Stephen Michael Vuga
Sergeant
C CO, 2ND BN, 8TH CAVALRY, 1ST CAV DIV, USARV
Army of the United States
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
May 05, 1947 to December 26, 1967
STEPHEN M VUGA is on the Wall at Panel 32E, Line 65

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Stephen M Vuga
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"I have been meaning to do this for quite some time now and for some reason I just never remembered to do it until now. I was the wife and widow of Stephen Michael Vuga. He died on our first wedding anniversary December 26, 1967. I really don't think that I ever got over that even though I remarried in 1969 and remain married to my present husband of nearly 43 years.

The Vietnam virtual wall is a wonderful site and a great way for anyone interested in the Vietnam War to find a friend or loved one and a beautiful tribute to those who died there.

I have attached a Military picture of Steve, my former husband, who by the way, I also went to grade school with way back when. I also attached one of the two of us taken at my senior prom. My brother has our wedding pictures as I still can't bear to look at them. I would love to see at least the military picture added to the site.

After all of these years I still think of him often and wonder what life would be like today if he were still alive.

Thank you for your help."

-- Nancy Himber Vuga Johanson,
Pittsburgh, Pa., 10/12/2012

In a later email, Nancy sent several more photos and wrote: "I have attached a few other pictures of the 2 of us. One was taken at one of my birthday parties. I am standing with one of my 3 brothers (James Himber) and you can see Steve right between us sitting at the table with his party hat on."

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"This photo is of the two of us in his front yard, taken in 1957 when I was 9 years old. We went to grade school together and we said way back then as grade school children that someday we were going to get married."

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"A picture of Steve as a child. He had the most beautiful smile and he didn't deserve to die in a faraway land. But I remember what his Dad said after we found out about the helicopter accident. He said that he was probably right up front in one of the first seats and those soldiers likely were the ones killed in the crash. The funeral director told us he died of a broken neck."

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"This was taken at my Senior High School Prom."

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"I really would love to have him remembered. His only sibling, a sister, Mary Lou Thewes, died about 5 years ago of pancreatic cancer. Steve did earn three (3), I think, purple hearts, as he was wounded twice before the helicopter accident. He also was awarded a bronze star. I may have some of those papers that came with the medals and the telegrams I received packed away in the attic, I will have to look."

-- Nancy Himber Vuga Johanson, 10/13/2012

"Nancy wrote the following poem to Stephen while he was in Vietnam and Stephen managed to get it published in the June 5, 1967 issue of Stars and Stripes."

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-- The Virtual Wall

Records show: "Individual died from injuries received while passenger on miliary aircraft enroute to a Christmas Show when aircraft lost rear rotor and crashed and burned." Also shows the aircraft was a CH-47, Chinook Helicopter, tail number 66-19006.

The Aircraft had 5 crew members and 28 passengers on board. The 8th Cav had been in contact with the enemy for several grueling days and were being rewarded by being flown to Phu Cat.

One passenger, the Platoon Sergeant of the platoon in which aircraft 66-19006 was assigned, was aboard the aircraft and reported that a blade came off the aft head and the aft transmission and pylon was dislodged from the airframe. The aircraft fell to the gound from about 200 feet, tail first. It landed on it's tail, then continued down onto it's belly. At that time, the forward transmission left the airframe. The aircraft came to rest upright and two small fires were extinguished. The accident occurred in Binh Dinh Province.

Warrant Officer K Bastion, from the Service Battery, 7th Battalion, 13th Artillery also witnessed the crash. He was awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed hostile force. Upon seeing the crash, he rushed to the scene and despite great danger to himself, he climbed aboard, thereby covering himself with highly flamable aviation fuel, but he assisted in the removal of injured personnel. After removal of the seriously injured, still at the risk of his life, He remained in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft, assisting medical personnel with the evacuation of the injured from the scene.

Of the 33 persons on board the helicopter, all had an injury of some sort and 8 were killed. Those killed in the accident were:

Full details and photos can be viewed here

-- The Virtual Wall


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