Info About a 1977 Helicopter Crash - Page 4
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  1. #46
    Marine Free Member rb1651's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Machesney Park
    Gloria, although I was not there, I want to thank you for sharing some very personal memories of your Marine. I want you to know that you to know that you are a part of our Marine family, and you will always be more than welcome to come here and spend time with us.

    I'm sure that I speak for all of us here in saying that if there is anything that we can do for you, just let us know. As a family, we will take care of each other.

  2. #47
    Marine Spouse Free Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by rb1651 View Post
    Gloria, although I was not there, I want to thank you for sharing some very personal memories of your Marine. I want you to know that you to know that you are a part of our Marine family, and you will always be more than welcome to come here and spend time with us.

    I'm sure that I speak for all of us here in saying that if there is anything that we can do for you, just let us know. As a family, we will take care of each other.

    Ron, thank you very much, my husband, Chuck, was also part of HMX-1 and a recipient of the Presidential Service Badge before he was he was assigned to the HMH in 1977.

  3. #48
    I was a 'Squid' JO on a hill overlooking the crash site, with BLT 2/3's HQ Co, part of Lt Col Nelson's Bn. Capt. John Crapse had been our roommate aboard USS Duluth the night before the landing as the Okinawa Marines were chopped to Duluth as part of BLT 2/3's landing support Helo Det. We were near the end of the Ex, when we saw a high column of black smoke. It was a shocker as just before everything seemed normal. Over the years I have read various post incident reports in NavAir mags. It was a hot day, high altitude and a heavy load. It reminded me that even in peacetime ops, USMC training is hazardous and we are fortunate to have the men and women of the Corps.
    -- CAPT, USN (Ret)

  4. #49
    To TKap and all-

    I am in need of photos of the crash site area or a link to GoogleEarth with a specific location to add factual data to my story Mindoro Island, posted on the blog side of this website.
    Any help from eyewitnesses and S-3 planners I would be grateful for.

    Joe Petito E-5 1975-1979

  5. #50
    I was with the 31st MAU and was bumped from the Helicopter that did the Med evacuation of the injured from this mishap. I will never forget that event, or my bothers who went down that day.


  6. #51

  7. #52
    This Memorial Day weekend, I want to dedicate a post to our Brothers lost and wounded in peacetime during Operation Fortress Lightning on Mindoro Island, Oct 21, 1977. Semper Fi Marines, we miss you all!

    Quote Originally Posted by september 23 View Post
    In memory of those lost and injured on October 21. 1977

    (based on govt report, if any errors please correct)

    CREW HMH – 462

    Crapse, John L., Capt
    Gehardt, George M., Capt.
    Casey, William Sgt.
    Anderson, Charles, Sgt.


    Aguirre, F R LC PL
    Baker, A R LC PL
    Bauer, J R PFC
    Bennett, R N C PL
    Bowman, Steve R LC PL
    Brinkley, K W PFC
    Dicag, A R CPL
    Ernsberger Jr., L H CPL
    Fitspatrich, M L LC PL
    Hallam, O or O,Hallam CPL
    Jones, B I PFC
    LaFferre, M A PFC
    Layne, H L LC PL
    Quiane, M L LC PL
    Schwartz, K K PFC
    Smith, D G SGT
    Suda, A LC PL
    West, J L LC PL
    Wright, D A PFC

    Holman, E C PFC
    Workman, J F SSGT
    Jacobson, G J CPL
    Morris, E J PFC
    Fernald D G LC PL
    Hancock, D G LCPL
    Hathway, A W PFC
    Kane, M PFC
    Lane, E N PFC
    Criega, R S LCPL
    Ward, G J PFC
    Perry, R G PFC

