Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Michael Frank Dean, SSgt., USAF (KIA)September 13, 1946 – June 30, 1970
On June 30, 1970, a crew from the 40th Aerospace Rescue andRecovery Squadron at Udorn Airfield, Thailand was dispatched to rescue adowned flight crew. Crew aboard the Sikorsky HH53C “Super Jolly” helicopter included the pilot, Capt. Leroy C. Schaneberg, crewmembers Major John W. Goeglein, MSgt. Paul L. Jenkins, SSgt. Marvin E. Bell, and SSgt. Michael F.Dean.
The members of the 40th Air R & R were trained for both air and sea recovery, and the big “Super Jolly” was equipped to airlift both the crewand aircraft out of sticky situations.
The downed and injured pilot was located in Savannakhet Province, Laos,about two kilometers south of Bang Tang. The HH53C penetrated the area,known to be hostile, in an attempt to rescue the pilot, but was forced awayby hostile ground fire. A second attempt was made, but the helicopter washit by hostile fire, caught on fire, went out of control and crashed. The Air Force states it received evidence on July 4, 1970, that the crew was dead, but that evidence is not specifically described, and no remains identifiable as Bell, Dean, Goeglein, Schaneberg, or Jenkins have been recovered. Schaneberg received the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism as the aircraft commander on this rescue mission.
On the same day, Capt. Williams S. Sanders was flying an OV10A Broncosoutheast of Khe Sanh at a point where Laos veers north to intrude on South Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down just inside Laos, not far from thelocation of the downed helicopter. The Bronco was generally used for marking targets, armed reconnaissance and forward air control, so the nature of Capt. Sanders’ mission and its precise relation to the mission of the Super Jolly from Udorn is unknown. The crew of the helicopter was numerically listed missing before the OV-10, so it is does not seem likely that the helicopter was assisting the observation aircraft, but as no other aircraft is missing on that day in that area, either the downed pilot was Sanders or the pilot was rescued by other means.
Unfortunately, for families of men missing in Laos, information is difficultto obtain. Twenty and twenty-five year old records remain classified anddetails obscured. Much of this information was classified to distortAmerican involvement in a now well known “secret” war in Laos.
Since the war’s end in 1973, thousands of reports have been received by theU.S. Government regarding Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia.Many of the reports involve Americans in Laos, where nearly 600 Americans went missing, and none released despite public statements by the Pathet Lao that “tens of tens” of Americans were being held there.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50’s, that future “limited politicalengagements” would result, unfortunately, in non-recoverable prisoners ofwar. We have seen this prediction fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, wherethousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today.
For Americans, the “unfortunate” abandonment of military personnel is notacceptable, and the policy that allows it must be changed before anothergeneration is left behind in some faraway war.
On March 7, 1995, Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA, now DPAA) identified the remains of Staff Sergeant Michael Frank Dean, missing from the Vietnam War.
Staff Sergeant Dean joined the U.S. Air Force from California and was a member of the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On June 30, 1970, he was a Pararescueman aboard an HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant (serial number 68-8283) on a search and rescue mission over Laos. The Super Jolly Green Giant was downed by enemy ground fire during the mission, and SSgt. Dean was killed in the crash. Search and rescue teams were unable to recover his remains at the time due to a hostile presence in the area. In March 1994, a joint U.S. and Laotian search team recovered remains from the HH-53C’s crash site. In 1995, forensic analysis identified some of the recovered remains as those of SSgt. Dean.
Staff Sergeant Dean is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.