In Memory of
Our Brothers Who Have
Departed After the War

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
And gentlemen shall think themselves accursed they were not there
and will hold their manhood cheap while any speaks that fought with us all those years ago
(Our apologies to Bill Shakespeare for the modification)

Updated November 01, 2019



Michael Hiram Andress


Michael Hiram Andress was born on June 23, 1946 in Andalusia, Covington County, Alabama, to Erma Allene White and Willie Ray Andress.  He is buried in Mount Zion United Methodist Church Cemetery, Straughn, Covington County, Alabama.
Mike was a Joker Gunship Pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1968.  He was in Flight Classes 67-1 and 66-23.  He died after his tour in Vietnam.  He was an instructor pilot with students I.M. Baker & H.M. Kelley on board a UH-1B helicopter crash at 10pm on April 14, 1969.  It happened 2 miles from Matteson Range, Fort Rucker, Dale County, Alabama during a heavy thunderstorm.  His huey hit a large oak tree head on while flying nap of the earth to stay below the storm. As luck would have it, it was the only tree in the pasture, which was the size of Lowe Army Airfield.

Pat Toal

WO1 Pat Toal flew guns and was with the first group of Cobras that arrived at Dong Ha,  He used the call sign Joker 50, however it was probably Joker 150 and we just shortened it.  Pat flew lead quite a bit during his tour with the 48th in 71 - 72.  He drowned on a  rafting trip back in the States sometime after his tour, possibly later in 1972.  Pat definately belongs in a place of honor with the 48th as he was a hell of a pilot and truly held up the Joker tradition of excellence, a good friend, and was never far from the action. 

~Manuel "Manny" Fernandez-Silva


As far as some personal thoughts about Pat, he was a really fun loving guy who enjoyed life to the fullest.  We became pretty good friends after we moved from Dong Ha to Marble Mountain.  Whenever I wasn't flying with 1st Platoon or working the night shift in operations I used to fly Pat's front seat whenever I got the chance.  We had a lot of fun!!

~Curt Oldroyd


Michael Brian "Mike" Van Biene
1945 - 1985

Mike was born December 15, 1945 in Taft, Kern County, California.  

graduated from U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School Class 66-19/66-17 and served with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company BlueStars in Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.  

On August 20, 1985 he was First Officer on an ERA Helicopters Learjet that crashed near Gulkana, Alaska .  

Mike is buried in the Burney Cemetery in Burney, Shasta County, California.

Warren H. Bahlke
October 29, 1993

CW2 Warren H. Bahlke was from Lincoln, California.  He trained in the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School Classes 68-17 and 68-29.  He served as a pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company from November 1968 thru November 1969.  Warren disappeared in the Gulf of Mexico on October 29, 1993 while flying for Petroleum Helicopters, Inc.



Peter Brown

Peter Brown served with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company from November 1965 thru November 1966.  

Joseph B. Pearsey
1930 - 1997

SP/5 Joseph B. Pearsey was the first enlisted man to join the 48th Assault Helicopter Company when it was formed at Ft. Benning, Georgia in September 1965.  He was a Blue Star from September 1965 thru November 1966.  Joe passed away in November 1997 at the age of 67.

Michael Afred Fothergill
1946 - 1998


Michael Alfred "Mike" Fothergill was born on 6 Oct 1946 and passed away on 29 Dec 1998.  He is buried in the Enid Cemetery in Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma.  Mike served in Vietnam with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company "BlueStar Slicks and Joker Guns".


Gary L. Davis
1938 - 1998

Gary L. Davis was affectionly known by his fellow pilots as "OMD" (short for "Old Man Davis")

He was born on March 4, 1938 and died in Yelm, Washington on May 20, 1998 at the age of 60.

Gary received orders for Vietnam upon graduation from Class 68-515 of the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School where he was assigned to our 48th Assault Helicopter Company ... BlueStar Slicks & Joker Gunships.


Carl Cortez told me he died of lung cancer. I'm not sure but it seems he was around Ft. Rucker at the time. OMD is fondly remembered by a few of us young Warrants as a guiding beacon. We were 19-20-21 years old and OMD was prior service who swore he was under 29 to make it through flight school. He was a good man with a lot of balls.

~Bobby Schulze
  BlueStar 148


Anthony D. (Tony) DiCamillo
1944 - 2003


Anthony D. "Tony" DiCamillo, age 59 years, died August 15, at the Lowell General Hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts. Tony was born on Saturday, April 1, 1944, in Watertown, the son of Maria (Inglese) DiCamillo of Watertown and the late Gandelino DiCamillo. He served in the United States Army during the Vietnam Conflict and prior to retirement, was employed as a Mail Handler for the United States Postal Service. Aside from his mother, Mr. DiCamillo is survived by his beloved wife Ellen J. "Jean" (Bradley) DiCamillo; his daughters Kristine Thomas and her husband Scott of Wilmington and Karen Rose of Ashland, KY and her fiance Robert Rhodes of Flatwoods, KY; his grandchildren Nichole Rose of Ashland, KY; Zachary and Megan Thomas both of Wilmington; his sisters and brothers Irma Alberico and her husband Charlie of Fryeburg, ME, Susan Schultz of Waltham, Rita Pensyl and her husband Dennis of Waltham, Joseph DiCamillo and his companion Marion Colby of Billerica and John DiCamillo and his wife Anne Walsh of Newton; his brother-in-law Harold Bradley and his wife Linda of FL; his sister-in-law Beverly Roberts and her husband Dan of NY and several nieces and nephews. Mr. DiCamillo was the son of the late Gandelino DiCamillo; the grandfather of the late Jillian Thomas of Wilmington and the brother-in-law of the late Robert Schultz of Waltham.

Anthony D. (Tony) Di Camillo was laid to rest in Pine Ridge Cemetery, Chelmsford Massachusetts on August 19, 2003. Both my wife and I attended the wake and funeral. Tony and I met in Fort Benning in 1965 when the 48th was formed.  We became instant friends and served together with the 48th in Vietnam. We both went to Fort Eustis after Nam and I lost touch with Tony when I got out of the Army in 1967.  Tony stayed in the Army after his tour with the 48th and wound up serving a second tour with  "A" Troop 3/17 Cav. as a crew chief. During his return from that tour he was diagnosed with diabetes (agent orange related) and was released from the Army.

We resumed our friendship in the early 80's and remained close friends up until his death. I would go with my family to visit him in Massachusetts and he would come to Jersey to vacation with us.

  Tony retired from the U.S. Post Office because his health was starting to deteriorate.  With the diabetes and the fact that he had a heart attack,  he thought it was time to slow down. He had heart bypass surgery, diabetes, and was going for dialysis three  times a week for the past few years.  With all that was physically wrong with Tony he was always upbeat and in good spirits. You would never know  he had any health problems.

  He was always proud of his military service and the fact that he was a crew chief.  I performed a formal Vietnam Veteran's ceremony at the wake and spoke about the times Tony and I shared as friends in the Army and in the States.  This was one of the hardest things I ever had to do as I really loved this guy. The family received the flowers from the 48th AHC along with all the e-mails that the Bluestars  sent to the funeral home web site.  They were printed and displayed along with pictures of Tony. It was also nice to see fellow Bluestar Charlie Tuttle and his wife attend and pay their respects.  I cannot express how much it meant to Tony's family to receive the flower arrangement and more importantly to see the outpouring of love and camaraderie shown from Tony's fellow Bluestars.


Tony  was buried with an Honor Guard flag draped coffin, Taps was played, and the flag was folded and given to his wife, Jean.  His gravestone will have an etching of the Huey helicopter.   I wore my veteran's cap with my Bluestar pin and saluted a Vietnam Veteran, a brother and a friend.  I placed a flower on his coffin and said goodbye to someone I will miss for the rest of my life as a part of me died on August 15th.


~Joe Kochanski




J. V. Dobbs





LTC Charles "Ace" Drummond Jr.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles "Ace" Drummond Jr., died in Monterey, California of a stroke shortly after surgery.  He was 78.  Lt. Col. Drummond was a member of the Tuskegee Airman black pilot corps that served during World War II and commanded the 48th AHC in Vietnam during parts of 1965 - 1966.

Ace, who was trained as a B-25 bomber pilot, was preparing for action in Southeast Asia when WWII ended.  He was recalled to active duty in 1951 for the Korean War.  He retired from the Army in 1970 after a 30 year career.  Ace founded the Summer Flight Academy, a program in the San Francisco Bay area that trains underprivileged young people to fly airplanes.



Thomas A. Fichter






P. Frain






K. S. Hill






K. W. Hill






Carl R. Jones
1921 - 1998

(Joker 1)

Carl Jones, Joker 1, was the beginning of long a line of Joker gunship pilots.  He served three combat tours, one in Korea and two in Vietnam.

Carl joined the Army in February of 1951.  At the time, the Army needed black officers, and Carl was sent to the Armor Officer's Candidate School in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, Armor Branch, where he was a tank platoon leader and paratrooper.  (The Army also wanted him for his skill as a football player!)  But tanks were not his thing.... he wanted to fly!

He was able to attend the Fixed Wing Aviation Course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  His class was told, outright, that one black would graduate from the class to become a pilot.  Luckily for Carl, the top black in the class (an experienced World War II warrant officer) had an emergency appendectomy, so Carl became the one black pilot.

Carl was in the Army on Desegregation Day......  Seems so long ago, doesn't it?

While home on leave after flight school, the Armistice was declared in Korea, although it was still considered combat duty when he arrived. 

He left the Army in 1954 as a 1st Lieutenant.  He rose to Captain in the National Guard and Reserves, while working as a policeman in the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department, and playing football for Woody Hayes at Ohio State University.

It was in the Reserves that he met his true love ...... helicopters!

Carl returned to active duty in the Army in 1962, rising to Captain.  He served with the 2nd Artillery in Baumholder, Germany, from July, 1964, to October, 1965. 

His first tour in Vietnam was from November of 1965 to October of 1966, where he served in the 48th as the Gun Platoon Leader, Joker 1.

From October of 1966 to April of 1968, he was Assistant Division Aviation Officer for the Hqs. 8th Infantry Division in BAD Kreusnach, Germany, rising to the rank of Major.

His second tour in Vietnam was from May of 1968 to May of 1969, when he served as Commanding Officer of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company in 1968 and 129th Assault Helicopter Company in 1968-1969.

Carl left the service in 1973 to attend law school earning his Juris Doctor degree at age 52.

Carl died November 27, 1998.


Donald Kelsey
  - 2000

Don Kelsey was in Flight School Class 62-10.  His combat service in Vietnam included the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1966, the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company in 1968 and the 128th Assault Helicopter Company in 1969.  He died September 10, 2000.




Marion Lee "Skip" Mark






Tom Pember






Al Ratta

Al passed away on November 29, 1999 in Scottsdale, AZ. He was from New Hyde Park, NY and was probably the most unmilitary guy most of us ever met. Maybe you remember him...most who met him did...he ran the maintenance operations...(in real life that is) he just had that knack combined with his NY instincts to be able to get the important things done (conventionally or otherwise- - -more often otherwise). As a totally naive 18 year old kid from the sticks...he made quite an impression on me. He was older... I think 22 at the time. We became lifelong friends. Anyway....His name is still listed on the member list but he can't answer his e-mails....although if anyone would be him! If you would be so kind...and feel it's appropriate...leave his name on the list in it's own box and put c/o Bill Hamnett. Insert my e-mail address. I'd be happy to correspond with anyone who's looking for him. I just know there are a lot of guys out there who remember him and don't have a clue who I am.  .I'm sure there are lot of guys who wonder "Whatever happened to Al Ratta?" He was such a memorable character. 



J. W. Rodgers






David Spies

Dave passed away on 30 September 2001

I have thought and thought about my brother and I have finally decided that the thing that was best about David was this.  No matter where you wanted to go, no matter what you wanted to do, David always made people feel like there was nowhere else he would rather be - nothing else he would rather do.  His disposition was sunny and every day spent with him was a treasure.

As you can see, we still miss him terribly.

~ Sylvia Parrish


John Wallace
1950 - 2001

(John is leading the parade)

John Walker Wallace served in Viet Nam from July, 1970 to July, 1971.  From there he was stationed in Germany and finished his Army career at Ft. Lewis, WA. in June of 1979. His awards include Distinguished Flying Cross, National Defense Service Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Air Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal and 2 Overseas service Bars.

Continuing as a pilot for 25 years with a total of 14,000 plus hours, one of his last jobs was Search and Rescue in Yosemite National Park, however, during a job in Sicily, Italy, an incident occurred which psychiatrists indicate triggered suppressed Viet Nam memories ultimately leading to Post Traumatic Syndrome and other related conditions resulting in his death March 3,  2001.

John was born June 1, 1950 in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  A graduate of the University of Arizona, he is survived by daughters Mattea, Margo, and Sasha.  He is predeceased by his father, John William Wallace and his mother Ouida Wallace resides in Tucson, Arizona.



John Kemp

It is my sad duty to report that former pilot John Kemp has passed on.  John and I worked together at the PO these last 16 years.  He was a true friend.  I know that John was very happy to finally go to your last reunion in Colorado.  He was planning to go this year to say goodbye.  The Docs gave him 9 months, but he didn't even get 9 weeks from the time he learned he had cancer.   That @#$%& Agent Orange finally took its toll.  John died in Vietnam and didn't even know it.  I know that he had a buddy that he was to meet or had met in Las Vegas last year (I'm not sure).   

From a former Marine
Semper Fi
Thom Towell
RVN 66-67


I served with John in 1970 with the 48th in Ninh Hoa.  I worked with him when we had an IG inspection.  In addition to being a pilot, he was the OIC for the units chemical/ gas masks.  He and I cleaned and repaired all the masks for the inspection.  He was an inspiration in my life.  Wish I had kept in contact.  My condolence to all of his family. 

~Donnie Whitfield




Thomas Dale "Tom" Penley
1948 - 2003

Thomas Dale Penley was born on Jun. 5, 1948 near Asheville in Newfound, Buncombe County, North Carolina.  He died a widower at age 54 on Feb. 9, 2003 in Skyland, Buncombe County, North Carolina and is buried with his parents and older brother in the Newfound Baptist Church Cemetery in Leicester, Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Tom was the
Crew Chief on 66-16351 in 1968 and 1969 in the 1st Platoon of the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Ninh Hoa, Vietnam.  Tom was a GREAT Crew Chief.  I flew with Tom as the Aircraft Commander on his aircraft from November 1968 until May 1969.  He let me know right away that although I was permenantly assigned as Aircraft Commander of 351, it was his aircraft, not mine.  He explained that the Aircraft Commander was in charge when the aircraft was on a mission, but the Crew Chief owned the aircraft and was in charge of all aspects of the aircraft such as maintenance, etc. and he took great pride in keeping her in top shape.

