Air Commando Aircraft Down

Buon Enao Project/Ban Me Thut, Vietnam

15 Oct 1962

 

 

The downing of two Air Commandos aircraft on 15 & 16 Oct 1962 left three dead and one who survived.  The story is being keep alive by Art Fields for Special Forces history.  It was very well known in Air Commando circles but little written about it.  This is a series of e-mails between the principal players to relive those days and to correct the historical inaccuracies which have crept into it over the years.  Anyone who has data, pictures, orders etc on this incident please send them to aircommando1@earthlink.net for incorporation into USAF Air Commando and USA Special Forces history.

 

 

From: "Arthur Fields" <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net

To: <aircommando1@earthlink.net

Subject: Inquiry into a Special Forces Operation.

Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002 20:11:25 0600

 

I am seeking assistance in clearing up long unanswered questions about the

deaths of Special Forces and Air Commando personnel.

 

I was in Vietnam form July 1962 to February 1963 on a Army Special Forces

mission to expand the "Buon Enao Project".  This was a program to arm and

train the Rhade tribesmen in Darlac Province to secure and defend their

villages against VC attacks. This was very early in the VN war and involved CIA cover and operations.

 

What I am trying to sort out is facts involving my operation on 15 October

1962 against a VC training camp near Ban Don in the central highlands of

Vietnam.

 

Aircraft involved in this operation were:

3  H-21C Shawnee helicopter (they flew two lifts each to bring troops into

the battlefield)

1  WWII B-26 Bomber (flew aircover and dropped bombs on VC complex)

1  FARMGATE T-28 (flew aircover for the operation)

1  HELIO U-10 Observation aircraft (This is the plane that the 3 were KIA)

 

On the late evening of 15 October 1962 I was securing the objective and was

in communication with my superior Special Forces Commander, Cpt Terry

Cordell, coordinating the resupply of ammo and supplies. My Radio Operator

was up in a tree putting up my jungle antenna for better communication.  Cpt

Cordell was in a observation aircraft (type unknown) flying overhead low and

slow.  I was speaking with him and suddenly he went blank.  My Radio man

shouted look, look.  I looked up and saw the aircraft going straight up with

fire coming from the nose area.  It looped over and started spiraling down

into the jungle.  On board the plane was Cpt Terry Cordell (U. S. Army

Special Forces, 1st SFG Okinawa) and two USAF personnel, the pilot and a

enlisted radio operator.  All were KIA.  It was dark in deep jungle when we

reached the crash site, so I set up a defense peremeriter around the crash

site. The next morning the brass from Siagon started arriving.  A FARMGATE

T-26 came in low and slow and was downed.  I am sure that it was the same

one that provided air cover the previous day. It was fully loaded.  The

pilot had taken off without his Vietnamese counterpart.  We pulled him out

of the wreckage alive and almost lost some of our people looking for the

second pilot before we realize there was none.  A copter was brought in to

recover the bodies and take the T-28 pilot, who lived, out.

I have found what type of aircraft the people in question were killed in. (open the attachment).  Also their names.

When the HELIO was shot down on 15 Oct 1962, in addition to Cpt. Terry D. Cordell, US Army Special Forces there

were two USAF personnel. The pilot, Capt. Herbert Booth Jr. and Radioman, T/Sgt Richard L. Foxx.  This should aid

us in answering the remaining questions.  Which are:

1. What unit were the USAF personnel assigned to?

2. What was the name and unit assignment of the FARMGATE T-28 pilotthat crashed on 16 Oct 62?

I am thinking that it was the same pilot that provided air cover the previous day.

3. What was the name and unit assignment of the WWII B-26 bomber pilot?

4.  What were the names and unit assignment of the 3 CH-21C chopter pilots?

The chopter pilots might have been Army or even Vietnamese.

5.What are the names of any USAF personel that were involved with the

operation?

6. Does the AF have any photos of the crashsite or press releases of the crash?   If so I need copies.

 

If you can help me with any of this it would serve to clear up question and

misinformation that have been around for years.

 

My contact info is:

Cpt (R) Arthur T. Fields Jr.

5517 Bent Tree Drive

Shreveport, LA 71115-9565

 

I hope you can assist me in this effort.  I will be in communication with you.

Thanks,

Art Fields

 

To: "Arthur Fields" <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net>

From: <aircommando1@earthlink.net>

 

 

I was at Bien Hoa when Fox, Cordell and Booth were killed on 15 Oct 1962.  Fox and Booth were from USAF Det 2 Alpha, 1st Air Commando Group (APO 27 San Francisco, CA).  I signed out the PRC-10 radio to TSgt Fox, who was a Combat Controller,  and a few hours later he was burned to death in the crash of the U-10 Helio Courier piloted by Capt Fox.  The PRC-10 was used by Fox to communicate with the Army on the ground since we didn't have any FM in our aircraft at that time.  Same problem we had in WWII , Korea and then in Vietnam.   Later a T-28 was shot down and was piloted by Capt Bill Chambers but he survived and he is a cc address on this e-mail.  The B-26s also belonged to Det 2 Alpha.  We had C-47, B-26, T-28 and U-10 aircraft at Det 2A at Bien Hoa AB in 1962. 

 

Chalie Jones was a Combat Controller and knew Foxx very well and has some pictures-he is Butterfly in cc above.

 

The H-21 was an Army helicopter.  Capt Bennett and Lt Tully were killed in a B-26 on 5 Nov but I can't find any B-26 that went down between 15 Oct and 5 Nov 1962.

 

There are several books which covers some of these events to include "Air Commando" by Philip D. Chinnery and a lot of material which many of us have keep over the years.  I have some things which I will have to look through if you are interested.

 

I assume that you are writing a book that covers some of these events and I am sure everyone in this e-mail would be glad to contribute to.  Could you send something back of your interest in our people who were involved in these events.

