"A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN"
-- B --
EDWARD W. BAKER
Ed Baker will be remembered by the Intruder Family. His obituaries follow:
“Edward W. Baker, 75, a resident of Midland City passed away Thursday, December 31, 2015 at his residence. Memorial services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at the Sunset Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Ralph Sigler and Rev. Roy Rogers officiating. Military honors will follow in Sunset Memorial Park.”
“Edward W. Baker, 75, a resident of Midland City passed away Thursday, December 31, 2015 at his residence.
Memorial services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at the Sunset Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Ralph Sigler and Rev. Roy Rogers officiating. Military honors will follow in Sunset Memorial Park with Robert Byrd directing. The family will receive friends from 1-2:00 p.m. prior to the service at the funeral home.
Mr. Baker was born September 26, 1940 in Philadelphia, PA, lived the early part of his life in Vienna, MD, and moved to Midland City in 1969. He joined the U.S. Army and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War where he was a highly decorated helicopter pilot. Following his military service, he continued to fly helicopters and flew crew members to oil rigs for 10 years before returning to Ft. Rucker where he became an instructor pilot and a test pilot until his medical retirement in 1993. Mr. Baker was a Midland City Councilman, a member of Harvest Church, and enjoyed spending time with his family especially his grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Lori Ann Baker.”
The funeral home has video at http://www.sunsetmemorialpark.com/obituaries/1664/edward-baker
1st SGT Carl E. Baderschneider USA.
1st Sgt Braderschneider served as the 1st Sgt of the
281st AHC from May of 1968 until January of 1969. 1st Sgt Braderschneider
previously served in the 34th Combat Aviation Battalion and when selected for
promotion to 1st Sgt he was transferred to the 281st. In the 281st he was
recognized as a outstanding soldier and 1st Sgt. He is interred in the Pinora
Township Cemetery, Lake County Michigan. He shall be remembered by the Intruder
To my Brothers-in-the-wind,
Re: 1st Sergeant Carl Baderschneider, 1967, 281st AHC, 10th Avn Bn, 17th Gp,
1st Avn Bde, Nha Trang, Viet Nam.
I've fondly spoken of 1st Sergeant Baderschneider over these past 47 years, since I was assigned to the 281st in Viet Nam. As an in-country newbie, during the night of my first real alert at our company barracks in Nha Trang, I was the last guy heading to the flight line defense positions. Though I had my M-14 and ammo, I had forgotten my pot. That used to be mil-speak for helmet, about the time that the California hippies invaded our unit and "pot" took on a whole new meaning for a lot of us.
Well, as I trundled down the PSP covered company street past the Orderly Room, Top Baderschneider hollered and caught me aside, upbraiding me for not having and wearing my pot during the alert. He then proceeded to give his helmet to me with a direct order to report to him in the orderly room first thing the next morning, right after formation. Well, as a newcomer to the 281st, I was more scared of what he was going to say or do than I was of any potential VC incursion that night. After all he was THE 1ST SERGEANT. Since I was still a PFC, and only a few months out of basic training, I didn't know that 1st Sergeants were human beings also.
After what seemed like an eternity in the dark, waiting
for some sign of VC, but only feeling the tension and the clinging wet night
air, finally the alert was over, stand down ordered, and a half a night's sleep
obtained. Upon waking and seeing the extra helmet next to my bunk, I quickly
remembered Baderschneider's direct order, and tried to gird myself mentally to
comply and meet with him after formation.
Reluctantly carrying Top's pot, I reported to the orderly room. I was told to
go in the back where the First Sergeant was expecting me. "Oh, boy! I've had it
now!" I thought.
Stepping into the back, I saw Top and a couple of the other guys playing pool.
I blurted out the obligatory "Private Szwed reporting as ordered!"
Top looked up from his turn to shoot and did a quick nod that was more to
point to where he wanted the helmet than to acknowledge my presence, or so it
felt at the time. Initially, all he said was, "over there", until I had
deposited his helmet in the designated spot. His next utterance was, â€œDo you
think you can remember to take your pot with you on alert from now on?â€ Of
course I said a resounding, "Yes, Sir!!" I guess he knew he'd made his point
with me, as he then smiled, kind of sizing me up.
