Thomas Francis O'Dea, Jr

Lieutenant Colonel
Army of the United States
03 August 1926 - 25 December 1968
Chicago, IL
Panel 36W Line 076

Legion of Merit

Thomas F. O'Dea

The database page for Thomas Francis O'Dea, Jr

02 Oct 2001

To my Dad

We love you and miss you
so very much.

Sandy, Fred and Tori

30 Oct 2003

Dad and Papa,
We love you and miss you.
Terry, Rick, Erin and Phil

Placed by his daughter,
Terry Mattingly

11 Feb 2004

I will always remember.

Lt. R. Luis Villafana
Diving Officer, Recovery Team
41st Port Construction Co.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Colonel Thomas F. O'Dea served in the Navy during World War Two and in the Army in Korea. While he earned numerous decorations over a 22+ year career, only one is shown: the Legion of Merit, one of the Army's highest awards.

On 25 December 1968, Colonel O'Dea was a passenger in an OH-6 light helicopter, tail number 67-16205, enroute from Ben Cau to Tay Ninh City. There were four men aboard: the pilot, Warrant Officer G. S. Parmalee, Colonel O'Dea, Major N. G. Cain, and civilian H. G. Appling. The helicopter landed on a road near the Go Dau Ha bridge to allow Major Cain, a District Advisor, to disembark. All three passengers left the aircraft for about 15 minutes, while WO Parmalee remained aboard the aircraft, which was not shut down.

At about 1130 Col O'Dea and Mr. Appling reboarded and WO Parmalee lifted off into a hover at about 8 to 10 feet preparatory to a north-northwest departure along the river. Parmalee accelerated over the river, intending to clear the trees which lined the opposite bank. As he did so the aircraft's engine lost power and the OH-6 settled into the water in a nose-up attitude, skimming for a short distance before nosing over, rolling on its side, and beginning to sink. Appling and Parmalee were able to escape the aircraft but Colonel O'Dea was not, and efforts by Appling to reenter the cabin to help O'Dea failed when the aircraft sank. The two survivors were picked up and brought to shore by Vietnamese civilians.

Divers from the 41st Port Construction Company later raised the fuselage and recovered Colonel O'Dea's body.

From the VHPA helicopter incident database.

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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 11/13/2010