Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Richard Leon Birch, Captain, USAF (Fallen)January 23, 1934 – January 18, 1963
H-19Beal AFB, CA.18 January 1963
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, AK),Monday, January 21, 1963 page 9
Copter Crash: Fiery Death For 5 AF Men
OROVILLE, Calif., Jan 21 (AP) — Losing its three-bladed rotor, an Air Force helicopter plummeted like a dead weight Friday, bringing a fiery death to its five occupants.
“It made a helluva noise and everything went up in a mushroom of fire,” said one witness, Lloyd Seymour Smith.
The H-19 helicopter flying from a missile site at nearby Chico to its Beale AFB at Marysville, CA., crashed in a rocky area one and one half miles from the Oroville airport.
“It’s main three bladed rotor flew off. As it went by it chopped off the tail. The whole thing then just nosed over and went in head first,” Smith said.
The Air Force released these names of the crash victims.
Capt. Richard L. Birch, 29, the pilot, of Saint Anthony, ID., survived by his widow and two children.
SSgt. SSgt. Lloyd R. Kuehl, 29, the crew chief, Wolsey, SD., married and the father of two.
MSgt. Charlie Cowart, 42, Waycross, GA., a passenger, married and the father of five.
SSgt. Edward D. Davis, 28, Portland, OR., a passenger, married and the father of one.
A1C Clarence A. Williams Jr., 30, Tampa, FL., a passenger, married and the father of two.
No other details are known at this time.