John Wayne AcostaSpecialist Four
118TH AHC, 145TH AVN BN, 12TH AVN GRP, 1 AVN BDE
Army of the United States
12 October 1946 - 27 July 1968
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Panel 50W Line 016
The database page for John Wayne Acosta
Hey Buddy, I went to your grave in Little Rock, I put a Red Rose for you there. I have a Killed in Action bracelet I wear almost all the time, I won't forget you I promise. I went to Simpson's grave too. I have a Bracelet for him too. I miss you guys. I was at the Wall too, I rode there, you would have liked that. Tried to find your Mom, but could not.
Keep flying high, Man.
23 Nov 2005
He was in the 173rd Airborne first then came to fly for the 118th. He first flew with the 1st Platoon (Scorpions) - he flew on "Red 9". Then he went to the Gun platoon (Bandits). People have contacted me through this Wall and I spoke with his Mom after all these years .. I tried when I got home but could not find her.
From a friend in Nam,
Hey Guy, Hope you're getting all the hot biscuits and milk gravy you can eat. We all still miss you, but know you are where we all want to be. We are so proud of you. We love you.
From a friend,
I work for the Jacksonville Museum of Military History in Jacksonville, Arkansas, just a few miles north of where Wayne Acosta was from. I am in the process of building a memorial display in his honor in our museum.
The Note on this page state that Wayne was the only one killed in the incident and the other 3 survived but this is not the case. The other three crew members died as well. Crew Chief, PFC James Howard Young of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. was killed in the incident. Aircraft Commander WO1 Marcus Ray Asplund of Phoenix, Az. died 17 days later on 08/13/1968. Pilot WO1 Michael Ray Wilson of St. James Mo. died in Japan on 08/15/1968 from inhalation of JP-4 fuel.
I am not attempting to diminish anyone's account, but to describe the information as I have researched it. Thank you all for your service, and for caring about these American heroes.
From a brother in arms,
A Note from The Virtual WallOn 27 July 1968 a UH-1C gunship (tail number 65-09564) from the 118th AHC was providing close air support to a ground unit when the Huey was hit by enemy gunfire, caught fire, and crashed. Three of the four crewmen survived with wounds, but SP4 John W. Acosta was killed in the incident.
Mr. Houston's entry above is both right and wrong. When this memorial was first published on 04 Sep 2002 there was considerable doubt with respect to how SP4 Acosta died. The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Association (VHPA) information for 27 July 1968 stood as follows:
The Army incident report for UH-1C tail number 65-09564 held by the VHPA said no-one was killed in the incident: "Helicopter took 1 hit from unknown groundfire. The helicopter crashed. Aircraft destroyed. Casualties 04 WIA." - and there was no other reported incident for the 118th AHC on 27 July 1968. That situation is common for helicopter crewman hit in flight - if there is no significant damage to the aircraft there is no aircraft incident report. Even though the VHPA knew SP4 Acosta was killed while assigned to the 118th AHC, the only 27 Jul 1968 incident report submitted by the 118th AHC denied any deaths.
A member of The Virtual Wall staff found documentary evidence that SP4 Acosta had been killed in the 65-09564 crash. Even though the incident report failed to identify any deaths, the VHPA accepted that evidence and listed 65-09564 as having 1 KIA and 3 WIA - and that's where matters stood on 04 Sep 2002.
Some time later additional documentation was obtained to identify PFC Young's assignment to the 118th AHC and his involvement in the 65-09564 crash, changing the count once again: 2 killed, 2 wounded. At this point, The Virtual Wall should have corrected the Note on SP4 Acosta's memorial ... but we failed to do so.
Later still evidence was obtained regarding the unit assignments and date of injury for two pilots from the 118th AHC - Warrant Officers Marcus R. Asplund and Michael R. Williams. While that evidence did not firmly tie WO Asplund and WO Williams to 65-09564, there is no other known 118th AHC loss on 27 July. The VHPA accepted the tentative association as just that - a tentative and unproven association based on circumstantial evidence. The current VHPA information, available from the VHPA web site, reads as follows:
Once again The Virtual Wall should have updated SP4 Acosta's memorial to reflect the tentative association between the two Warrant Officers and 65-09564 - and once again we failed to do so.
At the moment, the VHPA has not obtained indisputable evidence that Warrant Officers Asplund and Williams were in fact injured when 65-09564 was shot down ... while all evidence points to that conclusion it is not proven. For that reason Mr. Houston's comments are both right and wrong. He is correct in that there were at least two deaths when 65-09564 went down, but he is incorrect in saying that WOs Asplund and Williams are known beyond doubt to have been injured in that crash.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
a friend and fellow aircrewman,
Charles A Bergandi
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 4 Sep 2002
Last updated 07/14/2007