Thomas Earl Williams, Jr

First Lieutenant
HMM-262, MAG-39, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
26 December 1943 - 02 May 1969
Pensacola, Florida
Panel 26W Line 105



Silver Star

Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas Earl Williams, Jr

23 Sep 2002

Thomas E. Williams, Jr. was unfortunately lost in a helicopter crash over Vietnam.

From his second cousin,

Virtual Wall Summary

On 02 May 1969 a flight of four helicopters from C Company, 158th Avn Bn, were assigned to inserting a reconnaissance team into an area about 20 nautical miles west of Dong Ha. The flight (2 gunships and 2 troop carriers) departed Camp Evans at about 0800, but upon arrival at the landing zone they were advised that tactical air support was not available and the insertion was aborted. The UH-1 flight began their return to Camp Evans, flying in an easterly direction at about 1300 feet above sea level.

At the same time, USMC CH-46 helicopters from HMM-262 were conducting a large troop lift in an unrelated operation. As one of the Army UH-1H's (tail number 67-17596, pilot WO2 J G Mills, 4 crew and half the recon team) transited above the CH-46 landing zone the door gunner observed a CH-46D lifting off and warned his pilot that the CH-46 was about a quarter mile astern and 200 feet below the Huey. WO2 Mills directed the gunner to keep the CH-46 in sight and advise. As the Huey continued, the gunner observed that the CH-46 was overtaking the Huey and apparently would pass beneath it in a starboard quarter to port bow direction. The gunner advised WO2 Mills and passed the contact off to the crew chief, who was on the port side of the Huey. The crew chief could not see the CH-46, which actually climbed through the Huey's altitude on the right side. As it did so, the rotor blades of the two aircraft collided.

The CH-46 pitched up and to its right and its aft pylon separated from the aircraft. It continued in a right-hand roll until ground impact. The Huey experienced partial control loss and made a precautionary landing about 500 meters from the CH-46 wreckage. Two of the recon team had been injured, but the remaining men set up a hasty defensive perimeter. Another USMC CH-46 landed nearby; its crew checked the downed CH-46, finding no survivors. The CH-46 took the Huey crew and passengers aboard and took them to the Vandegrift combat base. The bodies of the men in the CH-46D were recovered separately, as was the UH-1.

Twelve men died in the CH-46D (BuNo 152559):

  • From HMM-262:
    • 1stLt Robert Ernest Trigalet, pilot
    • 1stLt Thomas Earl Williams, Jr., copilot
    • LCPL Melvin Warren Eakins, crew chief
    • LCPL Timothy Howard Pyle, gunner
    • LCPL Larry David Stollar, gunner

  • From Fox Company, 2/4 Marines:
    • 1stLt Gary Earl Holtzclaw
    • 1stSgt James Howell Sumner
    • Sgt Richard Boyce Bennett
    • LCpl Troy Everett Powell
    • LCPL Charles Howard Shelton
    • PFC David Franklin Osborne
    • PFC Stephen August Vix, Jr.

Two months earlier, on 05 March 1969, 1stLt Williams was flying CH-46D BuNo 152043 while conducting an emergency resupply mission for India Company, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines approximately 8 KM north of Thon Khe (the "Rockpile"). Immediately after delivering his load, the aircraft was heavily hit by automatic weapons fire and began to burn. The crew was able to nurse the burning aircraft to LZ MACK, about 3 KM away. All five aircrewmen were injured, three severely enough to warrant medical evacuation. After recovering from burns at the 106th General Hospital, Yokohama, Japan, 1stLt Williams rejoined his squadron. He received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his actions on 05 March.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his second cousin. 

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 Sep 2002
Last updated 07/12/2012