1stLt. Gary W. Benson

1stLt. Don Chretien

Cpl. Charles L. Bassett
Crew Chief

Aircraft 153995 Crashed

and Burned.

An entry in the August 1970 Command Chronology stated, "25 Aug. 1970, Aircraft 153995 crashed and burned. There were no fatalities.  The crash is under investigation."  After locating the After Action Report, with the final entry at AT814384 of "flight terminated", and conferring with as many of the crew as could be found the following depicts what happened.

YK-16 with her crew:

and two gunners, a SSgt. D. S. Stewart and one TAD gunner identified only as Davis.
No photographs are available for these two Marines

They departed Marble Mountain Air Facility at 0620 on Mission 85 and 73 tasked with transporting combat troops and logistical support of various units. By 1140 they had completed seventeen sorties and were preparing to deliver two troops, an internal load of various ammunition including some mortar rounds. They also were delivering food consisting of steak dinners and the always appreciated container of ice cream and a sack of mail. One routine medical evacuee was also along for a ride to the nearest medical facility. The aircraft had ben refueled one sortie prior to this approach to a hilltop out post south of the An Hoa Combat Base.


Webpage 25 Aug. 1970

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TAPS: Sgt Vincent M Andrade
22 December 1943 - 22 February 2019

Sgt Andrade received several Air Medals as a gunner in Vietnam. He also served with NATO in Europe, was assigned to the US Embassy in Iceland, and later back to Tustin and El Toro Air Stations. He retired to Treasure Vally-Nampa, and Caldwell, Idaho.     Published Obituary.

Recollection from Steiny: "...he shipped over for Aviation and as an E-5 was sent to AMS-A School (metalsmith) in 1966 and the senior Corporals in 364's metal shop were his classmates, including myself. He deployed with the squadron but didn't work in the metal shop and instead was our Career Planner for his tour. He also flew as a gunner during his tour. He was very professional, had a positive attitude and was well liked by both his peers and subordinates."

Cpl Michael T. Collins,

1st Recon Bn (passenger)

My recollection of 25 Aug 70 was being picked up mid-morning by “Purple Fox” helicopters at the 1st Recon Battalion LZ. There were numerous recon teams from 1st Recon and the ROK marines to be inserted for various missions 73, 85 and resupplying of recon OP.

Aboard our helicopter were two recon teams and supplies for the OP. We landed at another LZ to refuel in which we unloaded the two recon teams. After refueling another passenger and I boarded the helicopter with the crew to fly out to the area war cloud Z. Another helicopter departed at the same time with a recon team aboard to be inserted. I don’t know if we were flying with them for support but I do remember watching them being inserted into the field.

I was located in the rear of the aircraft on right side. As we started to approach our destination on the hilltop LZ and started our descent we began to hover. I was looking out the window at which time I saw a flash which I thought was ground fire or RPG aiming for rear rotor blade. As I started too reached for my M16 we dropped, hit the ground and began sliding backwards down the hill. I then grabbed on the metal frame of the bench seat to prevent myself from falling into the rear of the aircraft. As we were sliding down the hill like a roller coaster someone up front lost their balance and started falling to the rear of aircraft. I swung around holding onto the bench with my right hand and with my left shoulder blocked and stopped him from falling into the rear of the aircraft onto the supplies. Just at that moment we came to an abrupt stop probably from hitting the concertina wire and I fell into the rear of the aircraft on the mail bags, and mortar round boxes. I remember I was dazed and trying to get up but since the helicopter was probably on a 30-45 degree incline I couldn’t get my footing. Someone reached out to pull me up but just at that moment that’s when the fireball went through the aircraft. There was a wall of fire between me and the other Marine who then exited out the left side door or window. I then realized I couldn’t exit the rear cargo ramp because it was blocked by concertina wire. As my life flashed by in my mind, I could have given up and just sat there to become FUBAR in a few minutes. As Marines we understand from our training not to think about the pain but adapt and overcome the situation. I crawled through the fire up over the supplies and grab the metal bench seat and pulled myself up to the window of the helicopter. I then jumped out the left side window only to find myself entangled in the concertina wire. I do remember someone helping me get out of that mess and then the ammo and mortar rounds started exploding around us. We ran up the hill and jumped into the bunker. I never realized how seriously I was hurt until after a few moments sitting in the bunker I noticed my knee was cut open by the concertina wire. When I reached down to look at my knee I noticed my hands and arms were black and I realized it wasn’t from the dirt. I remember the guys in the bunker telling me I would be ok and a medivac was coming and then they gave me a shot of morphine.

