Downed 'Bird Dog' 1st Tour
aircraft was shot down by soldiers of the VC 274 Regiment on June 6,
1966. Their commander decided to lay an ambush around the plane
hoping the battalion would send out a search party but no one knew
where it went down.
1 Platoon A Company, led by Lt. John Hartley discovered the
aircraft in January 1967. It was invisible from 30 yards away and it
was by chance that it was discovered. A. Company HQ under the
command of Maj Max Carroll secured the area and Recce Platoon
under command 2nd Lt Michael 'Deaky' von Berg MC were tasked to
secure a helicopter infiltration point through the thick jungle
canopy for the SAS to winch down and to assist in the recovery of
the pilots remains.
The pilot had been killed on impact and the observer had been able
to climb out and the small pile of empty cartridge cases beside his
skeleton testified that he had bravely held the VC off until his
ammunition had run out. They had then shot him through the back of
The helmet of the pilot was recovered from the body of a VC killed
later in January 1967, by an SAS (Special Air Service) patrol.
Footnote: Thanks to Brian Tate, the identities of the two airmen
have been revealed. Brian's thorough research at the US Vietnam
Veterans' Memorial (The Wall) has identified the two airmen as:
46 YEARS LATER
John Charles JACOBS, USAF, 30 years old, married,
Caucasian, born 10/7/35 of Milhousen, Indiana, length of
service 10 years, casualty on 7/6/66, died from hostile
action while missing, pilot of a fixed wing aircraft
which crashed on land. The body was recovered.
Major Jacob's entry on the
wall is on Panel 08E, Line 17
Charles Stephen FRANCO, USAF, 25 years old, single,
Caucasian, born 12/6/40, of New York, New York, length
of service 4 years, casualty on 7/6/66, died from
hostile action while missing, crew of a fixed wing
aircraft which crashed on land. The body was recovered.
Captain Franco's entry on the wall is on Panel 08E,
(6 June 2013)
James Metcalf who was a member of
the USAF TACP
(Tactical Air Control Party) party attached to 5RAR on
occasions and is a member of the Association.
asked me about
the photograph and circumstances surrounding the
finding of the downed aircraft manned by MAJ Jacobs
and CAPT Franco.
knew the two pilots and thought that
either of their NOK
would like to know the circumstances of that
incident. Being a retired police lieutenant, he set
about the task of locating someone
and he finally
succeeded in locating Franco's Sister.
His letter to
the US DVA
requesting it to be
forwarded on to the NOK has been rewarded by an
email from Franco's sister, Jude
Doherty. (You can
read James' letter to the US DVA »Here)
interesting to note that after 46 years
member of a veteran receives some solace. Note the
date of her reply to Jim. She received his email the
day prior ... 6th June 2012. The aircraft went
the 6th June 1966, exactly 46 years ago.
from the sister of
Franco. While she thanked me for the gift of
information that thank you properly belongs to you,
the information on the site and also to the others
that placed their information on the 5RAR site.
I would have had nothing to
provide. So in the dark hours of the night working
on the site know your efforts are meaningful.
Just wanted to
let you know
that the collective
effort has provided a measure of pride and closure,
to one of our brave warriors.
June 07, 2012 email From Jude Doherty:
I just read everything and it was
very difficult, but I am so grateful to receive it.
My big brother has always been my beloved hero and
this info only makes me prouder. I think my parents
knew some amount of this information because my mom
told me the part about finding the VC diary and how
the VC had laid in wait for possible rescuers to
come. I was 10 years old when they recovered Chuck's
have given my sons and I a great gift.
Hope all is
and yours. God bless you. Well done!