Joseph Michael Wilsher
Captain
A TRP, 3RD SQDN, 17TH CAVALRY, 1ST AVIATION BDE, USARV
Army of the United States
Edinburg, Texas
June 09, 1941 to February 24, 1971
JOSEPH M WILSHER is on the Wall at Panel W4, Line 3

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Joseph M Wilsher
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On 24 February1971, the aircraft crashed on short final to An Loc from about 20 feet after witnesses heard an explosion and saw a fire. The helicopter dipped it's nose slightly to the left and fell straight down, exploding on impact.

WO Goelz, Pilot-in-Charge (PIC), tail number 16038 was enroute to Quan Loi, leaving Phu Loi at approximately 1750 hours on 24 February 1971. He obtained an ASR vector from Phuoc Vinh GCA, probably because PIREPs were indication of a large storm moving from the SSW toward the Na Loc, Wuan Loi area.

The Phuoc Vinh radar operator attempted to vector '038' around the apparent storm cells, but with difficulty. He was unable to pick up a transponder signal from '038' so he lowered his screen intensity in an effort to utilitze only the image produced by his radar.

When the aircraft reached the Quan Loi area, the pilot requested to descend to 1700 feet. At this time radar contact was lost and the radar operator began calling '038' on guard. Aircraft '038' approached the An Loc airstrip on a heading of about 260 degrees, (the airstrip running 05 and 23.) It appeared to be making a normal approach.

Then, at about 20 feet above the ground, the aircraft yawed to the right, (a small explosion was heard and fire was sighted at this time), dipped its nose to about 045 degrees below the horizon, rolled slightly to the left and fell straight down exploding upon impact.

The crash distribution was extremely compact indicating very little, if any, forward ground speed. Upon impact the engine left the aircraft rolling backward, past the tailboom. Also the right cargo door flew up and behind the aircraft.

It may be noted that the aircraft did not slide through the perimeter wire but remained in the area of initial impact. The pilot and co-pilot were contained within the cabin area. Three of the passengers were found beneath the transmission components. The other two were thrown out the right side of the aircraft.

It should also be noted here that the main rotor and transmision components were initially with the main wreckage. It was moved in order to facilitate removal of three bodies.

The 7 men killed in the aircraft accident were:

The photograph of CPT 'Mike' Wilsher in the medals box above was taken when he was still a Warrant Officer. You can see the WO cap brass and lapel brass of a Warrant. He was given a direct commission as a First Lieutenant and was posthumously promoted to Captain.

1968 Photograph of Mike in his Light Observation Helicopter, named Miss Carriage
Joseph M Wilsher

From the book titled 365 Days of Mental Siege, by Dan Sutherland, the story of the crash that killed CPT Wilsher was told. From the bottom of page 357 of the book, it read, in part:

"One morning my platoon's duty sergeant woke us about 5 or 6 as they made their rounds and gave us first instructions. Our ship would be flying the courier that morning. Spec. 4 Vernon Andrew Green and I were the gunners, our pilot was WO1 Steven William Goelz, and the co-pilot was WO1 Clarence Dean Hakes and the Aircraft Commander was WO1 Thomas Evans Bennett."

"As we prepared to leave the base on a courier run that fateful day, we lifted up a few feet and moved out onto the flight line. As we waited for permisson to take off, we were contacted by the base control tower, and they talked with Goelz and requested he set down and wait for another passenger, a CPT Joseph Michael Wilsher (CPT Wilsher, I believe, was recovering from wounds he received in a ground-to-air firefight with the enemy. I remember going down to the 24th Evac Hospital to see him with another crew while he was hospitalized there.)" [Evelyn Wilsher was never advised by Mike of his wounds - - The Virtual Wall, 2015]

"As fate would have it, Goelz advised the tower that the aircraft was already at it's weight capacity and he didn't think we had room for another passenger. The tower told us to "Wait one.." and then came back and said that he was to "bump the gunner" off and take the officer aboard...I reluctantly dismounted the aircraft and gave my crew a thumbs up as I left. My ship departed Quan Loi about 7 a.m.. It was the last time I saw them alive. About 45 minutes later, I was informed by Captain Ivie that my crew and the passengers were all dead."

