Incident Date 19691228-1 H&MS-13 C-117 17284+ - Crash, fixed wing
Berger, Donald Joseph Capt Co-Pilot MABS-13, MAG-13 1969-12-28 (vvm 15W:101)
INCIDENT DATE 691228 R4D (C-47) H&MS-13 - Fixed Wing Accident – weather related flight into terrain
Berger, Donald Joseph Capt Copilot MABS-13, MAG-13, 1st MAW, 3rd MAF 691228 [formerly of HMM-163][see Navy Cross Citation below]
Bunch, William Lloyd Sgt Crew H&MS-13, MAG-13, 1st MAW, 3rd MAF 691228
Liscum, Ronald Francis Cpl Crew H&MS-13, MAG-13, 1st MAW, 3rd MAF 691228
Snead, Douglas Lee LtCol Pilot H&MS-13, MAG-13, 1st MAW, 3rd MAF 691228
Report of Casualty, Department of the Navy
Official Report of Casualty, Department of the Navy #3789-69):
Don Berger’s Serial Number was 064100/[MOS]7522/[MOS]7560/[MOS]0730, Capt, USMCR.
He was attached to H&MS-13, MAG 13, 1STMAW. Died 28 DEC 69, Quang Tin Province as a result of injuries sustained as a crew member aboard a C-117 which crashed Prior service data USNR 429 33 99 Signed by A.G.Herold Jr.Capt, USMCR
According to unofficial opinion, MABS had the mountain that they plowed into as 1000 ft. less than their knee maps indicated. Or MABS had the elevation wrong they were off by 1Kft. I think the squadron Don went over with was the Red Devils 441.Submitted by: Judy Berger, wife, 20030822
Submitted by: John Murphy, 20030822
Don Berger had three tours in Viet Nam; two of those were in H-34's. He received the Navy Cross on his second tour. He was KIA on this, his third tour, flying an R4D (C-47) in a weather related incident.
This aircraft was YK-13. I qualified as
C/C in May of 69, having been trained
by Don Miller on board YK-12&7/8. YK-
13, 153379, was assigned to me straight
out of O&R. Until this incident
occured, no one else but me had ever
flown on YK-13.
NAVY CROSS CITATION - Second Lieutenant DONALD J. BERGER, USMCR
NAVY CROSS CITATION - Second Lieutenant DONALD J. BERGER, USMCR:
HMM-163 11-12 March 1966
“For extraordinary heroism while serving as an Aircraft Commander with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE in operations in the Republic of Vietnam on 11 and 12 March 1966. Lieutenant Berger was assigned to participate in a mission to evacuate a large number of American and Vietnamese personnel from the besieged garrison at As Hau. Controlling his aircraft with exceptional skill, he hovered over the trees thirty to fifty feet tall while the stranded personnel were hoisted aboard. After discharging the passengers at Hue Phu Bai, Lieutenant Berger returned to As Hau and was directed to another clearing where two Special Forces personnel and six Vietnamese soldiers awaited rescue. Since jungle growth prevented landing, he was attempting to hoist the defenders aboard when hostile automatic weapons fire damaged the tail pylon of his aircraft, causing complete loss of tail rotor control. Exhibiting great presence of mind, Lieutenant Berger affected a controlled crash landing and promptly instructed the copilot and one of the crewmembers to board another rescue helicopter. Due to the darkness and inclement weather precluding further rescue attempts, he calmly guided the outpost defenders through difficult terrain where they encountered and successfully fought off an enemy patrol. After putting a defensive plan into action and maintaining a watch throughout the night, he moved the group to another location at first light, then signaled for help and succeeded in getting a rescue aircraft to hoist the exhausted men aboard. His stalwart effort was directly responsible for saving his crewmen, as well as the group of outpost survivors, from capture or death at the hands of the Viet Cong. By his intrepid fighting spirit, brilliant initiative and fortitude in the face of grave danger, and unfaltering dedication to duty, Lieutenant Berger upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.”
Aided at crash site
While serving on West Coast 1985-1989, I aided in a helicopter crash that involved all Marines being killed. How could I check for an accident report? My memory was jogged by this article, but foggy on details. Pretty sure in 29 Palms the fall of 1987. Pilots were using night vision and hit a mountain. Any suggestions on how I could remind myself of this accident infomation, I would appreciate it.Submitted by: Dave Olson, Fellow Marine, 20190209
The picture below was found online a few years ago and the actual source is unknown. It was taken during his first tour while assigned to HMM-163 and prior to my knowing him. Capt. Berger was the Communications Officer for MAG-13 Base Comm section while I was stationed at Chu Lai Airbase from April 1969 to February 1970. Capt. Berger was one of the finest men I had the pleasure of serving under during my time in the Marines. He was easily liked and respected by everyone who knew him and his loss was a real tragedy for me personally. We had a strong working relationship as I was the Comm office clerk for a few weeks while he was there. He always took good care of his men and made sure we had opportunities for anything we wanted to do. I would be pleased to connect with anyone else who was there or were friends with Capt. Berger.