I was medivac to the Army 95th Evacuation Hospital. I was there for about 3 days before being transported by helicopter to Da Nang and medical transported to another Army hospital Camp Zama in Japan. I was treated there for 1 month and promoted to Sergeant. I was then transported to Navy Hospital at Great Lakes, IL. I was there for 3 months. I then received orders to report to 4th Marine Air Wing Headquarters, NAS Glenview, IL. I was medically retired on 1 June 1973.

I have been married for 37 years, 4 children (3 boys and 1 girl) and 1 grandson.

43 Years Later


Aircraft 153995 Crashed and Burned.



Receiving my Combat Aircrew Wings was the most important award for me to receive. My Father was Navy Combat Aircrew during W.W.II. Aviation Machinist Mate (Crew Chief) and Gunner onboard PBY's in the South Pacific. I looked up to him with pride. Winning the same wings was important.


HMM-364 - a United States Marine Corps helicopter unit - flew support missions in Vietnam for those Marines who refer to themselves as "Grunts". It is with a great deal of respect and admiration that we say, "HMM-364 supported the Grunts at the platoon level and below in Vietnam."

Nicknamed the "Purple Foxes", HMM-364 utilized two basic types of aircraft to render this support. Beginning in 1964, the Purple Foxes utilized first the UH-34 and then - after returning to the States in October of 1966 for training on the CH-46D helicopter - the Foxes returned to Vietnam to be stationed in Phu Bai in November of 1967.

In the fall of 1968 HMM-364 was in a state of transition. Personnel who had come over with the unit and completed their tours were now going home. Faced with a shortage of pilots and maintenance personnel and with too many assigned aircraft, HMM-364 found itself struggling. Pilots who never dreamed they would be flying CH-46Ds ended up doing exactly that because of these shortages. The "Grunts" at the senior commands, III MAF and 1st Marine Air Wing, could have cared less why any unit was having a hard time. They wanted aircraft available twenty-four hours a day ... period. Then, for some mysterious but wonderful reason, these new faces along with the pilots and crews who had not rotated back, started to make a real name for the Purple Foxes.

Just after Christmas 1968 the unit moved south to Marine Aircraft Group 16 at Marble Mountain. Flying re-supply, troop-lifts, and medevacs primarily, the unit operated twenty-four hours a day in all weather. Frequent missions resulted in casualties both killed and wounded. As adversity increased the spirit of the squadron never lagged, it only became stronger. The men became closer and more dedicated. When things were really bad through the spring of 1969 the troops (especially the maintenance people) would pull off miracles every night. The aircraft would always come up when needed. Aircrews who needed rest would be in the briefings absolutely bone tired from a long tiring mission the previous day.

The Purple Foxes always knew how to laugh. When they were at the O Club or E Club, other pilots and aircrew like to sit with them because of their spirit, playfulness, and when Foxes were around ... something (fun) always happened! The hallmark of this squadron was its outstanding men and their dedication to each other, the squadron, and the Corps. Over thirty years later, the loyalty, dedication and love for HMM-364 is as strong and vibrant as ever ... as it always will be.

Those who support the Purple Foxes will never forget those we lost during those years in Vietnam. We are proud to tell their stories on The Virtual Wall to insure they will never be forgotten.