Terry Lanier Alford
On November 4, 1969, WO Terry L. Alford, aircraft commander; WO1 Jim R. Cavender, pilot; SP4 John A. Ware, crew chief; and SP4 James R. Klimo, door gunner, were flying a series of combat support missions in a UH1H helicopter (serial #67-19512) in South Vietnam.
WO Alford was returning to his base at Nha Trang from Duc Lap at about 1920 hours when he made his last known radio contact with the 48th Aviation Company Operations at Ninh Hoa. Either the pilot or aircraft commander gave his approximate location as Duc My Pass, and stated he was in the clouds and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Shortly afterwards, the controller at Ninh Hoa heard a radio transmission that WO1 Alford was in trouble. The pilot reported, inexplicably, that the helicopter was flying upside down. The helicopter is not believed to have been shot at. Search efforts were conducted for six consecutive days, but nothing was found.
Helicopter UH-1H 67-19512
Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-19512
The Army purchased this helicopter 1168
Total flight hours at this point: 00001042
Date: 11/04/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1515
Incident number: 691104251ACD Accident case number: 691104251 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 281 AHC
The station for this helicopter was Nha Trang in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 4 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
Original source’s and document’s from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: 1515
Loss to Inventory
P CW3 ALFORD TERRY LANIER BNR
P CW3 CAVENDER JIM RAY BNR
CE SSG WARE JOHN ALAN BNR
G SFC KLIMO JAMES ROBERT BNR
SYNOPSIS: On November 4, 1969, WO Terry L. Alford, aircraft commander; WO1 Jim R. Cavender, pilot; SP4 John A. Ware, crew chief; and SP4 James R. Klimo, door gunner; were flying a series of combat support missions in a UH1H helicopter (serial #67-19512) in South Vietnam. WO Alford was returning to his base at Nha Trang from Duc Lap at about 1920 hours when he made his last known radio contact with the 48th Aviation Company Operations at Ninh Hoa. Either the pilot or aircraft commander gave his approximate location as Duc My Pass, and stated he was in the clouds and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Shortly afterwards, the controller at Ninh Hoa heard a radio transmission that WO1 Alford was in trouble. The pilot reported, inexplicably, that the helicopter was flying upside down. The Defense Department has told family members that the helicopter was on a secondary mission heading toward a buffer zone between Cambodia and South Vietnam, an area in the Central Highlands the helicopter was in by mistake. The helicopter is not believed to have been shot at. Search efforts were conducted for six consecutive days, but nothing was found. The following narrative is from the United States Army Case Summary Report: Refno: 1515 Province: Khanh Hoa District: Khanh Binh Township: Khanh Binh Lat: 123326N Long: 1085304E UTM: BP702890 Narrative: On 4 Novemeber 1969 WO1 Terry Alford, WO1 Jim Cavender, SP4 John Ware and SP4 James R. Klimo were crewmembers aboard a UH-1H helicopter flying east from Duc Lap to Nha Trang in deteriorating weather conditions. After making radio contact with air traffic controllers at approximately 1920 HRS, a radio transmission from this aircraft indicated that the aviators had become disoriented in the clouds and were in an emergency situation. No further contacts were heard and all SAR operations conducted were negative. NOTE: The above UTM and Geo Coordinates are based on the last known US location (last radio transmission). Witness testimony from subsequent investigations place this incident loss near Hon Mang Mountain (49P BP797784), within Khanh Hoa Province. The actual crash site is probably in the vicinity of BP736768; the location of the landing zone prepared in April 1996. POST WAR SOURCES: T85-226, 23 July 85, JCRC-LNB: Source provided hearsay information about a helicopter crash site in the Nha Trang area (No Further