I hadnâ€™t been dismissed, yet, so I just stood there waiting. But after my
response seemed to please him, Top shifted gears. He kept playing pool, and
between shots, he asked how I liked my first night on alert duty. Then blew me
away by asking if I wanted to shoot pool with them. It's funny that I remember
all of it right to that point, but can't recall if I took him up on his offer
and stayed to play or not. What a way to win an ignorant young soldier's heart,
mind, and loyalty.
Carl Baderschneide's, self-sacrificing, wise, and compassionate discipline and
treatment, of the scared ignorant kid who has become this old soldier, formed a
lifelong living memory in my life!!
Wolfpack Crewchief 1967
CHARLES "CHUCK" E. G. BAIRD
Served as a CW2 with the 6th Platoon and the 281st in
1965-66. Major Baird was flying for a coal mining company in the PA area when he
was killed in a helicopter accident, described as follows;
On January 18, 1995, about 1805 Eastern Standard Time, an Agusta A109C,
N1WD, owned by Leffler Transportation Company and piloted by Charles E. Baird,
was destroyed when it impacted in an open field near the Deck Airport, Jackson
Township, Pennsylvania. The pilot and both company employee passengers were
fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an
instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight
conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
Major Baird was living in the vicinity of Harrisburg, PA. at the time of his
Sp4 BILLY J. BAKER
Billy J. Baker served in the 281st AHC. He passed away on November 15, 2005. Billy is buried in the Huston National Cemetery, Harris County, Texas. He shall be remembered by the Intruder family.
Date of Birth: 02 Feb 1950, Date of Death: Oct 1973, SSAN Issued: Texas. Bandit CE 69/70 Richard was killed in motorcycle accident in route to Ft Bragg, CA on Henry Harpster's bike. Richard had borrowed Harpster's bike to visit Paul Swol and during the trip he crashed head on into a van.
On 13 October 2008 Jimmy Barragan passed away in the Pittsburgh PA Veterans Hospital after a long and hard fought battle with cancer. When Jimmy entered the army he was placed on restricted duty due to a hearing loss which did not allow him to serve in a position that would subject him to loud noises. Jimmy's first assignment out of school was to the 281st AHC where he served as a sheet metal technician from 10-68 until 10-68. So much for a loud noise restriction. Jimmy was a strong supporter of the Intruder Association and he took an active part in the annual reunions and the scholarship fund. Jimmy's remains were interred at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville PA. He is survived by his sister Dolores Reiman.
WORLEY G. BAST
SGT Bast served as the Operations NCO from 11-68 until 11-69. He passed away at his home in Quakertown, PA and is survived by his wife Delores.
SSG Bast was a very positive influence to a 19 year old
kid in the army for less than 6months and just newly arrived at the 281st. He
was always a very upbeat person no matter what the problem and kept operations
personnel under control and doing the job with a light hand. I had spoken to
him about two years ago, trying to get him to come to a reunion. He sounded
his old cheery self. I think I sent him a 281st cap at the time. Family
matters at the time prevented him from attending. Will try to contact family
and give a belated thank you for his service and let him know he not forgotten
by his comrades.
From : Jack Interstein
ROLAND S. BATO
Last Known Residence: San Bernardino, Ontario, CA 91761
Certificate Issued: California
WILLIAM BENNET "BILL" BAUER
Bauer, COL William Bennet, USA (Ret.), died unexpectedly at his home
on Thursday morning, July 10th 2008. The son of a World War II veteran
and Naval Aviator, Bill was born the first of five children at San
Diego, CA in 1945. During the course of his father's career in the
Navy, the family lived in Guam, Hawaii, and multiple locations
throughout the United States.
A retired Army colonel with 27
years of service, Bill entered the army as a private in 1966 during
the Vietnam War. Commissioned as an infantry officer in 1967, he
served 18 months as a helicopter pilot, platoon leader, and air
mission commander in Vietnam. He later served twice on assignments in
Europe during the Cold War, and he culminated his career at the United
States Army Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.