 

Gene Rossel

Chino, CA

 

 

From: "Arthur Fields" <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net

To: "Eugene D. Rossel" <aircommando1@earthlink.net

References: <5.1.0.14.2.20020114203120.02e05140@pop3.norton.antivirus>

Subject: Re: Inquiry into a Special Forces Operation.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:20:01 -0600

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Gene:

Thanks for getting back to me. The info you provided is what I was looking for.

No, the B-26 did not crash,  it did however provide air cover and support for the operation.

Maybe Bill Chambers will know who the pilot was. I will try and contact Chambers and Jones.

Did Foxx spell his name with one or two XXs?.  I was a MSG (Team Sgt) at the time. I was in

charge of the operation and my team were the only Americans on the ground.

 

This year we are having the "50th Anniversary of Special Forces", 17 June to 23 June 2002, in

Fayetteville, NC.  I am trying to get this all together by then.  There has been so much misinformation

written about this operation.  Not one of the people on the ground have ever been contacted.

 

I would greatly appreciate any additional info or material that you might have. You have my other

contact infor. Thanks again.

 

Green Beret-All The Way!!!

Art Fields

 

 

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 13:57:00 -0600

Subject: Re: Special Forces Operation (Booth,Foxx and Cordell KIA) 15 Oct

            62

From: Bill Chambers <blchambers@earthlink.net

To: Arthur Fields <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net

CC: "Eugene D. Rossel" <aircommando1@earthlink.net

Message-ID: <B86B372C.118A%blchambers@earthlink.net>

In-Reply-To: <004901c19e29$968aa180$8e0b530c@shreve.net>

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on 1/15/02 7:02 PM, Arthur Fields at arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net wrote:

 

 Bill:

 I am the SF guy who was in charge on the ground when the U-10 Helio that was

 piloted by Capt Booth was shot down on 15 Oct 62.  I understand from Gene Rossel that you were the

 pilot of the  FARMGATE T-28 that went down the next morning.  I would like to speak with

 you about this.  There has been much misinformation written about this operation and I want

 to get the record straight.  I would greatly appreciate it if you would get in contact with me.

 

 My additional contact info is:

 Arthur T. Fields Jr.

 5517 Bent Tree Drive

 Shreveport, LA 71115-9565

 

 Green Beret-All The Way!!!

 Art

 

Hi, Art. Glad someone is getting all the story out. I'll be glad to see your

finished product since I don't have all the story either. Here is what I

remember from this old brain of mine. Bob Walker and I was sent up to Ban Me Thut (that isn't the proper spelling,

but I'm sure you know it since you were there- where the Montagnard villege

was) on 12 Oct. We were told that we were to fly support missions for the

Special Forces who would be leading a group of Montagnards to try to find a

vc training area. Intelligence had heard that there were at least one

Chinese who were instructing the VC.  Bob and I flew into the little airfield outside the villege and were taken

to the Montagnard camp. We met the SF Capt. in charge of the camp (don't

remember his name but I'm almost positive he was in the U-10 with Capt Booth

and Sgt. Foxx) and a couple of Sgts. who worked for him (probably you) and a

spook from the CIA who, among things, was in charge of the weapons he gave

to the Montagnards. I remember he gave me an M-1 carbine and a small machine

gun which I put in the baggage compartment of my T-28. We finalized our

signals we would use for the ground forces to direct us in delivering our

ground support fire (using panels on the ground) since we couldn't talk on

the radios.  We didn't hear anything on the day after we got there. We were told that no

contact had been made with the VC. But one thing interesting did happen.

This SF Capt. walked into the camp from the jungle out of nowhere in the

afternoon. He was very pleasent and introduced himself as George Patton. We

visited a while and I noticed that he was at least six ft. tall and looked

like a carbon copy of THE George Patton. After he left, I found out he was

the son of Gen. Patton. A Sgt. told me he would disappear for a few days and

then come walking in again to get a shower and some food, then leave again,

never saying where he was going or where he hadf been. You SF types are

wierd! Thank God we have them!  Bob Walker and I were getting bored sitting around and nothing happening.

The U-10 was sitting on the ground also waiting for some word from the field

that they had contact with the bad guys (you were out in the field  with

them??) Your Capt. said he was sure he could find some targets for us, and

he went with Capt Booth and Sgt. Foxx in the U-10. They were going to make

contact with the forces on the ground and find us some targets. We were to

take off about 30 minutes after they did.  The CIA guy was going to fly in the back seat with me, but he had finished

off too many bottles of gin the night before and could not even climb up on

the wing of my aircraft. We decided he could fly with me later- that was one

time that the gin saved his life.(By the way- of the seventy some-odd

missions I flew there, I had a Vietnamese in the back seat two times and

they were privates We hardly ever flew with them in the aircraft)

We took off and tried to contact the U-10 on the radio and could not raise

them. We called the camp to see if they had contact with them but they

couldn't contact them either. So Bob and I flew around the area looking for

them. Finally we saw this smoke coming up from the ground and it was their

aircraft. One wing was folded over the cockpit. You know the rest.

The next morning Bob and I were flying cover for the recovery team, which

included Lt. Col. Miles Doyle, our commander from Bien Hoa who had flown in

the night before.  We had contact with the recovery team on the ground and they reported no

contact with hostile forces. I was making passes over our people, really

just "showing the Eagle" to try to keep the VC from trying anything. I was

in the middle of one pass when my engine lost power and smoke started

streamming out of it. I didn't know whether I'd blown a jug or what. I let

Walker know I was going down and apparently the Chopper was on our frequency

and took off immediately. I was too low to bail out (no ejection seat) and

had to ride it in. About all that was left of the T-28 was the cockpit

laying on it's side. I couldn't get the canopy open more than about one

third. I would never have been able to get the CIA guy out of the back seat.

I was later told that they found only one bullet hole in the aircraft- right

in the carb. What a lucky (or unlucky) shot.

 

I know this has been windy but I wanted to tell you everything I remembered.