He extended for six months beyond his twelve month tour and returned to the states for an R&R (Rest and Recuperation) prior to starting his six month extension.  He had only been back in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company from his R&R for a couple of months when his brother, SFC Charles Martin "Chuck" Penley Jr was killed in action on May 11,1969.  Tom was 
devastated when Chuck was killed. His brother's death completely took the wind out of Tom's sails. Even though his combat extension was not complete, the Army allowed Tom to return to the United States immediately.

Tom never let me forget that he owned 351 and I will never forget Tom Penley ... RIP

Logan Weiler
Lexington, KY


C. Glenn Wallace

Captain Glenn Wallace was a Pilot in 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam from April 1968 thru April 1969.  He is pictured above loading Agent Orange on his aircraft during a defoliant spray mission.  Sadly, Glenn died of medical complications resulting from his exposure to Agent Orange.  He died quietly in his sleep on Sept 6 in 2003 while on vacation in Montana.


Glenn Allen "Beau" Newton

.Glenn Allen "Beau" Newton was in Flight Class 69-47 and was a Gunship Pilot in 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam in 1970.  His call sign was Joker 101.   

Beau was born December 13, 1948 in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia.  He died September 3, 2004 in Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina.

Randy Crews

Randy Crews died February 8, 2008 in Bradenton, Florida. He had been fighting prostate cancer for many years. Randy came to the Jokers from the 238th guns after we moved from Dong Ha in '71.  Randy was Joker 133.




Wayne McCreary


Pictures Courtesy of Tom "Term" Edmonds



Terrell "Terry" Kenton Peterman
("Ernie" Peterman to us)
1950 - 2008

Terrell "Terry" Kenton Peterman was known as "Ernie" to the members of this unit in Vietnam.  Ernie was a Joker Gunship Pilot in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company during Lam Son 719

Terrell "Terry" Kenton Peterman, 57, of Mountain Home, died Sunday, March 23, 2008, while at home with family, after a two-year battle with brain tumors.

"Terry's deep faith in God sustained him throughout this difficult time. He taught us all that death is not to be feared when we are safe in the hands of God," his family said.

A viewing will be held on Thursday, March 27, from 4-7 p.m. at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home. Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. at the Mountain Home Church of the Nazarene, 950 N. 7th East St. Internment will follow at 3 p.m. at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery in Boise.

Terry was born to Kenton H. Peterman and Ruth Jerome Peterman on May 9, 1950, in Nampa. Raised in Idaho, he grew up working on a dairy with a family until he graduated from Middleton High School in 1969 and then entered the US Army, where he served as a Chief Warrant Officer during the Vietnam War. Terry flew both gunships and troop-carrying helicopters throughout Vietnam and as part of the military's secret Lam Son mission into Laos. Terry received commendations for his performance and was awarded two Purple Hearts during his military service.

Terry partnered with his father, Kenton, and brother, Jerry, in their Peterman Farms agribusiness operation in Mountain Home for the past 34 years. During that time he used his helicopter experience to do crop dusting. Later he enjoyed operating the large baler, harvesting alfalfa. He and his wife, Debbie, spent many "dating hours" in the baler. Then he had a passion for planting corn and watching it grow, his family said.

"He was well known as a man of integrity as well as one with a keen sense of humor," his family noted, adding that "Terry appreciated the fellowship and support of his church family, especially his Bible Study group, at Mountain Home Church of the Nazarene."

Terry is survived by: his wife of almost seven years, Debbie; sons Dan Peterman of Boise and Ben and his wife, Julie Peterman, of Mountain Home; his mother, Ruth Jerome Peterman; sisters Kaye and her husband, Jim Black, and Susan Conley, all of Tampa, Fla., his sister Paula and her husband, Alton Huyser, of Shoshone; his brother, Jerome ("Jerry"), and his wife, Tresa Peterman of Mountain Home, two nieces and a nephew; his mother in-law, Frieda Bertsch of Mountain Home; stepdaughters Sarah and her husband, Jeff Carothers, of Grand View, Cassie Davis of Bruneau, and four grandchildren.

Terry was preceded in death by his father, Kenton, in 1997.

Additional Obituary and Comments

Ernie Peterman Pictures



Paul John Brown
1941 - 2008

Paul John "Brownie" Brown was Blue Star Joker Gunship Pilot who died after his tour in Vietnam on Wednesday April 16, 2008 at 1520 EST at the age of 66.  

He trained in Flight Classes 67-5 and served as a pilot with three different companies in Vietnam.  He served with the 134 Assault Helicopter Company in 1967-68, the 48 Assault Helicopter Company in 1968, the C/227 AHB 1 CAV in 1970, and the D/227 AHB 1 CAV in 1971.  His call signs in Vietnam GRIM REAPER, JOKER, and LOBO 13. 

Paul John "PaPa" Brown flew his last mission and joined his many brothers that have died as a result of Agent Orange on Tuesday, April 16, 2008. Paul suffered for the last nineteen years of his life. The soldier in him wouldn't give in. 

Born September 11, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois, he moved to Ocala in the early 1950's and has always considered it to be his hometown. He attended Ocala High before joining the Florida Army National Guard in Ocala in 1956. 

Paul loved fast cars, especially his 68' Shelby 500, NASCAR racing flying helicopters, RC airplanes, even though he hadn't been able to get to the Ocala Model Flying Club field in years. Jack's Hobby in Ocala was his favorite shopping place. 

He was a member of St. Mark's Catholic Church in Summerfield, Belleview American Legion, DAV, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assoc. and the AMA. He flew two tours in Vietnam as a gunship pilot on missions into Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. 

He continued his flying career after leaving the service flying off tuna boats, oil rigs and tourist around Branson, Missouri. He was a maintenance supervisor for Sikorsky Helicopter Co., Ken Air in Gainesville, Charter Air and Brownie Helicopter in San Diego, California. 

Paul is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Gwenevere K. Brown of Summerfield; his Aunt Paulette M. Tansey of San Diego, California; his Sister-in-law Dolores Y. Asp of Dixon Illinois; Brother-in-law Gweldon L. Johnson of Zephyrhills, Florida; Dolores A. Channell of Daytona Beach, Florida and Jason Owen of Ft. Stewart, Georgia. 

He is proceeded in death by his Father, Robert E. Brown of Ocala, Florida; his mother Helen; Maternal Grandmother Henrietta Tansey of San Diego, California; Paternal Grandparents Homer & Mary Brown of Chicago, Illinois. 

Special thanks to the Marion County Hospice staff, Dr. David Elliott, Robin, Beverly, Linda and all the unseen faces that make it work. His VA Doctors and Debby Harper, his VA Nurse for 10 years. 

There will be a memorial service the end of May, 2008. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Marion County Hospice in his name.

Paul John is buried in the Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Sumter County, Florida, Sec 604, Site 788e. 



.Rodney Gene "Spike" Hillard
1941 - 2009

BlueStar 17

Captain Rodney Gene Hillard, 67, of Richmond, the husband of Marion Yvonne Hillard, passed away after a battle with cancer on Wednesday evening, September 23, 2009, at the Compassionate Care Center in Richmond, Kentucky.

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, he 
was born the son of the late Clarence Ray and Hazel Lee (Spurgeon) Hillard on October 27, 1941.

Rodney was retired from the University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology, an Army Officer who served two tours in Vietnam as a Helicopter Pilot, and a member of White Oak Pond Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Rodney is buried in the Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky.




Jesse Lynn "Jess" Moore
1939 - 2010

Captain Jesse L. "Jess" Moore was born on 11/13/1939  He trained in Class 66-10 of the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School.  He served as a Joker Gunship Pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1965 and 1966.  Jess's call sign was Joker 10.   

by Jess's daughter

Erin Moore Barker Cheney

After leaving the service he and my Mom moved to Hot Springs Arkansas where he began his life in the banking business. He eventually made it up to Vice President of Arkansas Bank & Trust (ABT for short).

I was born in 1972 and in 1980 we moved to Bonham Texas where he began his career as Human Resource Manager for General Cable.  We later moved back to his hometown and birthplace Telephone Texas out on family land. He retired from General Cable in the early 90s but didn't like retirement much so he then began work at Clayton Mobile homes and there he was the service manager and traveled all over Texas and Oklahoma.  He worked there for 5 years and then decided it was time to retire for real.

His eyesight had begun to fail him due to Macular Degeneration which was deemed to be from Agent Orange from what all I could read from the VA. He had other health issues as well and a year after his death I received a letter from the VA stating that due to contributing factors that had been studies, my Daddys death was due in part to Agent Orange and the lasting side effects it had.

He enjoyed riding motorcycles, hunting, fishing and going to the Choctaw Casino.

He was very open about all his time in Vietnam and was very proud to be a part of the 48th AHC and especially to be Joker 10. He told me a lot of stories and I have quite a few pictures in storage as well as a lot of other memorabilia.

My oldest son wears a cap my Dad had worn for years , it has the Joker insignia on the front with 48th AHC written above it and Joker 10 on the back.

I miss my Daddy something terrible. He was my very best friend in the world. 

Funeral services for Jesse Lynn Moore, 70, of Telephone were held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 24, 2010 in Wise Funeral Home Chapel. Burial with military honors followed in Forest Grove Cemetery in Telephone. Rev. Gene Owen officiated. Jesse passed away Monday, March 22, 2010 at his residence.

Jesse was born Nov. 13, 1939 in Paris, the son of Jesse Pearl Moore and Vera Lavonia Denton Moore. He was a graduate of Telephone High School and the University of Texas at Arlington. Jesse was a highly decorated U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. In his younger years, he worked for his "Uncle Joe" Denton at Wise Funeral Home. Jesse worked for Arkansas Bank and Trust in the 1970s, and later for General Cable and Clayton Homes in Bonham. Jesse loved going to Choctaw, riding motorcycles, hunting and fishing. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Jesse is survived by a daughter, Erin Moore Barker Cheney and grandsons, Jessie Kirk Barker and Daltry Wyatt Barker, all of Paris; numerous cousins, including Sarah Nowlin of Bonham, and extended family and a host of friends, including David, Todd, Hunter, and Lindsay Maxey, Michelle Reed and Jim Shaw.

Pallbearers were James Skidmore, Larry Felts, David Maxey, T. Moore, Pat Porter and Bobby McCraw. Honorary pallbearers will be David Little, J. D. Atchley, Todd Maxey and Jim Frehner.

The family received friends at Wise Funeral Home from 7 -9 p.m. Tuesday.

Online guest register

Published in The Herald Democrat on Mar. 23, 2010

- See more at:


Bill Brophy
1949 - 2010

Bill Brophy passed away April 5, 2010

Below is Bill's Eulogy as delivered by his son Kevin:


Thank you all for coming. This has been a very sad week, and it is honestly beyond words for me to explain the love and support we have received from all of our family and friends.


My dad, William M. Brophy, was born on October 5, 1949. He sadly passed away on April 5, 2010, exactly 6 months after his 60th birthday. He was a caring father, husband, son, brother, grandfather and close friend to many. Everybody loved my dad, mainly because of his strength, persistence and will power with whatever he put his mind to, and also because of his easy going nature and great sense of humor. Laughter was a given when spending time with my dad. He feared nothing, literally, and was the same genuine person to everyone.


 To his parents, William and Mary Brophy – whom Billy and I call Nana and Pop Pop – his late brother Tommy and his sisters Mary Ann and Barbara, my dad is known as “Billy.” My brother I call him “dad”, and pretty much everyone else including my mom calls him “Broph.” This name will live on for a very long time with many people.


 My dad grew up in Springfield, just down the road, with his parents, sisters and his brother Tommy. He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps at a young age and enlisted in the Army, quickly moving up the ranks to become a top helicopter pilot and ultimately earning the rank of chief warrant officer.


The Vietnam War was going on, where my dad flew Huey helicopters, which were basically bad-ass large metal boxes with a propeller on top and guns and rockets mounted on the sides. These were not the high tech Blackhawks you see today; navigating Huey’s required extreme precision, the coordination of all senses, and sheer guts.  He was part of the 48th Assault Helicopter Company nicknamed the Blue Stars and their motto was "SKILL NOT LUCK.”   He served in the gunship platoon which was named the Jokers. One needs to know that you just didn’t decide one day in Vietnam that you would fly a gunship.  You had to be selected to fly a gunship and join the Jokers.  You were selected based on your flying skills and courage demonstrated under fire.  Only a select few became Jokers and were, so to speak, the cream of the crop.  My dad advanced from a pilot to Aircraft Commander and a Fire team Leader with the Joker gunships and earned the rank of Chief Warrant Officer in the Army. He was extremely well respected by his fellow soldiers. My dad was known equally as much for his unwillingness to leave anyone behind even when against orders and greatly outnumbered, but also for his excellent skills as a pilot and for being the life of the party when not in active duty. It is astonishing to note that my dad’s helicopter was shot down 6 times. He received nearly 30 awards of the Air Medal, plus the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star with a V Device for Valor under fire.


This experience without question had a life altering effect on my dad, and understandably so. These were young men, kids in many respects, risking their lives to protect our country and along the way forming bonds that still to this day cannot be broken. Many of his helicopter and military friends have been in touch and some are here today; we are grateful for their support and presence. The trauma that they all experienced during the war, including the loss of so many close friends, is something most of us will never understand, and I know my dad was very glad that Billy and I didn’t go through what he did.


One of the great memories my mom, brother and I had in recent history was attending the Annual Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association event in downtown Philadelphia last year. Each year the event honors a specific Company and this event happened to honor my dad’s Company, the 48th. He was going to make it to this event under any circumstances, and he did. I am so glad I was able to participate in this event and meet many of my dad’s fellow pilots. The respect these guys had for my dad’s bravery, commitment to his friends and fellow soldiers and his excellence as a pilot, was truly an honor. There is a painting of my dad’s helicopter that was given to him by all of the Blue Stars and Joker gunship pilots who served with him in the back of the church; I hope you all have a chance to look at it.  As you may note, the art on the helicopter is the Joker face and the name “Easy Rider” was the actual name of my dad’s gunship that he named.


 After the war, life must have seemed easy, perhaps even trivial in relation to what he had been through. Listening to the Rolling Stones, summers at the Jersey Shore, celebrating life after Vietnam and initiating the search for a career were all part of this phase of his life, although the one nontrivial event was when my dad met Dolores “Laurie” Sweeney. A tall, stunning young woman with long blonde hair – the sister of my dad’s friend and soon to be brother-in-law John. Laurie and Broph quickly became a young couple and were on a path to begin a family.


My brother Bill was born on July 28, 1974 and I came not long after on July 23, 1975, just 360 days apart – the proverbial “Irish twins.”


