Incident Date 19701118 HMM-263 CH-46D 154837+ - Crash
Stolz Jr., James Edward 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-263 MAG-16 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:069)
Rogers Jr., Orville Curtis 1stLT Pilot HMM-263 MAG-16 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:069)
Donnell II, Robert A Sgt Crew Chief HMM-263 MAG-16 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:067)
Buttry, Richard Russell LCpl Gunner H&MS-16 MAG-16 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:066)
Bajin, Enver Cpl Gunner H&MS-16 MAG-16 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:067)
Villasana, Fernando Cpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:070)
Tucker, Robert Eugene LCpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:069)
Stockman, John Frank Cpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:069)
Pope Jr., Charles Alfred LCpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:069)
Manela, Randall Paul Cpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:068)
Leftwich Jr., William Groom LtCol Passenger CO/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:068)
Hudson, Gary Duane LCpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:068)
Harvey, Cleveland Ray 1stLT Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:067)
Delozier, David Vincent LCpl Passenger B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:067)
Daniels, Russell Glen HM2 Corpsman-Pass B/1stReconBn 1stMarDiv 1970-11-18 (vvm 06W:066)
Comment on Incident
During recon extraction with team and recon staff of 1stReconBn on board – the a/c flew into a mountain carrying a recon team on a SPIE rig. LtCol William G. Leftwich Jr., Commanding Officer, 1st Recon Bn, died with team in crash.Submitted by: N/A, 20030818
HM2 Daniels was the corpsman for the recon team. He was the main reason for the extraction.Submitted by: John P Somers II, member of recon team not on mission, 20030818
Doc Daniels was the Corpsman for the recon team (Rush Act), and not part of the CH-46 crew. I flew on the bird w/the Colonel and Cpl Manela and the same crew members trying to extract the team on the ground for two days. On the 3rd day, I stayed back and the bird crashed. I was part of the recovery team that, went out (2 days later) to recover the remains.Submitted by: Rod H. Pupuhi, there before and after crash, 20030818
This was probably the most tragic incident the 1st Recon Bn suffered during my tour over there. Doc Daniels was a fun loving guy. I and several other Marines shared a hootch with him. I was told the helicoptors were sent out to Med Evac the team because Doc had broken his leg on patrol. One of the other Marines who went to identify his body told me he'd died with a smile on his face - that would have characteristic of Doc.Submitted by: Michael J. Schneider, Roomate to Doc Daniels, 20030818
We were sitting on a hill. We had had bad weather for a couple of days and couldn't really do any observing. We were also out on patrol in the Que Son Mtns.
I was the primary radioman for team Roadtest and was listening on the radio as the extraction was taking place. As they were leaving, I heard one of the escorts, possibly one of the gunships, state that he had lost sight of the extraction chopper. They tried for a while to contact him, then returned to base. If I remember correctly, we had been out a couple of days longer than we were supposed to be because the tops of the hills were all socked in and they couldn't get to us.
We did make it back for the ceremony on the LZ at Camp Reasoner and it was a very sad time for us all, the sight of so many crosses, boots and weapons all lined up on the pad. Please accept my belated condolences.
Our mission that day was to escort and cover the extraction of the recon team. We could not see anything because the intense cloud cover. I watched as the H-46 made its way into the clouds to the pickup zone. I heard over my helmet headset that the team had been picked up on a rig.
Everything then went quiet. The next thing I heard was that the helo had crashed into a mountain with extreme loss of life. Our huey gunship made a turn and with a terrible feeling of helplessness in the pit of my stomach we returned to base for our next mission. It was a bad day, a very bad day. I have never forgotten those men and what happened that day; and for the suffering of all the familes. God be with us all.
I just happened upon this site, so please bear with me. I was the primary radio operator on one recon patrol in the Que Son Mountains the day of the chopper crash. Gilbert Perez was another, Gary Hudson was RIO for the third team--Rush Act. I heard over the radio that someone had broken a leg in a creek bed (that was HM2 Daniels) and that the chopper would pull out two of the three teams, and return for the third with a spie rig. The chopper came for us, I remember climbing on board and seeing Lt. Harvey and LTC Leftwich. The crew chief must have seen me "eye-balling" the cigars in his pocket, so over the din of noise he handed me a cigar. I saluted him. Little did I know that within an hour they'd all be dead. We stepped off the CH-46, the chopper returned, hooked up the team, got turned around in the heavy cloud cover and crashed.
