Ermil Lee Whisman

Lieutenant Colonel
United States Marine Corps
24 January 1929 - 15 January 1969
Lexington, Kentucky
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Ermil L Whisman

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ermil Lee Whisman

10 Jul 2001

I miss your presence in my life every day.
Your loving daughter,
Susan Whisman

15 Jun 2003

I was a corpsman for 1st Bn 3rd Marines. We were operating directly below the chopper when it crashed. Several corpsmen worked on the passengers, attempting to help them. I will never forget that day.

Bob Steele
Navy Corpsman
E-mail address is not available.

15 Jan 2004

Colonel Whisman was my Battalion CO.

I was with A Battery, 1/12, and was assigned as a Forward Observer with A Company, 1st Bn, 3rd Marines. Colonel Whisman was with the 3rd Marine Regiment CO visiting our LZ during Operation Taylor Common. His helocopter was hit by ground fire and crashed leaving the LZ. He always seemed truly concerned with the welfare of his men. I only talked to him a couple of times but I was impressed with his sincerity and straight talk. I saw the helicopter leave our LZ: it was an Army helicopter.

Brian Sweeney

Notes from The Virtual Wall

When this memorial was first published, the only thing certain was that four Marines died when the helicopter in which they were flying crashed:
  • Col Michael Melvin Spark, CO 3rd Marines, HQ Co, 3rd Marines
  • Lt Col Ermil Lee Whisman, CO 1/12, HQ Bty, 1/12 Marines
  • Sgt Maj Ted Ernest McClintock, HQ Co, 3rd Marines
  • LCpl Frederick Daniel Kansik, HQ Co, 3rd Marines
That much was certain - no questions. And there was more certainty, but also some unanswered questions. The loss of these four men is addressed in several places:

Although the tempo of combat had receded for some and some support bases were closed, for others the action merely shifted. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 3rd Marines and the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines had moved southwest of Da Nang and came under the control of the 1st Marine Division's Task Force Yankee in Operation Taylor Common. On 15 January Colonel Michael M. Sparks, Commanding Officer, 3rd Marines, a man respected and admired by his chaplains, was killed when his command helicopter was shot down near An Hoa. Also killed with him were Lieutenant Colonel Emil [sic] L. Whisman, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines; Sergeant Major Ted E. McClintock, 3rd Marines Regimental Sergeant Major; and Lance Corporal Frederick D. Kansik, Colonel Sparks' field radio operator. Memorial services were held at both An Hoa and Dong Ha, the 3rd Marines rear base. The service at An Hoa was conducted there despite the booming of nearby artillery and the roar of combat aircraft overhead, because of the measure of respect in which the deceased were held.

Sweating and Praying (1969-1972)
A Chief of Naval Education & Training publication

While on visual reconnaissance south of FSB Maxwell, an Army UH-1H helicopter received automatic weapons fire causing it to crash and burn. On board were Colonel Michael M. Spark; the regimental sergeant major, Ted E. McClintock; the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Ermil L. Whisman; and Colonel Spark's radio operator, Lance Corporal Fredrick D. Kansik. All, including the helicopter's Army crew, were killed. Colonel Paul D. Lafond assumed command of the 3d Marines, while Lieutenant Colonel Roddey B. Moss took over the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines.

U. S. Marines in Vietnam, 1969: High Mobility and Standdown, Chapter 6
(Washington, DC: Headquarters, US Marine Corps, 1988)

Although U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1969 states that "an Army UH-1H helicopter" was involved in the loss, and that all aboard the aircraft were killed,

  • The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Association database did not reflect the loss of an Army UH-1H and crew on 15 Jan 1969;
  • The USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association indicated that a UH-1E (BuNo 154762) from HML-367 was the aircraft in question;
  • The HML-367 site didn't list any casualties on 15 Jan 1969;
  • The VHPA database concured that UH-1E BuNo 154762 was lost on 15 Jan 69 with two aircrewmen wounded in action but gives no other details; and
  • The casualty database shows only four Marines killed in action in a helicopter crash on 15 Jan 69 ... the four men named above.
Since then, the USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association's Historian, Alan Barbour, has done some extensive research and determined that it was indeed an Army helicopter - UH-1D tail number 66-16205 from HHC, 212th Aviation Battalion. His evidence and conclusions are contained in the USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association report.

Eight men, not four, died in the crash:

  • HHC, 212th Avn Bn, 1st Avn Bde
    • CPT William A. Currence, Santa Clara, CA
    • 1LT Nicholas J. Swidonovich, New York, NY
    • SP4 Francis H. Corwin, Somerville, MA
    • SP4 Ronald D. Slayton, Sikeston, MO

  • HQ Co, 3rd Marines
    • COL Michael M. Spark, New York, NY (Navy Cross)
    • SMAJ Ted E. McClintock, Seattle, WA
    • LCPL Frederick D. Kansik, Livonia, MI

  • HQ Btry, 1st Bn, 12th Marines
    • LTC Ermil L. Whisman, Lexington, KY

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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 08/10/2009