Incident Date 19700922 HMM-262 CH-46D 152577+ - Hostile Fire, Crash
Teffs, James Richard Cpl Crew HMM-262 MAG-16 1970-09-22 (vvm 07W:085)
Smith, Frederick Joseph LCpl Crew HMM-262 MAG-16 1970-09-22 (vvm 07W:085)
Kimbrough, Harold Bruce 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-262 MAG-16 1970-09-22 (vvm 07W:084)
Davis, William Stanley 1stLT Pilot HMM-262 MAG-16 1970-09-22 (vvm 07W:083)
Beach Jr., Leo Albert Sgt Crew HMM-262 MAG-16 1970-09-22 (vvm 07W:082)
I was originally assigned that mission as gunner, but had been on active stand-by all that day for possible missions into Laos. Fred Smith, who had only recently completed his gunner qualifications offered to take the later medevac standby mission for me. At the time it was unusual for a standby medevac mission to launch as our squadron (262) normally had two reliable 46's already available as primary birds. The stand-by was merely a back-up.
As it happened, I was around the flight ops area when the decision to launch the stand-by choppers. Although it drew red flags in my mind, nothing really clicked until later. As not only being a gunner, I was also assigned to the Hydraulics Maintenance Department and we had been working off and on for the day on a landing gear problem with one of our other birds. I had gone out to the flight deck when they were checking the work on the gear problem that night. Anyway, we had fired up this bird and was not only toying with the repaired landing gear but were somewhat monitoring radio traffic.
I listened as a ROK compound was messaging that a chopper had gone down in flames and that they were going to try to secure the area. It wasn't but a few minutes later that we were informed that ET-13 had gone down. I should have been on that ship, Fred Smith should have been safe in his rack back at his hootch. I knew and had flown with all the other members of that ill-fated flight. Beach, especially, the crew chief.
Sgt. Beach was a leader, had a couple of tours under his belt, in fact as I recall, I was thinking he was on his third. A confident crew-chief and was highly regarded. Our Squadron, the following day, launched two choppers for the recovery mission, and I know a few details of that although I was refused permission to play an active part for personal reasons. Later reports were just that the ship had gone down in flames and the recovery team found evidence that all fire extinguishers had been used indicating that the flight crew had done their best in the true tradition of the Marines.
The last I heard there were conflicting reports that the bird had been brought down by ground fire or by mechanical problems. I think the ROK's had reported tracer fire from the gound, but who knows?
The pilot on the lead aircraft was Terry Driscoll. Bill Davis was the pilot of the chase bird.
As Terry told me, it was a night medivac flight. While Terry went into the zone to make the pick up, Bill circled at a distance. The Air Force was dropping parachute flares to light up the area for the pick up. Terry believed that a parachute flare struck Bill's aircraft and brought it down.
First Hand Narrative
Leo was a fine young man, he always had a smile on his face. He was one of the best crew chiefs that HMM-262 EVER had. He would never back down from a mission; he was always there at night making sure his bird flew a good mission the next day, not just a re-supply.
This day Leo was scheduled to be off duty. I was posting the crews for that night and the next days flights. One of the youngest crew chiefs was posted to fly that mission but it was his birthday and asked me to let him off that night to drink a beer for his birthday. We did this sometimes for our crew members so I agreed and assigned Leo to take his place for the flight.
Leo came to me and said he really didn't want to fly the mission, somthing just didn't feel right about it. We talked a few minutes and Leo felt better about it and decided to fly.
For 37 years I have thought about this; Leo please forgive me. To his family I ask you to please find it in your heart to forgive me. We were in a war, and in wars, decisions were sometimes made by very young men, made not knowing that we would have to live with these decisions for the rest of our lives.
For many decades, I (and many of Leo Beach's extended family) have wanted to know what happened. We now have answers that long ago seemed more important.
Please rest assured that there are no feelings of fault towards you doing your job, especially during such a difficult time. We have always felt that, as painful that it was to lose Leo at such a young age, he went proudly into battle and lived and died with honor. That he may have 'had a feeling' is actually not that uncommon in his family. Perhaps those moments of unease about the assignment gave him opportunity to prepare for a higher calling.
No fingers have ever been pointed, no accusations; but of course there are always "what ifs"...that's what people do when there just aren't answers to ease our pain. Leo and his fellow servicemen were tragic losses in a very, very controversial war. But nevertheless, they were ALL loved and ARE all missed. Thank you all for sharing his story.
Jim Teffs and I were in the same shop and we worked on many aircraft troubles together. It seems like a life time ago that we sat on the stub wing of bird sharing our thoughts about the future. Jim was a happy-go-lucky person from a part of the country that was so differnt from where I lived. We became friends and brothers in a war that made us all age quickly. I only wish that Jim had a chance to enjoy life. May Jim and all fallen Marines rest in peace. Semper FiSubmitted by: Lawrence W Sullivan, Member of HMM-262, 20080811
He was Ong Teffs …...I was Ong Edgmon ….. thats what we called each other at Vietnamese Language school. My first friend there and a great guy....happy go lucky as was mentioned earlier. We would head out for lunch in his jacked up corvette when we could....always fun. He was in country 2 months ahead of me and I didnt know it...... I hadnt seen him since our graduation....sad. If any family or friend should read this, just know what a fine Marine he was. I was proud to know him.Submitted by: Don T Edgmon, 20181130
I am 1stLt William Stanley Davis' only child. I was born on May 29, 1970, and my father died on September 22, 1970. I do not know anything about my father, and would like to hear from any surviving US Marines who did.Submitted by: Heather Davis Fabbro, My father, 20040901
Sgt Leo Albert Beach Jr.