Chuck Pope was a good friend of mine, and I remember helping clean out his locker. It broke my damned heart. I smoked his Dutch Master cigars, wrote to his mother. I still have her letter in one of my Vietnam scrapbooks.
I also knew David Delozier as he had a very good reputation as a point man. I knew Villasana too, but didn't know the other Marines that well.
This all happened almost 43 years ago and I still remember the tragedy so clearly.
My best to all.
Former Corporal Bernie Kuntz (nickmane "gunny")
"B" Co., 1st platoon, 1st Recon Bn., 1st Marine Division
I was on watch in the COC Bunker the day of the crash and all through the Rescue/Recovery period.
I saw Lt. Col. Leftwich immediately before his departure, that day. I still remember the smell of his sweet pipe smoke. I came from Bravo 3-2 and had been on patrol with Doc Daniels before. We were on the infamous ambush patrol off Hill 200. He and I shared some heavy moments.
I have pictures of the crash site that I got from S-2. One of which is graphic. I will upload at later date. On November 18th, I uttered these, over and over. " Rush Act, this is War-cloud over" War-cloud to Rush Act, come in over". "Comprise 6, this is War-cloud, over". Come in Comprise 6". No one answered.
I got the word from Illuminous Base, that Comprise 6 had fallen off the radar. Illuminous 6 was on station those 2 days in mid Nov 1970. He only landed to refuel and get a bite to eat. He and the Skipper were good friends as I understood.
I'm also was the one who got the word from Mission Impossible, that War-cloud 6 was a KIA, I passed the word to Division Hill on the Lima Lima [landline]. I was close to Major Bubb and worked with that crew in the COC for many months. Gary Hudson was my Secondary R/O in Bravo Co. and I broke him in. I still remember his funny smile and his gentle way. I will never forget saying those words, fighting back the tears - "War-cloud 6 is a KIA". The word spread like wildfire.
I was on SCUBA school hold, going through Aid Man training when this tragedy occurred. I want to assure Mrs. Daniels and the loved ones of all our fallen brothers that these brave men were treated gently and with respect upon their return. A 1st Medical Bn Corpsman and I carried each individual inside. LCpl Bill Sommers, a Rush Act team member who was also on hold, supervised their treatment once inside. We were humbled to be able to perform that service. God bless the United States Marine Corps.Submitted by: Bob Fabian, Friend of Russ Daniels, 20121010
Outstanding men that I will never forget. Thank you.Submitted by: Daniel M Turpin, Teamleader/Trainer Saddlebag 6,, 20081210
I want to thank you all for trying to get him and his fellow soldiers out of that muck. I am so very sorry that the crew perished with him also. I just found your site. Thank you for keeping it alive. I thought that after all these years that my pain wouldn't be so hard, right now, I feel just like it is happening all over again. I miss my boy so much. Soon I will be with him again. May God bless you all.
El Paso, TX
Think of these brave men often. Worked and trained with the best of them. Rememebering the good times and our last day together as our teams went in differant directions that morning. SEMPER FISubmitted by: Daniel M Turpin, Team Leader 1ST RECON BRAVO CO, 20070507
July 21, 2007: I left Bravo Company in late September of 1970. Recently we lost Woodrow Phillips, my pointman on many long range patrols and I was looking for news of a Recon Reunion when I opened this page. I heard about this terrible accident from Bernie "Gunny" Kuntz in Bozeman, Montana, but it really hit home, even after 37 years, to see it on the net. I live in South Central Texas and if I can help anyone connected to this, please contact me. Semper Fi.Submitted by: Robert Lee Castaneda, Plt. Sgt., Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn., 1969-1970, 20070721
Narrative from Friend
I was stationed with Rich Buttry at El Toro MCAS and we worked together in Ground Support Equipment just before we both went to Vietnam. I picked him up a couple of times at his house in Costa Mesa and met his mother. She seemed like a great lady, but I don't remember her name. We worked side by side for awhile catching up on all the ordering of parts.
We both went to Marble Mountain and we both flew as gunners. I was with HMM-262 GSE [ground support equipment] and he was with the MAG-16 GSE. We stayed in contact and saw each other from time to time. A few days before his crash we were talking and I told him to be careful. We both felt strange for a moment that day and it seemed spiritual as I look back on it. He always kept a great attitude about things, but that day was different and we both felt it.