On a search for fun, a new life and exciting experiences, my parents moved us to Somers Point, New Jersey just outside of Atlantic City where we lived for a short time before it was off to Ventura, California where my dad could pursue a career in real estate and the family could live the good life in sunny Southern California.


Our years in California were great, including lots of time with my dad’s best friend Mike Beebe, who had moved out around the same time, and his family, and other friends. We spent lots of time outside and had great summer trips to Philly to spend time with my parent’s families. My dad was working in real estate at the time and my mom was always right there raising us with lots of love and fun.


Unfortunately, as time progressed in California my dad began to develop a recurring sickness related to his time in Vietnam, prompting us to move back to Philadelphia to be closer to family and friends.   


When back in Philadelphia, my dad worked hard and long hours in a new career with my grandfather, his father, for many years in Trenton, New Jersey. His bouts of sickness became more frequent and extreme. There were years in my early twenties when my mom keep track of the number of annual hospital visits, and sometimes the number was in the 20’s and 30’s, with visits often extending for weeks at a time. My mom was always right there for him, no matter what.


 Although my Dad was often ill, we have many very fond memories of him and our life together.


Everybody always asked, “how’s your dad doing?” Then they’d say, “he such a great guy. He’s been through so much and is so strong.” After the exchange of “he’s doing ok, some hospital visits but he’s getting better.” The conversation would turn to, “your dad is such a great guy. He’s hilarious, sweet and everyone loves spending time with him.”


 I recall our Christmases together.  They were like no other. Often times the presents would stack from the tree all the way to stairs for one of us and into the hallway for the other. Our parents made sure we got everything we wanted as kids. In California when I would go outside with my new bike or skateboard, which was always the best and most expensive model, my friends would look in awe as I rode it around, and then I would explain that was just one of the “hundreds of big old presents” we got this year. We were the envy of the neighborhood. Plus, like clockwork there was always a huge box of gifts from Nana & Pop Pop which would top off the whole day.


 I wish I could have known my dad when he was a healthy young adult.  The stories that I have heard have offered a perspective of his character that his illness obscured.  I will never tire of hearing of his courage and his great sense of humor.


I believe that my dad had a difficult time reconciling life, given how trivial day to day matters must have seemed after having experienced the extreme trauma of being involved in the Vietnam war and after having lost his one and only brother Tommy.

My dad was always ready to laugh, in spite of his illness.  He suffered a lot, too much, for a long time in his later years.  But, protecting and making sure his family was ok were top priorities.


 My dad, who is now back together with his brother Tommy and his brother-in-laws Chuck Nace and David Sweeney, leaves behind a great and large family, including his caring parents, Nana & Pop Pop, his beautiful sister Mary Ann and her son Michael and and his Barbara with her husband Pete with their children Jackie, Kyle and Matt, myself, his son Billy with his amazing wife Erin and their two beautiful children - my nieces - Marissa and Trista, and of course his loving wife, Laurie.


I cannot express how grateful l am to all of our family and friends for their care and support for my dad, especially my uncle John who is without question one of the kindest and most supportive people I have ever met. He has always been there for my mom and dad in good times and bad, taking my dad to the hospital so many times when he was sick and just being there all the time for them. I have been meaning to tell John thank you so many times but thank you doesn’t come close to expressing how I feel for how much he has been there for my mom and dad.


The rest of my mom’s family, including her brother David and her sisters Eileen, Lisa, Mary and Jan and their families have also been a huge help and loving and caring family members beyond belief.


The hardest thing for me to talk about is my mom, as I know that even though life has not always been easy during the many years my dad was sick, she loved and cared for him like I have never seen anything before.   


Mom, thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication to dad. I know you had many wonderful years together and always remember that we are all always here for you.


 In a recent note to my mom from my dad’s life-long best friend, Mike Beebe, he said, “Broph is the toughest man who ever lived for many reasons beginning with his accomplishments in Vietnam.  What I never told you is that I believe that you are the toughest woman who ever lived.  Under extreme circumstances, you held it all together. I love Broph and I love you, and always will."


 While this has been a very sad week culminating in today’s ceremony, we should all be thankful for the great family and friends we have. I hope you will all have a chance to look at the photos we have here, including many from his childhood, his days as a helicopter pilot, and then his time as a husband, father, son, brother, grandfather and friend to so many.


Without question the most valuable thing I have learning from my dad is that in the face of any anxiety or fear, all I have to do is think of his life experiences and quickly come to the realization that all matters, whether they be personal, business, family or social, are trivial in the light of what he and all of the other people that stand up with courage to serve and protect our country have gone through. In the face of death, all fear is meaningless, and I am forever grateful for my dad and I know that I will always have the strength to face any challenge that arises because of how he raised us and what he has been through.

I can say with certainty that my dad would want us all to enjoy our lives, live it to the fullest with no fear and no regrets, spend plenty of quality time with friends and family, and above all, be happy.


Thank you.


Joseph John "Joe" Langenfeld II
1943 - 2011

BlueStar 51

Captain Joe Langenfeld (call sign: BlueStar 51) was 1st Platoon Commander of our 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Ninh Hoa, Republic of Vietnam in 1969.  It is fitting that he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Joseph John Langenfeld II (Joe), the oldest of fourteen children, was born in Denver, Colorado on August 21, 1943 and passed away at home from cancer on April 18, 2011. He grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, graduating from Notre Dame High School in 1961. Joe received a degree in mechanical engineering from the School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota in 1966. 


Serving in the US Army from May of 1967 to May of 1970, he was a captain and platoon leader/pilot for helicopter missions in Viet Nam and served three years as a pilot for the South Dakota National Guard. He also worked as a deck hand on a cargo ship, 5th grade teacher, boat builder, owner and operator of a fiberglass repair business, pilot for off shore drilling in Louisiana, mechanical engineer, and audio book producer and publisher. Other pursuits included writing, sailing, photography, architectural design, and science. He married Holly Maxon from Lemmon, South Dakota in 1979. They have three sons, Jeremy of Alexandria, Virginia, Samuel and Benjamin of Falls Church, Virginia.

Joe was adventurous and had a unique view in the way he approached life. He had an analytical mind. Those he engaged with in problem solving or in an evening of conversation couldn't help but notice the depth of his intelligence. Joe was kind and cherished his relationships with his family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. He had a special love for children. Joe loved to joke and his favorite movie genre was comedy. His voice, laughter and presence in our lives will be forever missed.

He is survived by his wife, Holly, and sons Jeremy, Samuel and Benjamin; brothers and sisters: Doug (Nancy) Langenfeld and Steve Langenfeld, Sioux Falls, SD; Lisa Langenfeld Buche, Watertown, SD; Kathy Heitzler, Sioux Falls, SD; Peter Langenfeld, Tucson, AZ; Rebecca Langenfeld, Petaluma, CA; Brian Langenfeld, Aurora CO; Tim Langenfeld, Pacifica, CA; Laura (Dave) Iglicki, Castle Rock CO; Elizabeth (Robert) Langenfeld, San Bernardino, CA; Andrew (Kristy) Langenfeld, Alexandria, MN; Paula (Gary) Schmidt, Sioux Falls SD; Camilla (Kevin) Gelroth, Castle Rock, CO; one uncle, Jamie (Heloisa) Nash, Lancaster, CA. He is preceded in death by his parents, Eloise & Joseph Langenfeld and brother, Clifford. 




Michael E. Swink
December 5, 2011

Michael E. Swink passed December 5, 2011.

Visitation was from 1 to 5pm
Saturday December 10th
The family home
20549 E. Milan Place
Aurora, Colorado 80013-2011

James E. "Camel" Burke
1945 - 2012

MAJ James E. "Camel" Burke was Joker 120, a Blue Star Gunship Pilot who died after his tour in Vietnam on 02/17/2012 at the age of 66.  

He trained in Flight Classes 67-3 and 67-1 and served as a pilot with three different companies in Vietnam.  He was Cowboy 623 with 335th Assault Helicopter Company in 1967-68,  and served with the 114th Assault Helicopter Company in 1971, and was Joker 120 with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1971-72. 

James Edward Burke was born on September 29, 1945, in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, to Charles Edward Burke Jr and Phyllis Workman Burke. He married in Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio and had one son. He died on February 17, 2012, in DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Florida 32433, at the age of 66.  

by Mark Nurczyk:

