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Brothers (& Sisters) Killed in Action in USMC Helicopters or while assigned to USMC Helicopter or Tiltrotor Squadrons in Vietnam

660616   VMO-2     Vietnam

Incident Date 660616 VMO-2 UH-1E 151294+ Hostile Fire

Buckholdt, Leo Buddy PFC Gunner VMO-2 MAG-16 660616 (vvm 08E:051)

BUCKHOLDT LEO BUDDY : 2127258 : USMC : PFC : E2 : 6418 : 20 : SANTA CRUZ : CA : 19660616 : Hostile, Small Arms Fire : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam (Da Nang) :01 : 19460128 : Cauc : RomanCatholic/single : 08E : 051

MAG-36 Command Chronology - June 1966:
The most significant action during June began the evening of the 13th when SSgt Jimmie E. HOWARDs 18 man team CARNIVAL TIME, from the 1st Reconnaissance Bn was placed on HILL 488 (BT 130205) by 4 HMM-362 aircraft, 2 UH-1Es from VMO-6 and 2 A-4s from MAG-12.

During the early hours of the 16th, the team was attacked by an estimated Battalion of enemy troops. The team took some casualties during the initial assault and they sent out a call for the Med Evac choppers from Ky Ha.

At 0250, 1stLt T E Parsons, flying the HMM-361 medevac UH-34D and Capt J M PERRYMAN in the armed UH-1E escort launched from Ky Ha. The flight was unable to pick up the medevacs because of the intense enemy fire in the area. A flare ship and fixed wing aircraft were immediately requested for the team. Fixed wing aircraft from MAG-11 and MAG-12 pounded the VC under direction of Capt Jim PERRYMAN and Capt J M SHIELDS. These pilots relived each other on station throughout the night to keep continuous airstrikes on the enemy.

At 0300, four UH-34Ds fromHMM-363 escorted by 2 UH-1Es from VMO-6 and 2 A-4s departed from Chu Lai to attempt to retract the team. Enemy fire was so intense in the zone that the flight had to wave off. One of the H-34s took seven hits from an automatic weapon.

At 0615, 32 UH-34D aircraft from HMM-362, HMM-363 and HMM-361 escorted by six armed UH-1Es from VMO-6 and two more from VMO-2 picked up C/1/5 from HILL 54. By the time the entire flight had joined up over Tam Ky, Capt John SHIELDS, the TAC(A), had selected a landing zone on a ridge line about 150 meters from the team. Capt SHIELDS worked several flights of attack aircraft in the desired zone and when he had one A-4 left, the UH-34Ds were called in. The last A-4 salvoed his load of bombs into the zone just prior to the landing of the first wave of transport helicopters.

Shortly after C Company 1/5 had been landed, Capt SHIELDS was relieved on station by Maj GOODSELL. Maj GOODSELL was killed shortly thereafterwhile making a low pass over the recon teams location to mark it with smoke so the relieving company would not fire into their position. The aircraft was severely damaged, and was landed by the copilot, 1stLt D BUTLER, about 3 miles east of the landing zone. The crew was picked up by the wingman and returned to Ky Ha. The aircraft was destroyed by the VC before a reaction force could be moved into the area.

One UH-1E from VMO-2 was also hit and forced down at BT 195222. The gunner, PFC Leo B. BUCKHOLDT, was killed by hostile fire. The crew was picked up by a MAG-36 helicopter and brought to KY Ha. A reaction force was landed to secure the area and this aircraft was recovered.

At 0750, siz UH34Ds from HMM-362 evacuated the KIAs and WIAs from the zone at BT 130705. This flight was escorted by armed UH-1Es from VMO-6 and VMO-2, and A-4 aircraft from MAG-12. At 1100, 36 UH-34Ds from MAG-36 with armed UH-1Es and A-4 escorts retracted C/1/5 from Hill 488 to conclude a short, but hard fought battle between 18 Marines and a VC Battalion.

Comment on Incident:
Hit directly by small arms fire while airborne in hot zone

Personal Narrative:
When PFC Buckholdt was killed, the CO of VMO-2, LtCol Barden was flying the other gun bird. I was his co-pilot. I think Lt. Plunket was flying the other VMO-2 gunbird.

LtCol Barden flew wing on the other disabled gun bird and landed a short distance behind in the rice paddy. Our crew jumped out and helped load the other crew into our bird. The injured Marine had been hit in the head and was bleeding profusely. I was new in-country but I thought we dropped the crew off at the Mag-36 medical station in Chu Lai.

I still recall the incident clearly because of the mist of blood that covered the inside of the windscreen and crew having to hold the injured Marine still. It was a VMO-2 bird that picked up the crew, not MAG-36.

Submitted by Vincil Wayne Hazelbaker, Co-pilot on VMO-2 bird that picked up the crew

PFC Leo Buddy Buckholdt, VMO-2:

Submitted by MGySgt George Curtis, Popasmoke Admin