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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Angel Luna, TSgt., USAF (KIA)July 19, 1932 – October 10, 1968
Detachment 1 of the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron provided Search and Rescue services at Phan Rang Air Base, home of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.
At about 2030 (8:30 PM) on 10 Oct 1968 a B-57 aircraft declared an in-flight emergency. Det 1 38th ARRS launched a helicopter (HH-43B tail number 58-1845, call sign “Pedro 44”) with a fire suppression kit to cover the B-57’s emergency landing. During the landing roll out of the B-57, Pedro 44 entered a left hand climbing turn as if departing the area for return to the alert pad. Almost simultaneously, and without any radio transmission, the helicopter crashed and burned. Firefighting equipment and medical assistance, already on hand for the B-57 emergency, responded immediately to the scene, extinguished the fire within 15 seconds, and removed the crewmembers from the aircraft. None the less, the crash inflicted fatal injuries to all five aircrew members:
Analysis of the wreckage determined the crash resulted from a materiel failure which caused an in-flight disintegration of the rotor system and loss of aircraft control.
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