I was sitting in one of the avionics shelters watching Roy Klocko fix an FM transceiver when the door opened and Captain Jim Burke, call sign Joker 20, stuck his head in.  “Nurczyk, there’s something wrong with my Cobra, I need you to fix it.”  “Sure thing Sir, what’s wrong?” I say as I walked out of the shelter leaving Roy mumbling at the radio.
Cap'n Jim, as the enlisted called him, but never in his presence, was probably the best liked officer in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company.  The enlisted would race out to his helicopter whenever he returned from a mission just for the privilege of greeting him first.  Cap'n Jim never let military discipline slip, but he became a personal friend to all the enlisted.  All the enlisted idolized Cap'n Jim, it shows the character of the man that I'm sure he never noticed, or if he did he never took advantage of it.  He was the older brother we all wish we'd had.
"It feels like the pylon shuffle," Captain Burke said.  I'm very confused and I said, "Pylon shuffle sir?  I'm not sure what you mean."  "Yep," he continued, "In the B-model gun ship the rotor mast moves in little circles when you're at a high bank angle, you can feel the whole ship revolving around you.  When I'm in a 90 degree or greater left bank the whole back end of my Cobra shakes back and forth, just like the old B-model!"  "What happens in a right bank Sir?"  "Nothing" Capt Burke replied, "no shaking at all."  "Well Sir, it's a simple fix, don't do any left banks."  "Oh, you're amazing Nurczyk, why didn't I think that?"  "I don't know Sir, give me a minute, I'll think of something."
Actually, I was thinking of what could be wrong with the helicopter.  The AH-1G Cobra helicopter was the most technologically advanced helicopter in the Army in 1971.  The Cobra is a weapons platform, it fires air to ground missiles, machine guns, grenades and for another of our Cobras, a 40mm Vulcan cannon.  To fire the missiles or the Vulcan, the pilot aims the entire helicopter at the target on the ground.  Since the weapons are attached to the helicopter they fire wherever the helicopter is pointed.
One of my instructors at signal school said that a helicopter is 250,000 moving parts all trying to fly off in separate directions covered by a thin skin.  Nothing on a helicopter is in equilibrium, it is not like a fixed wing aircraft.  If you let go of the controls in a fixed wing, it pretty much stays flying in the same direction and at the same altitude that it was in when you let go.  If you let go of the controls in a helicopter, you're never quite sure where it will end up.
Since the accuracy of the missiles depends on the attitude of the helicopter, the Cobra is fitted with a Stability and Control Augmentation System, or SCAS for short.  The SCAS senses how the helicopter moved, what the pilot wants the helicopter to do and moves the flight control surfaces to keep the helicopter steady and where the pilot wants it to go.
The SCAS box is about 9 inches square and 4 tall.  It sits on a shelf just behind the pilot’s head - the idea is to get it as close as possible to the pilots ears. We all use our inner ears to keep our balance, putting the SCAS box there stabilizes the aircraft to the attitude system of the pilot.
Inside the box are three small rate gyroscopes and four circuit cards. A rate gyro only puts out an error signal when the gyro moves, it does not provide a reference horizon like the gyro in the attitude indicator does. Since the rate gyro is rigidly attached to the airframe through the SCAS box, the rate gyro sends out a signal whenever the aircraft moves.  There are sensors attached to the flight controls so the SCAS box knows what the pilot wants the ship to do.  The SCAS measures any airframe movement, compares the movement to the pilot’s commands and moves the flight control surfaces of the helicopter if they do not match.  The whole idea of the SCAS box was to damp out any movement of the aircraft that the pilot did not intend.
Rate gyros are small devices about 3/4 of an inch square and 1 1/2 inches long. There are three; roll, pitch and yaw. They have to spin at ungodly speed to perform their work, somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 RPM if memory serves. Because they are so small they have small shafts and bearings, they wore out quickly.  We had quite a few SCAS boxes that had bad gyros. The operative word is had, I made sure that we always had good ones.
SCAS boxes were in shorter supply than a whore’s virtue. Our TOE required us to have one spare at all times. For the 9 months that I was in the 48th we always had one on order through supply but it never got to us. We were always short a SCAS box.
Red Beach, just northwest of Da Nang, was our depot maintenance facility for avionics. The first time I took a bad SCAS box there for replacement they wanted to give me a tag saying I gave them one and that they owed us one. I'm no fool, I knew that we'd never get the damn thing back in time to keep all the Jokers flying (luckily at least one Cobra was almost always in the hanger for 100-hour maintenance). I knew the rate gyro was bad so I brought it back hoping to find a replacement part.
The unit in the hanger just south of our supply building was an Air Cavalry outfit. They had about 6-slicks (standard transport Hueys without rocket pods), 8 or 10-Cobras and six OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopters. Their maintenance was dismal and their pilots over aggressiveness in battle continuously got their Cobras shot up so bad that they were sending one stateside for repairs about once a month.
Whenever they had to send a Cobra back to the states it always went with bad 48th AHC gyros in the SCAS box. When I went to signal school at Ft Gordon, I received depot level training on the SCAS box. They didn't inform us of the different levels of Army maintenance at signal school, they just said this is what you do to fix the box.  I didn't think that I had to ask permission to keep the Jokers flying, I just got the needed parts replaced.  I always made sure that I swapped parts in a non-flyable aircraft just before it left for the United States for rebuild.
The shot-up helicopters were set on a side road over by the Sky Crane company. Since they were shot up and going stateside there never was a night guard set on them.  I'd pull the SCAS box, run back to the avionics shop, swap the gyros and replace the box in the shot-up bird.  Within a day or two a lowboy tractor trailer would come in, load up the helicopters and take them to the port of Da Nang; they got shipped out as deck cargo to the States.
In August 2003 I found out that Captain Larry Wilson, the last 48th AHC combat commander, got in trouble for my antics, the Jokers were too reliable.  Shortly after my DEROS, the Army sent a Cornell to find out why.  Larry said the Cornell was very threatening, the Cornell "knew" that Larry was up to something and was going to find out what it was.   Poor Larry, until I wrote this I never confided in anyone, no one in the 48th knew what I was doing to keep the Jokers in the air.  Sometimes its best that officers don't know what the enlisted men are doing.  If I were in Iraq right now I'd do it again and screw the "rules." Keeping the Jokers flying was worth more to the war effort than some stinking rules.
Cap'n Jim and I walked out to his Cobra, Jim placed his hand on the side of the helicopter and said, "I can't fly this bird the way it is.  It must be fixed and you are the only one that knows how to do it.  Just keep at it until it's fixed."  "Yes Sir."
Cap'n Jim's Cobra obviously had a yaw circuit SCAS problem, but what could it be?  It didn't sound like a gyro problem, a gyro problem shows up in all modes of flight, not just a left bank.  I removed the SCAS box anyway to test it, but didn't find anything wrong
One thing I did know is that when any input is removed from the SCAS box the output starts hunting back and forth trying to reacquire the signal.  Jim's Cobra was obviously doing this, but since the gyro tested correctly some other component had to be in error.  It had to be either the position feedback potentiometer or the hydraulic actuator that moved the flight surfaces. 
The position feedback potentiometer tells the SCAS box what the pilot wants the helicopter to do.  I removed it from the helicopter to test it, I was looking for a dead spot somewhere along its travel.  It tested fine.  I took it apart anyway to see if there was any kind of a foreign object in it.  Everything was fine and I put it back together.
Next was the hydraulic actuator.  I don't remember who removed it and tested it, it's been 45 years after all, but it checked fine too.  Back into the helicopter it went.
The last two paragraphs represented one and one-half days of work.  These weren’t your ordinary 8-hour days, there was a war on, these were 20 plus hour days, the only breaks I remember were for meals.  Mostly I worked through two access hatches in the side of the tail boom; one barely big enough for me to squeeze my chest into and the other just big enough to get one arm into.  Most of the time I was working blind at the end of my reach inside the Cobra's tail boom.  Since I was working on the flight line and not in the hangar the sun was heating the inside of the tail boom to over 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  Join the Army, see the world, and get a free sauna!
This kind of maintenance was not unusual in the 48 AHC.  Everyone in the maintenance platoon has many similar stories to tell.  Maintaining complicated, very sophisticated machinery in a war zone is difficult, back breaking and mind numbing work.  Truth to tell, it was some of the happiest, most fulfilling days of my life.  Not the killing, not the destruction, but being part of a greater whole.  Having important work to do, the freedom to do it, and others, whose life depended on your work, believing that you'd do the job correctly, the first time, all the time.
There I was, standing on the flight line next to a broken helicopter, with over 30-hours of work down the drain and no clue to what's wrong.  I checked the three obvious culprits; the SCAS box, the feedback potentiometer and the actuator.  Now it was get back to basics, check signal integrity from end to end.
The SCAS box has a couple of circular connectors that allow several dozen wires to enter and leave the box.  The connectors allow the wiring harness to be removed from the box so that the box can be easily replaced.  I started my electrical check at the SCAS box and worked my way back to the feedback potentiometer.
Helicopters are meant to be taken apart at the tail boom to body junction.  At this point is another set of circular connectors to allow removal of the tail boom without having to cut wires.  The first section of wires to check extended from the SCAS box to the tail boom-body junction.
As I disconnected the circular connectors at the body-tail boom junction I noticed that one of the wires was about half cut through just as it entered the connector.  Closer examination showed that it was not cut, it was manufactured improperly at the Bell Aircraft factory.  The wire was about 3/16 of an inch too short for its intended application.
Aircraft bend and twist during flight.  If they were rigid they would break in response to the stresses of flight.  Acrobatic aircraft like the Cobra are under greater stress and tend to bend a lot.
When Cap’n Jim was in level flight or in a right bank, the end of the wire touched the connector pin.  In a left bank, the tail boom flexed enough that the wire pulled loose from the connector pin.  If the wire had been the proper length it would have had a little slack in it so no strain would be placed on the connector pin.  As it was the SCAS lost control in a left bank and shook the helicopter left and right.
The fix was quick and simple, splice in a short piece of wire.  It was fixed in 10 minutes.  It took another hour to button up the access ports, collect and put away my tools, then I went looking for Cap’n Jim.
I found Captain Burke in the operations room.  “Sir, your ship is ready to go.”  “Are you sure of it?”  “Yes Sir!”  “Would you stake your life on it?”  “Yes Sir!”  “OK, put on your Nomex and meet me on the flight line in 10 minutes.”  “Yes Sir!”
Hot damn, my first ride in a Cobra!  I ran to my hooch, threw off my fatigues, threw on my Nomex flight suit (a fire resistant coverall), grabbed my flight helmet and ran to the flight line.  Cap’n Jim had me get into the front seat, gave me a quick orientation and climbed in the back.  I buckled up the harness, plugged my helmet into the aircraft’s intercom system and closed and locked the canopy.
Starting a helicopter is not like starting a car.  A car is ready to go in 15 seconds.  A helicopter doesn’t start as much as comes alive, and it comes alive slowly.  First the master electrical switch is turned on.  Immediately with the power coming on is the shrieking of the main rotor low RPM warning over the intercom system.  The first time you hear it scares the crap out of you, it is very loud, grating and annoying.  It was on because the blades were not turning yet.  Jim canceled the warning with a button push, studied the panel a moment to see if a couple of gauges started to quiver properly and shouted “CLEAR!”
Shouting clear lets everyone know that the helicopter is about to start and to get away from the soon to be whirling blades.  I’ve never witnessed a blade strike on a human being but it’s got to be ugly, a blade can cut through small trees without damage.
The starter motor begins with a low howl that builds up to a banshee shriek in about 10 seconds.  Next is the click, click, click of the igniters.  A large whoosh explodes out the exhaust as the fuel catches fire.  The starter motor turns into a generator and its shriek dies as the main engine starts and the blades finally start moving.  Slowly at first, like a steam locomotive pulling a big train, the main rotor moved, whop,….., whop,…., whop,..., whop,.., whop,., whop, whop, whop, until it’s a blur that you can see through but seems to be everywhere at once.  A persistent background hum from the gears in the transmission fills the helicopter.
The Cobra is alive!  It breathes, it exhales fire, hydraulic fluid coerces through its veins and primitive thoughts run through its electrical wiring.  Jim shattered the illusion by saying over the intercom “Nurczyk, you still with me?”  I grabbed the gunners stick, squeezed the intercom button and said “Yes Sir!”  “OK” said Jim, “Let’s go flying.”
Gracefully, as if the helicopter were a magic feather, we rose about two feet off the ground.  The SCAS was obviously working, the helicopter just hung there, not moving.  Even with an experienced pilot, a Huey bounces around at such a low hover.
I heard Jim over the intercom say “Joker 20 backing out.”  This was a broadcast over the companies FM radio frequency to let any other helicopter that may be maneuvering in the revetments know that our helicopter will be backing out into the taxi way, so be on the lookout.  We taxied to the edge of the company area and Jim asked for clearance from the tower to get to the runway and takeoff.  After receiving clearance Jim moved onto the runway, started moving down the center, climbed out and started flying level at about 2000 feet.
The view from the front seat of a Cobra is breathtaking!  The canopy comes down almost to your waist and the aircraft flies with a slight nose down attitude, you have an unobstructed left to right of over 180 degrees and from about 60 degrees down to overhead.  In seconds your mind forgets about the airplane and you feel as if you are tied to the front a spear thrust through the sky.
About ten minutes into the flight Jim said over the intercom, “Nurczyk you fixed it!”  Jim had been doing a series of left and right banks increasing the angle of each one to see how the helicopter behaved.  I was so mesmerized with the view that I hadn’t noticed.  Then he asked, “Have you ever flown in a Cobra before?”  “No Sir this is the first time.”  “Have you ever been air sick?”  “Not yet sir.”  “Good.  Do you see that firebase at four o’clock?”  I turned to the right and looked over my right shoulder to see a circle on the ground with four cannons in it.  “Yes Sir.”  “OK, turn straight ahead and look at the horizon.”
As I looked forward the world suddenly turned upside down.  Well not quite upside down, we were only doing a 140-degree bank.  Then the nose dropped and I see the ground flash by.  I got very heavy, we pulled three times the force of gravity.
Somewhere along the way we rolled back upright but my senses were so overloaded that I can’t tell you when it happened.  Suddenly I was looking at the firebase growing.  There is no sensation that Jim, the aircraft and I were moving forward, the point on the ground that is directly in front of us was growing bigger and bigger at a rapid rate!  I heard Jim in the intercom making noises, “ Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.”  I asked “What are you doing Sir?”  “I’m shooting rockets into the firebase.”
The whole time that I’m staring at the firebase we were in a shallow dive.  When we got to about 100 feet we over fly the firebase.  I saw about 50 guys giving us the one finger salute, something about a Cobra doing a make-believe gun run on your position brings out the worst in some folks.
Jim laughed at the guys on the ground, flipped the Cobra into a 90 degree left bank and spiraled up to about 2000 feet over the firebase.  “Guess that got their adrenalin pumping!”  he said.  Then Jim asked “How was that?”  “It was great Sir!”  “Want to try some more?”  “You bet!”
For the next half hour Jim demonstrated the entire flight envelope of the Cobra.  Sometimes we were upright, sometimes we were upside-down, sometimes we pulled up to three gees, but the whole while the both of us were having the time of our lives!
We were playing with the world’s greatest amusement park ride that was camouflaged as an instrument of death.  Every time I think of that flight I can feel the gees on my body, taste the kerosene of the exhaust and hear the whop, whop, whop of the rotor blades, in cadence with the beating of a human heart.

Bob McKelvey
December 25, 2011

Bob McKelvey passed away December 25, 2011



Robert D. Regester
February 23, 2012

Robert Regester was Blue Star 194, an Aircraft Commander with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Ninh Hoa, Republic of Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.  

Robert D. Regester, CW4 U.S. Army, Retired died on February 23, 2012 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  He is pre-deceased by his parents Richard and Donna Regester.  Mr. Regester is survived by Ryan Regester, son and his wife Amy and by grandchildren Jackson and Eleanor; and by Michael, his brother, his wife Kay and nephew Benjamin.  Mr. Regester retired in 1993 after serving 26 years of service.  Mr. Regester was stationed at Redstone Arsenal Airfield from 1980 through 1985.  



Ed Monhollen
1946 - 2012

Joker 58

Edward (Edman) Monhollen, 65, died peacefully at his home in San Antonio, TX with his family by his side. Ed was born Sept 19, 1946 in Keith, WV and graduated from Woodward High School Toledo, Ohio with the Class of 1964. He received his bachelor's degree from USC and Masters from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ed enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967 and served his country proudly as a gunship pilot in the Republic of Vietnam where he survived a helicopter crash and went on to accept his appointment as a commissioned officer in 1970. He retired as a Major in 1987 and went on to continue his aviation mishap investigation career with Sikorsky Aircraft and then hung his own shingle as a consultant until 2005. 

Famed for his unmistakable laugh, Ed brought a tear to many an eye on the golf course, in the Pub and in living rooms near and far. He is preceded in death by his Pop Ed Monhollen Sr., his partner in crime & father-in law Perry Salinas, brother-in-law Bruce Jeffrey Dickson and son-in-law John Hoste. He'll be waiting at the gates until they are joined again for his Mama Norma Monhollen, mother in law Rita (Mom) Salinas, wife Cynthia (one each) Salinas Monhollen, daughters Michelle (Booger) Hoste, Dr. Nicole (IckyNay) Schalk and husband Jay Hook, Erin (Munchostiltzkin) Monhollen and fiance Michael Bordonaro, grandchildren Maddisan (Maddigascart), Benjamin (Benjammin) Abbigail (Abbygator) Hoste, and (baby cinder) Ella Hook, siblings Shelby (Reb) Monhollen & wife Laura, Janet (Faya) Dickson, (Moose) Bruce Monhollen & wife Lorre, Andrea (DenoBonino) Green, sister-in-laws Dahlia (Debito) Klepac & husband Denis, Sonya (Sooohnyaaaa) Knight & husband Tom, Rita Girl Saavedra & Sylvia (Sylvioso) Dennes & husband Jeff as well as numerous nieces and nephews.


I remember the day Ed crashed off the end of the Ban Me Thuot runway. I remember Ed in the club and on the volleyball court … but best of all, I remember Ed having an uncanny knack for reading and acurately interpreting a topo map while flying quicker than anyone I know.  I also knew Ed after the war as an amazingly skilled and talented Accident Investigator.  It was as if Ed included thinking out of the box as a normal part of his thought process.  He could reconstruct accident scenarios and come up with causes when the rest of the best were stumped.

Logan Weiler
BlueStar 188
Ninh Hoa, RVN
Oct 68 - Oct 69


Glenn Michael Daniel
1942 - 2012

Glenn Michael Daniel

August 15, 1942 to September 17, 2012

Glenn Michael Daniel was in the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight Classes 66-15 and 66-13.  He was a 48th AHC “Blue Star” in 1966 and 1967.  In 1969, he again served in Vietnam ... this time with the 92nd Assault Helicopter Company.

Glenn lived in Muscle Shoals , Alabama.  The apple doesn't far from the tree, as his elder son became a helicopter pilot and both of his two sons served as U.S. Marines. 

Glenn Michael Daniel died of sudden heart failure at his home on September 17th, 2012 at age 70.

He is buried in Tri-Cities Memorial Garden in Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama


Marvin Don Doss
1943 - 2012

Marvin Don Doss
May 01, 1943 - October 21, 2012

Marvin Don Doss died Sunday October 21, 2012 at his home in Killeen. He was born in Lampasas, Texas on May 1, 1943 to Worth and Annabelle (Cantwell) Doss. He graduated from Lampasas High School before entering the U.S. Army from which he retired in 1986. He was a member and very active volunteer at Belton Church of Christ. He was a devoted Christian and his hobbies included auto racing and mechanics. He is survived by a brother, Worth Lee Doss of Bastrop. Services for Marvin Don Doss, age 69, of Killeen, Texas were held Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM at Belton Church of Christ, 3003 North Main, Belton, Texas 76513 with Minister Jordan Hubbard officiating. Burial with military honors was performed immediately following the funeral service at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195, Killeen, TX 76542. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Eastern European Missions P.O. Box 670928, Dallas, Texas 76367-0928 or Cherokee Home for Children P. O. Box 295 Cherokee, Texas 76832. Dossman Funeral Home of Belton is in charge of arrangements.

Marvin loved coming to the mini reunions, but his wife called Ben and Janet Gay saying that he would not be able to attend the November 2012 Reunion in Savannah, Georgia due to illness.  She informed them after the Reunion that Marvin had passed.  We will always remember you, Marvin.  The picture (above on right) was taken at the 2010 Reunion in Savannah, Georgia.