Like his childhood, Bill's Army career sent him, his wife, and two
boys to locations throughout the United States and Europe.
Bill is survived by his wife of 36 years, Joan; his son, Major John
Bauer and wife, Hilary; his son, Captain Brian Bauer and wife,
Lindsey. A graveside service with military honors was held on Tuesday,
September 2, 2008, in Arlington National Cemetery.
EUGENE H. BAXLEY
Svc Plt, 66 - 67 Reported by Don Creed
Drive, Yucaipa, CA 92399
GILLES D. BELANGER
A C/E with the Wolf Pack, Gilles died in Holyoke, MA
of various illnesses related to his military service.
He is survived by his
wife, Annette Belanger of Holyoke, Massachusetts.
He was interred in
Notre Dame Cemetery, South Hadley, Massachusetts.
He shall be remembered
by the Intruder Family.
JOHN L BILYEU
John Served in the 281st AHC from July of 1970 until Nov. 1970
My father was John L. Bilyeu. Please let me know if you
knew him and any other info on him would be great. He joined the army in Dec
1969 and left for Vietnam right after AIT. His first unit there was the
281st and then he moved on to the 135th AHC. He stayed in the Army for 20
years and retired as an E-7. I think he enjoyed it. He was married 3 times his
last wife being from Germany. still living in Ozark MO he had 4 children 3
girls and 1 Boy. He was always very devilish. tall and thin. long neck. we
always called him a red neck because his neck never tanned. only turned
red....He died March 16,1998
Thank you, Heather (Bilyeu) Cooper,
SGT DAVID BITLE
Served as a Gunner, Crew Chief and Platoon Sergeant of the Wolf Pack from 1965 - 1968. Sgt. Bitle was living in Hawaii at the time of his death. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery, Punchbowl, Hawaii.
Please visit the Wolf Pack pages on this web site for a memorial and pictures of SGT. Dave Bitle. Dave-Wolf Pack
KENNETH W. BLACKWELL
Kenneth's initial service was with the 281st AHC in Vietnam. Kenneth Wane Blackwell passed away in May of 2013 in the VA Hospital in Birmingham, AL. His obituary follows:
Mr. Kenneth Wayne Blackwell, age 65 of Albertville, Alabama passed away Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at VA Hospital in Birmingham. He is survived by his wife Brenda Lang Blackwell; daughters, Heather (Jason) Garrison and Andrea Blackwell; sons, Neil Blackwell and Scot Blackwell; grandchildren, Seth Blackwell and Taylor Blackwell; sisters, Maxine (Bill) Franklin, Genell Mosley, and Bobbie Jean (Frank) Edmonds; and brother, Curtis Ray (Dorothy) Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell was preceded in death by his parents, Troy & Lillie Boyd Blackwell and sister, Gail Burke.
Kenneth shall be remembered by the 281st AHC family.
John died in September of 1983 as a result of
He served in the 1st platoon (Ratpack) of the 281st AHC
FRANK OWEN BONNARENS
Major Bonnarens came to the 281st as part of an infusion program and served as the second Platoon Leader of the 145th Aviation Platoon for approximately two month before returning to the states in 1966. He was a 14-year army veteran from Browning, MO serving his second tour in Vietnam at the time of his death, which was the result of a non-hostile aircraft accident (OH-6 # 67-16015)
Notes from The Virtual Wall:
Four men died in the crash:
On the afternoon of 19 Sep 1968, an OH-6A (tail number
67-16015) of the 201st Aviation Company was detailed to provide transportation
on an administrative flight to coordinate aviation activities at Khanh Duong,
Boun Ea Yang and the U.S. installations at Ban Me Thout east and Ban Me Thout
City Airfields. The aircraft departed Ban Me Thout City Airfield and headed in
an easterly direction enroute to Nha Trang, 70 miles to the east. Its flight
path paralleled highway 21 (which runs generally east-west), staying on the
north side of the road and heading east. <>At about the same time a UH-1H (tail
number 66-16323) departed Ban Me Thout City Airfield enroute Dong Ba Thin, 82
miles to the southeast. This aircraft also paralleled highway 21, but remained
on the south side. The pilot of the UH-1H, a Lt Williams, reported sighting the
OH-6A aircraft at 1700 hours, approximately 18 miles east of Ban Me Thout at a
position north of highway 21 and flying in a southeasterly direction at
approximately the same altitude as Williams' UH-1H. The OH-6A was closing on Lt
Williams' aircraft and crossed highway 21 from left to right passing two miles
to Williams' front. After a suitable separation was obtained between the two
aircraft, the OH-6A was no longer observed by Lt Williams. The OH-6A aircraft
was again observed by Lt Williams approximately three minutes later; it had
reversed its original course and was now approaching Lt Williams' aircraft,
head-on at a lower altitude and descending at an approximate angle of 30
degrees. The OH-6A aircraft was observed by SP Bowen, crew chi ef of Lt
Williams' aircraft, to continue its descent all the way to the ground, where an
explosion occurred shortly after impact.
