Specialist 4 Donald Leon Braman
was born 1 August 1941 in Mystic, Conn and died 2
January 1963 while serving as a gunner on an CH-21
with the 93rd Transportation Company.
Specialist 4 Donald Leon Braman, 1963
January 1963, the 93rd Trans Co was tasked for an
air assault by troops of the ARVN, 7th Infantry
Division. All ten CH-21 helicopters were used in
the fourth lift, the landing zone near Ap Bac was
ambushed by an entrenched and reinforced VC
battalion. The first 4 CH-21s were able to take off
again. The #5 helicopter was shot down, and the #6
CH-21 attempted to pick up the crew of the downed
CH-21, but was shot down itself. The landing zone
was judged untenable due to enemy fire, and the
remainder of the flight departed for the staging
area at Tan Hiep.
hour later, ground troops in the area reported that
VC firing had subsided and evacuation of the downed
crews was possible.
CH-21 was dispatched to recover the downed crews and
wounded, but the tempo of enemy fire increased and
the pilot was wounded. The copilot immediately
lifted off, leaving all behind.
Eight hours later, the downed aircrews were picked
up by ARVN armored personnel carriers and moved to
an area where they could be evacuated by helicopter.
day's end, nine Americans had been wounded and one
killed in action. Of the ten helicopters on the
mission, all had been hit by enemy fire, four were
shot down and only three could fly back to base.
Braman, gunner in the #6 CH-21 was killed. He
received a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for
his actions to recover the downed #5 aircrew.
93rd Trans Co eventually became the 121st Assault
* * *
Charles E. Holloway arrived in Vietnam in November
1962 to serve as a helicopter pilot with the 81st
Transportation Company. The 81st arrived in Vietnam
in September 1962 and flew combat missions in
support of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).
22 December, the 81st departed Pleiku for Qui Nhon
to meet up with another unit and fly the 110 miles
through Mang Yiang Pass. It was known that there
were VC in the area.
81st Transportation Company
Twenty-nine CH-21s carrying ARVN troops assaulted a
suspected Viet Cong stronghold north of Tuy Hoa.
"It was a seaport. We were flying full force at
tree top level - seemed like 80 knots," said Door
Gunner Arthur Whitemore.
the first choppers arrived, an intense volley of
enemy ground fire erupted.
CH-21s loading in Pleiku for a mission.
Holloway was eighth in line to drop off his ARVN
assault force. Holloway and fellow pilot Warrant
Officer Daniel Gressang held their chopper in
position until the ARVN soldiers disembarked, while
automatic weapons fire pierced the chopper's shell.
VC were in the trees, and I opened up with .30
caliber fire. Chief Holloway was struck in the
forehead by one of a dozen rounds to the
helicopter. He was barely alive and later died back
at Qui Nhon," stated Whitemore.
July 1963, the 81st Transportation Company, then
redesignated the 119th Aviation Company, named their
airstrip at Pleiku, Holloway Field in memory of the
first member of their unit to be killed in action.
Later they named the entire camp Camp Holloway.
* * *
Warrant Officer Roy G. Azbill
Warrant Officer Azbill enlisted in 1960 and
completed warrant officer training and the Rotary
Wing Aviators' Course in 1963. In January 1964, as
a Warrant Officer First Class, he left for Vietnam
where he was assigned to the 68th Aviation Company.
30 December 1964, he died in Vietnam when his
helicopter crashed as a result of hostile action.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star,
Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 4 Oak
Leaf Clusters and V Device and the Army Commendation
Medal with V Device.
Silver Star, Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross,
Army Commendation Medal
* * *
Major James M. Vrba, Jr. -
entered active duty in 1960 from Houston, Texas and
attended the US Army Transportation School, the
Primary Helicopter School and the Army Aviation
School. His assignments included the 544th Trans
Detachment, Fort Knox, the 45th Trans Detachment,
Georgia and the 167th Trans Detachment, Vietnam. He
also served as an instructor pilot at the Army
Primary Helicopter School.
the time of his death he was commander of the 150th
Trans Detachment in Vietnam. Through unparalleled
leadership and daring actions, he stopped the main
advance of an enemy force in an attack on Vinh Long
was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his
* * *
Lieutenant Leonard J. Dadante –
Lieutenant Leonard J. Dadante was born 30 November
1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from the
Transportation Officer Basic Course in 1963.
After three assignments at Fort Eustis, Lt Dadante
attended the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course at
Fort Wolters Texas, and advanced training at the
Aviation School at Fort Rucker. Immediately after
graduation, he was assigned to Company A, 101st
Aviation Battalion in Vietnam.
27 August 1965 in Vi Thanh, Vietnam, Lt Dadante was
serving as the fire team leader of a UH-1B
Heliciopter section to provide aerial protection and
support of Army ground units caught under hostile
helicopter was the target of intense enemy fire that
seriously wounded the crew chief. Successfully
landing the Huey 150 meters from Viet Cong lines, he
carried his wounded crew chief 30 meters from the
aircraft. Despite being wounded himself by enemy
fire, he retrieved an M-60 machine gun with
ammunition from his helicopter and maintained a
defensive position just long enough for a rescue
helicopter to land and for him to carry his
critically injured crew chief to safety.
