Swift Crew Rescues Crew From Fallen Army Chopper

The helo just kept falling and falling. We knew it was going to crash any second, "said Lt.(jg) Charles W. Johns of Youngstown, Ohio. Johns, the skipper of PCF 78 (Patrol Craft Fast nicknamed "Swift Boat"), was heading north to his patrol station along the DMZ. "We were only about 10 miles out of Da Nang," he said, "when we spotted this Army helicopter losing altitude very rapidly. "The helo looked like it was trying to make it to the beach, but it was coming down much to fast." Johns and his five man crew sped after the copter. "We were right on top of it when it finally hit the water," said Radarman 2.C. Russell R. Shaw of Glen Falls, N.Y."We started moving immediately, " Engineman 2.C. Tyrone Nelson of Vista, Wash., had a life raft in his hand, ready to throw it overboard. "There were seven of them," he recalled. In less than eight minutes, all seven were safely on board the Swift Boat. "one man the pilot, couldn't swim," said Johns, who has been in Vietnam only two months and already put his Swift through two fire fights with Viet Cong. "He kept afloat with his helmet until we could get to him." After being rescued, one of the helicopter's crewmen said " I've never seen such a pretty sight as this boat." A few minutes after the rescue, the Swift was back in Da Nang. The helicopter crew was taken to the hospital at the Naval Support Activity, where they were given a clean bill of health and released. It was later reported that the helo had been downed due to mechanical difficulties. The other members of the Swift Boat crew at the time were; Quartermaster 2.C. Ralph W. O'Niel of Chicago, Quartermaster 2.C. Donald R. Osborn of Clovis, Calif., and Radarman 2.C. Pat Lannen of Hollywood, Fla.

As reported in February 27, 1968 issue of  Stars and Stripes.


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