William Arthur Gabrielsen
During the Vietnam War there was no overriding reason to keep close track of names of the men and women who died as a result of military service in the war zone. A decade after the withdrawal of US forces, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was approved for construction. The service branches went back through their records to identify our dead by name.
Inevitably some men who should have been named on the "Wall" were not. Over the years additional names have been inscribed on the Wall - some were men who died after the war as a result of wounds received in the war, and others were men whose names were overlooked in earlier years.
The Department of Defense approved having his name etched on the Wall during May 2014, along with 13 other names.
In the Traverse City Record-Eagle on page 3 of the 7 February 1968 paper the article read: "SENSOR SPECIALIST -- PFC William A. Gabrielsen, 20, son of Mr, and Mrs. Arthur W. Gabrielsen of Frankfort, recently received his certificate of Airborne Sensor Specialist from Ft. Huachuca, Ariz, where he was a student for 17 weeks before his transfer to Vietnam. Gabrielsen is a graduate of Frankfort High School, and attended Northwestern Michigan College before entering the U.S. Army in June of 1967."
His separation record shows he was actually inducted into the Army on 20 June 1966, not 1967. It also shows he had been in USARPAC Vietnam for 7 months and 5 days, or around 7 January 1968. William was promoted to SP4 on 12 June 1968.
On 12 August 1968 at 0430 hours, SP4 Gabrielsen, and his pilot, 1LT O'Connor were making flight checks in preparing for a mission. Gabriensen indicated to the pilot that there was no film drive in the Infrared Sensor. The pilot told SP4 Gabrielsen to unstrap and check the recorder magazine in the sensor bay on the left side of Aircraft OV-1C, tail number 66018881 (Grumman OV-1 Mohawk) - photo below of a Mohawk of the type that SP4 Gabrielsen flew in during his tour of Vietnam.
He left the aircraft and walked around the nose to the left. The pilot returned to his completing the cockpit check. He heard a crashing sound from the left, and looking back in the direction, he saw SP4 Gabrielsen laying on the ground. The pilot immediately shut down both engines, unstrapped, and got out of the aircraft.
Crewchief Copple went for assistance while the pilot gave first aid to what appeared to be a severe head injury. SP4 Gabrielsen appeared to have walked right into the number 1 (left) 3 blade propeller. Medical assistance arrived within minutes and William was taken to the 22nd Surgical Hospital in an ambulance and shortly thereafter to the hospital ship "Repose" located off the coast of Vietnam.
William was evacuated through medical channels to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. where he was retired and placed on the Permanent Disability Retired List on 25 November 1968. He ultimately was admitted to the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, MIchigan for care.
In the Traverse City Record-Eagle on page 3 of the 12 March 1970 newspaper, an article read: "Vietnam Vet Dies - FRANKFORT -- William A. Gabrielsen, 22, SP/4, U.S. Army, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Gabrielsen of Frankfort, died Tuesday at the Veterans Hospital in Ann Arbor as the result of non-combat injuries he received in Vietnam in 1968. Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Frankfort Lutheran Church with the Rev. Donald McCash officiating. Burial will be in the Gilmore Township Cemetery. Born in Frankfort April 2, 1947, he is survived by his parents and a brother, Edward, a student at Bradley University. The body will be held at the Bennett funeral home until removed to the church at noon Friday. "
He is buried in Gilmore Township Cemetery, Benzie County, Michigan.
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