Russel Howard Hewit
23 Dec 2001
"To live in the hearts we leave behind,
is never to have died."
(Thomas Campbell, circa 1888)
Delta 1/35 Inf 1968
Remembered by his fellow soldiers of the
35th Infantry - the Cacti Regiment
A Note from www.VirtualWall.org
Chu Pa Mountain (aka Hill 1485) in Pleiku Province is located about 16km due west of Plei Mrong and 36km southwest of Kontum City. Used by the NVA and VC as a staging area, Chu Pa was subjected to an assault on 21-23 Jan 1969 by Alpha and Delta Companies of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry. The Battalion's Executive Officer, Major Jerry P. Laird, accompanied Alpha Company.
The assault was bitterly opposed from the beginning, with Delta 1/35 losing two men on 21 Jan. On the 22nd, as Alpha attempted a link-up with Delta, Major Laird and one of his radiomen, Sp4 Douglas Ross, were among a group of soldiers pinned down about 40 meters outside the Delta perimeter. Under heavy small arms and grenade attack, the group was forced to seek cover in caves where the survivors spent the night. Alpha company lost three men, Delta two, and both Major Laird and SP4 Ross were killed.
On the morning of the 23rd searchers located those men whose bodies had not been recovered on the 22nd - except for SP4 Ross, who could not be found. Although the Battalion avoided any further deaths on the ground, a medevac helicopter (UH-1H 66-16217) from the 283rd Medical Detachment was hit by a B-40 rocket while about 50' above the ground, crashed, and burned, killing four aircrewmen and three previously wounded soldiers.
Overall, 16 Americans had been killed in the actions on 21-23 January:
On 27 January seven bodies were recovered from the burned-out UH-1 wreckage, but only four could be identified at the time. The fighting on 21-23 Jan thus left four men listed as missing in action:
The casualty database indicates that the three remaining bodies from the Huey eventually were identified; one assumes the casualty dates noted above represent the dates of identification. Staff Sergeants Luster and Moorman were buried together in Section 46, Arlington National Cemetery. No information is available regarding Sergeant First Class Henderson's place of burial. Oddly, none of the three is included in the DoD Personnel Missing - Southeast Asia (PMSEA) database of personnel carried as MIA for extended periods of time.
The remains of Sergeant Douglas Ross, who had received a posthumous promotion, were repatriated twenty-eight years later, on 29 Sep 1997, with positive identification on 18 Feb 1998. Sergeant Ross was buried on 27 March 1998 in Site 1451, Section 1A, Los Angeles National Cemetery. (SGT Ross is in the PMSEA database.)
In each case the POW Network suggests the three men were associated with the seach for PFC Robert F. Scherdin , a Special Forces trooper who went missing in action on 29 December 1968. However, there is no association between Scherdin and the three men whose unidentifiable remains were recovered from the wreckage of UH-1H 66-16217.
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