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Jolly Green 23 Found!

  On 23 January 2003 Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA) in Hawaii announced that a Joint Field Activity team operating in Laos had discovered the wreckage of Jolly Green 23.   The wreckage was found on 9 November 2002, but the announcement has been delayed pending notification of the families of the four crew members.

Following is the text of the announcement pertaining to Jolly Green 23:

  In November 2002, during the 76th Joint Field Activity in Laos, a Joint U.S. and Lao investigation team from Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA) located the crash sites of the last two Jolly Green helicopters in Southeast Asia with unaccounted-for personnel onboard that had not been previously located.

The first site found was Jolly Green 23, an HH-3E with a crew of four which was shot down on 9 June 1968 while attempting to rescue a downed Marine pilot.   The crash site was found 600 meters inside Laos, 250 meters north of the former North Vietnamese Route 922, which ran into the Ashau Valley, 20 kilometers to the east.   On 9 November 2002, while investigating the incident, an analyst from JTF-FA, an American-Lao service member who was acting as the Linguist, and a Lao official conducted an aerial reconnaissance in a helicopter of the suspected loss area in Laos, looking for signs of habitation, but none were found.   On their return to the Base Camp, the analyst observed a small village six kilometers west of the suspected loss area and requested the team land and interview the villagers; however, the Lao official said a Joint Team had been to the village, Ban Koutai, on two previous Joint Field Activities and the villagers did not know anything.   The analyst insisted they land at the village and the Lao official relented.   Once in the village, the villagers told the two Americans they knew of two crash sites near the village they had not told the previous teams about because they were scared.   After the six other team members flew to the village, the team searched for the crash site in the 12 foot deep elephant grass.   Eventually, the villagers were able to relocate the crash site, with the HH-3 rotor head being the prominent feature.   A search of the area found three boot soles and other evidence the crew was onboard the helicopter when it crashed.   The crash site is currently being excavated on the 77th Joint Field Activity which began on 17 January 2003.

  The second aircraft found was Jolly Green 71, an HH-53B with a crew of six which was downed on 28 January 1970 by a missile fired from a MIG-21 while waiting to refuel during a mission to recover an F-105 pilot shot down in North Vietnam.

Click here for map showing location of Jolly Green 23

This map clearly shows the difficulty in collaborating the various accounts of a combat aircraft loss.   We salute the staff of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and particularly the members of the 76th Joint Field Activity for their perseverance and determination.   They never stopped believing that they would find Jolly Green 23 and its crew.

Our thoughts are refocused on the sacrifice of the four crew members and their families.

Click here for Jolly Green 23 Crew Returned Home

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