Incident Date 19691112 VMO-2 AH-1G 68-15080+ - Hostile Fire, Crash
Lofton, Joseph Alan 1stLT Co-Pilot VMO-2 MAG-16 1969-11-12 (vvm 16W:065)
Henry, Howard Boyd Maj Pilot VMO-2 MAG-16 1969-11-12 (vvm 16W:064)
From MAG-16 Command Chronologies
Submitted by: John Lane, researcher, 20030821
"HOSTILE: 121630H Nov69. Coordinates AT 9545, Quang Nam Province, RVN. A/C providing A/C (air cover?) came under intense enemy ground fire and made force landing. Both men killed when struck by rotor blade."
2ndLt LOFTON, J. A. 0107448/7565 VMO-2 Co-pilot
Maj HENRY, H. B. 069439/7565 VMO-2 Pilot
Maj. Henry (Hostage Papa) and Lt. Lofton were shot down on Nov. 12, 1969 in a AH-1G Cobra while attacking a heavy machine gun dug into the north face of the Que Son Mountains. Lt. Dumas and I (Papa 2) were attacking the same gun position.
This gun was causing considerable problems for the Marines operating in the immediate area and had a number of Marines pinned down in a bomb crater. Our attack was made generally west to east. Numerous gun runs were made without effect. After a couple of runs our weapons systems malfunctioned. The minigun and 40 mm jammed and the rockets would not launch due to an intervelometer problem. Papa sent us high and dry to the west.
From that position we watched as Papa made a couple more firing passes. Apparently, the gun was mobile and was possibly being moved in and out of a cave. We were close to the gun. Even in the relative sound proof cockpit of the Cobra the gun was clearly audible as it returned our fire.
On their last pass we radioed that they were taking hits and we could see pieces of the aircraft coming off. At about that same time, Maj. Henry radioed he was on fire. We could see what looked like a ball of fire in the exhaust but no flames were visible from the engine cowling. Lt. Dumas and I turned toward Maj. Henry and Lt. Lofton as they turned northeast. At that time, Lt. Dumas radioed there was a good emergency landing area at their 10 o'clock. I don't remember if they responded or not.
Their crash landing looked good. The Cobra appeared to be generally intact after impact. We dove down and made simulated firing passes in an attempt to keep the enemy away and to locate their exact position until we could get a '46 in to rescue them. There was no sign of them. We looked for them and we expected them to come up on guard. Nothing. A radio call went out for help and Lt. Bartlett arrived with his section of Cobras. As he arrived the H-46 landed near the burning Cobra. The crew chief found both pilots dead. The main blade had struck both of them.
Years later I found a picture of the crash site with the '46 on the ground next to the Cobra. In 1970, while being relieved as Officer of the Day at MCB Camp Pendleton, my relief was the Lt. that was among the Marines trapped in that bomb crater.
I was on the ground when I observed the incident. Never knew the outcome or who the Crew Marines were. I will always remember them in their unselfish dedication during the incident on November 12,1969.
I was with Delta 1/7, 3rd Plt. I was lifted out the following morning with other WIA's and KIA's.
I remember the incident well. We flew into the zone to medevac Marines. The approach into the zone was uneventful. We stayed on the ground, behind trees, several minutes while the medevacs were loaded. As we left the zone the gunships again attacked the machine gun. As intended the Cobras took the brunt of the fire. They did one HELL of a job, flying directly at the Machine Gun, then pulling off for the next bird to run at it. As we cleared the area one of the Cobras was hit and began to trail smoke. Directed by his wing man to a landing zone, as the wounded Cobra was landing we were turning 90 to pick them up. After several minutes waiting for them we sent our Crew Chief and others to find them. After the C/C failed to locate them. One of the wingmen flew over the downed A/C and said "They are laying in the grass at (3 or 9) o'clock". Our Crew Chief, with help, picked the crew members up and brought them onboard.Submitted by: 1LT Steve Wistrand, copilot CH46 medevac and in zone with down Cobra, 20070829