MAJ Frank Owen Bonnarens, HHC, 1 Field Force, pilot
SP5 Lloyd Earle Greene, Jr, 201st Avn Co, 17th CAG, crew chief
MAJ Joseph Adrian Bishop, 201st Avn Co, 17th CAG, passenger
MAJ Benjamin C. Hartman, Jr, HHC, 17th CAG, passenger
ALAN P. BOTSFORD
Alan served in the
His last known Address was Bradenton, FL 34204
SP5 BENNY E. "BEN" BOYSEN
Benny served in the 281st AHC as a maintenance tech from March of 1977 until March of 1978. Bennie was a skilled technician who was respected and liked by his fellow intruders. He shall be remembered by the Intruder family.
Benny’s obituary follows:
"Benny Boysen of Irving, TX, left this world on 03/18/2018 in Irving, TX. He will always be remembered as a loving, caring husband, father and friend to all that knew him. He was born on 12/27/1945 to August Otto Boysen and Evelyn Boysen. Benny would have given you the shirt off his back. He was such a selfless man. He loved his family deeply and showed them every day. He loved his grandkids with all his heart. He loved his children and instilled his work ethics to make sure he provided above and beyond for them. But, most of all his love for his wife was never doubted. You could look at them and know that the word love was Benny and Dianne. He was always looking to make you smile or laugh, he was a jokester. He was a collector of things from Coins, Ceramic Ducks to Magnets. Every squirrel was called Willie. He retired, but was still working “part time” because, he loved his job and his friends at work. He was an honored Veteran of Vietnam. He loved his country and was proud to have served in the Army. He was also a quiet and private man, who cherished the value of family. He passed that value down to his children whom have stood up and will carry on his legacy. Benny Boysen is survived by his loving wife Dianne Boysen, Daughter Carrie Boysen-Thibodeaux, Daughter Christie Lott, Daughter Bonnie Ferguson, Son Bennie Boysen Jr."
Always remember to tell those you love that you love them each and every day because tomorrow may never come again.
As Benny would say "Happy Trails to you until we meet again."
ELDON BRACK, Jr.
Eldon served in the Aircraft Maintenance sections from April, 1967 to April, 1968.
This information appears in findagrave.com at memorial 62471691:
Birth: Jun. 17, 1945
San Francisco County
Death: Nov. 30, 2010
Eldon Brack Jr., 65, passed away Tuesday, Nov, 30, 2010, in Godley. Funeral: 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Mount Olivet Chapel. Interment: Mount Olivet Cemetery. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Mount Olivet Funeral Home.
Eldon was born June 17, 1945, in San Francisco, Calif., to Mary and Eldon Brack Sr. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Pamela Lee; and former wife, Bonnie Junge. Survivors: Son, Eldon V. Brack III; daughter, Mindy M. Brack; and brothers, Mike Kelley and Rick Kelley.