An interesting note- While I was in the hospital at Clark AFB having X-rays

taken, I was visited by another CIA type. He wanted to let me know what to

say if anyone asked me questions. I was to say that I did have a Vietnamese

in the back seat with me, etc. As you know, I can't verify any of what he

told me (maybe you can), but he told me they had captured two Chinese

advisors. He futher said that they (CIA,or whoever "they" were) had turned

the interrigation of the two over to a French team who took them up in a

chopper.  When the procedure was started on the second, they couldn't stop him from

talking. Interesting story, whether the CIA type was trying to impress me or

what.

 

Let me know if I can help in any way. I'd like to know what you find out.Was

Cordell the SF Capt. on the U10? That name rings a bell.

Bill Chambers- You have my e-mail. My address is 6751 S. 70th. E. Ave.,

Tulsa OK 74133.

 

 

From: "Arthur Fields" <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net

To: "Eugene D. Rossel" <aircommando1@earthlink.net

References: <5.1.0.14.2.20020117055058.027d02f0@pop3.norton.antivirus>

Subject: Re: RE: Re: Special Forces Operation (Booth,Foxx and Cordell  KIA)  15 Oct 62

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 10:15:54 0600

 

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Gene:

With your help it's coming together. I would still like to find out who

flew the B-26 on 15 Oct 62.  Do any of your contacts know to what

unit the CH-21 Army helicopters were assigned? That's still a missing link.

I would bet that one of the 3 choppers that flew us in to the battlefield on

15 Oct, was used for recovery on 16 Oct.  Rumor has it that the recovery

helicopter was flown by an ex SF Msg that had gone to flight school. by the

name of "Mississippi" Woods. Can any of your contacts recall ever hearing of

him?  I will keep it going until we have all the facts and information nailed

down.

 

I have some photos of both crash sites.  I will have copies made and send

Them to you.  It's been so long ago that I can no longer tell which plane is

which,  both were badly damaged. Maybe you and Bill Chambers can tell the

difference.

 

Green Beret-All The Way!!!

Art

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 12:52:27 -0600

Subject: Re: BUON ENAO PROJECT, 1962

From: Bill Chambers <blchambers@earthlink.net

To: Arthur Fields <arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net,

            "Eugene D. Rossel" <aircommando1@earthlink.net

Message-ID: <B86C798B.11B6%blchambers@earthlink.net>

In-Reply-To: <001201c19efe$bbf59440$b90a530c@shreve.net>

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on 1/16/02 8:29 PM, Arthur Fields at arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net wrote:

 

 Bill,

 Thanks for getting back to me. With your help I think we can fill in the

 missing parts. Here is my version, from the ground, of what happened.

 

 My team from the 1st SFG on Okinawa was sent Vietnam to expand the Buon Enao

 Project, in August 1962.  Teams back then wore civilian clothes, civilian ID

 and cover story.  We were located in the Rhade village of Buon Tha Mo,

 Darlac Province, Vietnam. Ban Me Thout was the largest town around and Buon

 Enao was located just a few clicks from there. The airfield was located

 between the two.  My base camp of Buon Tha Mo was located some distance from

 Buon Enao. I was a MSG at the time and Team Sgt.

 

 On this mission there were four A teams (1 from "B" Company and 3 from "C"

 Company), 1st SFG  deployed to relieve Cpt Ron Shackleton's team (who had

 set up the initial base at Buon Enao) and to expand the project.  Shackleton

 only had half a team (7) with him.

 

 The "Buon Enao Project" as we knew it was formally named "The Tribal Area

 Development Program", then the "Village Defense Program" and finally the

 "Civilian Irregular Defense Group" (CIDG).

 

 We flew out of Kadena AFB on an unmarked C-47 with a Taiwanese pilot. We

 landed at Ban Me Thout (bypassing Saigon) where we were met and taken to

 Buon Enao.  There we were given one old green WWII Jeep and one old WWII two

 and a half ton truck.  We were introduced to the village chief of Buon Tha

 Mo and told that we would be going there to establish a base.  We piled our

 gear and what supplies that were given us onto the vehicles and with a small

 lightly armed group of Rhade setout, through the jungle, for the village.

 There were no roads so the going was slow and rocky.  The Rhade had no

 vehicles and therefore did not need roads. Foot and animal paths sufficed.

 

 The village chief had already started the village fortifications.  Upon

 arriving we built our team house, a commo bunker, a ammo storage bunker,

 infirmary, and other facilities that were needed.  We did this in

 conjunction with training the men of the village in the use of weapon and

 tactics.  We also trained and armed a strike force battalion.  Then we

 started reaching out and bringing in the surrounding villages. We trained

 and armed them and then sent them back to their village, along with a strike

 force unit to defend them while they fortified their village and made it

 secure.  All the while we kept up our patrols in ever increasing range,

 using secured villages as patrol bases in a stepping stone fashion. In doing

 so we developed new techniques and tactics as we went along.  As we advanced

 toward the Cambodian border the VC started emptying out the villages that we

 had not got to; taking the villagers into the jungle and going underground.

 We discovered the VC had established a training camp in the foothills of the

 Chu Kai mountains near Ban Don along the Song Srepok River.  It stood in the

 way of us and Ban Don.  So, we decided to take it out.  We cleared a Landing

 Zone at our primary base in Buon Tha Mo and readied our Strike Force,

 equipping them with German 9mm MP-40 submachine guns, new web gear, black

 uniforms, bush hats and Bata boots.  In the early morning of 15 Oct 1962,

 three C-21C Shawnee helicopters flew in.  I had organized the Strike Force

 into two companies of three platoons each (one platoon per helicopter and

 one American per platoon).  The three Americans with each company consisted

 of one NCOIC , one Medic, and one Commo/Radio Operator.  There were no

 officers on the ground on this one.  The plan was to hit and destroy the VC

 training camp and then one company would sweep north in a "U" and the other

 company would sweep south in a "U", with both companies returning by foot

 back to base camp at Buon Tha Mo. For air support we had one WWII B-26

 bomber and one FARMGATE T-28.

