A Note from The Virtual Wall
In 1969 the base at Dong Tam, just west of My Tho City on the Mekong River, was home to the 9th Infantry Division, parts of the Navy's riverine forces, a port facility, and a variety of supporting forces, including the 191st Assault Helicopter Company. Because it was a target-rich environment, the Dong Tam complex attracted more than its share of mortar and rocket attacks. On 02 March 1969 a mortar shell hit the 191st AHC's operations center, killing six men:
The 191st AHC's Historical Notes for March 1969 describes the incident as follows:
- MAJ John A. Petric, Cleveland, OH, Company Commander
- 1LT Dennis S. Coker, Monroe, GA
- 1LT Carl L. Radtke, Newhall, CA, Admin Officer
- SP5 Robert L. Heinmiller, Fresno, CA
- SP4 Carl S. Douglas, Sanford, NC
- SP4 George R. Lovellette, Urbana, IL
"On the night of 1 March 1969 a tragedy struck the 191st. During the initial barrage of a mortar and rocket attack, the 191st Flight Operations Office took a direct hit. Killed were MAJ Petric Commanding Officer, LT Radtke Admin Officer, LT Coker Aircraft Commander, SP5 Heinmiller a crew chief on guard duty, SP4 Lovellett a gunner also on guard duty, and SP4 Douglas an operations radio operator. LT LaSalle an operations officer was seriously wounded suffering the loss of an eye. SP4 Ayers, on flight line guard at the time, was hit by shrapnel from an exploding rocket and suffered multiple fractures of his left leg."
The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Association database contains the following entry from a member of the 191st:
"They were all killed when a mortar round dropped into our Flight Operations building one night after a lull following several other incoming rounds directed toward the airfield. During the lull, several folks ventured out of the bunker to survey the damage and they then congregated in Flt Opns after taking a look around. One of the next rounds got 7 folks. ... It was a terrible night."
The casualty database places this loss in Kien Hoa Province, but it was not; the Dong Tam complex was on the north side of the Mekong River in Dinh Tuong Province. SP4 Douglas's record also indicates death by gunshot, but that's incorrect as well.
- Roger Stickney, October 1998 -"