Published in Star-Telegram on December 3, 2010
Eldon Verl Brack (1922 - 1973)
Mount Olivet Cemetery,
Plot: Founders Lawn Section 17
Created by: Tim Hawkins
Record added: Dec 03, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62471691
Bob served with the 145th Airlift Platoon from 11/64 to
He resided in Kingston, NC at the time of his passing.
CPT JAMES "JIM" BROWN
Jim served as the platoon leader of the Wolf Pack during 69-70. Jim and Bob George were very close friends in the 281st and remained so throughout their lives after Vietnam. Jim died of lung cancer attributed to Agent Orange, as did Bob George exactly nine days after Jim's death. He was living at 32937 Satellite Beach, Bevard, Florida at the time of his death.
SFC E-7 JIM BRUCE
Jim Bruce deployed with the 281st in 1966 as a SP/4 and remained with the unit for 18 months. During that period he rose to the rank of sergeant E-6 and was serving as the Platoon Sergeant of the Rat Pack Platoon when he departed in 1967. He served an additional tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970 and completed his service before retiring to his home state of Oklahoma where he passed away on December 15, 2014 at age 78. Jim was an active member of the 281st AHC association and will be missed, but not forgotten by the Intruder Family. His obituary follows:
James L. Bruce, 78, was born May-1, 1936 and passed away on December15, 2014. James was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. A great man, he was a hero to all of us. He will be greatly missed. He leaves behind a loving wife, 13 kids and many grandchildren. Memorial services were held at 2:00 p.m. Fri., 12-19-2014, at the Yanda & Son Funeral Home Chapel.
DUANE "TUBBY" BRUDVIG
16 May 1949 - 19 June 2014
Tubby served in the 281st Assault Helicopter Company as a Crew Chief and Door Gunner with the Wolf Pack from August, 1969, until July, 1970. Not only was Tubby an outstanding member of the Wolf Pack he was a soldier and person who earned the respect of his fellow Intruders.
In 1986 he led the effort to organize the former
members of his unit and was the primary force behind the formation of the
original 281st Assault Helicopter Company Association. His efforts
resulted in the first reunion of the former members of the unit in 1986, The
current unit association was built on the work done by Tubby for which we owe
him a great debt. In 2013 Tubby was recognized by the 281st AHC Association
for his contributions to the organization. We shall surely miss him but HE
SHALL NOT BE FORGOTEN.
His Obituary follows:
Duane Brudvig, 65 of Bella Vista died Thursday, June
19, 2014 in Fayetteville. He was born May 16, 1949 in Cooperstown, North
Dakota the son of Helmer Brudvig and Rose Aalgard Brudvig. He was a 1967
graduate of West Fargo High School.
In 1969 to 1970 during the Vietnam War Tubby served in
the US Army with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company, the US Army's first
Special Operations Helicopter Company, during which time he received the
He married the former Deborah Heupel on April 29, 1972
in Minneapolis, MN. He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad for 20 years
before moving to the North West Arkansas area. In the area, he worked as a
Deputy Sheriff and finished working delivering oxygen. He attended Bella
Vista Christian Church.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Deborah "Debbie" Brudvig of the
home; daughters: Stacy Clair and her husband, Peter of Rogers, MN, Melissa
Philpott and her husband, Sam of Noel , MO; 3 brothers, Harvey Brudvig of
Fargo, ND, Lyle Brudvig of Dickinson, ND, Leland Brudvig of Webster, SD and 6
grandchildren. Burial will be in the Fayetteville National Cemetery with
SSG MAHLON E. BUCKALEW
Mahlon Buckalew was a door gunner with the 6th Airlift Platoon "Fangs" in 65
and 66. When the 281st was formed, he was the Wolf Pack's first Platoon Sergeant
and the guy who taught the fresh-off-the-boat gunners and crew chiefs how to
handle an M-60. In May 66, Sergeant Buck single-handedly saved his crew,
including me, in a nasty and quick firefight north of Tay Ninh. For that he was
the first Intruder, and the first member of the 10th CAB, to be awarded the
His son found his name on our website and I've just received a couple of
emails from his kids, which I'm pleased to pass along to all of you.