 

 Aircraft involved in this operation were:

 3  H-21C Shawnee helicopter (they flew two lifts each to bring troops into

 the battlefield)

 1  WWII Douglas B-26K (A-26A) "COUNTER INVADER" (flew air cover and dropped

 bombs on VC complex)

 1  FARMGATE T-28A "TROJAN" (flew air cover for the operation)

 1  HELIO U-10D "SUPER COURIER"  (This is the one that 3Americans were KIA)

 

 On the late evening of 15 October 1962, I was securing the objective and was

 in communication with the senior Special Forces Commander, Cpt Terry

 Cordell, coordinating the resupply of ammo and supplies. My Radio Operator

 was up in a tree putting up the jungle antenna for better communication.

 Cpt Cordell was in a HELIO U-10D observation aircraft flying overhead low

 and slow.  I was speaking with him on the FM radio and suddenly he went

 blank.  My Radioman shouted look, look!!  I looked up and saw the Helio

 going straight up with fire coming from the nose area.  It looped over and

 started spiraling down into the jungle.  On board the plane was, Cpt Terry

 Cordell (U. S. Army Special Forces, 1st SFG Okinawa) and two USAF personnel,

 Capt. Herbert W. Booth Jr., the pilot and T/Sgt Richard L. Foxx, the Combat

 Air Controller. (USAF Det. 2 Alpha, 1st Air Commando Group)  All were KIA.

 It was night and very dark in deep jungle when we reached the crash site. I

 found all three aboard dead with their bodies severely burned.  I set up a

 defense perimeter (circle) around the crash site to keep the VC from the

 bodies and wreckage.  The VC probed our defenses all night.

 

 The next morning the brass from Saigon started arriving.  A FARMGATE T-28

 came in low and slow and was downed.  I am sure that it was the same one

 that provided air cover the previous day. It was fully loaded.  The pilot

 had taken off without his Vietnamese counterpart.  We pulled him (Capt. Bill

 Chambers) out of the wreckage alive and almost lost some of our people

 looking for the second pilot before we realize there was none. Ammo was

 exploding like the 4th of July in the burning wreckage.  A CH-21 helicopter

 was brought in to take out the bodies. Later that day we tracked down the

 group of VC that had shot down the two aircraft. They were holed up in a

 straw shack at the edge of a rice-field.  We surrounded and destroyed them.

 That was when we discovered that the weapon used to bring down the aircraft

 was an American BAR left over from the Indo-China War.

 

 I returned to base camp (Buon Tha Mo) with over four hundred villagers that

 we had liberated from the VC. We were greeted by the brass from Saigon and

 debriefed.  So far as can be determined this was the first helicopter

 assault of the Vietnam War led by an American.

 

 In November my team split sending half (six) to open a base camp at Ban Don.

 We continued to secure and train villagers and kill VC until we deployed

 back to Okinawa in February 1963.

 

 I am in the process of setting the record straight on the death of Cpt.

 Terry Cordell and the two Airmen. The any information that you can furnish

 will go a long way toward that goal.

 

 The remaining questions are:

 1. Are you  the same T-28 Pliot that flew air support on 15 Oct 62?  From

 your message I know that you were the Pliot of the T-28 that went down on

 the 16 Oct 62, the morning after the U-10 went down.

 2. Do you know who was the Pliot of the B-26 that flew air support for us on

 15 Oct 62?

 3. Do you remember to what unit the CH21 Choppers were assigned  or any of

 the Pliots?

 4. Do you remember us pulling you out of the burning T-28 or anything about

 your evacuation?

 

 Green Beret-All The Way!!!

 

 Art Fields

 

 

Art,

 

Yes, I did fly air support on 15 Oct. but we didn't expend any ordnance. We

saw you on the ground  but you had not made contact with the VC. It may have

looked like there were only one aircraft (you probably never saw us close

together- we always flew spread out quite a bit) but we always flew two

T-28s together.

 

I'm not sure of the B-26 pilot, but I think it might have been Capt. Van

Hovel from our unit. We were the only ones flying B-26s and AT-28s at that

time. I think that Air America later flew them. Gene Rossel might know about

Van Hovel. I was told that the B-26 later finished off my T-28 (bombed).

 

I have no idea what unit the CH-21 was assigned to. In 1962 the Army was the

only ones flying this aircraft there. The Marines flew the H-34s. I was told

it was the same bird that flew the brass into the U-10 crash site. The B-26,

AT-28s and the U-10 were all FARMGATE aircraft and crews.

 

My memory of the crash is different than yours. I remember when the aircraft

finally stopped, I tried to blow the canopy but it wouldn't move.(it used

compressed air to blow back the canopy and the air line was apparently

ruptured).I then moved the canopy handle to manual and tried to pull it

open. It opened a few inches, enough to get part of my shoulder on it. I

finally got it opened enough to try to squeeze out, but the shoulder holster

hung up on the railing. I had to get back inside and move the holster under

my arm pit, then was barely able to get out. (Remember my saying I would not

have been able to get the CIA guy out) I then moved- bent over because my

back was injured and I couldn't stand up- to the nearest undergrowth and

prepared to fight it out as long as I could. We had been told by our Intel.

that the VC would capture you if you could move with them, otherwise they

would put a bullet in your head. Almost immediately, I saw the H-21 coming

into the landing. A crewman was standing the doorway with a machine gun. I

stood up as much as I could and waved my arms and started moving toward the

Chopper.The guy in the Chopper  waved me to stay put. A couple of the crew

came over with a stretcher and got me into the Chopper and flew me to the

airport where a C-47 was standing by to fly me out.

 

I was glad to get your research results. It cleared up some things. Since

your people were wearing civilian clothes, were you passing off as CIA? The

man passing out the guns there was identified as CIA, but it sure sounds

like you guys. You were setting up the camps and arming the Montagnards.When

we were on the mission, we were also told that this operation would be under

the control of the Special Forces fot the first in the war.

 

Hope this helps you. Let me know if I can do anything else. ANY PLACE, ANY

TIME   Bill.