Information) that had reportedly been discovered in 1969. Further, the witness’ brother had reportedly recovered four sets of remains from this site and was holding them near his home in Nha Trang. AUG 93, JFA 25: Team members investigate this case in Khanh Hoa Province. No witnesses to this incident could be found, MRS. NGUYEN THI CUT provided second-hand hearsay information about a person who allegedly held remains and a dog tag possibly associated with this case, but MRS. CUT’s acquaintance (NFI) who knew the individual’s name was out of the area for several days. 19 May 1994, letter from Garnett Bell to CILHI (Central Identification Lab, Hawaii): Author provided hearsay information of a helicopter crash site near “Chu Knia Mountain” in the vicinity of BP 4779. He also claimed to possess remains and artifacts from this site and offered to forward them to CILHI. A photograph of an unidentified POW (#111) thought to possibly be of SP4 Klimo, was later identified as Charles Jackson, Captain, USAF by Jackson himself and his cellmate, Thomas J. Hanton, Captain, USAF. FEB 94, JFA 28: Team members returned to Khanh Hoa Province and re-interviewed MRS., Cut who introduced MR. PHAM NGOC CHAU to investigators. MR. CHAU provided hearsay information regarding the recovery of remains and a dog tag allegedly taken from the crash site of an “A37”. The team also attempted to interview MR. Y SON, the person MR. CHAU identified as the one who discovered these artifacts, but MR. SON was unavailable during the teams’ visit. JUN 94, JFA 30: Team members investigated this case in Dac Lac province. They were successful in locating MR. Y SON, who stated that in 1985 that he had come across a crash site but had not removed any artifacts. MR. Son led team members to this site (BP 702888), but it turned out to be a VNAF 0-1E loss. MR. SON also identified another witness having knowledge of a different crash site in the area, MR. MA LUC. MR. LUC led the joint team to a site at BP 706888, which correlated to a VNAF L-19. Finally, the tentative last known location (BP 702890) was searched with negative results. NOV 95, JFA 38: Team attempted to interview MR. Thanh, but found that he was resttled in the US; with no forwarding address. NOTE: A source interviewed in July 1985 said that MR. THANH discovered a helicopter crash site and 4 sets of remains in 1969. APR 96, JFA 40: Purpose of this investigation was to canvass residents (5 x total interviewed) of the villages near BP 9085, to gather information about aircraft losses in the area, and to conduct a survey of the last known location at BP 702890 of RENFO 1515. NOTE A survey was already done, see V30 above. The joint team first traveled to Nihn Hoa Township, Khanh Hoa Province and interviewed on witness, MR. LE SI DUNG. MR. DUNG knew about a helicopter crash site near a stream near Hon Mang Mountain (BP 797784) but could not lead the team there because of his asthma. The VNOSMP team then went to Ca Hong Hamlet, Khanh Binh Village, Khanh Vinh District, Khanh Hoa Province and met MR. BO BO CHIA. MR. CHIA agreed to lead workers to an area near the site to help prepare a landing zone (at 49P BP 736768) for the Joint Team members. According to the VNOSMP, the LZ is approximately 200M from the crash site. The Joint Team did not survey the alleged crash site because of time constraints. OTHER INFO: Based upon witness and advance VNOSMP team statements, team members determined that there is no crash site at the US last known location (BP 702890), nor was there as crash site located near the position of last radio transmission-at 49P BP9085. Team also attempted to find MR. THANH again, without success. (JFA 38 determined Thanh was in US…) NOTE: A computer database search of a 15km area around Hon Mang Mountain (BP 797784) indicates four UH-1 Operational Losses, one VNAF UH-! loss, the UH-1H associated with REFNO 1515, and a UH-1H associated with a resolved case. Four witnesses confirmed that no aircraft crashed near BP9085. NOV 96, JFA 43: Team members investigated this case in Krong Bong district, Dak