Subj: Mahlon Buckalew
From: Irene Kelly
Hi Fred. Hope this email finds you in good health. My name is Irene
Kelly (Buckalew) I'am the daughter of SGT. Mahlon Buckalew. My father died on
October 16, 1978. I was 15 years old when he passed. He died of
cancer. I miss him very much. He was a wonderful man. My
brother "Sonny" happened to come across a website, he was looking for
information on our father and was truly shocked when he saw your story. He
has our father's silver star and purple heart and flag. He instantly
called me and told me about your story, he was so happy and kind of scared, he
was afraid to email you, and i told him that he should send you some
information. I would like to send you some pictures of my dad if that's
okay with you.
I was 5 years old when I met my father. He married my mother Ruth in Taylor,
Texas. Together they had 5 children. Edward Allen Buckalew born in 1961 and died
in 1989, Frances Irene Buckalew born in August 1963, Diane Marie Buckalew born
in Oct 1970, Mahlon Ray (Sonny) Buckalew born in July 1968 and Dell Wayne
Buckalew born in Jan 1972. My father had a scar on his right side of his face,
just below his nose and on top of his upper lip, he told us kids that he was in
an accident when he was little, he sustained a laceration while on a sled. I
guess he did not want to tell us about his war injuries. He never really talked
about the war, we were still young kids when he died. My mother does share some
stories that he had told her. I would give anything to just be able to have had
more time with him. He was ill for atleast 5 years before he died and he fought
so hard to stay alive. He retired in 1968 and died 10 years later. If you have
any stories to share with me, I would really appreciate anything you can send.
If you would like some pictures, please let me know.
To: Fred Phillips
My name is Mahlon Buckalew jr.It was nice to know that someone remembered my
father from the war.If you want to get in contact with me here is my e-mail
Subj: mahlon buckalew
Hi Fred, my name is Diane Buckalew my brother Sonny called me up and told me
about dad and the stories. I was so happy that someone remembered him. I went
directly to the website. Thank you. I was a little girl when dad passed away I
was only 7 yrs. old but I remember when dad would come home from work I would
run to him and jump on his lap. I loved him so much and miss him dearly. My
sister Irene was also excited and the rest of the family. We were in Taylor
yesterday at moms they were going to gather dads pictures from the military.
Thank you so much for remembering my dad, it made my day. Take care and god
bless you and your family.
2404 Dowd Ln.
Austin, Tx 78728
Subj: Re: Mahlon Buckalew
Sent from the Internet (Details)
Thanks for replying Fred. Sonny still thinks he's dreaming. Like I
mentioned earlier, we were young when our father passed and we really never got
to know him as well as we would have liked to. I do know one thing, he loved the
water. He would load up us kids and the neighbor kids after a hard day at work
and take us to Jonah River to swim. I do remember him telling me some stories
when he was ill, he would reminisce and I vaguely remember him telling me about
a young man that died in his arms, and I remember the sad face he had when
sharing this with me. I know he had nightmares, he would on occasions wake
us, and he would never have a recollection of his dreams/nightmares the
Dad was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and met my mother (Ruth) in Taylor, TX.
They married and settled in Taylor. TX. Dad was born in New Egypt, NJ. His
father Delmas passed in 1968 and his mother passed in 1976. Dad had two
brothers and one sister. We met his brother "Shorty", we have never met
our other uncle or aunt. Sonny and I have recently been doing ancestry
research, and we have located our 3rd and 4th cousins. It's amazing what the
internet can do these days. We are working on planning a trip to NJ to
visit our fathers birthplace. We will be gathering some pictures and
letters tomorrow, we will scan them and send them to you via e-mail. If
you have any pictures, I would really love to see them.
I do know that father joined the service at the age of 17 - and retired at the
age of 37. He was taken at an early age. Our mother never remarried.