 

 

From: BTRFLYFAC@aol.com

Message-ID: <176.2404afb.2978de25@aol.com>

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 21:10:45 EST

Subject: 1962 shootdown

To: blchambers@earthlink.net, arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net,

        RLGleason21@cs.com, aircommando1@earthlink.net, Zebrasix52@aol.com

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Dear Art,

 I am Charlie Jones. I am tickled to get the inquiry, because I have been

trying to reestablish contact with our "Boun Enao Brothers. " I have been

successful in locating P.T Wilson, the Radio Operator. Was knowledegable of

Haney for awhile. Colt Terry, the A team boss who came in to replace Cordell

is in constant contact with me. He tells of Roberg and some of the others.

SGTMajor O'Donovan is dead. I have talked with his son. OD is buried near

Pensacola. Luckhurst is in New York. He got out and did not retire as we did.

Lost all contact with Cody who came in to replace Foxx.I made Warrant Officer

in the SF, and got up with Helmick at Bragg who was still there and had made

Warrant. Col. Colt Terry is CC to this email.  He came as a Capt. to the team

to replace Cordell. Cordell is buried in Sanford, FL. He is well remembered

there. They people there named a school or a gym after him. Foxx's name is on

a monument in Columbia SC, to commemorate him. We here at Hurlburt dedicated

a large monument to Forward Air Controllers KIA in SVN. I got Capt Willoughby

Booth's and TSGT Dick Foxx's names on it. They are the first entries on the

stone.

Here's some of my memory of the shootdown. The operation was to involve the

airlift of Rhade tribesmen into the area west of the Mewal Plantation, also

west of a ridge line. I still have the map I used. The helicopter guys were

airlifted into their assigned area. An element of us, about twenty or so of

Rhade, and me, and Helmick and a SF corporal whose name I cannot remember

were to move by foot from the east to join up with the western element after

the VC company was located and engaged. We went as far as a truck could go,

and were dropped off near the grass strip at the plantation. We moved through

the jungle trails and took over a village at day break. Capt Willoughby

Booth, Air Commando Pilot, Capt. Terry Cordell, our A team boss at Boun Enao,

our village, and TSGT Dick Foxx were airborne for air strike cover. They

overlflew our village position and asked if we needed anything by airdrop. We

ordered up some ammo and chow, which request was radioed back to Luckhurst

who was operating the radios and coordinating the Air Commando T-28s who were

using the paved strip east of Ban MeThout. In the village that morning, we

heard what was obviously a radio call from the west element that the L-28 was

on fire and going down. Helmick and I got several of the Rhade, and left the

others to continue with the plan if it was still to be worked. The SF

corporal set our with two or three of the Rhade to get word back in case the

guys back there did not know. While moving along the trails we came under

observation of the two T-28s which had been scrambled. We were frightened at

the possibility that they would mistake us for the VC and attack us. They

left about dark. Before we contacted the troops from the western element, who

as you pointed out were moving toward the crash, too, we came to an abandoned

village, Boun Dhung, and set it afire as a marker for the planes we felt sure

would arrive the next day. Then we made contact with the Rhade from the

western element. We left the bodies in the wreckage til the next morning.

Helmick and I propped a part of the plane against a tree and leaned on this

all night at the VC probed and blew whistles. We removed the bodies the next

morning, and a Vietnamese H-19 (or 34) arrived with Commando Commander LtCol

Miles Doyle and Commando Medic Hap Lutz. Doyles wanted to see the wreckage,

which we walked him to the scene. The Chopper came under fire and went around

a couple of times before he got back in and we loaded the bodies aboard. I

fell aboard the chopper just as a T-28 flown by Commando  Billy Chambers

screamed into the ground almost hitting us. We dropped the bodies off at a

masonry building near BanMeThout and went back to check on Chambers. An Army

H-21 had wobbled in and picked him up, as we were told when we arrived back

at the scene. The only recollection I have of the involvement of the Commando

B-26 was it bombed the downed L-28 into smithereens after the event was over.

I'm glad to hear from you. I had it in my mind that the western element also

had an SF guy named something like "Chickering" or the like, but memory is

goofy after so many years.  There were three of us Commando Combat Controllers assigned to the A team at

Boun Enao: Dick Foxx, TSGT, our boss, myself, then a SSGT, and Chuck

Luckhurst, an AIC. Every once in awhile Capt Nelson Gough, CCTer would come

in to the village too. We worked with, lived with, fought with, and as the

case came, died with the SF! If you are writing some memoirs or the like,

Wilson, Lutz and one or two others can possibly be run down for their

recollections, too. Do you remember Dooly from the Leprosarium? and

MacFadden, I believe?  I tremendously enjoyed that tour there in Det. 2, Air Commandos from Aug. 62

to Feb 1963.

We can share more details as we go along. I remember Lucky and I chopping

down trees near the village so the L-28 could land there and not have to go

to the paved strip east of BMT.

 God Bless!

 Charlie Jones

 

 

From: "George Lattin" <glattin@charter.net>

To: "Eugene D. Rossel" <aircommando1@earthlink.net>

References: <5.1.0.14.2.20020117133131.0259cec0@pop3.norton.antivirus>

Subject: Re: Re: BUON ENAO PROJECT, 1962

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 17:56:24 -0600

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Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

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Gene

 

My best guess would be the 81st Trans. Co flying the CH-21's out of  'Old

Pleiku' this was later called 'Camp Holloway'. They arrived by ship (USNS

Croatan) in Saigon, from Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, the last part of

Sepetmber 1962. Within the first week of October 1962 they were operating

out of Old Pleiku and the base was considered "fully operational" 15,

October 1962 under the command of Major George Aldridge Jr. USA

 

During November 1961, the JCS directed the deployment of three

Transportation Companies (Light Helicopter) equipped with CH-21's to the

RVN. By the end of January 1962 the companies had arrived and by 15 April

had been augmented by a Marine helicopter squadron.

