Bolen Pondexder McGee

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
08 May 1947 - 25 April 1968
Osceola, Arkansas
Panel 52E Line 008


Army Aircrew

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

The database page for Bolen Pondexder McGee

28 Jul 2007

Ol' MaGee, man we had some fun, playing guitars and singing country songs with Roy Eskew. And did we ever love those ham and eggs.

I only knew McGee from Vietnam. I wasn't there long before I knew him, either. He was just that sort, you know, easy to get to know, everyone's friend. He met no strangers and everyone just loved being around him. What a guy!

McGee had already quit flying by 4/25/68. He had been a good FE and had gone through a lot while the Cav was stationed at An Khe. When he got short (little time left in Vietnam), he asked to step aside to let us new guys have a chance at flying. We were ready, too, and glad for the opportunity.

But when 080 was rigged for rescue, he stepped up to the plate one last time since we were so short handed from the long hours we were having to spend in the air and volunteered for the flight. The regular FE on 080, Ron Turner, got sick after we had gone out to the crash site the first time and returned to Camp Evans, so McGee took his place in the rear (the back end of the Chinook where the flight engineer rode). Neither Ron nor I thought we would go out again since we had shut down 080 upon our return, but that is not what happened.

080 did go back to the crash site the second time with McGee in the rear, and that is when Charlie opened up on them. He had the ambush ready. McGee died that day with Jerry McManus, Linden Eiler, and Kenneth Delp. Our CO, Maj. Jerry Matthews, and the crew chief, Dan Dazell, were both wounded. What a bunch of heros!

Well McGee, you did good, buddy. I do wish it would have turned out better for y'all, but I reckon you play the cards you are dealt. I am so sorry.

Your friend,
Mel "Tex" Chappell
CE 047 and 485, FE 480

A Note from The Virtual Wall

When CH-47A tail number 66-19080 departed Camp Evans on 25 April to pick up a downed UH-1 via a sling lift she carred her normal aircrew, maintenance personnel, and two air cargo specialists from the 561st Trans Co who would rig the sling. The location was northeast of the A Shau Valley, about 14 kilometers due north of A Luoi village.

Once the sling was rigged the CH-47 came to a hover overhead so it could be connected to the sling. As it hovered, the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed, killing four crewmen and injuring others - but as it turned out the two cargo specialists weren't killed when 66-19080 went down.

Later that day, at 1915H (7:15 pm local time), a UH-1 was "observed flying over an ARVN ground engagement with NVA. Hit by enemy fire, descending in flames. Received more enemy fire while descending, with main rotor head and transmission separating prior to impact. A/C hit flat and was totally consumed by fire."

The 1st Battalion, 26th Marines was tasked to respond to the downed aircraft and by 10 pm had airlifted a platoon to the crash site. A preliminary search failed to find any survivors, and the Marines established a defensive perimeter around the aircraft while awaiting sunrise. At 0930 26 April the 1/26 Marines reported they had identified the aircraft as BuNo 154761, found a pilot's kneepad with the name "Cawley" on it, and recovered six bodies from the wreckage. The six bodies subsequently were identified as four aircrewmen from Marine Observation Squadron 6 (VMO-6) and two soldiers: SP4 Joseph Burkes and PFC Ronald J. Campbell, 561st Trans Co. The two men apparently had obtained a lift from the Marines in order to get to Quang Tri Airfield.

Ten men died in the two separate incidents:

  • In UH-1E BuNo 154761, 11 kilometers east-northeast of Quang Tri Airfield:
    • Capt James P. Cawley, Scranton, PA, VMO-6, pilot
    • 1stLt Robert C. Kimmel, East Islip, NY, VMO-6, copilot
    • Pfc Edgar C. Laye, Chicago, IL, VMO-6, crewman
    • Pfc Brock R. Schramm, San Carlos, CA, VMO-6, crewman
    • SP4 Joseph Burkes, Detroit, MI, 561st Trans Co, passenger
    • PFC Ronald J. Campbell, Philadelphia, PA, 561st Trans Co, passenger

  • In CH-47A 66-19080, 25 kilometers southwest of Camp Evans Airfield:
Nine of the ten men appear in Lines 3 through 11 of Panel 52E of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. By error, PFC Delp's name appears on Panel 06E, which contains the names of men who died on and between 10 March 1966 and 26 April 1966.

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index M
AR State Index . Panel 52E
228TH ASHB Index

Contact Us

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 28 Jul 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009