I remember when I was 7 years old, it was late and my mother was just getting
home from working a late shift, it was around 11pm - and we were sleeping and
dad was asleep as well. As my mother approached the front door, she saw a
man trying to break into our house through one of the bedroom windows, which was
my bedroom window. She started to scream, my father awoke and the man ran
down the hill. My mother called the policewhen she saw my father grab his
rifle and chase the man. The robber to be ran down the hill into some
woods and dad was running with his pajamas barely hanging on, I remember us kids
laughing at the site of dad and his PJ's. When the police arrived, we
asked them if they were going into the woods to help, the policemen stated that
father would take care of it himself. As the police were telling us that
father would take care of it, we heard 2 gunshots. Within a matter of
minutes, my father appeared and told the policemen to "call for an ambulance - I
just shot him in the ass". The policemen were afraid of my father, why we did
not know. To make a long story short, my father crippled the man that tried to
break into our home. Years later, we would see the man walking with an aid of a
We have so many stories to share. We have so many good memories of dad,
and we know that he loved us. Anyway, its getting late and I hope to hear
from you soon. Sonny and I will be sending you those pictures. Take Care.
Subject: Mahlon Buckalew
Hello Irene and Sonny,
I was delighted to receive your emails. I knew your father well. We flew more
than 100 missions together, including perhaps a dozen that involved firefights.
On one of those, he saved our entire crew. But before I tell you about
that day, here are a few other thoughts and memories, in no particular order ...
Your dad was the Sergeant in charge of the enlisted door gunners on the armed
helicopters we flew. The average gunner was about 19 years old, somewhat crazy
and definitely hard to handle. More than a few of those guys were psychotic. But
every one of them would follow Sergeant Buck anywhere, anytime, without
hesitation. In 30 years in the Army, I never knew another NCO that had as much
respect from his soldiers.
Occasionally, I used to joke that what I most disliked about Vietnam was the
fact that I couldn't get up and go out for donuts. One morning, while we were on
a combat operation, miles from nowhere and living in tents in the woods,
Sergeant Buckalew brought me a dozen donuts, still hot and fresh from the oven.
He wouldn't say where, or how, he got them.
You mentioned that he had a Purple Heart. I'm almost certain he received it for
wounds suffered in Korea, including the scar on his face.
Your father's Silver Star made the front page of the Stars and Stripes, the
armed forces newspaper. It was the first awarded to a member fo the 281st
Assault Helicopter Company or the 10th Combat Aviation Battalion. That unit,
with a few thousand soldiers, had been in Vietnam for more than a year. Silver
Stars, and higher decorations, were truly rare.
On Sergeant Buck's last night in Vietnam, he stopped by my hooch. We downed a
couple of beers and he tried to thank me for writing the recommendation that got
him the Silver Star, but I didn't need that. I tried to thank him for saving my
life, but he wouldn't listen. Finally, we just polished off a few more beers and
enjoyed each other's company. That was the last time I saw him. For the last 36
years, there has not been one single day when he hasn't crossed my mind. I miss
Here's what happened, on just one of the missions he flew:
I was the pilot of our Huey gunship. The co-pilot was Ed Carty, who was killed
in a training accident about a year later. The crew chief (and left-side door
gunner) was a new guy flying his first mission, named Long. Lately, we've tried
to find him but haven't yet succeeded. Your father was the right-side door
Our mission was reconnaissance in an area called War Zone C, which was heavily
wooded and had no friendlies, but lots of bad guys. When we spotted a dirt road
through the trees with fresh tire tracks, I stupidly decided to fly down the
middle of it to try and find somebody to shoot. At an altitude of about 50 feet,
we came around a corner and there, about 100 yards in front of us, was a guy in
black pajamas with an AK-47. He started shooting, and we were on top of him
before anybody could return the fire. Something knocked my left arm off of the
controls, and I remember thinking that we had just taken a hit through the
cockpit. At about the same time, I saw muzzle flashes from man automatic weapon
in a foxhole on the right side of the road, maybe 75 feet away, which stopped
after a burst from Sergeant Buck's machine gun.
I began a turn to put some trees between us and the bad guy on the road, but the
stick jumped out of my hand and the we rolled inverted. The aircraft's hydraulic
system (like the power steering system on your car) had been hit and had failed.
