Rice, Frances D. (KIA)

Francis David Rice, A2C, USAF (KIA)
November 18, 1942 – October 28, 1966

Last Mission of U.S. Air Force helicopter HH-43B tail number 62-04511

On 17 Dec 2006, Mike Law called VHPA Member Carlton Vermeys because of a picture of 511 that Mike plans to publish in the VHPA Calendar. The following is a report of that telephone conversion. Carlton had flown with the ARS since 1960 in the US and two years in Turkey. He arrived in RVN in Feb 66 with the rank of Captain. He was sent to Phan Rang to help establish a new Det there. Mike Law believes this would be Det. 1 38 ARRS. After three months, he returned to Det. 9 at Pleiku. While they launched an aircraft almost every day most of their missions were training in support of their primary mission of local base rescue. About once or twice a week they received a medevac mission outside the local base area. Each one had to be approved by the 7th USAF in Saigon. Even if they were contacted directly by a local command, they still had to get approval before launching the mission. He recalls the events of 28 Oct with great clarity. The PJ had been on the ground some time because they had loaded three US Army WIA’s in the back of the Pedro already. Carlton remembers they were asked if they could accommodate one more and he answered yes. They were using the 150 feet of cable for their jungle penetrater to hoist the WIA’s out. The 4th Infantry Division guys had formed a perimeter to secure the evac site, but one of the NVA must have come out of a spider hole or gotten very close to the perimeter. The NVA soldier fired an RPG from almost underneath the helicopter. It impacted the bottom of the fuselage near the rear of the helicopter. He remembers trying to increase power but there was no response. The helicopter went virtually straight down and crashed tail first. This helped cushion the fall but then it rolled forward. A2C Rice and the three WIAs on broad either died in the initial RPG blast or in the crash. A2C Allen Stanek was still on the ground when the RPG hit. When the helicopter rolled forward the front Plexiglas broke. The lack of the front bubble may have helped the Infantry guys get both injured pilots out of the wreckage quickly and lay them on the ground. ‘Spike’ had lots of shrapnel wounds. Carlton said he had three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and shrapnel wounds. After the crash an even heavier firefight broke out on the ground. Carlton was in and out of consciousness most of the night. He remembers a B-52 strike that went in very, very close to their position and credits that with getting the NVA to break contact. About 1500 the following day, Det. 9’s other aircraft arrived to pick them up. They took a 50-cal hit in the blades but successfully completed the recovery. The mental picture of a 50 round hitting wooden blades cannot be comforting! Carlton was evacuated from Vietnam because of his injuries. He was back on flight status in six months, continued to serve with the ARS in the States and eventually retired from the Air Force. Carlton said that ‘Spike’ was an USAF Academy graduate. His father was a USAF medical doctor, may have been a full Colonel and may have helped treat ‘Spike’ in the Philippines. ‘Spike’ had brain stem damage and died of his injuries a few days later in Clark AFB. Carlton said ‘Spike’ was a very gifted officer and would have gone a long way in the Air Force. Carlton said Allen Stanek is a police officer living in Las Vegas currently assigned to a recruiting detail. [Taken from vhpa.org]

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