Melvin Lederman

United States Navy
26 May 1928 - 29 November 1969
New York, NY
Panel 15W Line 005


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Melvin Lederman

15 Sep 2003

On 29 November 1969 seven men died in the crash of YK-9 (CH-46D BuNo 153996):

While Commander Lederman wasn't assigned to HMM-364, he flew and died with the Purple Foxes and is remembered by the women who waited at home, whether mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, or friends. Those women, the

Purple Foxy Ladies
Purple Foxy Ladies

continue to support today's Purple Foxes of HMM-364 as they serve our country.

the Purple Foxes

on-line or go to our unit page
on The Virtual Wall

A memorial initiated by the
Purple Foxy Ladies

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 29 November 1969 YK-9 (CH-46D BuNo 153996) was tasked with evacuating a seriously wounded Marine in southern Quang Nam province south of Landing Zone Ross. While enroute to the LZ the synchronization shaft running between the forward and aft transmissions failed, allowing intermeshing rotor blades to make contact with each other. The blades sheared and the aircraft quite simply fell out of the sky. The resulting crash and post-crash fire killed the seven men aboard and totally destroyed the airframe.

Initial evidence indicated mechanical failure rather than enemy action, and the casualties were so reported. However, when the wreckage was returned to Marble Mountain Air Facility, HMM-364's Executive Officer, Major Jack Pipa, spent hours examining the wreckage and determined that a .50 caliber (or Russian .51 caliber) round had entered the bottom of the aircraft, continued through the radio cabinet behind the cockpit, and struck the synchronization shaft causing it to fail.

At that point the casualty reports for the five Marines were corrected to reflect death due to hostile action rather than accident, but the reports for the two Navy men aboard were not corrected - they continue to reflect an operational accident rather than hostile action as the cause of death.

Commander Melvin Lederman was a psychologist assigned to Marine Air Group 16. Although not required to do so, he flew with the combat aircrews in order to gain a better understanding of the stresses they endured so that he could better serve them. While Commander Lederman did not in fact receive a Purple Heart, he should have ... and The Virtual Wall is displaying what he should have received.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009