Mid Air Collision at Camp Evans RVN October 3, 1968 Probably one of the greatest fears in Vietnam was to die on the way home. Time and again there were example after example of how you weren't really safe until you heard the wheels thump into the wheel wells of the DC-8 Freedom Bird taking us home. What follows is our recollections of that day in 1968, the accident report and the list of all known KIAs from the National Archives for the First Cavalry Division. It all started with: Pat Murphy A/228, a CH-47 Chinook unit, Do you or anyone else remember the mid-air between a Hook from A Co. 228th, and a fixed wing carrying guys home? Again, I don't remember the date, but I was washing my ship at Evans when I heard the crash. All killed in both aircraft. Real sad. Official Accident Summary: THE US AIR FORCE C7-A DEPARTED CAMP EVANS AIRFIELD FROM RUNWAY 36. HIS LAST RADIO TRANSMISSION AFTER RECEIVING TOWER CLEARANCE WAS "ROLLING". THIS AIRCRAFT WAS OBSERVED TO BREAK RIGHT PRIOR TO REACHING THE END OF THE RUNWAY. HE CONTINUED A CLIMBING TURN TO A HEADING OF APPROXIMATELY 130 DEGREES. THE CH-47 HELICOPTER HAD DEPARTED LZ NANCY ONLY A FEW MINUTES BEFORE. IT WAS PROCEEDING SOUTH ALONG HIGHWAY QL-1, ON A HEADING OF 170 DEGREES, IN A SHALLOW DESCENT. THIS IS A SCHEDULED DAILY PASSENGER AND MAIL SHUTTLE AND WOULD HAVE ENTERED TRAFFIC ON A RIGHT BASE LEG FOR LANDING AT THE CAMP EVANS ASP PAD IS THE REGULAR STOP FOR THIS SHUTTLE AND IS LOCATED EAST OF THE CENTERLINE OF RUNWAY 36, APPROXIMATELY 1000 FEET SOUTH OF THE APPROACH END OF THAT RUNWAY. HE HAD NOT YET CALLED THE TOWER FOR CLEARANCE, THOUGH HIS UHF RADIO WAS ON TOWER FREQUENCY. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE CH-47 WAS CRUISING AT APPROXIMATELY 95 TO 100 KNOTS. THE C7A WITH CLIMB POWER, SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT ABOUT 105 KNOTS. THE TWO AIRCRAFT CONVERGED AT AN ALTITUDE OF APPROXIMATELY 1100 FEET AT A RELATIVE ANGLE OF APPROXIMATELY 40 DEGREES. THE COCKPIT SECTION OF THE C7-A CONTACTED THE REAR ROTOR OF THE HELICOPTER. THE C7-A HAD STARTED A RIGHT BANK, PROBABLY A LAST MINUTE ATTEMPT TO AVOID THE COLLISION. WHEN THE TWO AIRCRAFT COLLIDED, AT LEAST ONE OF THE HELICOPTER REAR ROTOR BLADES SLICED THRU THE COCKPIT SECTION OF THE AIRPLANE ON AN ANGLE FROM THE TOP OF THE COPILOTS WINDSHIELD DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PILOTS WINDSHIELD, KILLING BOTH PILOTS INSTANTLY, AND DESTROYING ALL ENGINE CONTROLS. AT THE SAME TIME, ONE OF THE ROTOR BLADES, OR DEBRIS FROM THE COCKPIT STRUCK THE LEFT PROPELLOR OF THE C7-A. ONE OF THE BLADES WAS SEVERED FROM THE PROPELLER, AND PASSED THROUGH BOTH SIDES OF THE FUSELAGE OF THE AIRPLANE. THE LEFT PROPELLER THEN SEPARATED FROM THE ENGINE AND FELL TO THE GROUND. THE C7-A MADE A STEEP DESCENDING RIGHT TURN AND STRUCK THE GROUND ON A HEADING OF 340 DEGREES. THE AIRCRAFT DISINTEGRATED, ALL PERSONNEL ABOARD PERISHED, THERE WAS NO FIRE. THE CH-47, AT THE MOMENT OF THE COLLISION LOST ALL OF ITS REAR MAIN ROTOR BLADES. ONCE THESE BLADES WERE BROKEN AND DISTORED BY THE COLLISION, THEY CHOPPED INTO THE TOP OF THE HELICOPTERS FUSELAGE BEFORE FINALLY SEPARATING FROM THE HUB. THEY DISLODGED TWO SECTIONS OF THE SYNCHRONIZER DRIVE SHAFT WHICH ALSO FELL TO THE GROUND. AT THIS TIME, NEITHER ROTOR SYSTEM COULD PROVIDE ANY THRUST, AND THE HELICOPTER BECAME A FREE FALLING BODY. WHILE IT WAS TUMBLING TO EARTH, THE REAR ROTOR MAST AND PYLON SEPARATED FROM THE FUSELAGE AND LANDED 150 METERS SHORT OF THE FUSELAGE. THE FUSELAGE TUMBLED TO EARTH AND IMPACTED ON A HEADING OF APPROXIMATELY 120 DEGREES. IT LANDED ON ITS TOP LEFT SIDE IN A NOSE HIGH ATTITUDE, WITH NEAR ZERO FORWARD SPEED. IT EXPLODED ON IMPACT. TWO PERSONS FELL OUT OF THE HELICOPTER AS IT TUMBLED THRU THE AIR. THEY WERE FATALLY INJURED ON CONTACT WITH THE GROUND. THOSE REMAINING IN THE HELICOPTER DIED IN THE CRASH.