Lak Province (near Chu Knia Mountain in the vicinity of BP4779) They interviewed three witnesses who provided information on a fixed wing aircraft crash site near Cu Pui Village, which does not correlate to this case. NOTE: This investigation was conducted based on a lead provided by MR. GARNETT BELL on 19 May 1994 (see USG section above). MAR 98, JFA 49: Joint Team interviewed two witnesses (MR. LE QUOC TRUNG and MR. BO BO CHIA) concerning a crash site near Khanh Vinh District. Following the interviews the team surveyed crash site at BP 7300876343 and found data plates that belong to a UH-1 helicopter. NOTE: Analysis of material found indicates the items correlate to an UH-1 aircraft incident, but they are insufficient to establish a correlation with REFNO 1515. There were five UH-1 crashes within 15km during the war. FUTURE PURSUIT INFORMATION Narrative: US RESEARCH (DPMO): Find MR. THANH in US and interview him. (MR. THANH was mentioned in a July 1985 report. see USG info above in 1969, he reportedly discovered helicopter wreckage/remains in Nha Trang area) JOINT INVESTIGATE: Need to go back to V49 site with metal detector to obtain more wreckage that will identify specific UH-1 helicopter. CASE MANAGEMENT INFORMATION ANALYST NOTES: During V49, MR. LE QUOC TRUNG, while at survey site BP 7300876343, said this is not the site he had visited with his brother (LE SI DUNG, see V40). He pointed east and indicated the site he told IE2 about is on the reverse side of the mountain across the valley, vicinity BP7775. He recalls at this site that he saw small unidentifiable burnt pieces of wreckage, a pair of torn leather boots, and a 30X60cm stripped engine block, with holes in a straight line where the pistons would have been. The site he recalls is 15X20 sqm and was surrounded by trees. MR. TRUNG agreed to take a Joint Team to this location. NOTE: Based on general location and witness describing that he found an in-line piston engine, site may correlate to an O-2 operational loss 3km south of Hon Mang Mountain, the general location witness pointed to. MAY BE WORTH CHECKING OUT! END OF REPORT
Accident Summary: THE AIRCRAFT LEFT NHA TRANG RVN AT APPROXIMATELY 0645 HOURS 4 NOVEMBER 1969 TO WORK IN THE BAN ME THUOT RVN AREA. THE TIME THAT THE AIRCRAFT LEFT BAN ME THUOT TO RETURN TO NHA TRANG IS UNKNOWN. THE PILOT MADE CONTACT WITH BLUE STAR CONTROL AT APPROXIMATELY 1920 HOURS. AT THE TIME CONTACT WAS MADE, THE PILOT SAID HE WAS FLYING IN IFR WEATHER AND HE THOUGHT THAT HE WAS SOMEWHERE IN THE DUC MY PASS. HE RECEIVED AN F.M. HOMING COUNT FROM BLUE STAR CONTROL AND SAID THAT HE THOUGHT THAT BLUE STAR CONTROL WAS SOMEWHERE TO THE LEFT REAR OF HIS AIRCRAFT. BLUE STAR ASKED HIM TO SAY HIS HEADING, AND HE ANSWERED THAT HE WAS FLYING ON A HEADING OF 210. AT APPROXIMATELY 1930 HOURS, BLUE STAR HEARD OVER THE RADIO, “I’VE GOT IT, I’VE GOT IT, LET GO OF IT, I’VE GOT IT.” BLUE STAR CONTROL TRIED TO CONTACT THE AIRCRAFT AND HEARD, “WE’RE UPSIDE DOWN, WHAT’S HAPPENING. OH MY GOD, WHAT DO I DO.” BLUE STAR TRIED TO CONTACT THE AIRCRAFT 3 OR 4 MORE TIMES, BUT RECEIVED NO ANSWER.
The following was written by Pat Ewing, 48 AHC Nihn Hoa, RVN about the disappearance of Alford Terry Lanier:
I was in operations on Nov 4, 1969 when we got a call from an aircraft requesting a FM vector into our location. Our radio operator (Spanky) gave an affirmative and began periodically keying the mic. Shortly we hear an aircraft frantically reporting that they were inverted. We searched for several days but never found anything. In 1990, while at a VHPA convention I got my first MIA bracelet picked at random from a box of 4-500 bracelets. Later, I got my VHPA Directory which included an After Action Report for 4 Nov 69 which described the incident above. The aircraft commander of the lost ship was Terry L. Alford, the name on my bracelet – so after almost 21 years, one of the last 5 people to hear his voice, ends up wearing his MIA bracelet. The story has gone full circle between myself and someone I never met, who’s gone but not forgotten. Small World. Pat Ewing.