When they brought the aircraft back after the crash it sat beside the hanger for some time and my hootch was right across from it. I saw the wreckage every day as I went out of my hootch to our hangar. It was a very sad time for me personally that will always stick in my memory. He was a great Marine and friend.
The picture is the crash site taken from the gunners view.
El Paso Times Article
Fernando Villasana, a Marine and 1969 Jefferson High School graduate, was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam four days shy of his 20th birthday.
EL PASO -- Fernando Villasana, always certain he wanted to be a Marine, was at peace with himself, even when he went to war.
Raised in a housing project on South Boone Street, Villasana knew the path his life would take.
"He was very proud to be a Marine. Ever since he was a little boy, it was all he talked about," said his sister, Irma Guerra.
Villasana graduated from Jefferson High School in 1969, then left the next day for boot camp. He had enlisted in the Marine Corps during a time when thousands of young men sought deferments because they did not want to serve in Vietnam, that most unpopular of wars.
Villasana saw the world differently. He would take whatever assignment his country gave him.
He arrived in Vietnam in January 1970 at age 19. Slender and unassuming, he stood out from the pack, said Eric Schwartz, a corpsman who served with him.
"Everybody called him Nano. We were all pretty rowdy. He was the quiet guy, and he was kind of a calming influence on the rest of us," said Schwartz, who grew up in New York City and lives now in Oakland, Calif.
Schwartz's 13-month tour ended in October 1970. Villasana, by then a corporal, still had a few months left on his hitch. They said they would stay in touch.
On Nov. 18, 1970, Villasana's unit was on patrol in the enemy-infested Que Son Mountains. By the account of The Associated Press, one Marine broke a leg. Two others came down with debilitating fever.
The Marines called for a helicopter to lift them from the combat zone.
One of those on the rescue mission was Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich Jr., a Naval Academy graduate and recipient of the Navy Cross for combat valor. Leftwich's custom was to accompany crews on rescue missions, thinking it important to look out for his men.
The helicopter picked up Villasana and the others, but nothing else went right that foggy day. It got lost in the pea-soup skies. Radio contact broke off with a companion helicopter.
Sometime later, the helicopter carrying Villasana, Leftwich and the others crashed into a mountain 22 miles south of its base in Da Nang. All 15 Marines died. Villasana was four days shy of his 20th birthday.
In El Paso, a seven-paragraph item about the crash made the front page of the old Herald-Post. It focused on Leftwich, the most famous of the casualties. No mention was made of Villasana or anybody else on board.
Guerra, though, said she knew the worst had happened.
"The story said the helicopter was a CH-46 Sea Knight. I knew my brother was on it," she said.
The following week, a brief obituary and a small news story ran in the El Paso papers. The story encouraged people to fly their flags at half-staff in honor of Villasana, who was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
Guerra, 10 years older than her brother, said their bond was strong, even when he was at war across the world.
"We were so, so close. I would write to him once a day when he was in Vietnam. He would write back once a week."
Never did Villasana mention combat. The theory at home was that he did not want to worry anyone.
His mother, brother and six sisters survive him. The details of his death, almost 40 years old, still are fresh in family memories.
Babbett Alfaro, a sister two years younger than Villasana, recalled his body being flown back to El Paso. An English teacher from Jefferson High School made sure she was there to greet her former student, a shy boy who had made the honor roll and been active in ROTC.
Guerra said Larry Elkins, an old Marine buddy of Villasana's, still calls her from his Georgia home. He has never forgotten Nano.
Neither has Schwartz.
"I think about a lot of things from back then," Schwartz said. "Nano was a special guy to me."
New generations of Villasana's family know the story of his short life and death.
Guerra's daughter, Veronica Galano, served in the Air Force for four years before settling in Albuquerque. She never knew her uncle, but she named her son Enrico Fernando Galano.
Submitted by: Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association, 20100704
If you knew Randy, I don't have to tell you - if you didn't I want you to know - he was a good person, a great Marine, and a friend of mine. I said good-by to Randy at Freedom Hill along with Rick Vaughn, Bruce Grant, Shefield, Sigler, and others on September 12th 1970. We were getting pulled out early, Nixon's troop withdrawls, and Randy didn't have enough time in country to go.
It didn't surprise me that he took another Marine's place on that chopper. He was real short and Randy was that kind of guy! I was back in the world safe and raising hell when Cpl Jordon wrote and told me Randy was dead. I didn't feel right leaving him that day at Freedom Hill - I should have stayed but I didn't and it haunts me every day - but this isn't about me. Randy Manela was my friend, I was fortunate to know him and share some good and bad times in Nam. If you read this and want to share anything you know how to contact me.