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/documents/abnops/tabg.htm

 

http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamarchive/Finding-Aids/VHPA/VHPA%20Printed%2

0Material.htm

 

George Lattin

 

 

The H-21 was the first American military helicopter type to be deployed in

appreciable numbers to South Vietnam: the first four Shawnee units arrived

in that country between December 1961 and September 1962. Inevitably,

perhaps, the H-21 also gained the dubious distinction of being the aircraft

in which America's first Vietnam casualties were killed; four Army aviators

died in July 1962 when their Shawnee was shot down near the

Laotian-Vietnamese border.

http://avia.russian.ee/vertigo/piasecki_h-21-r.html

 

Charlie:

Received a nice phone call from Leffler L. Ramsey, (361) 853-9598, last

night. He told me that he and

Booth flew the first two U-10s to VN and that he was the OIC of the unit.

He lives in Corpus Christi, TX.

I did not get his E-mail address, do you have it..  If not I will call him

back and get the additional info that I

need. We got to talking and I forgot to ask questions.

 

Can you send me the names of all the USAF personnel that were at Buon Enao,

their ranks, job titles and

unit of assignment. Who was the OIC and NCOIC?

Do you recall any ARVN  LLDB stationed at the Village? If so do you remember

any of their names?

Do you recall any additional SF (other than the assigned Team members) that

were assigned to the camp?

How about MAC personnel?

I am trying to nail down all the American personnel that were at the camp

and were a part of the Boon Bane Project.

 

Do you recall when the change over was officially made naming the L-28 the

U-10? I can now see how the mistake was

made in the material now written about the crash on 15 Oct 62.  Almost all

writings refer to Cordell being KIA in a T-28.

I can see how a mix-up could occur between the I-28 and the T-28.

 

I have sent Bill Chambers copies of what photos I have left of both crash

sites. (UP-10 & T-28)

 

Green Beret-All The Way!!!

Art

 

Guys.... These two "posts" have opened up my "memory spaces".

 

Most of the missions in that area were flown by the 81st Transportation

Company (CH-21C), based at Camp Holloway, Pleiku (named after my friend

Chuck Holloway).

 

CPT Ed Spencer was usually involved in those type of missions. He was

pictured in Nat Geo Mag, during the 'yard uprising.

 

I have several clippings and a photo of Terry Cordell, prior to his

death, in my scrapbooks. He was briefing Gen Max Taylor, in the photo.

 

At Ft Eustis, VA, from '71 until '75, when I retired, I worked in

"Cordell Hall", a classroom used to instruct Air Transportability. His

photo "graced" the entrance hall. He was a Regular Army Transportation

Corps officer, who needed "combat arms" time, so he was "detailed" to

INF for a year.

 

The UTT Armed Helicopter Co, arrived in Saigon in Sep '62, from Korat

RTAFB, Thailand, wher it had been based, along with my 1st Aviation Co

(Caribou), that moved to Vung Tau on 31 Dec '62.

 

"icihicpcl".... please identify yourself....we old CH-21C pilots are a

vanishing "breed".

 

The late CW4, Ret, Max Hall, brought his CH-21C to Rucker several years

ago, during the annual June W4 Reunion. It was great to see the old bird

fly!

 

I was there with CW4, Ret, Billy Fulbright, my H-21 IP at Riley in

'56.... Dega Vu!

 

I also have e-mail addresses for Rex Flohr (my 55-F Classmate), John

Daneker, Billy Fulbright and Marv Farmer....8th TC.

 

Don Joyce

CW4, US Army Aviation, Retired.

8th Trans Co, Ft Bragg, '55-'56, H-25 & H-21.

3rd Trans Co, Ft Belvoir, VA '62-'63 H-21.

179th ASHC, Pleiku, '67-'68, 3rd Tour Guy

 

Always something new at "The Aerie"....

 

http://community.webtv.net/GoldEagle4/GoldEagle4sAerie Changed: 22

December 2001

 

 

BOB,

      IT WASN'T ME! I ARRIVED IN COUNTRY IN LATE NOVEMBER '62. HOWEVER,

THERE WERE TWO CH-21 COMPANIES OPERATING IN THE 2 CORPS AREA; THE 81ST

TRANS. COMPANY WAS BASED IN PLEIKU (HOLLOWAY FIELD) AND THE 8TH TRANS.

COMPANY WAS BASED IN QUI NHON. I WAS IN THE 8TH.

      THERE WERE COMBAT ASSAULT MISSIONS FLOWN PRIOR TO THIS ONE, BUT SINCE

THERE WERE NO U.S. COMBAT TROOPS IN COUNTRY, THESE MISSIONS WERE ALL

ARVN WITH U.S. ADVISORS SITTING SOMEWHERE BACK IN A CP WAITING FOR THE

RESULTS, COMMONLY KNOWN AS MAAG(ITS), IF YOU GET MY DRIFT!

      THE UTT (UTILITY TACTICAL TRANSPORT COMPANY) HAD ARRIVED IN COUNTRY

WITH UH-IB AIRCRAFT, AND ARMED WITH 12 ROCKET TUBES, AND FOUR M-60

MGS. THIS WAS THE FIRST ARMED HELICOPTER IN COUNTRY, AND FOR A WHILE

WE WERE ABLE TO FLY INTO AREAS WITH VERY LITTLE GROUND COMING BACK AT

US, BUT THAT CHANGED. WE HAD A PLATOON OF FOUR OR FIVE OF THESE

AIRCRAFT ASSIGNED TO US, AND THEY SUPPORTED ALL MISSIONS FOR THE 81ST

AND THE 8TH UNTIL WE EVENTUALLY GOT OUR OWN UH-I'S IN EARLY '64.

      IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE 81ST, AND PERHAPS IT HAPPENED BEFORE THE UTT

ARRIVED IN II CORPS. I RECALL T-28'S SUPPORTING US AT TIMES, AND

B-26'S. I DO RECALL A B-26 ENTERING A DIVE THE EXCEEDED RED LINE DIVE

ANGLE, AND WATCHING THE WING LEAVE THE AIRCRAFT, AND THEN WATCHING HIM

GO TO STRAIGHT TO THE GROUND. HELL OF A SIGHT! ALL WE COULD DO WAS

WATCH, AND WE COULDN'T EVEN FIND THE BODY!

