Randolph Jefferson Ard

Chief Warrant Officer
Army of the United States
16 June 1951 - 18 September 1978
West Pensacola, Florida
Panel 04W Line 030



Army Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Randolph Jefferson Ard

16 Apr 2005

You are home ... sweet home, Alabama. Rest in Peace, Soldier.

Judith Singer

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 07 March 1971 a unit of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, was engaged in northwest South Vietnam. An OH-58A observation helicopter (tail number 68-16814) was detailed to pick up the Commanding Officer, 1/1 Cavalry, and take him to the vicinity of the engagement. The aircraft, piloted by Warrant Officer Randolph Ard, departed base, made a stop to pick up three passengers, and headed for the area of the enagagement. The four men aboard the aircraft were
  • WO Randolph J. Ard, West Pensacola, FL, pilot, Bde HHC, 1st Bde, 5 Inf Div
  • LTC Sheldon J. Burnett, Pelham, NH, Commanding Officer, 1st Sqd, 1st Cav Rgt
  • CPT Phil Bodenhorn, Commanding Officer, "A" Troop, 1/1 Cav
  • SP4 Mike Castillo, radioman
WO Ard overshot the engagement area and inadvertently crossed the border into Laos, where he was suckered into an ambush at a faked landing zone. As the OH-58 approached it was hit by enemy fire and went down hard, rolling to a partially inverted attitude. Ard and Burnett were trapped in the wreckage, while Captain Bodenhorn and SP4 Castillo were able to free themselves from the rear cabin area. Once free they were able to extract WO Ard, who had two broken legs and a possible broken pelvis. LTC Burnett could not be freed from the wreckage and was incoherent, sometimes unconscious. Bodenhorn and Castillo took up defensive positions on either side of the helicopter, where they engaged and killed a small enemy patrol.

Realizing that additional enemy forces were closing rapidly, and that neither Ard nor Burnett could be moved, Bodenhorn and Castillo left the wreckage in an attempt to evade capture. When they were at some distance from the wreckage they watched a UH-1C make a rocket firing run in the OH-58's vicinity, and later witnessed an F-4 make a single bomb run against the location. Although they knew Ard and Burnett were alive when they left the downed aircraft, Bodenhorn and Castillo were convinced the rocket fire and bombs must have killed them. Bodenhorn and Castillo met up with an ARVN unit about an hour later, but the enemy presence precluded any attempt to return to the OH-58 site. No rescue effort was mounted by US forces in SVN. Eleven days later, a ground force did reach the OH-58 but did not find either Ard or Burnett.

LTC Burnett and WO Ard were classed as Missing in Action and remained in that status for some years. The Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of Death for CWO Ard on 18 Sep 1978 and COL Burnett on 29 May 1979.

The remains of the two men were repatriated on 04 Oct 2004 and identified on 09 Dec 2004. Colonel Burnett's remains were buried in Arlington on 13 April 2005. Warrant Officer Ard had been buried almost a month earlier:

ARD - Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randolph Jefferson Ard, 19, died March 7, 1971 in Laos, just across the Vietnam-Laos border in the village of Ban Kahn.

Services will be today, Saturday, March 19, at 2 p.m. in the Marshall Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Albertville with full military honors. Burial will be in Marshall Memorial Gardens. Army Chaplain Major Joey T. Byrd and the Rev. Kenny Stripling will officiate. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Saturday from 9 a.m. until time of service.

© 2005 Sand Mountain Reporter, Albertville, Alabama
Reproduced under 17 USC 107

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a civilian who still cares,
Judith Singer
16 Apr 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 04/16/2005