Incident Date 19691117 HMM-262 CH-46D 153961+ - Hostile Fire
Rogers Jr., Thomas Franklin Cpl Crew Chief HMM-262 PROVMAG-39 1969-11-17 (vvm 16W:090)
MAG-16 Command Chronologies
Submitted by: John Lane, researcher, 20030821
"HOSTILE: 17Nov69. 18 1/2 Mlles SE of Da Nang, Quang Tin Province, RVN. A/C CH-46D on emergency medevac mission in support of ROK Marines. A/C came under small arms and mortar fire while in LZ. MCREYNOLDS received gunshot wounds through chest and abdomen, gunshot wound lower mandible, gunshot wound of ankle. ESMOND received shrapnel wound to right leg. ROGERS was killed."
1stLt ESMOND, D. V. 095508/7562 HMM-262 Pilot
Sgt MCREYNOLDS, R. D. 2200389/6122 HMM-262 Gunner
Cpl ROGERS, T. F. 2307177/6122 HMM-262 Gunner
I knew Cpl. Thomas "Tom" Rogers pretty well. I was flying as his chase bird on the medevac mission when he gave his life saving the lives of the ROK's he went in to medevac out of a hot zone. He was a good friend, a fellow Marine and My brother. Here is the story of his final day on this earth: (as best as I can remember it).
I was scheduled to fly as the chase bird for the afternoon medevac mission. I did not want chase, I wanted lead. So when the lead bird did not pass it's preflight inspection I went to the line chief and requested that he change me to lead and find another chase bird since mine was up. He refused and told me to stick with the chase. They scheduled another helo for lead and again it did not pass the preflight. I requested lead once more and was refused once more. The third lead bird scheduled that day was Tom's. I think it was #2 1/2. Tom always had a problem with low APP pressure and during the pre flight he had to pump like crazy on the handle in order to get the pressure up to where the APP would kick in. So pump he did. I laughed and he pumped. It worked and she passed the test. Tom was assigned the lead position for our missions that day.
I remember sitting in the medevac hut waiting for some action. We were talking about home and what we were going to do when we got back. Tom said he was from Tennessee. He was married and had a little girl. I think there was only one. He also said that he loved to raise fighting chickens and he really wanted to get back to see they go at it in the ring again. Funny how things like that stick in your after all these years.
A call came in saying some Korean Marines were pinned down and needed an emergency medevac. We ran to the waiting birds. I jumped in # 7 hooked up the headphone and we fired her up. Tom jumped in his plane, hooked up the headphone, PUMPED LIKE CRAZY on the APP and fired her up. We launched. When we got over the pick up area we were told that there were 5 wounded ROK’s and that the zone was very hot. Two huey gunships were lighting the place up with cover fire and Tom's pilot went in for the extraction. We were circling above. I saw the dust from a mortar round that exploded on the port side of their bird. I saw mussel flashes from all around and from the 50's onboard. The two gunners with Tom were friends of mine too. McRenalds was on the starboard gun and my good friend Bill Strickler was on the port gun. I heard the pilot and the gunfire over the radio as the pilot was reporting that they had been hit. Our pilot gave him instructions to "get out of there."
As their bird lifted from the LZ I saw the smoke bellowing from it. They banked sharp to the starboard and only about 100 feet off the ground. Over a few sand dunes and down to the beach with the crew chief's door facing the surf. We came in right behind them and landed with our aft ramp toward their downed plain. Before we had fully touched down I was lowering the ramp from the remote button on my helmet cord. I ran out the back disconnecting the cord on the way. When I made it to the crew chief's door of Tom's bird I reached up and jerked it open. I jumped up on the steps and grabbed the first body I saw. I had him by the armpits and pulled him out of the helo. His head fell back and I looked straight into the eyes of my fellow crewchief Cpl. Tomas F. Rogers Jr. His black hair was sticking straight out just like a fighting chicken. Funny the things you remember at a time like that.
I carried Tom to my bird and began artificial respiration while the corpsman, my gunners, and the pilot and copilot from the other bird off loaded the rest of the crew and the wounded. We were in and out of there in no time at all. I remember that while in flight I stopped with the artificial respiration because it was not doing any good. One of the ROK's, who had a hole in his chest too, sat up and gave me the sign that he wanted me to continue working on Tom. Tom had taken a round in the heart. He and that ROK Marine died that day. Mc was wounded pretty badly from the mortar. It got him in the face. Bill had caught a round in the leg. It was a sad day indeed. Cpl. Rogers was a good guy, a loving husband and one fine Marine. I don't know if this means any thing to you but it sure has done me some good to be able to tell this story to someone who was there. You know, it's not their fault, but those who were not there just don't understand like our fellow Marines. Semper Fi!
Cpl Thomas Franklin Rogers Jr.