\\ Information on U.S. Army helicopter tail number 66-19041 Date: 681003 Incident number: 681003141ACD Accident case number: 681003141 Total loss or fatality Accident Unit: A/ 228 Combat Support Aviation Battalion 1st Cavalry Division, Phu Bai Province, Number killed in accident: 11 Injured: 0 Passengers: 6 Crew Members: AC W2 JOHNSON THOMAS EUGENE KIA P W1 CONROY RONALD LEE KIA FE E4 COSTLEY LARRY L KIA CE E4 PIERCE JERRY LEE JR KIA G E4 REESE DENNIS DEAN KIA Passengers from the aircraft accident list are: CPT ALDERSON THOMAS EARL, SFC CLEMENTS DAWSON, SSG YOUNG WILLIAM RANDOLPH, PFC LUCIER JOHN WILLIAM, SSG WALLACE CHARLES JAMES, SP4 SEE MICHAEL DUANE, CPT Thomas E. Alderson was not a member of the First Cav and not listed in the National Archives list of all known losses - 1st Cavarly Division The National Archives list of all known losses in the 1st Cavalry Division on October 3, 1968 lists the following names. Each name has a code beside it which designates whether they were on the CH-47 or the C-7A. The military occupational specialty (MOS) is the numerical designation shown to the right of the name, i.e 11B20 is a lower ranking infantryman. Need help with the MOSs not identified. SFC Dawson Clement 31G40 CH-47 WO1 Ronald L. Conroy 062B CoPilot CH-47 CH-47 SP4 Larry L. Costley 67U20 CH-47 Crewmember CH-47 SP4 Donald J. Cramer Jr. 05B20 Comm. Specialist C-7A SP4 David J. Dellangelo 11B20 Infantryman C-7A SP5 David A. Disrud 44C20 C-7A SP5 Allen E. Gomes 94B20 Cook C-7A SP5 Dale G. Granger 31E20 C-7A PFC Joe J. Hibbler 11B20 Infantryman C-7A CW2 Thomas E. Johnson 062B Pilot CH 47 CH-47 PFC John W. Lucier 71F20 CH-47 SP5 David B. Perreault 94B20 Cook C-7A SP5 Jerry L. Pierce 67U20 CH 47 Crewmember CH-47 SP4 Dennis D. Reese 67A1P OH-6 Crew Chief CH-47 He was the gunner on the 47 SP4 Michael D. See 91B20 Medic CH-47 PFC Robert D. Tomlinson 11B20 Infantryman C-7A SSG Charles J. Wallace 67Y40 AH-1G Maint NCO CH-47 PFC Dennis A. Wirt 11B20 Infantryman C-7A SSG William R. Young 45B40 CH-47 From the United States Air Force in Southeast Asia-Tactical Airlift, page 475: Prior to 1968, three serious operational problems defied effective solution, all requiring better coordination between the U.S. Army and the Air Force in the field. First, flying officers of both services testified to the danger of midair collision near forward airstrips. This was the result of uncontrolled flying, impcompatible radio equipment, and the absence of commonly accepted procedures for Army helicopter and Air Force transport operations at shared airheards. A midair collision between a Caribou and a Chinook near Camp Evans on October 3, 1968, cost twenty five lives and tragically illustrated the problem. Second, physical conditions at forward airstrips were sometimes unnecessarily dangerous. Hazards included bunkers or other obstacles near runways and taxi areas, uncontrolled vehicle and pedestrian traffic and landing surfaces needing improvement. Third, a better system for warning transport crews of firing by friendly artillery was needed. The destruction of an Air Force Caribou by a 155MM shell while landing at Ha Thanh in August 1967 highlighted this problem. SLONIKER NOTE: I found the above incredulous. The aircraft were ARMY aircraft until 1966 and worked perfectly in the Army environment from their intial deployment from Ft Benning in 1962 until their turnover to Air Force in 1966. The radios and procedures worked fine when flown by Army crews. The aircraft supported Special Forces camps with distinction, being the sole source of resupply for them. Running into a Chinook on a severe clear day is a lack of crew coordination in the cockpit of the C-7A Caribou and nothing else. Secondly, I spoke to the battery commander of the battery that shot down the C-7A at Ha Thanh in 1967 while as a gunnery instructor at Ft