Michael Roy Wilson
Photo above with medals was taken during Warrant Officer Candidate School, date unknown.
The short statement on the form to the Adjutant General in Washington, D.C., states he was killed while pilot of a military aircraft. when the aircraft was fired upon by a hostile ground force. The helicopter crashed and did not burn upon crashing. It was much more than that as told by others involved with flying that day.
Additional information about events was provided to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association by Cliff White, in November 1998. Cliff stated, in part, that Wilson was a pilot in the 1st Platoon, 61st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC), attached to 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry based at LZ Lane. White was the 2nd Platoon commander, flying chock 6. Everyone fly able that day was somewhere in the air, including the XO, maintenance, and operations. Mike was the AC and was killed on short final while flying chock three in a UH-1H, on a lift carrying the elements of the Tiger Division, Republic of Korea (ROK) in the Suey Coe mountains, about 20K NE from Phu Cat Air Base.
There were sixty slicks from several different units with 10 ship flights landing in 6 different LZ's at the same time. All the LZ's were two ship LZ's on top of the mountain ridge stretching about 10K South to North. We were briefed to expect hot LZ's with 25% U.S. causalities. On short final and/or on landing, the lead and chock 2 lost their radios to enemy fire and could not report. The gunships were under heavy fire and one took a rocket in their right rocket pod wounding the pilot and door gunner and leaving the ship in serious trouble limping back to Phu Cat.
With one gun (UH-IC) left, and ROK's in the LZ under heavy fire, Mike made the decision to land to put more troops on the ground. He was killed on short final by heavy machine gun fire, he didn't have his harness locked and fell into the controls. The pilot crashed the ship(slammed the collective down) to keep it from going over a very steep (200ft.) drop off.
Cliff, on landing, picked the down crew up along with Wilson. The pilot, CE, were wounded with the gunner laying in the LZ with his M-60 returning fire. With a downed crew, and ROK's taking heavy losses, everyone just kept landing and dropping off the troops. There was no radio contact, but we could see everything going on.
The fire was so heavy that most of the ROK's in the LZ were killed - close to 60. The ROK's recognized Mike Wilson by awarding him with the highest award given to a non Korean (Cliff did not know the name) while the U.S. responded with the posthumous award of Silver Star. There were 25% U.S. losses, in dead, wounded, and ships as predicted, but the unit kept flying and landing Koreans all day, with most of the pilots flying for at least 12 hours.
SP4 Michael Boyd was Mike's gunner on that day and he was on the ground and helped rescue the rest of the crew and recover Wilson's body and get on board chock6 shortly after it landed. At the time, he was on the ground, after having removed his M-60 machine gun from his downed bird, firing at the treeline from where the very heavy enemy fire was coming into the LZ. He said he was lucky that morning and only broke his watch. The time stopped at 6:38 a.m. WO Wilson was the only pilot in the 1st Aviation Brigade who was killed on June 25, 1971.
WO Wilson was survived by his wife Linda A Wilson (Michigan) and his parents, Mrs and Mr. Oren E Wilson, Mount Pleasant Michigan. He was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
High School Yearbook Photo
- - - The Virtual Wall, May 23, 2014
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