The Search for Jolly Green 23

Message On FACNET 29 October 2001
(FACNET Message 7163)


Date: Mon Oct 29, 2001
Subject: Search for JOLLY GREEN 23

On 9 June 1968 Hellborne 215 (H-215) was Lead in a flight of two A-4E Aircraft providing combat support over the northern Ashau Valley. During his bomb run, H- 215 was hit by ground fire and the pilot successfully ejected. Radio contact was established and a SAR initiated. The effort lasted the entire day resulting in the shoot down of Jolly Green 23 (JG-23) with a crew of four. Crash site for JG-23 taken from old declassified 3rd Group SAR Log was 260 degrees for 35 miles off Channel 69 (Hue/Phu Bai). Numerous other aircraft sustained battle damage but managed to RTB to FOLs for safe landings.

I was a Flight Engineer on one of the six Jolly Green Rescue helicopters that attempted to rescue H-215 on 9 June 1968. I was contacted by Mr. Bill Forsyth, Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, Camp Smith HI. and was asked to assist in their attempt to locate the crash site of JG-23. I have been providing assistance in this effort since May 1999.

In reviewing declassified SAR Logs and all Mission Narratives written by Jolly and C-130 Tanker Pilots I have identified what I consider four "KEY" call signs. They are FAC call signs; COVEY 265, TRAIL 33, 35 and 36. These four aircraft all supported the rescue effort of H-215 and JG-23 on 9 June 1968.

What I'm trying to accomplish is match the call signs of the SAR aircraft with a pilot, someone that was there on 9 June that might remember something. Someone may have an old map, took a photo, kept and exact flight diary or maybe just might have a good memory, one that will remember back over 30 years. I think the key person to find is the pilot of TRAIL 36. My crew was in Jolly 24 escorting Jolly 28 to Khe Sanh. Had it not been for Trail 36s direction there is a good possibility neither Jolly 24 or 28 would have made it. Jolly 28 had an engine shot out and was unable to gain enough altitude to get out of the valley. Every time Trail 36 would find an area large enough to sit down so we could pick them up the bad guys would open up. Trail 36 found a saddle in the ridgeline allowing us to squeak through and escorted the two Jollies to Khe Sanh.. He was involved in the SAR effort from start until RTB of the SAR Forces. One of those pilots just might have that single bit of information that will narrow the search area down. With luck they might be able to pinpoint the exact location.

If there is any way through your FAC Association to help match the above Call Signs with pilots that were flying on 9 June 1968 it would be greatly appreciated. I know it's a long shot, but we are about at the end of our rope in locating the crash site of Jolly 23. LTJG Jack Rittichier was the Aircraft Commander on Jolly 23. He was the first US Coast Guardsman killed in action in SEA and remains the only USCG servicemamber unaccounted for. His other crewmembers were, Capt Dick Yeend, Co-Pilot, Ssgt Larry Holden, Flight Engineer and Jim Locker Pararescueman.

I retired from the Air Force in 1985. I am presently working for the Government supporting the MH-53 Pave Low Special Operations Helicopters at Hurlburt Field, Florida. I have all the de-classified mission narratives, rescue unit histories, Analyst Lead Sheets from JTF-FA and the old SAR Logs from 3rd Air Rescue Group. They give a blow by blow account of the mission. I will provide copies to anyone that might need a little memory jog. Reach me at any of the following addresses

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance,

16th Logistics Support Squadron
424 Tully Street
Hurlburt Field, Florida 32544

DSN: 641-4516
(850) 881-4516
Home: (850) 939-8681

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