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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Donald J. Hall, CMSgt, USAF (MIA)March 26, 1937 – February 06, 1967
Chief Master Sergeant Donald J. Hall was born 26 March 1937 in Wichita, Kansas, and raised in Stroud, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955, and completed Helicopter Flight Engineer Technical School and Tropical Survival School. He deployed to Thailand as a member of the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Detachment 5. Search and Rescue missions recovered over 4800 troops during the Vietnam Conflict.
On 6 February 1967, Hall’s HH-3E crew was lead on a search and rescue mission to extract a downed pilot five miles from Mu Gia Pass near the border of Laos and North Vietnam. Call sign “Jolly Green 05” made several daring rescue attempts in the midst of heavy ground fire and foul, cloudy weather conditions. Even with closing enemy and low on fuel, the crew of Jolly Green 05 made a successful recovery. As they raced to exit the area, the HH-3E sustained several hits from small arms rounds. Hit with a 37mm anti-aircraft round, the helicopter caught fire and lost hydraulic power. Spinning out of control, the HH-3E sustained another hit from a 37mm anti-aircraft round in the rear fuselage. Blown from the helicopter, one crew member managed to pull his rip-cord and deploy his chute prior to entering the trees. The remaining crew, including Hall, crashed into the side of a mountain. Hall’s remains were not recovered. For gallantry in action, CMSgt. Hall was awarded two Silver Star Medals.
Hall also earned a Purple Heart Medal, five Air Medals, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service medal with two stars, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He received the Sikorsky Rescue Pin and the Jolly Green 100 Mission Patch for participating in more than 100 search and rescue missions.
For 50 years, Louise Morgan has lived with hope and heartache.
“You don’t really come to terms with that. The thing is, I mean, to this day, I think some of these days he may show up at my door,” said Morgan.
The man she would give anything to see again is her big brother, Donald Joe Hall.
In 1955, Donald Joe enlisted in the United States Air Force. When U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam, he was with the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron. He became a big brother to dozens of soldiers he helped rescue.
“I told him to take care and that I loved him. He told me he loved me, that’s the last time I’ve seen him,” said Morgan.
On Feb. 6, 1967, Donald Joe and his crew learned a pilot had crashed near the Mu Gia Pass. Officials told them not to go, it was too rainy and too dangerous.
“These guys jumped up and said ‘you don’t have to send us, we’re going’,” said Morgan.After successfully rescuing the pilot, Donald Joe’s helicopter was hit. It caught fire and crashed.
“They told me he was missing in action, the didn’t say he passed away or anything like that. He was an MIA,” said Morgan.
To this day, more than 50 years later, Chief Master Sgt. Donald Joe Hall is still missing in action.
For Morgan, he’s neither dead nor alive, just gone.
“After all this time, I want him to be in heaven,” said Morgan.
It’s not just airmen like Morgan’s brother who are still missing in action. There are more than 80,000 American servicemen who still haven’t come home.
“It makes me sick, I want to cry. I’m a 72-year-old man, it makes me want to cry,” said Willard Morgan.
Willard has watched his wife, Louise, wonder about her brother’s fate for decades. He understands the loss and the pain. Willard served in Vietnam too.
“We may argue among ourselves, we’re all one, we’re a band of brothers,” he said.
A band of brothers the government is now trying desperately to find. In 2015, the defense POW MIA Accounting Agency was created. Right now, they’re working on recovering servicemen from the glaciers of Alaska to jungles in the South Pacific.
“It means he was a hero, and didn’t want any credit for it,” said Morgan.
A row of medals line the box next to Louise. They are tokens of her brother’s bravery during his 12 years of service. Of the many medals her brother was awarded, she’s proudest of two. Hall was awarded two Silver Star medals, given for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.
“I see him every time I salute the flag,” said Morgan.
While the flag is a symbol of the freedom for which her brother fought, it’s also a reminder that he still hasn’t come home.
Chief Master Sgt. Donald Joe Hall was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Department Hall of Fame in 2016.
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