The Battle of Kontum Banner Image

Tom McKenna & Dave Millard  

The Rock Pile - 57th Bird Shot Down

Jack, I knew the two passengers who were badly burned in this crash and heard Dave Millard tell about it, probably for the first time, while he was a few beds away from me in the hospital that night.

I was the senior advisor to the ARVN 44th Infantry Regiment in Kontum until I was wounded on 31 May 1972. The Gladiator C & C ship picked me up and delivered me to the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku. By 2 June I was propped up on a few pillows but was on a drip, had a tube in my chest, and was probably on some kind of pain medication. So I couldn't walk around or even sit up on the edge of the bed. That restricted my view to a few beds on either side of mine and a few opposite me across the aisle.

When the four crash victims were moved from the emergency room into the ward on 2 June, one of them was placed in the bed to my right. It was Captain Raymond W. Hall, who was the signal advisor to the ARVN 23rd Infantry Division in Kontum. I knew him well when I was G-3 advisor to that division, through January 1972. However, he was so badly burned that I didn't recognize him until one of the corpsmen said his name. He was heavily sedated and so I never had a chance to talk to him.

Another casualty, who was also so badly burned that I didnít recognize him, was placed in a bed across the aisle from me. He was USAF Major Harold D. Jones, the Air Liaison Officer (ALO) to the ARVN 23rd Infantry Division. He was a short, stocky man. I met him for the first time in Kontum. The last time I saw him he was standing by his jeep talking on the radio. I was standing near him talking with other advisors and looking at maps. There was almost continuous artillery and rocket fire falling near us. Not that we were all cool, calm, and collected but the army advisors had become accustomed to so much incoming. However, Major Jones was way out of his element and was visibly shaking. I thought at the time that if I were in his jet fighter with him on a bomb run, I would be doing more than shaking. He was a brave man for continuing to do his duty while obviously worried about being killed by flying shrapnel. He died from his injuries the day after the crash. Dave Millard found him on Panel 1W, Row 34 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The aircraft commander, CW2 Bruce E. Delau, was also injured and was on the same 67th Evacuation Hospital orders that sent me to a hospital in CONUS. However, I donít remember him in the hospital and never talked to any of the crash victims. All the armed forces used the same, specialized facility for burn victims at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Probably the National Guard captain and Dave Millard were not on the orders with Delau and me because they were sent directly to the burn center.

Sometime that night, when the lights were low and the ward was quiet, Dave Millard told someone about the crash. I couldnít see him but I heard every word he said. His voice was full of anguish and he was suffering as much from his inability to save Joe Eubanks as he was from his own injuries. It was a story I will never forget.

Tom McKenna & / Dave Millard < >
USA - Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 16:47:30 (PDT)

[ Back to Memories Book Index ]