Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Raymond J. Crow Jr., Sgt., USAF (KIA)May 04, 1951 – March 27, 1972
The HH-53 “Super Jolly Green Giant” was the largest, fastest and most powerful heavy lift helicopter in the U.S. Air Force inventory. In 1967, the Air Force started a development program to acquire a night rescue capability, and by March 1971, it had succeeded in installing a nighttime recovery system aboard five HH-53C helicopters.
As part of a day rescue mission, the team departed NKP at 0830 on the morning of March 27, 1972 and was the second aircraft in a flight of two. Aboard the aircraft was the crew chief, Sgt Crow along with a pararescue team consisting of Sgt James Manor and A1C Raymond A. Wagner.
Following refueling over southeastern Thailand, they departed the tanker to complete the mission. The lead aircraft attemmpted to contact the aircraft they were escorting. When the lead aircraft did not receive an answer, the pilot attempted to find him visually without success. After completing a 180 degree turn, the pilot of the lead aircraft reported sighting a column of black smoke coming from the dense jungle about five miles away. Their position at this time was in Cambodia, about 10 miles southeast of the city of Siempang.
A pararescue specialist was lowered to the ground at the site of the crash to check for survivors, but due to the intense heat from the burning helicopter, he could not approach near enough to determine if there were crew members inside the aircraft.
Some three hours later a second rescue specialist was deployed in the immediate area, who reported the wreckage was still burning, precluding close inspection. It was never determined if any aboard the crashed helicopter survived, but all aboard were declared Killed/Body Not Recovered. You can read more information about this incident at the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association website.
There were 5 american’s who died as a result of the incident. They were:
His memorial service was announced in The Salt Lake Tribune, Friday, April 14, 1972 on page 35, and read:
Memorial services will be Saturday at 2 p.m., Winder 7th LDS Ward chapel, 4350 South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, for Sgt. Raymond Jack Crow Jr., 20, 1065 East 4500 South, who died March 27, Cambodia, of injuries received in a helicopter crash.
Born May 4, 1951, St. Louis, Mo., to Raymond Jack and Reva Merkley Crow. Joined the service Feb. 6, 1970, and trained at Ft. Benning, Ga. jump school, and Key West, Fla scuba diving school; left for Vietnam March 26, 1971, serving with USAF 40th Aero Space Rescue and Recovery Sq.; member of the LDS Church; graduate of Granite High School, lettered in swimming and was a cheerleader.
Survivors include his mother, stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. John E. Denlinger, Salt Lake City; father of Kimmswick, Mo.; brother and sister, Larry Dean Crow and Mrs. Brent (Reva) Holding, both of Salt Lake City; stepbrother and stepsisters, Matt Denlinger, Cyd Denlinger, both of Salt Lake City; Mrs. Melvin (Jan) Schultz, Magna.
At the time of his death, Sgt Raymond Jack Crow was survived by his mother, Reva Crow Merkley Denlinger (1923-1988), stepfather John Edward Denlinger (1924-2000), his father Raymond Jack Crow, Sr (1923-1977), brother Lorry Dean Crow (1953-1985), and sister Reva Merkley Holding. His body still has not been recovered from Cambodia.