The CH-47 Crash on FSB Fuller - 13 April 1970

by Tony Gumbrell (11B)



In Operation Green River, Second Platoon A/1-11 was attached to and reinforced D/1-11 on Dong Ha Mountain (FSB Fuller) in April of 1970 during the time the base came under siege. Pretty much every thing said about Captain Blunt’s Delta Company on FSB Fuller also applies to Second Platoon A/1-11 as well. In the Battalion CAAR it states that there was one MIA after the CH-47 was hit and crashed.

I was waiting just below the line of sight, to avoid drawing fire, to retrieve the platoon log, which was mixed with Delta's log in a sling load as the chopper came in, It fell on it's side when it was hit, with the ass end hanging above the entrance to our bunker and right above the main ammo bunker which went up and burned and exploded the rest of the day and night. The crew chief and two door gunners made it on their own out the back of the chopper right in front of me. Their uniforms looked burned, but they didn't need help. I went in the bunker and told everybody to clear out and told the RTO to report what I saw, then he, or someone, told me that the pilot and copilot had got out the front. That accounted for the whole crew.

At first I thought the chopper would blow up, because fuel was running out the back down toward the ammo bunker. The blades sheared off, and with no load the engines continued to run away at high speed. The gear case turned white hot and began to burn. In the meantime, a member of my squad and myself retrieved as much as we could carry of the sling load of supplies from the chopper pad, next to the wrecked chopper. There was blood plasma, with the labels burned off and stretchers for carrying wounded that were too burned to be very usable. Shortly afterwards, a few of us carried wounded men on stretchers and plywood planks at a run along the walkway past the 105mm howitzer pits, which had received some direct hits, to be medevaced from the top of the artillery FDC, the only safe place left for choppers to land.

That night, or sometime latter, we heard there was another man on board the chopper. The story was that it was his last day “in country” and that he went along to take pictures and wasn't on the manifest. Captain Blunt sent some men out after the explosions and fire died down to look for the body but they didn't find anything. I went out with another sergeant, E-6 type, from Second Platoon at dusk the next evening to see if there was anymore of the log that was retrievable and while looking in the wreckage I saw the body and reported it. He was curled up in a fetal position and burnt nearly to ash and difficult to recognize as a body. Captain Blunt had the medics bag up the remains. The After Action Report it says that the MIA was found.

There were other things going on that I'm a little fuzzy on. I remember that when I went up on the chopper pad to try and get the log which was in a sling load underneath the chopper, the timbers supporting the PSP that served as the chopper pad were burning and the smoke and heat were intense. The heat buckled the steel PSP and destroyed the pad. I could feel the heat through the soles of my boots. The log contained vital food, ammo, and medical supplies, as well as beer! The shrapnel from the incoming was so deadly that I saw one of the mortar tubes had a hole right through it, in one side and out the other. I reported it to the TOC/FDC next to the mortar pits and one of the mortar men came out and looked at his mortar like he wanted to cry.



Charles  Ames


(Best viewed at 1024x768 resolution & medium text size)