Bruce Raymond Baxter

Bruce Raymond Baxter
Rank/Branch: E8/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, 5th SFG
Date of Birth: 28 September 1931 (Boston MA)
Home City of Record: Lowell MA
Date of Loss: 08 November 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161458N 1065258E (YC012973)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2

Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground HH3E.

Other Personnel in Incident: Others In Incident: Joseph G. Kusick; Ralph W. Brower; Eugene L. Clay; Larry W. Maysey (all missing); Gerald Young (rescued – awarded Congressional Medal Of Honor for action); 3 indigenous personnel with Special Forces team (rescued)

SYNOPSIS: On November 8, 1967, two Air Force “Jolly Greens” (#26 and #29) from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron were scrambled from Da Nang Air Base at 1505 hours for an emergency extraction of five surviving members of a Special Forces reconnaissance team which had suffered heavy casualties while operating deep in a denied area in Laos.  The recovery effort was to be recorded by the Squadron as one of the largest and most hazardous on record.   The two Air Force helicopters were advised by forward air control to hold while three Army UH1B gunships softened the area with rockets and machine gun fire.  An Air Force C130 gunship, meanwhile, provided flare support for the mission.  At 1630Z, Jolly Green 29 picked up the three indigenous personnel before being driven off by hostile fire.  Damaged, Jolly Green 29 left and made an emergency landing at Khe Sanh.  20 minutes later, Jolly Green 26, flown by Capt. Gerald Young, with flight crew consisting of Capt. Ralph Brower, co-pilot; SSgt. Eugene Clay, flight engineer; and Sgt. Larry Maysey, rescue specialist; braved the ground fire to pick up Special Forces SP4 Joseph G. Kusick and MSgt. Bruce R. Baxter, both wounded.  The helicopter was hit by automatic weapons fire, crashed and burst into flames.  By the afternoon of November 9, a recovery team was inserted into the area and reached the crash site of the burned HH3.  Because of fading light, it was impossible to inspect the wreckage at that time.   On 10 November, the wreckage was searched and 3 charred remains were found.  Two of the remains had identification tags which identified them as members of the crew.  The third remains had no tags, but were identified as SP4 Kusick, radio operator of the reconnaissance team, as the long antenna from his PRC-25 radio were found on his body. Capt. Young had survived and was rescued 17 hours after the crash of the aircraft.  About 34 meters downhill from the wreckage, another set of remains were found which were readily identified as MSgt. Baxter from the facial features.  No trace was found of the third crew member.  The remains of the two crewmen and Kusick were removed from the aircraft and placed with MSgt. Baxter’s remains so they could be hoisted as one lift into a hovering helicopter.  The identificaton tags of the crewmembers were placed with the remains.  Weather conditions and enemy action would not permit helicopters to make the extraction either that day or the day following. The remains of the crew and passengers aboard Jolly Green 26 were never recovered. Although the location of the crash is known, the bodies of the crew and recon team who died still lie on foreign soil.  The five are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos.  Not one prisoner was released from Laos, and few remains have been recovered.


09 Nov 67; Bruce Raymond Baxter, MSG E-8, Lowell, Mass, Spike Team Leader; Joseph George Kusick, SGT E-5, Bruin, Penn, Spike Team Radio Operator; USASF FOB 1, Phu Bal, Ops 35 and six Indigenous Team Members, operating behind enemy lines in Laos along with John William Armstrong, LTC 05, Dallas, TX, Ralph Wayne Brower, Capt 03, Stow, OH, Eugene Lunsford Clay, SSGT E-6, and Larry Wayne Maysey, SGT E-5, Chester, NJ members of US Air Force, HH3, Jolly Green 26, 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Da Nang Air Base, Ops 32/80 All were KIA-Remains Not Recovered. 

Chip Fleming, aka: Allen F. Jr. writes: I was with RT Utah during this operation. A SGT {name ?} and I were on our first Spike Team mission after graduating from training in Kham Duc when the team was hit by a reinforced company (we thought at the time) while in our RON site. The SGT, me and 3 to 5 indig(?) got out on the first chopper during a night extraction-most of us were wounded. The others team members were KIA when their chopper was either shot down or damaged during the extraction. Air Force guys from NKP were also shot down later while trying to extract the remainder of the team in their Jolly Greens and possibly one Air Force Pilot won the MOH [Cpt Gerald O. Young, USAF won the Medal Of Honor that day for his extraordinary heroism, aggressiveness, and concern for his fellow man]. The first extraction was by Jolly Green 29 before being driven off by enemy fire. Jolly Green 26 (came in about 20 minutes later and picked up MSG Baxter and SGT Kusick, while lifting off was hit by automatic weapons fire and crashed. A recover team was inserted, found three charred remains, two had ID tags and were identified as members of the aircrew. The 3rd had no tag, but was identified as SGT Kusick, radio operator as the AN/PRC 25 radio antenna was found with these remains. Another set of remains were located away from the down chopper and identified as a member of the recon element. However, due to adverse weather conditions and enemy activity, the remains could not be recovered ).