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KIA Marine helicopter pilot's G-1 flight jacket & medals...


usmcraidergirl

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usmcraidergirl

I've noticed some interest in Marine items and Vietnam period items, so thought I would share this original flight jacket and a few of the items from the grouping with you.

 

The jacket belonged to Captain Jefferson "Buddy" Clifford Chesnutt of Hixon, TN. Below is his picture prior to Vietnam when he was just a Lt.

 

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Buddy was born on May 22, 1942. He was one of his high school's star athletes and married his childhood sweetheart not long after graduation. Both she and his best friend Bobby Croft (who later joined the Marines following Buddy's death) said it came as no surprise that Buddy wanted to fly helicopters for the Marines. And that he did. However, not long after receiving his certification, Buddy got word he would be going to Vietnam.

 

Sadly, Buddy was killed in Quang Nam Province On May 8, 1967, while piloting a UH-34 helicopter on a troop extract and medivac rescue mission in Quang Nam Province, Buddy's helicopter collided with another helicopter. While the other Marine helicopter was able to land safely, Buddy and the rest of his crew members were killed. (Please read the below newspaper article about the incident.)

 

The names of these other brave Marines, which should also be remembered, are:

(1) 1st Lt. Jon Douglas Baker, Co-pilot

(2) LCpl Michael Martin Gukich, Gunner

(3) Cpl Philip Richard Vanasse, Crew Chief

 

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Here are some pictures of the flight jacket (which has patches on both sleeves as well as the nametag and breast patch). Below are pictures of his medals (the Purple Heart is missing as his widow wished to keep it). Not pictured are his Marine officer comission documents, pilot certification documents, other nametags, ribbon bars, extra wings, Bible, etc.)

 

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Fantastic group. What a way to be honored! Thanks for sharing this great soldiers story. Now he memory lives on.

4starchris

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Stunning Group! I love the early USMC helicopter stuff, especially UH-34s.

 

Semper Fi

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Those Medevacs and other helicopter pilots did a hell of a job in VN.

Very nice grouping with a sad but interesting story.

 

I am in contact with a VN Vet who was a Medical Officer in VN.

He flew with the 1st Cav.

One mission he was with was when troops of the 101st were flown to "Hamburger Hill" area (I am not too familiar with the correct names, sorry for that).

 

Erwin

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usmcraidergirl

Thanks for the kind comments! Buddy would be so thrilled that people are still enjoying seeing his jacket, as he was VERY proud of it. :)

 

PS: By the way, forgot to mention. The spots in the picture are not actually on the jacket - the jacket is in great shape. I just have an old digital camera. :(

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  • 1 year later...
usmcraidergirl

Just thought I would update this post with some information I recently found online. It is a small paragraph write-in by a corpsman Mike Mallach discussing the incident:

 

Information on U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-34D tail number 148771

Date: 05/08/1967

Incident number: 67050810.KIA

Unit: HMM-263

 

The station for this helicopter was Quang Nam in South Vietnam

 

Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )

Loss to Inventory

 

Crew Members:

P CPT CHESNUTT JEFFERSON CLIFFO KIA

P 1LT BAKER JON DOUGLAS KIA

C LCP GUKICH MICHAEL MARTIN KIA

C CPL VANASSE PHILIP RICHARD KIA

 

 

War Story:

In May of ’67, I was a Hospital Corpsman with W-2/12 attached to BLT 1/3. HMM-263 was attached to the LPH that BLT 1/3 was embarked upon. To the best of my recollection, we were operating on the ground in country one morning early in May, I’d estimate around 0700, when the choppers began arriving in an LZ adjacent to my location. One of the first was 148771 piloted by Capt. Jefferson Chesnutt and Lt. Jon Baker and crewed by CPL Phillip Vanasse and L/CPL Michael Gukich. As the chopper lifted off, I observed him rise to about 50/75 feet and hover. Almost instantly another UH-34D came from the right side of 148771 and very suddenly dipped and passed under the hovering chopper. Unfortunately the tail rotor struck 148771 as it passed underneath cutting 148771 in two. The striking chopper made what I would call a hard landing about 100 yards past the point of impact. I don’t believe there were any casualties among the crew of the striking chopper. 148771 was not so lucky, the impact violently spun the chopper in a 360 circle ejecting CPL Vanasse who apparently died upon impact with the ground. For a moment 148771 seemed to bounce a little in the air and then began to rotate with the movement on the main rotor and descended to the ground. Upon contact with the ground, the chopper rolled over on its side and burst into a fire ball. I had the unpleasant task of assisting in the recovery of CPL Vanasse as well as the remainder of the crew who perished inside the chopper. I have no idea of the outcome of any investigation into this incident. Not a pleasant tale, but that is the way I recall it 40 years later.

 

From: Mike Mallach

 

This record was last updated on 08/08/2007

 

Found: http://www.flyarmy.org/incident/67050810.HTM

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  • 2 weeks later...

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