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Downed 'Bird Dog' 1st Tour

a crashed US observer aircraft found by 5RARThis 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 head.

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:

Major 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
Captain 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, Line16
POSTSCRIPT: 46 YEARS LATER
(6 June 2013)

USAF James MetcalfJames 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.

He had asked me about the photograph and circumstances surrounding the finding of the downed aircraft manned by MAJ Jacobs and CAPT Franco.

He 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)

It is interesting to note that after 46 years another family 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 missing on the 6th June 1966, exactly 46 years ago.

Ted Harrison,
Web Master

 

Email From James Metcalf:

Received the below reply 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. Without that 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.

Jim Metcalf

Thursday, 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 plane. You have given my sons and I a great gift.

Hope all is well with you and yours. God bless you. Well done!

Thanks again,
Jude Doherty

 

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