I shall always be greatful for the internet that allows the opportunity to share memories of our loved ones we would never had been able to do before. It was a website that brought me closer to the death of my brother in law 1stLt Orville Curtis Rogers, Jr. I loved him and miss him to this day on the 39th anniversary of his death. My heart goes out to each of the families that were on that flight. I am currently the commander of the American Legion SAL Post 258. At 6:00 pm I will be offering a toast in memory of all that were on that flight. May God Bless every family, the Marines and God Bless the USA.Submitted by: Carter Butler, brother in law of Curtis Rogers, 20091118
It is still, after all these years, and with a heavy heart that I mourn my dear boy. I would like somehow, if this is possible, to be able to talk with the young men that knew Russell. Can, please, someone help me.Submitted by: Annette Daniels, Doc Daniels was my son, 20050420
I am Orville (Curt) Rogers, Jr.'s sister....
thanks for your comments, narratives & condolences on KIA 701118-
I hope to meet some more of his buddies at the reunion dinner Friday night-
my husband Ken, another brother & his wife, and our parents will be there, too - we were invited by Paul Wilson and Les Williams.
SZQ (on Notam)
I was only 7 when my cousin died. Only now am I beginning to find out the type of hero he was and the true meaning of brotherhood. If anyone can give me anything to help me know my cousin better, and the type of man he was, I would be eternally grateful. If anyone may have a photo of him that would be greatly appreciated also. Thank You!Submitted by: Chris Patrick, Cousin of LCPL Robert Eugene Tucker KIA 701118, 20070424
I was 7 years old when Robert passed away. Now it is 37 years later and I find it a necessity to find out all I can about my cousin. If anyone who knew him or served with him has anything they can share about the kind of man he was or the kind of soldier he was, please let me know. I am retired Air Force and I feel a kind of comraderie with him as a military man. I consider him a hero and am proud to call him my cousin. Thank you.Submitted by: Chris Patrick, Cousin of LCpl Robert Eugene Tucker, 20070807
Charles A. Pope Jr is buried close to my wife's grandmother, who died in 1990 as the oldest living person in Kansas - she was 106. They are buried in a very old part Mt. Washington Cemetery in Kansas City, MO. I first noticed Pope’s grave at the service we had for ‘Gonga’ and have cleaned and left flowers at his headstone ever since. I note that Pope's USMC headstone is apparently incorrect in both date of birth and date of death. I am pleased to have found information about what happened to him. It makes things more personal for me. Semper Fi!Submitted by: Dr. John S. Hetlinger, Charles Alfred Pope Jr, 20070904
I was doing research on my Brother and I located this site. It's a wonderful thing to be able to comment and be able to read other peoples comments about this event. I was only 3 years old when my brother was KIA. I never really got to know him, I am sorry for all the losses during this time and any other time. My son is following in my brothers footsteps and will be joining the Marines after graduation this year. I am finding this a hard thing to handle. I have the Highest respect for all the Armed Men and Women and May God Bless each one of them and their Families!Submitted by: Kerri Dutton, sister to LCPL Gary Duane Hudson, 20071103
Any family members wishing to get a hold of me, I have taken many movies during my stay at Camp Reasoner. Most important is the memorial services of Team Rush Act. If anyone would like a copy of the DVD, call me at (562)941-2782.Submitted by: Cpl. Gil Perez-1st Recon Bravo Co. Team/Claypipe, Our team was on patrol that same day, 20080729
Jimmy Stolz and I were literally friends from birth. Our parents all went to high school together and lived only blocks apart. Jimmy was the oldest of 12 and I the oldest of 8. Big families were in in the late 40's. Both our fathers had served in WW II and returned to their home town. Jimmy had a love for flying and I knew he would do everything he could to serve our country in the capacity of a pilot. Labor Day 1970 we had a farewell party at his house. I remember his mother bought the biggest shrimp I ever saw as a surprise for him. We parted with a handshake and a hug. His funeral was big news in a small town. Our town was actually named Hicksville (11801) but it was really not that small. I visit his grave often. So many young men denied the gift of a long life. God Bless our troops and the USA.Submitted by: Jack Hanifan, Childhood friend of co-pilot James E. Stolz, Jr., 20100526