More About FACs
The AO
   A Shau Valley
    • A Shau SF Camp
    • Hué Cit Airfield
    • MACV Compound
    • LCU Ramp
    • Hué Goose
  Battle of Hué (Tet 1968)
    • Trail FACs
The Missions
  Visual Recon
    • Sunken Sampan
  Close Air Support
    • CAS Munitions
    • Rules of Engagement
    • TACS
    • Battle at Hua Cu
    • McNamara Line
    • Choke Points
Ranch Hand
  Trail Dust Mission
Arc Light
  Hammer 51 Rescue
  Search for Jolly 23
    • Msn Reports
    • Search Area Map
    • Search Rejoined
    • Link to Past
  Jungle Penetrator



The Search for Jolly Green 23
A Shau Valley/Base Area 611

HH-3E with jungle penetrator
USAF Photo
Jolly Green 23 Found!
Jolly Green 23 Remains Repatriated

  The Government of the United States of America has gone to extraordinary lengths to recover the remains of those missing in action from the war in Southeast Asia.   This is the story of one such on-going search, an effort in which I personally have been involved.   Click here for more on America's ongoing efforts to recover MIA's from all wars since World War II.  

  On June 9th, 1968, a Marine A4E Skyhawk, callsign Hellborn 215, was shot down while bombing NVA forces in the heavily defended Base Area 611 at the north end of the A Shau Valley in South Vietnam.

A large SAR effort was mounted to rescue the pilot, 1st Lt. Walter R. Schmidt, Jr., USMC, who had landed along a major branch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the Laos-Vietnam border.   After extensive bombing to silence the enemy ground fire, an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter moved in to attempt a pickup.   This helicopter, Jolly Green 22, made two attempts to reach the survivor but was driven off by heavy ground fire each time.   After each attempt, more ordnance was expended on the surrounding areas in an effort to suppress this ground fire.   Jolly Green 22 finally was forced to abort its efforts due to low fuel.

Following additional suppression efforts, a second helicopter, Jolly Green 23, moved in to attempt a pickup.   After entering a hover and beginning to lower a parajumper to assist the injured survivor, JG23 came under intense ground fire.   As related by the supporting FAC, Trail 33, the left engine of the helicopter erupted in flames, and the pilot reported he was pulling off and attempting to reach a clearing approximately one kilometer north of the rescue site.   As JG23 approached the clearing, the rotor noticeably slowed and the helicopter impacted the ground. The aircraft was totally engulfed in flame.   It was apparent there could be no survivors from this crash.

There were four men aboard Jolly Green 23:

Lieutenant   Jack C. Rittichier,   USCG *
Captain   Richard C. Yeend,   USAF
Staff Sergeant   Elmer L. Holden,   USAF
Sergeant   James D. Locker,   USAF

Their remains were not recovered.

Click here for eyewitness narratives and
declassified mission reports on this incident.

Click here for Part Two - The Search Rejoined

* Lieutenant Rittichier was on an exchange tour with the USAF 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron.   He was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action in Southeast Asia.

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