uh-uh-kind-Oh-God-wait-Uncle!!!!! I snuck into my Mom and Dad's room to see my Mom and I wished I never did. My mom was god-awful, I can't even tell you how she was or how I felt.

The rest is a blur, I remeber going with my Grandma and my Mom to the funeral, which was totally depressing because I don't think I understood and besides, I was too young to get credit for anything, anyway. The good part was the guys in the blue uniforms and the white caps, and the folded flag, which my brother has now.

I remember they played "taps" and to this day, I can't hear that song and not cry and think of my Uncle and my Mom and my Grandma Pankuch that day.

Anyway, my mom, who is his sister (16 years older than him, she changed his diapers!) has always been so heartbroken over his death.

I can't believe I found so much about him on your site. My memories of him are so vague and his death was protected from me since I was so young. I thank you guys so much for putting yourself out there.

Not sure how I even start this but here goes...I am writing on behalf of my Mom, Margaret Pankuch (now Peg Rice). She would never in a million years do this but I'm going ahead regardless.

Many years ago, at her old house in Dayton, Ohio, she was robbed and all Uncle Bruce's medals were taken, among other things. But ever since then, I feel really bad for my Mom. I guess Uncle Bruce was a "sharpshooter" and I did see his letters to home (when I lived in Michigan) about wanting to become a Crew Chief. Apparantley this was his goal and maybe he got an award for this or something?

Anyway, if somebody could please tell me how I can find out what kind of medals he had and how I could get those again, I would really appreaciate it. I am hopeing to do this for my Moms birthday present (it's December 18) or even for Christmas this year, so I'm starting my reasearch early! My birthday is December 17th, the day before my Mom's too, how about that?

I know this is god-awful long, I so very much thank you for your time and honor to our Country and your time in reading this. I'm sure you guys have better things to do, so if I can help you in any way, please let me know.

Otherwise, I would truly appreciate your help in getting duplicates or whatever of my Uncles medals or ribbons. My Mom doesn't know about this so please just call me on my cell at 859/630-9787 or email me personally or thru my business at

God bless and thank you!

21 Scott Drive
Florence, KY 41042
Cell: 859/630-9787

Submitted by: Nancy Buck, PFC Pankuch is my uncle, 20040925

leave a Comment:

Supported Files: .pdf, .png, .jpg
Max File Size: 2 MB