27 February 2008

Small (Internet) World!

The response to ThirdWaveDave's post, was touching,
and as is so frequently the case, prodded me to write about something similar that happened to me...
The internet has made our world small in many ways.

Shortly after my return from Viet Nam I attended a party back at home and found many of my High School classmates there. After our host made the announcement that I was home after a year of "fling-winging" my way around the unfriendly skies, one of my friends said, "We had two schoolmates that went to Viet Nam as helicopter pilots, and only one of them is alive." It was there that I learned an acquaintance two years older had also gone to flight school, and had been shot down and killed.

~Fast forward to a couple years ago.
At a Blog established for High School classmates, "Jerry" once again came up.
I poked around the "Viet Nam Helicopter Pilot's Association" website and found the following about Jerry, then posted the information at that Blog:


Name: 1LT Jerry Dean Adams
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 02/18/1968 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 23.1
Date of Birth: 01/05/1945
Home City: Franklin, IN
Service: AR branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: C/3/17 CAV
Major organization: 1st Aviation Brigade
Flight class: 67-8
Service: AR branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 39E-079
Short Summary: Believe Adams helicopter was down for maintenance so he flew along as observer on this mission.
Aircraft: OH-6A tail number 66-07836
Service number: O5233465
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 61204
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Started Tour: 10/03/1967
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - pilot
Length of service: 02
Location: Tay Ninh Province III Corps.
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Methodist (Evangelical United Brethren)
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: officer
This record was last updated on 01/04/2002

From the above we learn that Jerry had been in Viet Nam five months. His normal aircraft was grounded for maintenance, so he volunteered to act as an observer on an OH-6......(the type helicopter used on the TV show "Magnum P.I.").

Then there's this.......information about the helicopter:

Helicopter OH-6A 66-07836
Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 66-07836
The Army purchased this helicopter 11/67
Total flight hours at this point: 00000018
Date: 02/18/1968
Incident number: 68021828.KIA
Unit: A/3/17 CAV
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was REPAIRED
This was a Recon mission for Unarmed Recon
While Enroute this helicopter was in Bank Right at 0075 feet and 060 knots.
South Vietnam
Helicopter took 4 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (7.62MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Cockpit
Systems damaged were: PERSONNEL
Casualties = 01 KIA . .
The helicopter Continued Flight.
The aircraft was diverted prior to accomplishing any mission objectives.
TAY NINH recovered the helicopter.
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database.
Also: LNOF, 80167, CASRP, FM232 (Lindenmuth Old Format Data Base. Casualty Report. )

This record was last updated on 05/25/1998

A couple things of interest here.
Notice: Total flight hours at this point: 00000018
The aircraft was brand new!

My unit's main mission was also recon, and we used this same machine.
In my year in South Viet Nam I never saw an OH-6 get more than 300 hours on it before it was shot down. Obviously, this was a dangerous job.

They were flying at 75 feet, going 60 knots.
At the beginning of their recon, the aircraft was hit by four bullets, probably an AK-47, (.30 calibre) and Jerry was hit.
The aircraft continued to fly........probably to the nearest fire base where the pilot tried to get medical help for Jerry, (that is conjecture on my part.)
The aircraft was recovered at Tay Ninh, Viet Nam, (probably sling loaded below a Huey), repaired, and sent out to fly again.

Cold, impersonal facts.
Hard to read when you can put a smiling face to the name that generated the data.

That Jerry volunteered to fly along as an observer on this mission says a great deal about his courage. This was, in my thinking, the most dangerous flying job in Viet Nam.
He wasn't required to do it... he volunteered.

Shortly after I posted that information I received the following via email:

I wanted to thank you so much for what you wrote about Jerry.
My name is Kelley ***** ****** and Jerry is my father.

I surf from time to time just typing in his name to see what comes up and that's how I found your post.
I was adopted by my mom's parent's, lived in Greenwood and married a CG grad. My 4 year old son looks a lot like Jerry......at least that's what my family thinks. Let's just hope he doesn't get the teeth! He definitely has the dimples.
I wish I could have known Jerry. I was only two and a half when he was killed. I've always wanted to know if the men he was flying with that day made it back from Nam. I hope so.

Another classmate had several letters she had received from Jerry while he was in Viet Nam that she had saved all these years, and she agreed to give them to Kelley so Kelley could get a better feel for the sort of man her father was. I was floored to even be a factor in that hook-up!

So indeed we live in a small world... gettin' smaller every day!


Tumo said...

"Where do we get such men?"-Fredric March as Rear Adm. George Tarrant in The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Grey beard what a sobering and warming post. I too have lost a few friends along the way. As I read the report I had visions of what that day might have been like for those men. Then how cold and useless that report most have seemed to his family. While some may have seen this as simple post about a friend - it shows the true nature of war and its never ending aftermath. How a man died, How a man, a friend remembers and how a daughters life was forever changed by it. Greybeard I'm glad it is nature not to forget! This time, forsure it helped someone's soul live a little easier. I know this isn't the reason for this post but I hope it still applies. I was just thinking that it was the internet that brought Flemmy and I together which lead me here. Flemmy and I where talking there may be a chance that our fathers and you served together in the RVN. what would that say about the shrinking of the time space continuum and the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon...


Proud to know ya, Greybeard.