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
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
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,
ROBERT (Bob) BALDWIN, GS-12, DAF
16th Logistics Support Squadron
424 Tully Street
Hurlburt Field, Florida 32544
Home: (850) 939-8681