      I ALSO RECALL THERE BEING A "B" DETACHMENT LOCATED IN NHA TRANG (LT.

ANDERSON (OCS TYPE WITH CIB FROM KOREA), AND SERVED AS A SUPPLY

FACILITY FOR THE GUYS OUT OF OKINAWA, AND BRAGG. AND, I RECALL FLYING

A NUMBER OF "HOG" MISSIONS FOR THE "YARDS", WHO WERE LOCATED AT GIA

VUC "A" DETACHMENT. THEY WERE CARRYING SMYSERS (SPELLING?) SWEEDISH

K'S, WINCHESTER PUMP SHOTGUNS, GREASE GUNS AND THOMPSONS, AND SOME

EVEN HAD SPRINGFIELD 03-A3'S. THERE WAS A CAPT. GARNER AS THE "A" DET.

CO, AND A SFC SNOWDON AS DEMO MAN. LONG TIME AGO; I THINK MAYBE I'M

SUFFERING FROM ADVANCED CRS.......

      IF YOU LIKE, I'LL FORWARD THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE TO SEVERAL GUYS THAT

I'M IN CANTACT WITH WHO FLEW THE "HOG-21" BACK IN THE GOOD OL' DAYS!

FOR ALL I KNOW, THEY MIGHT KNOW THE CREWS OF THE "HOGS", OR MIGHT HAVE

BEEN FLYING THAT DAY. HELL! IT'S A SMALL WORLD!

      BEFORE I DIE, I WOULD LOVE TO FLY ONE AGAIN: IT IS/WAS A WILD, CRAZY,

HARD-TO-FLY, WONDERFUL AIRCRAFT......

            BARC

 

You are the only tiger I know that flew the 21s. I didn't read it all

but thought you may know something about it!??

Mo

 

Dan,

 

I am sending you copies of an internet email exchange regarding some of the first Special Forces/Air Commando operations in Vietnam that you may find interesting and hope that you may be able to provide additional information.

 

In this exchange T/Sgt. Foxx was a member of our Combat Control Team, they served as both ground and airborne FAC's and were among the first in Vietnam. Foxx was killed while being an airborne FAC for the Buon Enao Project and could well be the first FAC killed in the war.

 

I've been doing some research and as near as I can tell, the only FAC's that were on a combat jump, as a FAC, were LTC Henry W. Burrow, 173rd ALO and CPT James T. Callaghan, Asst. ALO. They jumped with the 173rd on "Junction City" (The other combat jumps were:  Harvest Noon, Blackjack, Oregon, Blue Max, Teams.)  This one was on 22 February 1967 in the vicinity of Katum, Republic of Vietnam, (GO 444, 12 March 1967). (Jim went on to become an AF three star general, he passed away last February)

 

http://www.173rdairborne.com/manifest.htm

 

George Lattin

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 1/16/02 8:29 PM, Arthur Fields at arthur.fields@worldnet.att.net wrote:
 
 Bill,


    Thanks for getting back to me. With your help I think we can fill in the missing parts. Here is my version, from the ground, of what happened.
  
    My team from the 1st SFG on Okinawa was sent Vietnam to expand the Buon  Enao Project, in August 1962.  Teams back then wore civilian clothes, civilian ID  and cover story.  We were located in the Rhade village of Buon Tha Mo, Darlac Province, Vietnam. Ban Me Thout was the largest town around and Buon Enao was located just a few clicks from there. The airfield was located between the two.  My base camp of Buon Tha Mo was located some distance  from Buon Enao. I was a MSG at the time and Team Sgt.
 
 On this mission there were four A teams (1 from "B" Company and 3 from "C" Company), 1st SFG  deployed to relieve Cpt Ron Shackleton's team (who had set up the initial base at Buon Enao) and to expand the project.  Shackleton only had half a team (7) with him.
  
    The "Buon Enao Project" as we knew it was formally named "The Tribal Area Development Program", then the "Village Defense Program" and finally the "Civilian Irregular Defense Group" (CIDG).
  
    We flew out of Kadena AFB on an unmarked C-47 with a Taiwanese pilot. We landed at Ban Me Thout (bypassing Saigon) where we were met and taken to Buon Enao.  There we were given one old green WWII Jeep and one old  WWII two and a half ton truck.  We were introduced to the village chief of Buon Tha Mo and told that we would be going there to establish a base.  We piled our gear and what supplies that were given us onto the vehicles and with a small lightly armed group of Rhade setout, through the jungle, for the village. There were no roads so the going was slow and rocky.  The Rhade had no vehicles and therefore did not need roads. Foot and animal paths sufficed.
  
    The village chief had already started the village fortifications.  Upon arriving we built our team house, a commo bunker, a ammo storage bunker, infirmary, and other facilities that were needed.  We did this in
 conjunction with training the men of the village in the use of weapon and tactics.  We also trained and armed a strike force battalion. 

 

Then we started reaching out and bringing in the surrounding villages. We trained and armed them and then sent them back to their village, along with a  strike force unit to defend them while they fortified their village and made it secure.  All the while we kept up our patrols in ever increasing range, using secured villages as patrol bases in a stepping stone fashion. In doing so we developed new techniques and tactics as we went along.  As we advanced toward the Cambodian border the VC started emptying out the villages  that we had not got to; taking the villagers into the jungle and going underground.


We discovered the VC had established a training camp in the foothills of the Chu Kai Mountains near Ban Don along the Song Srepok River.  It stood  in the way of us and Ban Don. So, we decided to take it out. 

We cleared a  Landing Zone at our primary base in Buon Tha Mo and readied our Strike Force, equipping them with German 9mm MP-40 submachine guns, new web gear, black uniforms, bush hats and Bata boots. 

