Franklin W Underwood, JrStaff Sergeant
C CO, 2ND BN, 506TH INFANTRY, 101 ABN DIV
Army of the United States
03 April 1947 - 23 June 1969
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The database page for Franklin W Underwood, Jr
From a fellow Carroll Countian.
A Note from The Virtual WallOn 23 June 1969 a CH-47C (tail number 67-18544) from the 159th Avn Bn was tasked with a resupply mission from Camp Evans, northwest of Hue, to Landing Zone AIRBORNE about 7 kilometers north-northwest of A Luoi in the A Shau Valley. The CH-47 carried 4 crewmen, 16 passengers, and an internal load of Thermite cans and "C" rations. On arrival at LZ AIRBORNE the aircraft orbited until another helo vacated the landing pad and then began its approach to landing.
About 50 meters from the intended touchdown point the CH-47 lost power and the rotor RPM rapidly decayed. Although the pilots tried to stretch the descent to the landing pad, they failed; the aircraft hit hard with the forward landing gear on the pad and the aft gear off the approach edge. After impact the helicopter made a 180 turn and came to rest on its right side with the nose hanging over the approach edge of the LZ. It began burning immediately.
The internal cargo was not tied down and few, if any, of the passengers were using their seat belts, so when the aircraft came to rest the cargo bay was chaotic at best. The fire spread rapidly within the aircraft, and spilling fuel ignited around its exterior. Unfortunately, the area immediately around the landing pad contained several hundred 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds and powder charges and dozens of 55 gallon drums of diesel and gasoline. The fuel fire from the helo rapidly spread to the munitions and fuel drums.
Evacuation of the helo was hindered by the confused state of affairs within the cargo bay, the spreading fire, and within minutes by fires and explosions among the stored munitions and fuel drums. Sixteen of the twenty men aboard the helo did get clear before the situation became wholly unmanageable, but four men died in the crash:
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a fellow Carroll Countian.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 1 May 2001
Last updated 03/20/2008