Logan Weiler
BlueStar 188
Ninh Hoa, RVN
Oct 68 - Oct 69

There's a new star in the heavens. If you look closely it twinkles blue.
Marvin Doss, an original Blue Star ... a "boat person" who travelled to Vietnam on the USS Geiger, passed away on October 21.
I had the good fortune of meeting Marvin at the Blue Star mini-reunion in Savannah, Georgia in 2010 and again in 2011 in Williamsburg, Virginia. He told me this story: he was a truck mechanic when he went to Vietnam. One day the CO came to the motor pool and told him to report to the mess sergeant as a cook. I asked what he said and Marvin replied, "Yes sir."
His brief obituary lists his occupation as "Soldier". That he was ... and I'll bet he was a good one.
He will be missed, but he will not be forgotten.

John-Al Skimbo
December 3, 2012

Marvin is an original Blue Star, having sailed to Vietnam on the USS Geiger. Although we served at different times, what binds all of us together is our service in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company. We will miss our brother, but as long as he is in our hearts he is not gone. We will not forget.

John-Al Skimbo
December 03, 2012

Dear Worth, friends and family, I am a Bluestar little sister and had the privilege and honor to meet Marvin at the BlueStar reunions. I know he was a brave soldier and a good man. I loved how straight-forward he was and his dry sense of humor. I'm very saddened by his loss. Heaven just gained a real treasure, and the world is a poorer place for it. May God surround you with love and comfort. I will miss Marvin but will always keep him here in my heart. Sending my deepest condolences.

Sherry Leeper
Wellington Colorado
December 04, 2012

I just found out about Marvin's passing. I served with him in Vietnam with the 48th Assault Helicopter Co. I was able to spend time with him at the reunions and will miss seeing him and his great smile. Rest in peace brother. Ski

Joe Kochanski
December 03, 2012

I've had the pleasure of attending numerous Army reunions with Marvin. I will miss his good company and gentle, dry sense of humor. You're in my prayers Marvin and I am confident that we will meet again. Rest in peace, brother.

Tony Amanzio
December 03, 2012



Roger Dale Franklin
1943 - 2012


Roger Dale Franklin
August 31, 1943 to December 6, 2012

Roger Franklin, son of Charley Mortel Franklin and Fredrick Arlene Francis, was born August 31, 1943 in Arvin, California.  He lived in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and passed away unexpectedly on January 12, 2015 at the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Richard F. Dodson Funeral Home, 213 East Main St in West Newton, Pennsylvania handled his final arrangements.  He was laid to rest at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  

Roger served with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1971 based out of Dong Ha, I Corps, Republic of Vietnam and in 1972 based out of Marble Mountain, I Corps, Republic of Vietnam.  He will be missed by all who knew him and served with him.


Ronald Keith Damron
1941 - 2013

Ronald Keith Damron
April 24, 1941 – January 7, 2013

Ron was in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1966 and 1967.  He served 3 tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and other training roles.  He was a Texas Tech athlete, coached at Texas Tech and retired as an associate athletic director.

Ronald Keith Damron of Lubbock passed away January 7, 2013. Visitation was held at Resthaven Funeral Home Thursday January 10, 2013 from 7:00 until 8:30 pm. Funeral Services were held Friday January 11, 2013 at Trinity Church at 3:00 pm. Burial followed at Resthaven Memorial Park. 

Ron was born on April 24, 1941 in Muleshoe, TX to the late Mr. J.L. and Wanda (Williams) Damron. On July 24, 1965 he married Betty Sue McCreary. 

He graduated from Lubbock High School in 1959 and Texas Tech in 1964 where he was in Army ROTC. He served honorably in the US Army for 10 years and retired as a Colonel from the Army Reserves. 

Ron was an Associate Athletic Director at Texas Tech. 

Survivors are his wife of 47 years Sue Damron; daughter Kelly and her husband Steve Beasley, and their children Erin, Cole and Kevin; son Mark and his wife Pilar and their children Olivia and Angela; sister Sandra Damron Farris; and numerous other family and friends. In lieu of flowers the family suggested donations to Wounded Warrior Project.



Clarence William “Clancy” Smith II
1947 - 2013

Clarence William “Clancy” Smith II
August 27, 1947 - January 18, 2013

Mr. Clarence William “Clancy” Smith, II, age 65, of Covington, Virginia died Friday, January 18, 2013, at his residence. He is survived by his wife and the love of his life, Patricia Bradley.

Mr. Smith was born August 27, 1947 in Greenville, SC, the son of the late Clarence William Smith, Sr. and Doris Inabineth Smith. He served his country a member of the United States Army where he did four back to back tours in Vietnam; two of them as a helicopter pilot and two as a pilot with Air America. Mr. Smith was a retired warrant officer CW4 with the Army Reserves. He had been employed as an instrument instructor for helicopters in Fort Rucker, AL. Clancy loved gardening, being in the outdoors, enjoyed music and his pets. He especially enjoyed talking to and getting together with the helicopter pilots he served with in Vietnam.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Smith is survived by one son, Gray Smith of Florida; one brother, Wallace Smith; one sister Diane Henije, both of Ft. Myers, FL; and two aunts, Annie Maude Smith of Orlando, FL and Martha Snow of South Carolina.

A funeral service was conducted at 6:00 P.M., Monday, January 21, 2013, from the chapel of Loving Funeral Home 350 North Maple Ave, Covington, Virginia 24426 with Rev. Bill Gilliland officiating. An additional service was held on Friday, January 25th, 2013 at the Pensacola Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home at 7433 Pine Forest Road, Pensacola, Florida, followed by interment
at 2:00 PM Friday, January 25, 2013 at Barrancus  National Cemetery, 1  Cemetery Road, NAS, Pensacola, Florida. 

The family suggested that memorial tributes be made to the Alleghany Humane Society, P.O. Box, Low Moor, VA 24457.

Funeral arrangements were by Loving Funeral Home:



Gary E. "Spiderman" Davis
1944 - 2013


Gary E. "Spiderman" Davis

Gary E. Davis, 68, passed away on 16 January 2013 at his daughter’s home in Madison, AL. He was born on 25 July, 1944 in Lake City, Iowa to Ralph E. and Irene L. (Trotter) Davis.

Gary grew up in Lake City where he graduated from Lake City High school in 1962. He eventually joined the Army in 1968 and served over 21 years as a helicopter pilot and instructor with numerous tours in Vietnam where he was awarded 9 Air Medals and Vietnam Campaign Medals. Other service awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and Master Aviator Badge. He retired from the military as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 in 1990.

Gary was a member of Pilgrim Lutheran Church, VFW Post 1899, American Legion, and the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Association (VHPA). He enjoyed travelling, driving his tractors, visiting friends, tinkering with technology, and helping others.

Gary was preceded in death by his Father Ralph, Mother Irene, brother Darwin, and sister LaDon

Gary is survived by his daughters and their spouses Shelly and Leonard Zeigler of Rincon, GA., Lisa and Jim Scala of Madison, AL; grandchildren Brad Zeigler, Kristy Zeigler, Tyler Zeigler, Nicholas Scala, Rachel Scala, and Kristen Scala; step-grandson, Mason Nichols; great-grandchild Baylee Zeigler; brothers Dennis and Rick.

A memorial service was held at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 720 East Main in Lake City, IA 51449 on 23 January 2013. Burial was at Lake City Cemetery with military honors provided by the Lake City American Legion Post #31 and the Lake City VFW Post #1899.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to the Wounded Warriors Project. 

Condolences may be left on online guest book at




Antonio A. "Tony" Martinez
1951 - 2013

Tony Martinez
48th Crewmember
April 1970 to February 1972
2nd Platoon Slicks & Joker Gunships

Antonio (Tony) Martinez, 62 of Salida died Thursday after a long illness. Mr. Martinez grew up in Delhi, attended Delhi elementary Schools, and Livingston High. 

Tony joined the Army in February of 1969 and after basic and AIT was sent to Germany for 6 months.

At the end of that tour Tony received orders for Viet Nam where he flew as a gunner for the 48th Assault Helicopter Company (Joker Platoon) from April of 1970 to February 1972.

He was employed by Cherokee Freight Lines of Stockton as a Truck Driver for 20 years.
He is survived by his parents Antonio and Ricarda Martinez of Delhi, his siblings Elizabeth, Daniel, and Lucy also of Delhi, Rose of Turlock and Sally of Modesto.

A funeral service was Tuesday May 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Turlock Funeral Home 425 N. Soderquist Rd.

A military graveside service was held at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, Gustine, CA on Wednesday May 8, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.

Please leave your condolences at:

by Curtis Haws

For those of you who don’t me my name is Curtis Haws, I have known Tony most of my life. We were friends thru school and in 1969 we joined the Army together, all thru basic we were constantly being told that if the Army doesn’t know you then you must be doing a good job.

We looked at each other and said that’s not how it worked in high school because the principal knew us very well. In fact we heard that after we left, Livingston High had a celebration in Honor of us leaving.

After basic we went our separate ways, me to Alabama & Texas, Tony to Virginia & Germany. Then I received orders For Viet Nam. When I got to Viet Nam I didn’t know anybody, I felt so alone in a company of men I never knew. A month later I was writing a letter home and the door on my hooch opened and there stood Tony. We both had been assigned to the 48th Assault Helicopter Company.

As time went by I joined the 1st flight platoon, Tony the 2nd flight.  Eventually we were assigned to the Joker gun platoon and at one time even flew on the same helicopter together. As we got more involved with guys of the 48th and fighting the war in Viet Nam. It was then we knew what it meant to be a Band of Brothers. I do not stand here alone to honor Tony, The men of the 48th stand with me. We worked as a team, we fought as a team and we die as a team.

Today I must say good bye to my brother! But as I walk this path called life, I will never be alone because I know Tony will always be at my side.

See you later Brother,
~Curt Haws


Steven R. Hurst
1948 - 2013

Steve Hurst was a BlueStar from July 1970 thru February 1971, serving in the Joker Gun Platoon as a crewmember on a UH-1B Huey Gunship named "Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show" 

Above is a picture of the Nose of the Gunship, along with patches for the Joker Gun Platoon on either side

Below is his obituary .....

Steven R. Hurst, 65, of Borden, Indiana passed away on Wednesday, December 25, 2013. He was a United States Army veteran that served his country during the Vietnam War and was a member of the VFW Post 6636 in Salem, Indiana. Steve enjoyed camping and  spending time with his family.

Steve was born on November 28, 1948 in Clark County, Indiana to the late Tommy and Lillian (Jackson) Hurst. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Mariea L. (Keehn) Hurst; daughter, Trina Barnes (Les); brothers, Mike (Brenda), Sam (Janet), Stanley Hurst (Connie); grandchildren, Kaylin, Emily, Conner, and Brookelyn Barnes.

Visitation was from 1 PM to 6 PM on Sunday, December 29, 2013 at Newcomer Funeral Home (3309 Ballard Lane, New Albany). His Funeral Service was held at 11 AM on Monday at the funeral home with burial and military honors following at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Borden. 



James "Jim" Condo
1951 - 2014

We just received an email from James (Jim) Condo's wife Debra that Jim passed away April 18, 2014.  Along with several others, Jim and I were transferred to the 48th when the 155th stood down.  Jim Condo was a 2nd Flight Platoon crewchief at Dong Ha and then at DaNang

Larry "Matt" Matthews 
2nd Flt Plt

Official Obituary:

James "Jim" W. Condo, 62, passed away peacefully at his home on April 18, 2014, surrounded by his family, after a lengthy illness.

Born June 14, 1951, Jim graduated from Lock Haven High School in 1969 and joined the Army and National Guard, where he served his country from 1970 to 1973. He is a Vietnam veteran and received the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action in 1971.

He returned to Lock Haven and married his "better half," Debra J. Condo, on Aug. 9, 1973. Together, they raised their daughters Stacy L. Englert and Jamie R. Nicoloff, sacrificing many luxuries for their daughters' well-being.

Jim became self-employed when he opened Condo's Auto Body in 1985. The business served the greater Lock Haven community for 28 years.

Jim was a very independent, honest and stubborn man who not only worked for but also earned everything he had in life. He enjoyed Nascar, maintaining his lawn and garden, and quiet evenings with his wife. His greatest achievements are his two daughters and his four grandchildren, all of whom adore him.

Surviving are his wife, Debra, of 39 years; daughter Stacy (Steve) Englert of Lock Haven and granddaughter Hannah; daughter Jamie (Shaun) Nicoloff of Michigan and grandchildren Spencer, Soren and Emerson. He is also survived by his aunt Hazel Brown, who had a large hand in raising him; mother Mary Lamey; sister Donna Dale; step-siblings Wes Bonnell, Annette Bonnell and Jay Lamey; and many loving in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his son, Chad; his in-laws, Marianne and Alan Barner, and David Nestor; and step-father Ray Lamey.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at noon at the Donald G. Walker Funeral Home, Inc., 231 High St., Flemington, with Bill Powell officiating. Burial at Rest Haven Memorial Park was held privately.

In lieu of flowers, his family requested donations be made to Community Nursing Services of Clinton County, P.O. Box 904, Lock Haven, Pa. 17745 or the Clinton County SPCA, 33 Mill Hill Road, Lock Haven, Pa 17745.



Harold "Itty" Smith
1948 - 2014

Harold "Itty" Smith - Ghost Rider 19 died from a ruptured aorta in  Zepherhills, Florida on June 30, 2014.  Itty was VERY special to us because although he was not in our unit, he risked his life by flying his helicopter into a hot LZ under heavy fire to rescue Crewmembers of a downed Joker Gunship from our 48th Assault Helicopter Company.  Itty was badly injured and has been bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life because of injuries he sustained that day.  That is why Itty holds the distinction of being the only person on our list of "Brothers Who Have Departed" without being a member of our unit.

Itty will be honored with a burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on November 28, 2014.   Many BlueStars and Jokers will be in attendance.  

We will never forget Harold "Itty" Smith - Ghost Rider 19.


Individual Tributes

(1)  I knew Itty well enough to know what kind of man he was. I was proud to be his friend.
I was honored to be part of the "flight jacket caper". For those of you who may not know, Rick Lester had a leather flight jacket custom made for Itty as a thank you for his efforts to rescue a Blue Star crew who had been shot down in Laos. Cooper Leather in Newark New Jersey made the jacket and sewed on a custom name tag and flight wings, an embellished Ghost Riders patch and a 101st patch on the right sleeve (all supplied by Rick). Before the jacket was completed Rick had them sew a Blue Star patch onto the lining so that the Blue Stars would always be close to his heart.

We lost a good one, 
John-Al Skimbo

(2)  Itty was a brother from another mother (Company) that frequented our celebrations. His wounds, recorded live on one of the Lam Son tapes, were received trying to get some of our Jokers out. I'm proud to have met him and know what he tried to do. Slow Hand salute Itty.

Ron Turner

(3)  The world just became much poorer with the loss of this brave and wonderful man. I am so sad. God bless you and keep you close, Itty. We all loved you. May God surround your family with all of his comfort and love. We will never forget you and will keep you here in our hearts always.

