John Robert Gilbert, SSgt., USAF (Fallen)
May 13, 1946 – January 15, 1985

HH-53C #68-10355
Hickam AFB, HI
15 January 1985

Tragic Loss 15 January 1985

On 15 January 1985 an HH-53C helicopter, tail number 68-10355, call sign Arris 01, from the 6594th Test Group crashed while attempting a shipboard rescue mission 540 miles north of Honolulu. The helicopter crashed onto the ship’s deck and starting a deck fire. All seven crew members were killed: Pilots Capt. David D. Mason, Capt. Steve Pindzola, 2nd Lt. Russell Ohl, Flight Engineers SSgt. Kyle D. Marshall, SSgt. Daniel R. Reihman, Pararescuemen SSgt. John R. Gilbert, Sgt Robert A. Jermyn.

All seven made the ultimate sacrifice in keeping with the motto of air rescue, “That Others May Live.” The helicopter crashed when it suffered a main rotor blade structural failure and the tail broke off while the helicopter hovered above the commercial ship, “Asian Beauty.”

Captain Mason had been married only a few days and returned early from his honeymoon to volunteer for the flight. A memorial plaque in honor of the seven crew members is located in the yard of the chapel at Hickam Field. For more information, see the publication of the Hickam Field annual reports.

From the “New Mexican”, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1985-01-17

CREW WAS TRYING TO RESCUE SAILOR.

Honolulu (AP) — The Air Force said Wednesday it would set up a panel to investigate the fiery crash of a helicopter that killed six men and left a seventh missing and presumed dead during an attempt to evacuate a sick sailor from a cargo ship.

The HH-53 helicopter crashed into the deck of the 620-foot Panamanian-registered Asian Beauty on Tuesday about 540 nautical miles northeast of Honolulu.

Two bodies were returned to Honolulu by a second helicopter that had accompanied the one that crashed. The four others were to be transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Munro, but the plan was called off because of the condition of the bodies, said Coast Guard spokesman Brice Kenney.

The crash set off a fire aboard the ship that burned out of control for an hour, said Coast Guard spokesman Bob Jones. The wreckage of the helicopter remained strewn across the decks of the Asian Beauty on Wednesday.

“We still don’t have any idea (of the crash’s cause), the details are sketchy,” Air Force spokesman Sgt. Paul Chute said Wednesday. “A board of officers will convene to investigate the accident.”

An Air Force new release said ocean swells at the time of the mishap were 20 feet with 15 knot winds.

The ill sailor, identified as a 27-year-old British man diagnosed as suffering from internal bleeding, was reported in stable condition Wednesday, and was to remain aboard the Asian Beauty until it reached Hawaii, Chute said.

The men aboard the helicopter that crashed were identified as Air Force:

Staff Sgt. JOHN ROBERT GILBERT, 38, of Advance, N.C., a Pararescueman.
Staff Sgt. KYLE DWANE MARSHALL, 34, of Waxahachie, Texas, a flight engineer.
Staff Sgt. DANIEL R. REIHMAN, 29, of Riegelsville, Pa., a flight engineer.
ROBERT A. JERMYN, 24, of York, Pa., a Pararescueman.
Capt. DAVID D. MASON, 30, of Springfield, Mo., aircraft commander.
2nd Lt. RUSSELL H. OHL, 28, of Vista, Calif., co-pilot.
Capt. STEPHEN PINDZOLA, 37, of Dover, Del., the pilot.

The Air Force said it was unclear which one was the missing man.

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Some of the best things cannot be bought, they must be earned

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