Sill Okla in 1969. The Air Force C-7A aircraft commander had been told twice the battery was in a contact fire mission and was firing continous fire for an Infantry company in close contact. He flew in anyway, got the tail shot off and killed everyone on board the ship. Thirdly, in May 1968, I was on a C-7A that tore its wing off on landing at Dak Pek. We all escaped without injury and only the ripped off wing burned. (Picture will be sent to Larry Russell for this page) Both pilots were Lt Cols who were former fighter pilots working in the Pentagon who were told to report to C-7 transition and to Vietnam. Read no tactical airlift experience. The transfer of the Caribou to the Air Force will forever be a sore spot. I was hoping the history will have more credibility. Joe Potvin A/227 a UH-1H Huey unit I can't remember the exact date but in 68, sometime after TET at Hue and before we went into Khe Sahn there was a mid air collision between a C7-A and a Chinook just south of the perimeter of Camp Evans.( Sloniker note: It was 6 months after Khe Sahn-have discussed with Potvin) I was sitting in POL hot refueling and watched the C7-A take off to the North from the active runway. We were facing north so I lost sight of the fixed wing after it made a hard right break which I'm sure kept it either inside of or over HWY1. The Air Force jocks thought the Evans area was pretty dangerous so they max performanced takeoffs out of there to limit exposure. The next thing I knew was my crew chief was at my door telling me he had just watched the C7 run into a Chinook, at about the same time the tower frequency lit up with calls for assistance from any helicopters in the area. We buttoned up and headed for the crash sight, you could see smoke coming from the CH-47 crash site but the C7 was harder to find. I landed next to the C7 wreakage ( a polite term meaning big ass hole in the rice paddy ) and did a quick walk around with my crew chief. There wasn't a thing left. It was all buried in the rice paddy ( no standing water but still wet ). The biggest thing I saw was one of the mangled engines.. Chief and I looked at each other, went back to aircraft and left the area. Not a pleasant sight. By that time many more troops were arriving and it was clear we were only in the way. I don't think any of us wanted to stay around and sift through the wreakage looking for parts. Gene Lassiter C & HQ, 228, 68-69 I was already at Bn HQ when this happened. I remember Lt. Col. Paquette , who commanded from June to December 1968, in a rage because the AF type who commanded the Caribou unit tried to blame the Hook for the crash. It turned out that the Caribou driver was horsing around and pulled a steep climb and turn immediately after take-off. If I remember right, the blade of the Hook took out the cockpit of the Caribou and it was thought that the plane was otherwise flyable, but of course had no hands "at the wheel". I think there was a Longhorn on the Caribou going on R&R and his brother was at Evans watching the whole thing. I could be wrong about that. Still don't remember the date. The 228th flight surgeon was one of the first on the scene and I'll never forget his face when he came back. We were all pretty sick. Dave Greene B/227 The mid-air between the hook and the caribou happened the day before Iwas to DEROS (from Evans to AnKhe). I was watching the Caribou take off ('cause I was to ride it the next afternoon), when it turned through the downwind leg of traffic. It clipped the back rotor of the hook. It lost about 15-20 feet of wing, but the rotors probably went through the cockpit too. It pitched up to stall, then nosed over straight down. The hook started to spin, throwing bodies out the back of the aircraft. God, what a horrible sight. I think 42 people were killed. It was hard to get on that plane the next day!