    Baxter, W C HA

    Dolan, S R HN

    Exercise Fortress Lightning, October 21, 1977

  8. #53
    I was one who took part in Operation Fortress Lightning in October 1977. I was a LCpl stationed with HQCo. 7th Comm. Bn. (Camp Hansen) Okinawa at the time. My unit was part of the exercise. We embarked from Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 6 October aboard the LST-1195 USS Barbour County and arrived on Mindoro Beach, Phillipines two weeks later. It was the first full day of the exercise when the tragic accident occurred. The word we received back at the CP area where I was assigned to maintainence of the AN/TRC telephone van, was that the helicopter filled to capacity with Marines and carrying a water buffalo (water tank) on a cable was unable to power up sufficiently to clear the mountain. I don't know how accurate that description is but that is what we were told that day. It was very tragic, but the exercise, naturally, went on to a successful conclusion, although with a cloud hanging over it the entire time. I will never forget the Memorial services held on the ship when we reboarded and had gotten underway to return to Okinawa.

    I didn't know any of the men who died, personally, but my heart goes out to the families of those young men. All these years I had thought it was 29 men who died that day, but by the accounts I have read here, the actual number was 31 killed. For me, this Memorial Day, 31 short years later, will be dedicated to the memory of those men. Semper Fidelis. You are not forgotten.

  9. #54
    I want to thank everyone for sharing this part of my brother's life with me. He was not only my brother, he was my friend. We were not allowed to open his casket, and that made it even harder to believe what had happened. Your stories have helped me put to rest any of the crazy conspiracy theories that have gone through my head over the years

    Steve was very proud to be a Marine and proud to serve our country. Being Steve's brother means more to me than my own service in the Navy. He and others on that chopper that day, along with their families, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

    I thank all of you for your service to our country.

    Happy Memorial Day!


  10. #55

    lima co. 3/9 2nd plt.

    Hello brothers & sisters, I can't tell you how many times I think about that day. I was there a member of lima 3/9, in hello teams being brought out because we were the aggessors. I will never forget our plt cmdr's flipping a coin to see who would get on that bird. My company co was capt james murray, plt. Sgt rameirez, my name back then was leon jefferson (personal story). I will nerver forget sgt smith he was a short timer ready to go home, baker I used to drink beer with at the prince club in hanoko? outside of schwab. Lima was deployed on the uss alamo after many grinding months of trainingon the rock...for which we one the honor title of raid company. That's what put us so deep in that hell of an island. I still see their faces, it launched my career in life after getting out I went to A&P school , did private contracts all over the world, I did 2 years privately flying medevacs during desert storm.So so much from a single event a very long time ago. I can't tell you how much I learned as a young man from those true men of 3/9. I have to stop now, I am new here and would like to contact frisebe. God Bless you all
    Stephen Murphy

  11. #56

    Thank you for the note and the remembrances of comrades.

    I am interested to know if you have any maps or notes of the exact location of the CH-53 crash, photos of the hill location, or photos of the training exercise.

    Feel free to contact me here:

    Thank you for putting your pink self out there for all of us.


  12. #57
    Welcome to Leatherneck, Murphy. Thanks for your post, glad to meet another 3/9 Marine, especially one who was connected to that day.

  13. #58

    we should have a reunion

    Thanks ken, I can't believe I am talking with brothers of that era....way too cool. You know I watched that bird load and I was one helo team away from getting on it.... It came down two a coin toss between the plt cmdr's....and that's know b/s I would like to anounce the need for a reunion of all who we're connected to that day!! Let's put it togeather we can even do it at my ranch here in texas

  14. #59
    It'd be a great idea, however reunions are difficult to put together, especially with so many scattered across the US. I'd be open to it if more would chime in on it.

    BTW, did you know a PFC or LCpl Michael Kane? He survived the crash, and I think he too was with 3/9. He and I signed up with the same recruiter and went to boot together. I saw him back on Oki after the crash and that was the last I heard of him.

  15. #60
    Hi, my name is Brian I was in your brothers platton, and knew your brother very well. He was so great I miss him, I too would be intrested in learning more. Also if it is not to presumptous I have lost all my photo's of my time with these guys. Would love to be able to get a photo of Steven. I was on that mountain and took the 1st chopper down, was on the beach when this happened. Your brother was so well liked, I will always cherish our friendship your brother and I had. My e-mail address is if you would be intrested in getting in touch.

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