Evelyn points out a passage on page 362 of Sutherland's book where he states: " I would have been on that chopper, if I wasn't told to give my seat to a Captain Joseph Michael Wilsher who was going home on RnR."

Local area papers produced the first news of CPT Wilsher's death similar to the following: Texas Lieutenant Dies in Vietnam WASHINGTON (AP) - The Defense Department said Wednesday that a Texan died in the Southeast Asia war not as a result of hostile action. He was Army 1st Lt. Joseph M. Wilsher, husband of Mrs. Evelyn M. Wilsher, 1311 S. 16th, Edinburg.

In the March 4, 1971 issue of The Corpus Christi Caller-Times from Corpus Christi, Texas, Page 1, an article appeared as:

Valley Copter Pilot Killed in Southeast Asia
EDINBURG -- Army 1st Lt. Joseph M. Wilsher, 29, was killed in a helicopter crash on Feb. 24 during a rescue operation in the Southeast Asia war zone, according to an announcement yesterday by the Defense Department. Wilsher, who was born and grew up in Edinburg, was serving on his second tour of duty in the Vietnam war. He was a member of A Troop, Third Squadron of the 17th Air Cavalry. For heroism in the combat zone, he held the Air Medal with 25 oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with V device with an oak leaf cluster. During both tours of duty, Wilsher was a helicopter pilot who engaged in observation and rescue operations. He was decorated for landing his aircraft in the midst of enemy concentrations to rescue other pilots downed by ground fire.

Wilsher attended public schools here and was graduated from Edinburg High School in 1959. He joined the Army on Jan. 5, 1961. Survivors include his wife, Evelyn; two sons, Michael, 7, and Kevin, 5; two daughters, Meishel, 15 months, and Brenda George, 13; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Wilsher, Edinburg; a brother, Gary Wilsher, Edinburg, and his paternal grandfather, J. W. Wilsher of Alice. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Skinner Funeral Home of Edinburg.

The article above mentioned Brenda George. She was not Mike and Evelyn's child, but their niece who was living with the family at the time. Not mentioned in the article were children's full names: Michael Owen Wilsher, Kevin Scott Wilsher and Meishel Lynn Wilsher (now Fry). Mike's parents are J.N. and Mary Etta Wilsher ( -2014). His father goes by the name of J.N.Wilsher. Evelyn also notes that Mike's brother, Gary Harlan Wilsher served in the Army but not in the Vietnam war. Their son, Kevin Scott Wilsher also served in the Army.


News clipping of the posthumous award of CPT Joseph Michael Wilsher medals to his widow, Evelyn. In the photo below, she is holding the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service Citation and the medals 'shadowbox'.

Joseph M Wilsher Joseph M Wilsher
Medals Awarded to CPT Wilsher
Joseph M Wilsher


Memorial Flagpole Donated to
Hillcrest Memorial Park by Family Joseph M Wilsher
Closeup of Memorial Flagpole Plaque Joseph M Wilsher


CPT Wilsher is buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park, Edinburg, Texas. He was survived by his parents Mr. and Mrs Joseph N Wilsher, and wife Evelyn M, 2 sons, a daughter, and a niece who was living with the family at the time, all of Edinburg.

According to a recent email from Evelyn: "J.N. Wilsher is still living and Mike's mother was buried next to him in 2014. His father served in the Navy during World War II and his mother served as a tac welder, helping to build ships during the war. I think they were called riveters." [During WWII, they were called 'Rosie, the riveter' - The Virtual Wall]

Joseph M Wilsher


- - The Virtual Wall, April 10, 2015

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