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William L. Ripley, Sgt., USAF (KIA)November 22, 1945 – August 13, 1970
There are three accounts for this incident: First account – On August 13, 1970, Skycap 36, a CH-3E helicopter (#63-09681) from the 21st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom RAFB, Thailand, was flying between Nakhon Phanom and Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base when it was hit by a 12.7mm round which blew up the hydraulic accumulators and knocked out both engines causing the aircraft to crash. Four of the crewmen were killed. They included pilot Capt. Alan B. Cheeseman, co-pilot Capt. George D. Henry Jr., and flight engineers Sgt. William L. Ripley and SSgt Terry D. Reams. [From wikipedia.org and vhpa.org] Second account – The aircraft was on an extraction mission in Laos in which it was damaged due to heavy enemy fire, and on returning back to base, the aircraft suddenly turned upside down and burst into flames and crashed. (Info by Jim Williams, 361st AHC, and confirmed by Mike Taylor) Third account – The mission was not was not Prairie Fire related (a SOG patrol into Laos). The HH3 was on a training flight inside Thailand. The crew and AC were daily SOG assets. On this mission, Capt. Cheeseman, an experienced Prairie Fire pilot, was acting as instructional pilot for a couple of new pilots. Apparently, they were shot down north of Ubon RTAFB by a 12.7mm, 14.5mm or .50 cal, in Thailand. The AC did land upside down, and as I recall there was one USAF pilot (the student I believe) who escaped through the canopy hatch. [2nd and 3rd accounts taken from macvsog.cc]
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