With love and sympathy,
Sherry Leeper


(4)  There is nothing in my life that I am more proud of than being a Bluestar. Though he may be our adopted brother, there is no one more deserving of our respect and gratitude than Itty. His bravery, and resulting sacrifice, entitlted him to be a "Bluestar", and we all grieve. God bless you my friend, your wonderful wife and family.

Jack Carney


Published Online:
189th Assault Helicopter Company
Ghost Rider Slicks and Avenger Guns


Ghost Rider Family,
Thank you all for your prayers, but Chief Warrant Officer Harold Smith, better known as “Itty Bitty” passed away Sunday morning June 30, after a second major operation resulting from a ruptured aorta. 

I think we really misnamed him “Itty Bitty” back in Viet Nam. He is anything but itty. He had the biggest heart, the most courage and the greatest sense of humor of any person I have ever met. Like many of you, I admired him and was humbled by his bravery. 

Unlike politicians, Itty didn’t think the motto of never leaving a fellow soldier behind was just a cute phrase. When he heard the 48th AHC had crew members down in that hot LZ , he and his crew flew single ship through heavy enemy fire to try to rescue them. The wounds he suffered that day left him physically disabled, but it could never break his spirit. In the years since, because of his injuries, Itty has suffered through many very difficult moments. Never once have any of us heard him complain. As AJ says, “He would always just right himself and live to the best of his ability”. Once again….Courage.

Itty Bitty was a real hero but despite his selfless actions that day in Laos, the Army never saw fit to award him a medal for valor. He never complained. What Itty did get, was the outpouring of thanks and love from the entire 48th AHC family. They honored him with a special leather flight jacket which he treasured more than any medal. 

God also blessed Itty with his wife AJ, an angel on earth who possesses more courage than him, if that’s possible. They have been a team for almost 40 years.

Chief Warrant Officer Harold Smith epitomized what it is to be a Ghost Rider. He will be buried in Arlington Cemetery at a date yet to be determined.

Burt Amos 
Ghost Rider 53


Published in:
Waynesboro Record Herald
Sept. 4, 2014

Harold E. "Itty-Bitty" Smith, 66, went home to be with the Lord, June 30, 2014, with his loving wife by his side. Born May 22, 1948, to Max and Virginia (Rupp) Smith, he lived his early life at South Mountain, Pennsylvania, and moved to Florida in 1992. Married in 1976 to Adonica J. (Daywalt) Smith, he is survived by one brother, Jeffrey P. Smith and his wife, Angie; one sister, Evelyn Smith, and his namesake, Jeffrey Harold Smith and his wife, Kathy. He was proceeded in death by four brothers: Max Smith Jr., David Smith, Kenny Smith, and Brian Smith, and one sister, Dawn Rosenberry and is survived by their spouses and children. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

Harold served three years in the US Marine Corps, joining in 1965. He served in Vietnam (MASS-3, MACG-18, IstMAW). His orders took him to many areas of operation in the I Corps area, including Khe Sanh. He completed his tour of duty in December 1968.

Joining the Army in June 1969, Harold graduated Army Rotary Wing Flight School (Class 70-11/70-7). Serving again in Vietnam, as a pilot, with the 101st Abn Div CoA (Ghost Riders), 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, in 1970-71. He earned numerous decorations, medals, and citations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross w/OLC. He was severely wounded in Laos on March 19, 1971, participating in Operation Lam Son 719.

Harold earned a private pilot's license in 1984, flying from the Washington County Maryland Regional Airport. In 2005, at the request of Rick Lester, Harold was awarded "Honorary Membership" by the 48th AHC (Blue Stars) for his effort to rescue the pilots and crew of 48th Guns ("Joker 99") on March 19, 1971.

Harold acquired many lasting friendships during his lifetime and military service. Two of those, loyal and committed friends and fellow pilots/Gerald Rockwell and Burt Amos, were with him during his final days.


Nestor "Neo" Popa

On august 3, 2014 at 11:15 a.m., another American Hero, our friend and comrade, CW3 Nestor Popa, passed away.   As a part of the 48th AHC “Band of Brothers,” Nestor served as a pilot in the gun platoon from 1969-1970.  He and his wife, Sonda, had been regulars at the 48th reunions the last 6 years and most recently had attended the VHPA reunion in Louisville.   He was a great friend and skillful pilot who loved his brothers in the 48th very much.  He will be remembered for his humor, wit, calmness under fire and loyalty to his unit and his service to his country.  We will miss you friend.





Delma G. "Del" Smith Jr
1942 - 2015

Mr. Delma G. Smith, Jr., 73, formerly of Huntsville, AL entered into rest March 12, 2015. Survivors include his beloved wife, Peggy Jackson Smith; and beloved daughter, Lisa Smith. Funeral services were held at 3 o'clock p.m., Sunday, March 15, 2015 at New Hope Baptist Church, Thomson. Interment followed with Full Military Honors in Westview Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Please sign the guestbook

Beggs Funeral Home

799 Cobbham Road NE Thomson, GA 30824

(706) 595-4100


SFC Alvin C. Fletcher

SFC Alvin C. Fletcher passed away on January 12, 2015.  He with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1965 and 1966.  He will be missed by all who knew him and served with him.




David Dean Fry
1948 - 2015

In Memory of David Dean Fry who passed away Monday, May 18, 2015 in DeBerry, Texas.  

David's sister, Susan Renee Fry, said David would be buried with military honors and laid to rest beside his mom and dad in Kansas.

Memorial graveside services for Mr. David Fry, 66 of DeBerry, Texas were at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at the Marquette Cemetery in McPherson County, Kansas with Rev. Tim Bever officiating. 

Mr. David Dean Fry was born November 19, 1948 in McPherson, Kansas to Wilbur Dean and Norma Ione Myers Fry. David was raised and schooled in Marquette, graduated from Marquette High School in 1966, and later attended Kansas State University. 

After attending Kansas State University, Mr. Fry enlisted in the United States Army and flew helicopters with the 48th Air Assault Company in Vietnam. He was a life member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. 

David continued his career in aviation by teaching helicopter training in the military and in civilian life. He became the Director of Aviation for Hanger One in Atlanta, GA and later the Director of Aviation for Metro Aviation in Shreveport, LA where he provided EMS helicopters and pilots for hospitals nationwide. 

After retirement, David became a proud member of the Patriot Guard Riders. 

David Dean Fry is preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Robyn Jacobs.

David is survived by his daughter, Teri Minnis (Mike) of Plano, Texas; a son, Jim Fry of Mt. Vernon, Texas; grandsons, Tristyn and Kelcye Fry.; sisters, Deanna Winslow of Marquette, Kansas and Susan Fry of Lindsborg, Kansas; numerous nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Kansas Obituary and Guestbook

Texas Obituary and Guestbook!/Obituary




Gary L Havens
1950 - 2016

Gary Havens passed away on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 in Wellsville, New York.  He served with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company form January 1971 thru January 1972.  We were sad to learn of his passing, but enjoyed seeing Gary at our reunion just a few months ago in Ft Rucker, Alabama.

Below is his official Obituary


Gary L. Havens, age 65, passed away on Sunday March 27, 2016 in his home on the upper Reddy Road. He was born in Wellsville on November 14, 1950 to Arthur L. and Betty L. Halsey Havens who both survive. On April 8, 1972 at the Christian Temple Church he married Darla J. Coats who survives him.

Gary is a lifelong resident of Wellsville who graduated from Wellsville High School in 1969. In July of 1970 Gary enlisted in the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam from January 1971 to January of 1972. In May of 1975 he graduated from Alfred State Vocational School, Electrical Trades. Gary’s employment record started early and was varied. Starting with paper delivery and farm work, he progressed to stock clerk and carry out boy for the former Market Basket, later a gas station attendant and for a time he delivered flowers for Kerton’s Florist. He started work as a machinist at C & G Wheelpuller and then worked at Air Preheater as a machinist and in the Maintenance Department, and later at the West Valley Nuclear Demonstration Project. Gary’s final job was as an Electrical Trades instructor at the Belmont Vocational and Technical School for 25 years, which he loved. Gary’s first love was being with family. He was extremely proud of his sons and grandchildren, and enjoyed spending time with them and working alongside of them. His second love was being outside enjoying nature. His hobbies included researching Duke Hose Company and Wellsville Fire Department history, announcing baseball for the Wellsville Lions and for a time the Wellsville Nitros, running the clock during Wellsville Lions Football games, spotting for the Alfred State Pioneers football, watching the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabers and baseball.

He was a member of the Duke Hose Company where he has served as treasurer, the Wellsville Alumni Association where he was a past president, The American Legion Post # 702 and the V.F.W. post 2530 both of Wellsville.

Survivors include his wife Darla, his parents Arthur and Betty Havens; 2 sons Andrew L. (Nikki) Havens and Anthony “Tony” L. (Kelly) Havens all of Wellsville; 2 sisters, Glenn L. (Jeff) Olsen of New Haven, IN. and Genene L. (Wayde) Wolbach of Virginia Beach, VA.; 3 grandchildren, Destinee D. Power of Florida, Killian R. Groom and Gary L. Havens both of Wellsville; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Gary was predeceased by a granddaughter, Andee Elaine Havens on October 6, 2015.

Friends are invited to call on Thursday, March 31, from 2-4 and 7-9 pm and on Friday, April 1, from 2:30 to 3:30 pm at the J.W. Embser Sons Funeral Home in Wellsville. His funeral service will be held at the conclusion of calling hours at 3:30 pm in the Funeral Home followed by a veteran’s service. Memorials may be made to the Grant Duke Hose Company #1, 80 Stevens Street, Wellsville, NY 14895. To leave online condolences please visit

Wellsville Daily Article

About the Havens Family
Posted March 31, 2016
(Click Here to See the Article)

Gary's wife Darla is waiting for a confirmed date for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

We will post more information as it becomes available.




Craig S "Oggy" Ogborn

Alexander, Oggy, Stephanie

Craig S "Oggy" Ogborn passed away Monday, April 11, 2016 in Long Beach, California.

Oggy served as a Pilot and Aircraft Commander in Vietnam with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company from July 1970 thru March 1971 and was a retired Firefighter in Long Beach.

From Stephanie Ogborn Baxter's Facebook:

Our Dad passed away this last week at Cedars Sinai from cardiac arrest. He was the son of a broken marriage, a Vietnam Veteran, A Long Beach Fire Department Captain, A recovering alcoholic, The recipient of a successful heart transplant giving him another 20 years of life, and he struggled with addiction and depression only when no one was watching. He was a hero. He put every other living being before himself - to a fault. He cheated death on several occasions. He kept his personal life completely separate from the relationship he had with his two children, Stephanie and Alexander. He had a particularly special relationship with his mother, who passed away just short of a year ago. Additionally, his life partner Kayla was recently diagnosed with cancer, although she is doing very well with that fight. We both saw our dad on separate occasions within the past month. It was always his choice to keep his health status confidential from us, despite our wishes. Services will be limited to immediate family. As you all know, Craig Ogborn was an extremely unique and special person. He always proceeded on his own terms. This was no exception.

Although I never met him, Oggie and I were brothers beneath the skin. We served at different times with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam. We spoke occasionally on the telephone and I read (although sometimes I had to read them twice) all his posts on the Blue Star email reflector. He was well loved and respected by his peers. We will miss him, but we will never forget.
~John-Al Skimbo, Landisville, NJ.

As my BlueStar Brother, we ONE and alway's will be. He has left a void in Our Hearts and Minds that will never heal....He won't be forgotten..... We can understand his wishes...Oggy was that kind of Guy with No fanfare and keeping His Private life just that...Private.....He has left us with his 2 Beautiful Children and we hope you will be part of Our BlueStar Family....Just use his BlueStar E-mail. Love and Prayers for All of You....
~James Starr

Stephanie, Alexander and Kayla - how lucky you are to have the Ogmeister as your family. I've never met him in person, but have gotten to know him as a Blue Star brother. My husband was a pilot in the Blue Stars in 1970/71. I enjoyed every one of Oggy's emails and I can say for sure that I am going to miss him dearly. He is a man that is not easily forgotten, so will always be in my thoughts. My condolences to you three; and I hope you all keep in touch, at least through the Blue Stars. Let Kayla know the candle is still lit for her in her fight against the Big C.
~Cheryl Bowman

Oggy's prolific writings on our Internet Discussion Group for the 48th Assault Helicopter Company will be greatly missed
~Logan Weiler, Lexington, KY

From the 48th Assault Helicopter Company eGroup

The passing of Craig "Oggie" Ogborne this week a bummer of disquieting things.
 Don't know if you had much to do with Oggie in the 48TH AHC a very able pilot and All around over the top GI?
His focus  was the mission of course but let me tell ya he offered the Most Accomidating Attitude & Spirit through out missions too everyday logic and bottom line rhetoric, avantagious to the betterment of all concerned.
Craig will have the " PROCEED " department sown up for another mellinium in my book.
He lightened the load for many.
We all knew these years are numbered in this visable universe but it won't suprise me one bit if our 48TH Escort/ into the great beyond
will be none other than our masterful, patriotic Lil' Brother "Craig".
He touched many throughout and at no time be forgotten.
Mike     OUT
~Mike Sathre,

Ron Turner saved a previous email from Craig and
thought it poignant given the news of Craig's last flight
From: Oggy
Subject: Re: Just a moment in time

I can't say much or claim to be a expert at cheating death.  I am not.  At least no more or less than most of you reading this.

I've always been spiritual sufficiently to truly believe we're all here as part of a huge plan, if that’s what life's called.  Never gotten too much into considering such things as predetermination, and we really make no solo decisions if we make any decisions at all.  Nor do I spend any time splitting atoms, or other sub atomic matter I have stashed away in one of my fine old hand made cigar boxes.

The truth of it is I have lived and continue to do so, almost a gifted existence.  Luck or good fortune this might be named to a great many.  A charmed life perhaps.  I suppose one might accomplish such an existence by remaining prudent to such a degree, there is not much texture to a life held back.  But missing the risks of every kind, also means I would have missed the absolute glory God affords us all almost constantly.  What a show I have been so fortunate to participate in, with all of you.

I have accomplished so much, that if I had taken even a moment to consider it a bit longer, I would ever have even tried.  I also have probably passed on a few, just walked by, that might have been a cinch, but not mine in any case.  Because of what I learned with all of you, I gained strengths and knowledge that served me well.  And probably saved a few lives, when I was mostly getting through any given day.  My own included, a few times as well.

It's Autumn now.  Always my favorite.  I see things are quite differently than the previous Autumns I've been given to enjoy.

