Les Howard PaschallSpecialist Four
281ST AHC, 10TH CAB, 17TH CAG, 1 AVN BDE
Army of the United States
03 September 1947 - 21 December 1967
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The database page for Les Howard Paschall
LES HOWARD PASCHALL, RA 16858479 was born on September 3, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee. As a young man Les attended Prosser Vocational High School where he was an excellent student, consistently on the dean's list. His younger sister, Lindy, recalls that he was such a good student that she was able to get by on his name. Les was the captain of the football team and earned letters in baseball, basketball, hockey and track.
Following high school he attended Wright Junior College majoring in physical education, with a goal of becoming a teacher and a coach. Les was known to his family and friends as a competitive, but fun loving, individual who worked hard and played hard. He was a natural leader with a great sense of humor. His summers were spent fishing with his Grandfather and enjoying his many friends. Lindy recalls that Les was not only popular in school but he was always in the company of one or more good-looking girls.
In early 1966 Les decided to join the army and become an airborne soldier. He left his mother and sister in Chicago and went into the army. Following the completion of basic training his dream came true as he was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Jump School.
Les completed jump school and, with the silver wings of a paratrooper proudly displayed on his chest, went home to Chicago on his way to Vietnam. When he arrived in country he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division as an infantry rifleman. With the 101st, Les was twice wounded and twice decorated for bravery. On June 28, 1967, he was awarded the Purple Heart and on July 7, 1967, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for valor. The citation reads:
Les decided to remain in Vietnam for a second tour and was given a choice of assignments following a 30-day leave to the states. During his leave Les made plans to get married but decided to wait until he had completed his second tour. In early November of 1967, he returned to Vietnam and at his request was assigned to an assault helicopter company. Les joined the 281st Assault Helicopter Company on the 8th of November, 1967, and was assigned to the Bandit Platoon as a door gunner. Almost immediately the 281st moved to Kontum in support of Project Delta, a 5th Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Unit. In Kontum the 281st and Project Delta were located in an abandoned school campus on the western edge of the city and flew southwest daily to an abandoned air strip located close to the Laos and Cambodia borders. From the forward operating base, the 281st provided combat aviation support to the elements of Project Delta as part of Operation Sultan.
Early in the morning of Thursday, December 21, 1967, the 281st units relocated to the forward site and went about the business of refueling, rearming and extracting the recon teams. At aproximately 12:45 the 281st aircraft had completed the morning missions and Les and the crew chief had completed their post checks and were relaxing until it was again time for takeoff. Les was sitting in the back of the aircraft along with the crew members from other aircraft when a fully armed UH-1 gun ship from the 189th AHC, 52nd Aviation Battalion, landed and hovered to the refueling site. After taking on a full load of fuel the young gunship pilot turned the fully loaded aircraft 180 degrees and started hovering back along the line of 281st aircraft to the take off point. At about the same time the 281st Operations Officer was starting a UH-1 for the purpose of making an administrative run. The 189th pilot did not stop his aircraft and the 281st pilot could not shut down the UH-1 in time. The rotating blades of both aircraft struck each other resulting in the destruction of both aircraft and damage to several others. Sections of the blades from both UH-1s became flying projectiles and a small piece of one of the blades struck Les. The Special Forces medics rushed to the site and immediately examined Les who had a small puncture wound in his side but was not bleeding. Within a few minutes Les, four other slightly injured individuals, and the medics were placed onboard a UH-1 for the 20-minute trip to the field hospital in Pleiku. In less than 45 minutes from the time he was wounded, Les was in the hands of the doctors at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku.
The 281st continued the mission for the remainder of the day and at about 8 PM members of the unit flew to the hospital to check on Les. At the Hospital they were given the sad news that he had died a few hours after his arrival.
On Saturday, December 23, 1967, the members of the 281st Helicopter Company and Project Delta gathered in the mess tent at Kontum for a memorial service to a fallen comrade. For his service with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company, Les was posthumously awarded the Air Medal and the Bronze Star. On the day of his death Les was twenty years, three months and eighteen days old.
Les was "adopted" by Jack Mayhew of the 281st AHC Association, email@example.com, who has completed his Book of Remembrance.
As a class assignment, I was asked to write a short biography of someone who lost their life in the service of our country during the war in Vietnam. I chose Les Howard Paschall because of his dedication to country and intelligence. I was able to relate to his story of high school involvement and sports experience. Congratulations to the family and friends of this fine citizen.
From a student of foreign relations,
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009