Dadante was awarded the Silver Star Medal for
displaying extraordinary heroism with complete
disregard for his own safety in saving his crew
died as a result of his injuries on 9 September
* * *
Captain Terry D.
Captain Terry D. Cordell graduated from The Citadel
in 1957, and after several infantry assignments
transferred to the Transportation Corps, attended
the Transportation Officer Basic Course at Fort
After final training at the Special Warfare School,
Fort Bragg in February 1962, he was assigned to
Company C, 1st Special Forces Group Airborne as a
Team Leader in Vietnam.
the Dar Lac Province, Captain Cordell protected and
lived with the Rhade tribes in their native
environments. He developed the Village Defense
Program to deter further guerrilla warfare.
15 October 1962, Captain Cordell was killed when
Viet Cong guerrillas shot down his low-flying plane
over the jungles of Vietnam.
was the first American officer killed in action in
Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the
Purple Heart, and the Gallantry Cross with Palm.
* * *
Lieutenant Richard E. Jaeck -
Lieutenant Richard E. Jaeck was commissioned a
second lieutenant in the Army Reserves in 1962. He
was a commissioned officer from 30 March 1962 to 14
March 1964 with the active service.
attended the US Army Transportation School, Fort
Eustis, and the US Army Aviation School, Fort
the time of his death, 1st Lieutenant Jaeck was
assigned to the 73rd Aviation Company and was
piloting an L-19 aircraft on a combat support
mission in Vietnam. He died when his aircraft
crashed as a result of hostile action.
decorations included the Silver Star, the
Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with nine
Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.
* * *
Specialist 5 James E.
Helicopter engines clattered 15 miles from the
Laotian border in search of a downed CH-21C
helicopter from the 140th Trans Detachment. Among
the dead at the site was Korean War hero James E.
was born in 1933 in Odessa, Texas. He served
bravely during the Korean conflict, earning the
Silver Star. After a break in service, he again
entered the Army, and deployed with the 140th
Transportation Detachment to Vietnam as a senior
15 July 1962, Specialist Lane volunteered to serve
as a door gunner on a CH-21C helicopter, standing in
the doorway just behind the pilot on a cloudy, misty
day. Hostile fire erupted near the village of Dak
Rode. Lane returned fire, but the CH-21 was an easy
target in the air with Viet Cong concealed in the
of the six men aboard the CH-21 were killed.
Specialist Lane was posthumously awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross.
* * *
Sergeant First Class
Arlie D. Lester -
Lester enlisted in the Army in 1962, and completed a
tour in Okinawa and two tours in Vietnam.
While serving in Vietnam, he was a gunner on a UH-1B
helicopter engaged in a search and destroy
operation, for which he was awarded the Air Medal
1968, he became an instructor at the US Army
Transportation School. On 31 May 1970, SFC Lester
died while attempting to rescue a drowning victim in
Dare County, North Carolina. For his heroic conduct
and humanitarian efforts, he was promoted
posthumously to Sergeant First Class and awarded the
* * *
Delano Porter -
Porter enlisted in the Army in 1960 and attended the
Aircraft Maintenance School at Fort Rucker. He was
assigned to the 81st Transportation Company (Light
Helicopter) in Saigon, Vietnam from 1961-1963. He
was a crewman and later a Tandem Rotor Helicopter
mechanic on the UH-21 Shawnee helicopters that flew
combat assault missions.
sergeant, he volunteered to return to Vietnam and
was assigned to the 68th Aviation Company (Air
Mobility Light) at Ton Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon
as a Single Rotor Helicopter mechanic for the UH-1B
died of multiple injuries in a helicopter crash as a
result of hostile action on 30 December 1964. He
was awarded the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters
and a Purple Heart.
* * *
Chief Warrant I William Metsker
"A couple weeks before my tour in Vietnam ended, I
was flying Hueys with Ken Person in a small
horseshoe-shaped valley. We had a 300-foot ceiling
- rotor in the clouds, skids in the trees.
"The lift ships had just picked up an infantry
platoon when the main rotor drive shaft failed on
our bird. We landed safely in a rice paddy,
avoiding the nearby trees. The lift ships
redeployed the infantry to secure the area."
"The infantry had not noticed anything suspicious on
the ground, but I saw recent sandal tracks on the
rice paddy dikes, which indicated VC to me. The
weather was deteriorating and they didn't want to
send in aircraft recovery. I did NOT want to say
"A Chinook was able to get in and recover the Huey,
and lift ships came down through the fog just before
dark to pick up us and the infantry.
"When the lift ships departed and broke through the
cloud layer, we gave the pilot an 'atta boy' - we
were most grateful to be out of there!"
Bill Medsker piloted H-13s and UH-1Ds for Command
and Control. He is shown here with Huey Tail No.
65-1717 a few days before the ill-fated flight. He
retired as a CW4 in 1981.