This won't be my last, and I kinda doubt the next will be that either. But that last one is scheduled along the line someplace.  Everyone gets their turn.  As I think I mentioned, it doesn't bother me really.  I have my stuff together alright.  As much as it will ever be together anyway.  Snug up your seat belts everyone, we're headed into the last of our mission here.  Fuel and load up for one last big one.  Roll down your sleeves, check the time and wait for the "Go" signal.  Then push the button.

The exact same things you've been doing since God gave you the ability and the Army gave you wings.  At least once a day. and for most of us a lot more.  Know that what you've managed to get from the life you've lived you did it as a single human without anyone telling you what to do and how to go about it.  You've made decisions, that would probably kill most men, just considering them.  God loves a clear head, and focused direction of purpose, He loves those who follow His simple Plan.  We have mates that departed before us, and they're continuing their wait even now, until forever, until we all arrive.  We've all been through the Gates of Hell, more than a few times.  It will be nice to go the other way at last.
~Ron Turner
Thumper / Smokey82
48th: Dec 70 - Jul 71
281st: Jul 70 - Dec 70

Thank you Carlos and Ron for sharing this information concerning Craig Ogborne.   I remember Oggie posting that email, and many other insightful narratives about life, and all that we, as a unit, were able to survive. I don't recall if I ever flew any missions with him while I was in the 48th, but for some reason, he took a liking to me.

We exchanged phone numbers shortly before he was banned from the 48th, and sent south to fly scouts. After I got out of the Army, I was living in So Cal, and called him. This was one of many phone calls we had with each other for a short time there. I moved north to the SF Bay area, and lost contact with him, until I was able to get on the reflector.

As we all know, after 2014, his correspondence seemed to drop off significantly until recent posts by him concerning Kayla. I know that I, for one, was praying for him and Kayla, as I'm sure all of you were also. I still bless and want to continue my blessings  to Kayla for the strength to endure this journey now until our Father calls her to join Craig.

The legend of Thee Ogster will continue to live on in our hearts. May his final flight be safe and awesome!

~Al Meadows


Jerry "Hawkeye" Winchester


Jerry "Hawkeye" Winchester
in the Vietnamese village of Ninh Hoa

Gerald F. Winchester passed away on March 27, 2016 (Easter Sunday).  Jerry served in Vietnam from September 1969 thru September 1970 as a Crew Chief on Joker Gunships with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company "BlueStar Slicks and Joker Guns".  He lived in Silver Springs, Maryland.  Jerry's interment is scheduled for 2 PM on July 12, 2016 in Arlington National Cemetery.  

"Hostile" John D. Edmunson

Joker 95

Hostile John Don served as a Helicopter Pilot in combat with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company, "Blue Star Slicks and Joker Guns" in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.  He was a Joker Gunship Pilot, Joker 95.  Hostile John trained in Flight Class 69-27/69-25.

August 6, 2016
From Carlos Cortez
Hostile John pulled pitch for his final flight about an hour ago. He passed away at the VA hospital in Spokane. As reported earlier, Hostile suffered a heart attack shortly after the Reunion in Reno. He was resuscitated and suffered some broken ribs during the administration of CPR. He seemed to be holding his own be took a turn for the worse a couple of days ago. I had reservations to go see him on Tuesday. I'll now plan on attending his services. He has family in Lewiston, ID and Modesto, CA. Please keep Hostile in your prayers.

Services for Hostile John were
12:00, Friday, August 26, 2016
 Acacia Memorial Park
801 Scenic 
Modesto, CA 95350
Phone: (209) 522-0452
Fax: (209) 522-7925

Above are the Blue Stars and Jokers who attended Hostile John's service in Modesto:
(L-R)  Todd Peterson, Jerry Sterker, Robert Pierce, Carlos Cortez, Ben Gay, Pat Ewing

Gary Lee Warrick
1950 - 2016

Gary Lee Warrick, age 66 of Smyrna died Sunday September 18, 2016. He was a native of Nashville TN and was preceded in death by his daughter, Tamara Warrick Belcher; grandson, Tyler James Belcher; father, Duke Warrick and mother Evelyn Stackhouse.

Mr. Warrick had worked in the Masonry business and was a Vietnam Veteran of the United States Army. He was a member of the 12th Artillery Unit and he later joined the 48th Aviation Company "Blue Stars". Mr. Warrick was a member of Military Order of the Cootie, and was also a member of VFW Smyrna Post 8422.

He  is survived by his wife of 25 years, Debbie Warrick; children, Jeffrey Warrick of Nashville, Yolanda Warrick of Gordonsville, Andrea Moore of Murfreesboro, Alicia Moore of Canada; granddaughters, Amilee, and Summer; sister, Theresa Gulley of Nashville.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children

Visitation was after 10:00AM Friday at Woodfin Chapel, Smyrna
Funeral service were 1:00PM Friday at Woodfin Chapel, Smyrna.
Burial followed with Military Honors at Mapleview Cemetery.
Online guestbook is available at 

Donald Curtiss "Don" Bowman
1947 - 2017

Don served as a Helicopter Pilot in combat with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company, "Blue Star Slicks and Joker Guns" in Vietnam from 31 August 1971 thru 12 April 1972.

Donald Curtiss Bowman was born October 15, 1947 in Adak, Alaska to Victor Clyde Bowman and Madelyn Blanche Bowman (Behler).

Donald joined the service in 1965 and served his country honorably. He earned the Air Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 5 Campaign Stars and several other medals and badges. He flew helicopters during his time in Vietnam and left the service at the close down of the conflict with a rank of CW2.

After returning stateside, Donald flew helicopters and fixed-wing for local companies for several years before opening his own auto repair business, where he not only worked on his customers' vehicles, but also built race engines. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, boating, riding his Harley and being outdoors in general.

Donald passed away at home on July 21, 2017 after a long battle with cancer and other illnesses caused by Agent Orange, which he was exposed to in Vietnam.

Donald is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Cheryl Bowman; a son, Victor M. Bowman and his wife, Carolyn; a daughter, Stephanie Bowman; two sisters, Valerie Hawthorne and her husband Robert “Dimps” Hawthorne and Judy Prutzman; two nieces, Brooklyn Ashleigh Castillo (Costillo) and her husband Edgar Castillo and Sierra Timbre Bilous (Costillo) and her husband Steve Bilous. He is also survived by his nieces' children Bodhi Julian Castillo, Isabella Marina Lynn Bilous and Camilla Aurora Ann Bilous; two grandchildren, Jessica Bowman and Jacob Bowman, daughter-in-law, Tracy Bell Bowman, several relatives and many friends, including the large Blue Star/Joker family.

Ernest Phillip "Ernie" Zeitler
Joker 104
Ernie served as a Helicopter Gunship Pilot in combat with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company, "Blue Star Slicks and Joker Guns" in Vietnam from July 1969 thru January 1970.  His call sign was "Joker 104"

ZEITLER, aged 68 years, late of Lake Eacham formerly of the U. S. A. Passed away on the 27th July, 2017 in Cairns, Australia. A remarkable and truly honourable man, Ernie was the loved husband of Judy (nee Dudley).

Ernie's funeral was held at Mountain View Chapel, Guilfoyle's Tableland Crematorium, 3 Nasser Rd, Atherton, FRIDAY, 4th August, 2017, at 10.00 am.

Walter Ledon "Lee" Lawrence
Joker 128

Lee served as a Cobra Helicopter Gunship Pilot in combat with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company, "Blue Star Slicks and Joker Guns" in Vietnam.  His call sign was "Joker 128"

Mr. Walter Ledon "Lee" Lawrence, 71, of Tallassee, Alabama passed away September 7, 2017. He was born January 22, 1946.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 16 at 1 pm, from Linville Memorial Funeral Home Chapel.

He is survived by wife, Julie Lawrence; children, Shawn Ledon Lawrence, Shannon Dee Lawrence Lowey, Jordan Williams and Jessica Ferrell; brother, Kenneth Lawrence; sister, Annette Otloe Sarver and four grandchildren.

Online condolences at

Linville Memorial Funeral Home
Eclectic, Alabama

Lee Lawrence graduated from Olivet University where he earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Journalism. Upon graduation he immediately entered the United States Army and served as an Officer and Attack Helicopter pilot in Vietnam. During his twenty plus year career he saw service in Vietnam,, Germany, Korea, Panama, and Saudi Arabia. He retired highly decorated and having reached the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Lee began his Financial Services career in 1980 and obtained his FINRA. series 63, 65, 7 and 24 securities licenses. In 1986 he supervised one of the largest group qualified plans in the nation, a plan consisting of over one hundred public sector entities with assets reaching over $500,000,000. During the 15 years he supervised this program he had responsibility for plan design, administration, marketing, recruiting and training in several states.

In 2000 he was recruited by another nationally known firm to assist in building a field force that would partner group representatives with a traditional retail representative to better coordinate client needs inside and outside an employer’s qualified plan.

With thirty plus years invested in the financial services industry, embracing both group and private clients, the economics, needs, and demographics of today’s investor challenged Lee to leave the cooperate arena and become an independent advisor to better meet the financial objectives of his clients.

In 2003 to facilitate his client’s growing concerns he started Signature Financial Solutions LLC and began to assist clients in planning for the ever increasing difficulty in retirement. He recruited several Financial Services Representatives that he had worked with previously to establish a successful family oriented financial planning firm.

Current market conditions, regulation changes, and new product designs have resulted in an even greater challenge to stay on the cutting edge of the financial services industry. As a result, in 2005 Lee implemented a new and innovative concept in his financial services model. He felt that the current financial environment with its complicated tax codes, new securities regulations, intricate product design, and unique economic challenges, all affecting his clients wealth management, retirement and estate planning , required the partnering of more than one professional to assure that his clients financial future was secure. To meet that challenge, Lee strengthened his business model that put the client and their financial well being as the company primary objective. He then coordinates the client’s financial objectives with other Tax and Legal professionals to insure the client receives the professional advice and guidance necessary to work toward financial success. This new concept of partnering with other financial professionals to meet complex client needs has resulted in a growing network of professionals and financial consultants associated with Signature Financial Solutions LLC.

Lee has served in such positions as Marketing Director, OSJ, Registered Principal, Administrator, and Trainer. His dry humor, diverse experience and contrarian philosophy has made him a favorite motivational and keynote speaker and classroom instructor.

William Edgar "Bill" Kelbaugh

JACKSONVILLE, FL - William Edgar (Bill) Kelbaugh died on February 18, 2018. He was born in Jacksonville, FL on October 18, 1946 to Grace and Edgar Kelbaugh. In 1959, the family moved to Columbia, SC where Bill attended University High School, and worked as a school bus driver his senior year. In 1966, Bill joined the US Army and became a helicopter pilot. He served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 with the 48th AHC BlueStars, where he received 19 Air Medals one with a V device for valor. After Vietnam, Bill joined the SC National Guard where he was a flight instructor and retired after 22 years total with 4,500 flight hours. Bill graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1973 with a degree in Business Management. He worked for the SC Highway Department as a Real Estate Appraiser for 15 years. In 1988, he moved to Jacksonville and worked for 22 years for the Florida Department of Transportation. Bill's wonderful wife, Susan Kelbaugh, survives him. Other survivors include daughter Tracy Cosper-Jacksonville, sons Will (Katherine, granddaughters Mattie and Lily)-Decatur, GA, John-Lexington, SC, brother John (Ebba)-Lexington, sisters Anne Wilson (Doug)-Charlotte, NC, and Mary McIlwain-Lexington. Bill was a lifelong Presbyterian, serving as a Deacon and Elder. Bill was diagnosed with Agent Orange related Prostate cancer in 1999. The cancer turned into Advanced Prostate Cancer. The family would like to thank Dr. James Baldock and the doctors and staff at the Cancer Specialists of North Florida, especially Dr. Kevin Hunger. As a memorial, all gentlemen can get regular prostate cancer checks. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospice of North Florida.

A memorial service was held Saturday, February 24 at 10:30 am at South Jacksonville Presbyterian, 2137 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville and Bill will be interred with military honors at the Jacksonville National Cemetery at 1:30 PM on Friday, March 16th.

Rest in Peace Bill.
It was always nice to see and talk to you at the 48th reunions.
Joe (Ski) Kochanski
48th AHC 1965-66
~  Joe Kochanski, Bayonne, New Jersey

I light this candle in your honor Bill Kelbaugh Rest in peace brother.God Bless
~  Donnie Whitfield, Winchester, Tennessee

Susan,I had the honor of meeting and talking with Bill.enjoyed the time I spent with him.God Bless you and family.
~  Donnie Whitfield, Winchester, Tennessee

Bill was a wonderful man and we will miss him so much! He knew and flew with my brother and adopted me as his little sister after I found the 48th AHC BlueStars. He and Susan helped me fill up all the empty places in my heart and I will never forget his stories, his compassion and his great sense of humor! I was so lucky to have him in my life! My love and condolences to Susan, Will, John, Tracey and the extended family. He will forever be in my heart!
~  Sherry Leeper, Wellington, Colorado

Bill and I served together with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam.
I always enjoyed his company, especially his quick wit and "country boy" charm.
I will miss him, but not forget him.
He was, and always will be, my hero.
~  John-Al Skimbo, Landisville, New Jersey

I met Bill through my husband Don, who was a pilot with the 48th AHC. Don served his 2nd tour with the Blue Stars in 1971-1972. We connected through the Reflector when I found some of the guys from his unit. Always enjoyed Bill's emails and posts. He will be missed.
~  Cheryl Bowman, Crawford, Tennessee

Bill was my adopted big brother through the 48th AHC. He knew and flew with my brother in Vietnam. He was a brave Veteran, a kind, funny and loving man, and I was so fortunate to have him in my life! My heart goes out to you, Susan, John, Will, Tracey and all the family. I will always remember him and keep him here in my heart. Rest in peace, big brother Bill.
~  Sherry Leeper, Wellington, Colorado

Gerald Allen Simmelink

Gerald Allen Simmelink, age 70, passed away on Sunday, June 3, 2018. He was born on April 7, 1948 to Albert and Eunice (nee LeMahieu) Simmelink. He graduated from Oostburg High School Class of 1966 and then served in the United States Army during the Vietnam Era from 1968-1969. Afterwards, he was a dedicated member of the National Guard Reserves Armory for 10 years. He married Barbara (nee Soerens) on June 5, 1971 in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin.

His favorite pastimes included model building, model railroading and traveling. Gerald was a member of Fifth Avenue United Methodist Church in West Bend and also the 48th Blue Stars, where he always looked forward to their annual reunions.

