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Western Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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The following report regarding a CH-47C helicopter crash in Vietnam on February 15, 1971 was furnished by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.  SP6 Richard N. Bruso, a Flight Engineer with the 159th Aviation Company, was killed in this crash along with four other crewmembers.

On 15 February 1971 at 1955 hours, US Army 68-15835 transmitted a message to its operations that it had just picked up to go out for a hover check.  According to testimony, US Army 68-15835 moved from the Alpha Company area to an open field next to the maintenance area where hover tests are normally performed.  After approximately 15 minutes of hovering, the aircraft turned to an approximate heading of 909 and started back toward the Alpha Company area.  At this point witnesses lost sight of the aircraft as it climbed into a heavy mist; however, the landing light could still be seen, thus providing the observers a means of tracking the aircraft.  Now in the heavy mist the aircraft was obviously IFR.  Under these conditions, it turned to a heading of approximately 020 and moved across the Phu Bai burm line at a high rate of speed.  Men occupying positions in the bunkers along the north side of Phu Bai claim to have seen the light, but not the aircraft, as it passed over their positions headed in a northeasterly direction.  Witnesses say that it was only a matter of seconds from this time, that the aircraft came out of the mist and struck the ground.  Just prior to impact, witnesses claim to have noticed that the light tumbled or turned in such a manner as to indicate the aircraft was plunging itself into the ground nose first.  Judging from the wreckage the aircraft did strike the ground at an extremely high rate of vertical descent, nose low and almost completely inverted.

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