(Note: Records differs as
to the aircraft type on this incident. Some
records show the aircraft type this crew was flying as UH1H, and some show
it as a UH1C. Herbert Crosby flew Charlie models every day from at least
July 1969 to January 1970. The serial number, #66-739 correlates to a C
model, the first two numbers indicating that the aircraft had been made in
1966, and the H model only had come out a few months before this time.
Although C models were gunships, and usually flew more or less
independently, while this aircraft was flying in tight formation as flight
lead, which would correlate with the H model, it has been confirmed that the
ship on which this crew was flying was definitely a Charlie model.)
At 1300 hours, the three
helicopters departed Tien Phuoc. Five to ten
minutes later, due to instrument flight rules, Capt. Crosby directed the
flight to change to a different flight heading. When the helicopters changed
frequencies to contact Chu Lai ground control approach, radio contact was
lost with Capt. Crosby and was not regained.
The other two aircraft
reached Chu Lai heliport, and at 1400 hours, serach efforts were begun for
the missing aircraft, although the crew was not found.
According to a 1974
National League of Families report, George Howes survived the crash of this
helicopter. The report further maintains that the loss occurred in Laos,
although the coordinates place it some 40-odd miles from that country.
A North Vietnamese
prisoner released later reported that he had seen Howes in captivity the
same month the helicopter went down. A second sighting by a villager in
Phuoc Chouc (or Phouc Chau) village reported Howes and two other POWs
stopped for water at his house in February, 1970, en route to Laos. Whether
these reports also relate to Allen, Crosby and Graziosi, is unknown.
When the last American
troops left Southeast Asia in 1975, some 2500
Americans were unaccounted for. Reports received by the U.S. Government
since that time build a strong case for belief that hundreds of these
"unaccounted for" Americans are still alive and in captivity.
"Unaccounted for" is a
term that should apply to numbers, not men. We, as a nation, owe these men
our best effort to find them and bring them home. Until the fates of the men
like the UH1C crew are known, their families will wonder if they are dead or
alive .. and why they were deserted.