Gerald is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Lisa (Brian) Brandt, Jodi Simmelink; Jeff (Lisa) and Paul Simmelink; grandchildren, Cody and Brandon Gokey, Peyton, Lexi, and Lillion, Jr. Weatherby, Charles and Danielle Neuiszer, and Emily Simmelink; siblings-in-law, Susan (Ken) Nelson, Randall (Becky) Soerens, Joel (Joy) Soerens, Terry Cunningham Soerens; aunt Eleanor LeMahieu; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents; parents-in-law, Robert and Doris Soerens; brothers-in-law Charles and Larry Soerens.

The Funeral Service will be held on Friday, June 15th at 6:00 PM at Fifth Avenue United Methodist Church (323 S Fifth Ave, West Bend, WI 53095) with Pastor Clarissa Martinelli presiding. The Visitation will be at church on Friday, June 15th from 4:00 PM until the time of service at 6:00 PM. Memorial contributions may be made to American Cancer Society (PO Box 902, Pewaukee, WI 53072).

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital ICU team for their compassionate care.

Pilots and Crew Chiefs and Gunners,
....If you Flew in and out of Ninh Hoa at the 48th...Chance are the JP-4 Pumps were being run by Jerry Simmelink.... Jerry and his fellow POL Specialist, John Dickson, David Wilber, Nick Flores, John Golden, John Cook, and later Ken Ferris. Cpt. Ron Stewart (Now Gen. Stewart,retired) as Our Section Leader...They also had 4 Fuel trucks to keep your tanks full all the time, 1 Mo-gas, 1 Diesel, and 2 JP-4. Just to let you know a little bit more about the "Guys On the Ground"... We all watched for your Safe return every day as you flew in, Dean Dakers "Dump" as he was known, by took care of the Ammo Dump, for all your Explosive needs. With the Mechanics in Aircraft Maintainance, Drivers, Cooks, Dispensory Medics,  it was a joint effort that we all enjoyed doing, to keep the "Birds Fly'n"!!!!
  Jerry was one of us, and will always be part of the 48th Bluestars


Larry Eugene Hoenig

Larry Eugene Hoenig
December 10, 1948 ~ July 2, 2018

Larry Hoenig was a Helicopter Door Gunner and Crew Chief with the 1st Aviation Brigade, 17th Combat Aviation Group, 10th Combat Aviation Battalion, 48th Assault Helicopter Company.  He was based out of the 9th ROK (Republic of Korea) headquarters at Ninh Hoa, II Corps, Republic of Vietnam.  Larry flew combat missions on both Blue Star Slicks and Joker Gunships from April 1969 thru November 1970.

Larry Eugene Hoenig, 69, of Burlington, died at 5:29 PM Monday, July 2, 2018, at the Great River Hospice House in West Burlington.

Born December 10, 1948, in Burlington, he was the son of Bernard and Lorraine Mary Ertz Hoenig.

On November 21, 1970, he married Kathryn Anne Uecker in Burlington.

He worked at Champion Sparkplug as a manufacturer for 32 and a half years.

He was a Vietnam Army Veteran, serving his country for 32 and a half years.

He was of Catholic faith and was a member of Divine Mercy Parish. He enjoyed golf, traveling, reading, baking and "Da Bears". He loved to spend time with his wife, kids and grandkids.

Survivors include his wife, Kathryn of Burlington; one daughter, Jill Morey of Burlington; two sons, Andy (Christine) Hoenig of Mt. Pleasant and Brad (Jennifer) Hoenig of Burlington; six grandchildren: Megan, Jarrett, Matthew, Caleb, Emily and Grace; two sisters, Colleen (Darrius) Baker of Phoenix, AZ, and Tara (Paul) Koestner of Centerville, IA; one brother, Jerry Hoenig of Burlington; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Kenneth Hoenig, and one sister, Collette High.

Cremation was entrusted to the care of Prugh~Thielen Crematory.

Family received friends from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM Friday, July 6, 2018, at Prugh~Thielen Funeral Home.

The Memorial Service for Mr. Hoenig was 11:00 AM Friday, July 6, 2018, at Prugh~Thielen Funeral Home with Very Rev. Father Marty Goetz as the Celebrant. Burial was in Aspen Grove Cemetery.  Full military honors were rendered by the Iowa National Guard. A time of food and fellowship will be held at the Village Co-Op in the Commons Room following the burial.

A memorial has been established for the Retinitis Pigmentosa International Organization.



Comment by

Logan Weiler

I flew with Larry in Vietnam and remember him well.  He was a darned good crew member.  I will miss seeing him with Kathy at the 48th Assault Helicopter Company reunions.

BlueStar 188

CW4(Ret) Logan Weiler
Lexington, Kentucky


Comment by

Gary Moorman


I first met Larry in April, 1969 when we were assigned as crew chief and gunner on 638 along with Bobby Schulze as A/C.

Larry was kind of like our entertainment director. Everything was fun to him. He made sure we knew what music was playing on the AFVN radio while the rest of us were listening to our tactical channels, even during a combat assault.

We couldn’t get C-Rations from our folks so Larry would get them from the Koreans. He and Capt. Kim were good buddies. I don’t know what he had to trade for them. But, we needed the C- Rations on board in case Bobby couldn’t find an Air Force base to land at with a nice club for lunch.
He was also good at finding beer at the end of the month when we ran out of ration tickets and money.

What a sense of humor. He would come back from flying at the end of the day and say something like , Yeah they were shooting at us, but, hey, they missed. And laugh about it.

The last few times I saw him after he was diagnosed with cancer he still had not lost that sense of humor.

For probably 30 years after Viet Nam Larry was the only person I knew from over there that I kept in contact with. Sometimes, it may have even been a couple of years between contact, but once we started talking it seemed like we had just seen each other the day before.

I will sorely miss that laugh of his, that sense of humor and mostly his friendship.

Gary Moorman

Crew Chief 638


Comment by

Bobby Schulze

When I first met Larry in Apr of 69, I didn't know how to size him up. He had come to the 48th from the 4th Infantry Division where he was a grunt. I was happy to have him on board because of his ground pounding experience, it could come in quite handy in case we went down. He was assigned to ship #638 as was I and Gary Moorman as Crew Chief and Larry as Door Gunner. We had a lot of adventures flying the hostile skies of South Vietnam and a few incursions in to Cambodia.

I came to rely on Larry as my eyes on the right side of the ship. I couldn't see back there and Larry and Gary kept my tail rotor away from trees, stumps, soldiers and various other foreign objects. "Clear right Sir." was always comforting to hear. I still have Larry's voice imprinted on my brain. We worked many hundreds of flight hours together. It made for a closeness that only those who have done it will know. God bless you Larry. You were an excellent crew member and soldier. Good bye old soldier.

Bobby Schulze
Aircraft Commander 638


Comment by

Robert Pierce

This is a sad day losing one of our fellow brothers. Larry was my roommate in Viet Nam in the 1st Platoon. He was a true friend to me and he served his country very well. He was the life of the party when we came in from flying. When we got days off from flying, we made sure that we hid out from Sgt. Lester cause Sgt. wanted us to work on our down days. It was always a challenge to try to avoid encountering him and Larry was skilled with getting us out of things. We had good times as roommates. May he rest in peace. We've lost an honorable gentleman and brother.

Robert Pierce
Crew Chief
Joker 597 "Cheap Thrills"


Archie Adrian Harrell
1931 - 2018



Archie Adrian Harrell
November 9, 1931 ~ August 1, 2018

Archie Harrell was a in Flight Class 62-1W.  He served as a Warrant Officer Helicopter Pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company "Blue Star" from November 1965 thru November 1966.  He served a second tour in Vietnam with the 213 ASHC "Black Cat" in 68-69.

Archie was born
on November 9, 1931 at Ft. Benning, Georgia and died on August 1, 2018 in University Place, Washington.

The following information was provided by Sammie Williams - obit

Archie Harrell Our beloved Archie was born on November 9, 1931 at Ft. Benning, GA. He chose to follow those before him by enlisting in the Army in 1951. There he found travel, adventure, love, danger, skills, and honor.

The opportunity to learn to fly led down a path that brought 42 air medals, including one for valor. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart for his skill and bravery as a helicopter pilot during two tours in Vietnam. He was honored to fly President Eisenhower and escort Robert Kennedy's memorial train.

After nearly 30 years in service he entered the real estate profession, selling houses to officers moving in and out of Ft. Lewis. He also bought and managed properties until the last week of his life. Tenacity brought his family a secure legacy. Beyond being an astute businessman, good friend, and loving husband and father, soft-hearted, generous, and thoughtful, he was known to put a little extra in employee pay envelopes, give a tenant in need a break, and create jobs for others to earn some money.

During his tours in Germany he fell in love with a beautiful German woman, who became the light of his life. He married Auguste on September 29, 1964, and remained devoted to her and his family. Sadly, she preceded him too soon in 2013.

Fortunately, he began to develop a loving relationship with longtime friend and associate Claudia Maves. They married on June 7, 2016. We are sorry their time was too short and deeply appreciate Claudia's love and devotion to him. We know he felt blessed to have her in his life.

Everyone who knew Archie knows he was a charming man who loved to play practical jokes, tell engrossing stories, amuse with quick wit, and entertain with his antics. As children, his boys saw his humor as quirky at best. True appreciation would come to them as adults, and through them Archie-stories are bound to entertain a new generation of friends and family.

Archie was preceded in death by his wife Auguste and his parents Jetta Burks and Archie Harrell, Sr., as well as brother Kenneth Harlen. He is survived by his wife Claudia, brother Michael Burks, and sons Stephen (and his wife Marcia), Dirk, and Mark, as well as grandchildren David, Jordon, Meghan, Seth, and Devon. In remembrance, please consider a distinctive contribution to your favorite charity.

A celebration of his life was held at 1:00 on Sunday, August 26, 2018, in the Chapel at the New Tacoma Cemetery, 9221 Chambers Creek Rd W, University Place, WA.  

Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

New Tacoma Cemeteries, Funeral Home, and Crematory
9212 Chambers Creek Rd. W.
University Place, WA 98467
(253) 564-1311
(253) 566-0784



Donald Earl Cecil
1945 - 2018

Donald Earl Cecil of 3925 E Euclid Ave, Spokane, Washington was a pilot in the 48th Assault Helicopter Company in 1971 and 1972.  He was in United States Army Rotary Wing Aviator Flight Classes 71-25 and 71-21.

Don was born on Dec 5, 1945 and died on Saturday, Sep 22, 2018.

From Don's wife, Cindy Cecil:
Don lost his final battle with cancer on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. Don fought with courage and strength to the end. He was so proud to be associated with all of you. He had family and friends rallying for him. We loved and will miss him forever. Thank you Cindy Cecil and family

Funeral Home Services provided by: 
Ball & Dodd Funeral Home
Spokane, WA

Committal Service:
Monday October 1, 2018
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
21702 W Espanola Rd
Medical Lake, WA 99022

Tributes & Comments
Rest in Peace Don. Thank you for serving the United States of America. You will never be forgotten!
~ Bobby Schulze

Allen Lee Russell
1937 - 2019




Allen Lee Russell of Cumming, Ga died Sunday, January 9, 2019; he was 81 years old.  Lee was born in Ravenden, Arkansas on February 8, 1937 to Carlton Yeager Russell and Lola Brown, the youngest of seven children.  Lee and Becky Lacey Russell were married on December 12, 1965, in St. Louis, Mo.

CSM(Ret) Allen Lee Russell served his country proudly from 1960 to 1991.  During this time he spent two tours in Vietnam, Dec. 1965 – Dec 1966, where he was a door gunner with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company and the 2nd tour was 1969, where he served as a Heavy Weapons Advisor on Military Advisory Team with MAC-V. His awards included the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Stars, Air Medals and Meritorious Service Medals.  He earned both the Combat Infantryman Badge and Air Crewman Wings.  

They remained at Ft. Polk for 30 years prior to coming to Georgia to live near their children and grandchildren.

Throughout his life, Lee was always active at home and within the community.  He loved to golf, fish, hunt, build, cook and work in his garden. Lee was very involved with the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1030 where in 2015 he was awarded VVA member of the year. Additionally, he was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.  He was a member of First Baptist Church of Cumming and was also very involved in the Masons, and was a Past Master at Pickering Lodge 477, and was also a member of the Shriners and Scottish Rite.

Lee is survived by his son, Benjamin Allen Russell; daughter-in-law, Michelle Russell; daughter, Bethany Lacey Russell Chamberlain; son-in-law, James C. Chamberlain; and grandchildren, Kathryn Lacey Russell, James R. Chamberlain, Lacey R. Chamberlain and Benjamin Daniel Russell.  He is preceded in death by his wife of 52 years Becky Russell and his parents. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

In Lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family has requested that donations be made to:  Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1030 PO Box 3088 Cumming, GA 30028 or First Baptist Church  1597 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, GA 30040.

Funeral services are scheduled for 6:00 P.M. Thursday, January 10, 2019 in the Ingram Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. Bob Jolly officiating. The family will receive friends Thursday from 3:00 to 6:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, Cumming, Georgia is in charge of arrangements.

January 10, 2019
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc.
210 Ingram Avenue
Cumming, GA 30040

January 10, 2019
6:00 PM
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc.
210 Ingram Avenue
Cumming, GA 30040

Alex F. Nagy
1938 - 2019

Alex F. Nagy
1938 - Feb. 22, 2019

Alex Nagy of 194 Locust Ct. Muskegon, MI 49445 was Joker 14, a Blue Star Gunship Pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company during 1966 and 1967.  Alex also served in HHC 1 BDE 101 ABN in 1967.  He was in Fixed Wing Flight Class 64-1 and Rotary Wing Class 66-2QC.

NORTH MUSKEGON, MI - Alex F. Nagy is survived by his daughter, Karyn Meissner (Brian) of Perris, CA, six grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, and special friend, Linda Bonebrake of North Muskegon, MI.

Born in Mishawaka, Indiana, he graduated from Mishawaka High School, Class of 1956. He later moved to Southern California, graduating from Mt. San Antonio College.

Alex was a Veteran Army Aviator, qualified helicopter, and fixed wing pilot with tours of service in Germany and Vietnam.  
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and 18 Air Medals as Joker 14, a Gunship Pilot with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company during 1966 and 1967.

A photograph of Alex, his helicopter gunship, and flight helmet is enshrined in The Distinguished Flying Cross section, Veterans Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, California.

Alex is also listed on the Distinguished Flying Cross Wall of Honor, at the entry to the Udar-Hazy Air and Space Smithsonian Institute, Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.

He was a Life Member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 360; Viet Nam Helicopter Pilots Assoc; The Distinguished Flying Cross Society, and American Legion Post 28.

He was laid to rest in the Riverside National Cemetery at March Air Reserve Base, California.

Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is the present, which is why they call it a gift.

Published in South Bend Tribune on Mar. 3, 2019

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