Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Patrick J. Behnke, Captain, USAF (Fallen)October 12, 1954 – July 28, 1982
HH-53C #69-5792Kirtland AFB, NM28 July 1982
Tragic Loss 28 July 1982
From PLAYGROUND DAILY News, July 29, 1982;
Belen N.M.- An HH-53C (69-5792, Jolly 04) Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter of the 1551st FTS returning to its base after a night refueling mission crashed and burned near here Wednesday, killing all four crewmembers aboard, Air Force officials said.
Killed were Maj. Barry R. Walls, 39 Belvidere, IL., the aircraft Commander; Capt. Patrick J. Behnke, the pilot, 27, Kingsville, TX.; 1st Lt. Hardy Delay, 33, Norcross, GA., (a student Pilot from the 6594th Test Group); and SSgt. Aylwyn “Buddy” M. Fortner, 32, Live Oak, FL., a flight engineer, authorities said.
George Pearce, director of Public Affairs at Kirtland AFB, NM., said he did not know who was piloting the craft when it crashed and “we may never know”. The bodies were returned to Albuquerque and it could be months before a board of officers investigating the crash determines what caused the crash, he said.
The chopper was assigned to the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing at Kirtland AFB and was on a routine night training mission “which means they were flying instruments at night” when the crash occurred, Pearce said. The scattered wreckage was discovered in “flat and rolling” desert country 15 miles southwest of Belen, Pearce said. Belen is 34 miles south of Albuquerque.