UH-1F Eglin AFB 1966   UH-1F DMAFB, AZ 1967   UH-1F Malmstrom AFB 1967   UH-1F Eglin AFB 1969   UH-1F Edwards AFB 1971   UH-1F Ellisworth AFB 1971   UH-1N FT. Bragg 1973   HH-1H Hill AFB 1974   UH-1F F.E. Warren 1975   UH-1F Ellsworth AFB 1982   UH-1F Whiteman AFB 1982   UH-1N Bahamas 1984   UH-1 Ellsworth AFB 1986   UH-1N Edwards-Jan-1991   UH-1N Edwards-Oct-1991   UH-1N Kirtland AFB 1996   UH-1N 1998   UH-1N F.E. Warren AFB 1999   UH-1N Kirtland AFB 2002   TH-lH Ft. Rucker 2009   UH-1N Malmstrom AFB 2010   UH-1N Kirtland AFB 2011   UH-1N Minot AFB 2013   CH-3C Malmstrom AFB 1965   CH-3C Sheppard AFB Mar. 1967   CH-3 Sheppard AFB Nov. 1967   CH-3E Midair in Laos 1970   HH-3E Korea 1973   HH-3E Elmendorf AFB 1974   HH-3E Iceland 1979   CH-3E Patrick AFB, 1984   HH-3E Osan 1984   HH-3E 29-Palms 1988   HH-3E Kadena 1989   CH-3E DMAFB 1989   H-5G Ladd AFB 1951   H-5H Maxwell AFB 1953   H-5 New York 1958   H-13G Niagara Falls 1955   H-13 Bryan AFB, TX 1957   H-19A San Marcos 1952   H-19A O'Neill, NB. 1953   H-19B Alexandria, LA. 1954   H-19B Austria 1954   H-19B France 1954   H-19B Korea 1954   H-19B March AFB 1954   H-19B Rhine Main AB 1955   H-19B Eglin AFB 1955   H-19 Skaneateles Lake, NY 1956   H-19 Ashiya Japan 1957   H-19 Edwards AFB 1957   H-19 Niagra Falls 1959   H-19 Sheppard   H-19B Loring AFB 1960   H-19 Beal AFB 1963   H-19 Larson AFB 1963   H-19 Saigon, RVN 1964   YH-21 Thule AB 1953   H-21 Goose Bay 1954   H-21A San Marcos TX 1955   H-21B Tennesse 1955   H-21 San Diego, CA 1956   H-21 Alaska 1957   H-21 Goose Bay 1958.   SH-21 Greenland 1958   H-21 Elmendorf AFB 1958   H-21 Dugway Proving Grnd. 1958   H-21 Goose Bay 1959   H-21 Greenland 1959   CH-21B Otis AFB 1959   H-21 Indian Springs AAF 1961   H-21 Luke AFB 1961   H-23B Moody AFB 1953   H-43A James Connally AFB 1959   H-43B Loring AFB 1961   H-43B Westover AFB 1961   HH-43B MacDill AFB, FL 1964   HH-43B Stead AFB 1965   HH-43B Clark AB, PI 1966   H-43 Sheppard AFC, TX 1966   HH-43B Phan Rang 1968   HH-43B MacDill AFB 1969   HH-43B Hill AFB 1973   HH-53C Eglin AFB 1969   CH-53C Germany 1975   CH-53C Germany 1976   HH-53C Woodbridge 1977   HH-53C Kadena AB 1979   HH-53B Kirtland AFB 1981   HH-53C Kirtland AFB 1982   MH-53 Philippines 1984   CH-53C Pope AFB 1984   HH-53C Hickam AFB, HI 1985   HH-53C Hill AFB 1986   HH-53H Nellis AFB 1986   MH-53J Korea 1995   HH-53B Vance AFB 1996   HH-53B Cherry Point 1998   MH-53J Ft. Bragg 1999   MH-53M RAF Mildenhall 2000   MH-53 Durango CO 2002   MH-53M USNS Kanawha 2002   MH-53M Afghanistan 2003   MH-53M FOL Hurlburt Fld 2003   MH-53M Kuwait 2003   MH-53M Hurlburt Fld. 2007   UH-60A Pope AFB 1987   HH-60G New York 1991   MH-60G Antigua 1991   HH-60G Great Salt Lake 1992   HH-60G Davis-Monthan AFB 1994   HH-60G Korea 1994   HH-60G Indian Springs 1998   HH-60G Al Jabar AB 1999   HH-60G Avon Park 2001   HH-60G Mt. Hood 2002   HH-60G Afghanistan 2002   HH-60G Afghanistan 2003   HH-60G Afghanistan 2004   HH-60G Angel Fire, NM 2005   HH-60G Kandahar 2007   HH-60G Afghanistan 2009   HH-60G Okinawa 2013   HH-60G Lakenheath 2014   HH-60G Lakenheath 2014 1   HH-60G Lakenheath 2014 2   Ellsworth AFB 1955   Hawaii crash 1963   Patuxent River NAS 1960   Randolph AFB 1957   Spokane River, WA 1959   Tyndall AFB 1961   Wright-Patterson 1956   Spokane River 1972  

The Vietnam-era CH-3E, tail number 65-05692, Jolly Green Giant Helicopter was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as part of Air Force Reserve's 71st Special Operations Squadron, now known as the 943rd Rescue Group. The motto of the 943rd Rescue Group is "These Things We Do...That Others May Live.”


