HC-7 RESCUE 10 (1) 26-NOV-1967 (Sunday)

UH-46A Boeing Sea-knight helo DET 102 USS Mars (AFS-1) Routine Day (2)
0.5 miles off the South Vietnam coast
Water: 89⁰ Air: 84⁰ Wind: 8 knots Sea State: swells

Pilot – LT John C. Cook
Co-pilot – LTJG Dennis E. Neumann
1st crew – AN Richard E. Crawford (7)
2nd crew – AN Noel L. Hand

Alert received – 1430: UHF
Vehicle departed – 1433: 3,000 yards
Arrived on scene – 1435: None
Located survivor – 1435: Visual
Begin retrieval – 1440: Five survivors in water
Ended retrieval – 1445: Hoisted two survivors aboard
Survivor disembarked – 1450: Landed USS Mars

UH-46 Boeing Sea-Knight No. 51 152495 HC-7 NAS Atsugi, Japan
AE-2 Jerry A. WRIGHT

USS Mars (AFS-1) Life Boats – rescued;
Ens Ried Benton
AME-3 Stephen Goulart
SN Millspaugh, passenger

The USS CLARK COUNTY (LST-601) was attempting to unload ammunition. High surf turned the ship sideways where it struck a previously sunk landing craft. A hole ripped in the hull, the ship lost power and went aground parallel to the beach. Three fleet salvage tugs were called and managed to pull the bow off the beach, but were unable to refloat the loaded ship. The USS MARS was asked to unload the ship using its H-46s helicopters and provide support i.e., people, food, pumps. The Mars is anchored off shore. The operation lasted 21-Nov to 1-Dec (5). After refloat the ship was towed to DaNang. (4)

One of the UH-46 helos loses an engine, while conducting salvage operations, off loading ammunition from the grounded USS CLARK COUNTY (LST-601), off the coast of Duc Pho, South Vietnam (4). 13:00 aboard Clark County, the board of investigation is convened regarding grounding and broaching. (9)

14:00 USS Bolster (ARS-38) commences passing main 2” tow wire to USS Clark County. (8) Helo 51 is observed in the water at 14:11, between USS Bolster (ARS-38) and the beach.(7) 14:15 helicopter 51 dropped into the water off the port ??? at a range of about 1.5 miles, they are underway with power through the water to this ship (USS Alamo). LCM-919 and 916 are at the scene, second division is staffing the port crane. (8) By 14:15 USS Mars launches both port and starboard lifeboats which hurry to the floating helo. (7)

From the flight deck of USS MARS, second helo (No. 50) crew, launches at 14:16. (3) Lt Kinsey and Ltjg Benton taxied their helo toward the USS Alamo (LSD-33), in hopes of hoisting aboard. When the helo was about 200 yards short of the Alamo, the pilot LT Kinsey reported water in the cockpit. When the helo was within 30 yards off the port quarter of the Alamo, it appeared to lose power. At 14:28 the helo rolled to port, broke her forward rotors and sank nose down, along the port side of USS Alamo. (7)(8)

On shutdown, the rotor blades struck waves, bent and passed through the fuselage. The helo inverted and sunk 14:29. (4)(8)

Five survivors in the water, 14:45 two survivors were hoisted aboard helo and three others were picked up by USS MARS’s whaleboat and USS Alamo’s LCM. Both the helo and life boats returned to the MARS 14:42 where the survivors were debriefed. 17:39 the USS Bolster has competed the hook-up to USS Clark County. Bolster begins taking strain on tow wire to maintain between 40,000 to 60,000 pounds.

Notes: (not in order)
1) Numbering as per HC-7 Rescue Log (accumulative rescue number)
2) HC-7 1967 Command Report
3) HC-7 Det 102 Rescue report
4) Data from John Cook and Dennis Neumann
5) Letter of commendation – Dennis Neumann
6) Photos provided by Dennis Neumann
7) USS Mars – (AFS-1) Deck Log – Sunday 26-Nov-1967
8) USS Alamo – (LSD-33) Deck Log – Sunday 26-Nov-1967
9) USS Clark County (LST-601) – Deck Log – Sunday 26-Nov-1967
10) HC-7 History collection; Ron Milam – Historian

(Compiled / written by: Ron Milam, HC-7 Historian – HC-7, 2-1969 to 7-1970, Det 108 & 113)