 

In the early morning of 15 Oct 1962, three C-21C Shawnee helicopters flew in. I had organized the Strike Force into two companies of three platoons each (one platoon per helicopter and one American per platoon).  The three Americans with each company consisted of one NCOIC, one Medic, and one Commo/Radio Operator. 

 

There were no officers on the ground on this one.  The plan was to hit and destroy the VC training camp and then one company would sweep north in a "U" and the other company would sweep south in a "U", with both companies returning by foot back to base camp at Buon Tha Mo. For air support we had one WWII B-26 bomber and one FARMGATE T-28.
  
Aircraft involved in this operation were:


 3 H-21C Shawnee helicopter (they flew two lifts each to bring troops into the battlefield)
 1 WWII Douglas B-26K (A-26A) "COUNTER INVADER" (flew air cover and dropped bombs on VC complex)
 1 FARMGATE T-28A "TROJAN" (flew air cover for the operation)
 1 HELIO U-10D "SUPER COURIER"  (This is the one that 3 Americans were KIA)
 
 On the late evening of 15 October 1962, I was securing the objective and was in communication with the senior Special Forces Commander, Cpt Terry Cordell, coordinating the resupply of ammo and supplies. My Radio Operator  was up in a tree putting up the jungle antenna for better communication.

 

Cpt Cordell was in a HELIO U-10D observation aircraft flying overhead low and slow.  I was speaking with him on the FM radio and suddenly he went  blank. My Radioman shouted look, look!!  I looked up and saw the Helio going straight up with fire coming from the nose area.  It looped over and  started spiraling down into the jungle.  On board the plane was, Capt Terry Cordell (U. S. Army Special Forces, 1st SFG Okinawa) and two USAF personnel, Capt. Herbert W. Booth Jr., the pilot and T/Sgt Richard L. Foxx, the Combat Air Controller. (USAF Det. 2 Alpha, 1st Air Commando Group)  All were KIA.


It was night and very dark in deep jungle when we reached the crash site. I found all three aboard dead with their bodies severely burned.  I set up a defense perimeter (circle) around the crash site to keep the VC from the bodies and wreckage.  The VC probed our defenses all night.
  
The next morning the brass from Saigon started arriving.  A FARMGATE T-28 came in low and slow and was downed.  I am sure that it was the same one that provided air cover the previous day. It was fully loaded.  The pilot had taken off without his Vietnamese counterpart.  We pulled him (Capt.  Bill Chambers) out of the wreckage alive and almost lost some of our people looking for the second pilot before we realize there was none. Ammo was  exploding like the 4th of July in the burning wreckage.  A CH-21 helicopter was brought in to take out the bodies.

 

Later that day we tracked down the group of VC that had shot down the two aircraft. They were holed up in a straw shack at the edge of a rice-field.  We surrounded and destroyed them.


That was when we discovered that the weapon used to bring down the aircraft was an American BAR left over from the Indo-China War.
  
I returned to base camp (Buon Tha Mo) with over four hundred villagers that we had liberated from the VC. We were greeted by the brass from Saigon and debriefed.  So far as can be determined this was the first helicopter assault of the Vietnam War led by an American.
  
 In November my team split sending half (six) to open a base camp at Ban Don.  We continued to secure and train villagers and kill VC until we deployed back to Okinawa in February 1963.
  
 I am in the process of setting the record straight on the death of Cpt. Terry Cordell and the two Airmen. The any information that you can furnish will go a long way toward that goal.
  
The remaining questions are:


 1. Are you the same T-28 Pilot that flew air support on 15 Oct 62?  From your message I know that you were the Pilot of the T-28 that went down on the 16 Oct 62, the morning after the U-10 went down.


    2. Do you know who was the Pilot of the B-26 that flew air support for  us on 15 Oct 62.


    3. Do you remember to what unit the CH21 Choppers were assigned or any of the Pilots?


    4. Do you remember us pulling you out of the burning T-28 or anything about your evacuation?
  
    Green Beret-All The Way!!!
  
    Art Fields
 
  

 

 

Billy and Art. The "Agent" who worked with us was named Be............I will

not give his entire name till when we meet in person. There was also the

famed Dave Knuttle there at Boun Enao with us. Have some good pics of him

somewhere.

 Charlie Jones

 

ART :

Cody's name is William Cody, SSgt at the time. Col. Doyle is deceased, I

believe. I see Hap Lutz all the time. He is active in the Air Commando

Association. Email is AirComando@AOL.COM (one "m" only in the spelling). This

is the ACA office email address, and Hap does not read it all the time.I

believe Pete Bowman the secretary will notify him if you wish to send him a

message. As I remember it there were only the pilot (right seat, American),

and the Vietnamese "advisee," (left seat), plus the American NCO crew chief.

Also, I think Hap and Col. Doyle were the only others aboard. I did fly out

with the bodies to BanMeThout, and returned to Chambers shootdown site with

the same chopper only to be told (by you, or Helmick?) that the H-21 had

picked up Chambers. The Chopper was an H-34, but could have been an H-19.

Charlie Jones

 

Dear Jim,

 Booth's details were less known about to me than the others. I plan to go to

Cordell's hometown and visit his grave as well as Dick's. Dick and I were

very close friends. We did dedicate a CCT monument at Hurlburt with

Dick's name on it. Same with the FAC monument. Dick's closest "relative," still alive, is a sorta "foster" brother, who was raised by Dick's parents (deceased) along with Dick. I have

been in contact with him. He has provided me a copy of the telegrams sent to

Dick's mother advising her that Dick was MIA the first day of the shootdown,

then the second telegram after we got the bodies out, telling her  that Dick

was dead. I discovered all this through endless calls and the like to officials there in Gaffney. I am going to Dick's grave, too. His name is on a monument in Columbia, SC. We were

instrumental in getting the highest award conferred on a graduate from the

Combat Control School named after Dick. Also, got a street named after him on

Hurlburt. I can tell so many stories about him including the wild ride we

made together on the planes to Vietnam.

 God Bless!

 Charlie Jones