On Sunday, March 12, 1989, a clear, moonless night, Air Force helicopter 65-05692, call sign “PONY 12” with an Air Force Reserve crew of 4 and an 11 member Army Special Forces Team aboard from the 5th Special Forces Group assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C. and was participating in a joint-service training exercise. The helicopter was number two of a two ship in trail formation on a planned night infiltration mission. The flight began from Libby Army Airfield, Fort Huachuca Arizona, 79 miles southeast of Tucson, to the Air Force's Gila Bend Gunnery Range, 124 miles northwest of Tucson. On the way the helicopter stopped at Davis-Monthan AFB for refueling.


They departed Davis-Monthan at 7:20pm and crashed approximately fifteen minutes later in a desolate desert area in an uninhabited area adjacent to the Sahuaro National Monument about 20 miles northwest of Tucson. They crashed without getting any radio calls off or anything and the other helicopter in the formation was unaware of what took place. The entire Air Force Reserve crew of 4 and the 11 member Army Special Forces Team were all were lost in the crash. One witness said he saw the crash from his house a few miles away. "I looked up and I seen a yellow ball, like flames, coming out of the back," he said. "Five seconds later I saw it hit the ground, and then there was a red fireball.”


Air Force investigators looked at everything from weather to maintenance and weight to determine why the helicopter crashed. The helicopter was flying at the prescribed altitude for the area just prior to the crash; they were not on a low-level mission. The use of controversial night vision goggles, which had been an issue in numerous military helicopter crashes at that time were also ruled out as a crash cause. The main rotor shaft nut, a fastener about a foot in diameter that holds the main rotor head to the helicopter frame, had been checked just two days before the crash. The helicopter was among more than 300 CH-3Es and similar helicopters inspected for defective nuts. The accident investigation team examined the nut and decided it "wasn't a factor in the accident." The nut was found still in place, holding what remained of the rotor blades to what remained of the helicopter's engine housing.


The mystery of why the helicopter crashed continued for some time until investigators dug deep into the maintenance records and examined the wreckage which was removed to Davis-Monthan and photographed. There wasn't much left because there was a post crash fire that destroyed most of the evidence. It turns out that one of the main rotor blades was overhauled and replaced just before the crash. The main rotor blade that was replaced was incorrectly overhauled by the factory and failed 15 minutes into the flight, taking out the tail rotor. It was further discovered that a number of other main rotor blades were also incorrectly overhauled.


The overhaul company, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) and Sikorsky were later sued as a result of this accident. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Air Force Reserve crew members lost in the accident in court cases Slaven vs. UTC and Thomas vs. Sikorsky. A legal file with wreckage photographs is in the archives of a lawyer’s office in Los Angeles.


The Air Force Reserve crew members lost in the accident were: Lt. Col. Lawrence M. Rolle, 41, of Phoenix, commander of the reserve squadron and co-pilot of the helicopter; Maj. Donald D. Thomas, 42, of Tempe, the pilot; Master Sgt. Malte Breitlow, 45, of Tucson, and Tech. Sgt. William E. Slaven, 37, also of Tucson.


The Army Special Forces Team aboard from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C. were Capt. lvin L. Broussard, 30, of Sulphur, La.; Capt. Alan C. Brown, 32, West Plains, Mo.; Master Sgt. Roger D. Berryhill, 34, Pahokee, Fla.; Sgt. 1st Class Larry K. Evans, 30, Sparks, Nev.; Sgt. 1st Class George A. Wayne, 31, Whiteville, N.C.; Staff. Sgt. John W. Bigler II, 24, of Long Beach, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Campbell, 26, Clinton, S.C.; Staff Sgt. Robert L. Griswold, Fayetteville, N.C.; Staff Sgt. Kevin R. Livengood, 29, San Antonio, Texas; Sgt. Larry D. Endress, 30, Clearwater, Fla.; and Sgt. Terry M. Hollway, 28, Los Angeles.


If we forget these sacrifices we will never truly appreciate how precious, valuable and costly these freedoms are. We must remember freedom is not free; it is paid for with the sweat from our brows, the tears of our families, and sometimes the blood of our comrades.