At that point, we were out of control and upside down, 50 feet above the ground.
Your father had been standing on the skid, outside the helicopter. Suddenly, the
shooting stopped. I don't know how Ed Carty and I got the aircraft back
under control, but we managed somehow. I looked back to see if everybody was OK,
just in time to see your dad scramble back into the aircraft. He said he shot
the bad guy after we had "turned left." I looked back and saw the dude who shot
us, lying dead on the road. Mahlon Buckalew had just saved our lives.
Sergeant Buck was a stunning human being, and that's a fact. Recently, one of
his underlings, Bill Perren, said of him: "He was a hell of a warrior." He will
not be forgotten.
Maybe, we hope, some of his children will attend our next reunion. Any pictures
you might have will be most appreciated. But for your father's
breathtaking skill and courage, I wouldn't be here.
THOMAS P. (TOM) BUCKLEY
Tom deployed to Viet Nam with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company in 1965 and served as an armed helicopter pilot His Obituary follows:
Tom Buckley, 69, of Silver City, N.M. peacefully passed away of natural causes on April 11th in the Smoky Mountains National Park while pursuing his lifelong dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. By his own assertion, Tom led a full and vibrant life. He served in the US Army for 26 years, including two tours of duty in Vietnam and one in Korea. He was distinguished for heroic service as a helicopter pilot with the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. He further served as an Army Comptroller, earning a Master's Degree in Business Administration and CPA while on active duty. He retired as a Lt. Colonel and began a second career as an owner of a multistate distribution company in Houston, TX for 20 years.
When he retired to Silver City in 2006, he served as a stalwart volunteer in the local community. A quietly committed member of many community organization boards, he brought experience and energy to the Grant County Concert Series, the AARP Tax-aide program, the Grant County Pilot Association, the Senior Services Board, and the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP). Tom was a true master dabbler, language aficionado, and skilled handyman who was not afraid to jump on the roof to install a solar water heating system. As a life-long learner, he had widely varied interests including classical and gospel music, reading, flying, and dancing. He loved to travel, especially adventuring off the beaten path from Patagonia to the Arctic Circle, Europe to the Pacific Rim. And he loved to hike. He so valued the camaraderie and community on the trails, especially his buddies with whom he bushwhacked through the trails of Southern New Mexico and the "families" he hiked with for 235 miles along the Appalachian Trail.
Tom is survived by his loving wife, Mary Ann Buckley of Silver City, mother Louise, Brother David and his wife Pat, daughters Susan, Ellie and her partner Shelley, Kay and her husband Brian, Bonnie and her husband Joe, stepchildren Susy and Andy and his wife Shaira, and grandchildren Justin, Emily, and Andie. Donations can be made in his memory to the Grant County Community Concert Association P.O. Box 2722, Silver City, NM 88062 or the Continental Divide Alliance, 1200 Arapahoe Street, Golden CO, 80401. TRIBUTES From Ms. Tom Buckley
I cannot express how much these comments mean to me and Tom's daughters. It links all of us with a part of him that really formed his future life and none of us participated in. He did not talk a lot about his time in VN, but I knew bits and pieces, never really pushing the topic with him. However I did know of his poker savvy.
Tom really had a great spirit of adventure and I always felt that his desire to hike the Appalachian l was his need for another adventure challenge. While life in New Mexico was very good and he remained very active, I always thought there was a void in his spirit and that the AT help fill that. He had a real zeal for life and was always upbeat and positive. Each day with him was very special.
If you have the opportunity, please convey my appreciation for all those who took time to write their memories. This email really did bring me moments of peace and great pride during this very difficult period.
From: Lynn Coleman
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2011
I knew Tom very well. We were in the same Helicopter Q Course at Rucker in 1965 and joined the 281st at Benning in January 66. He was originally a Bandit pilot and was flying with Maj Garrett when they were shot down on Black Sunday in August of 66. He came over to the Wolf Pack after we left Tay Ninh and was with us at Khe San and was flying with me the day we lost Sulander's ship.
After we rotated back to the US we were together at Hunter for two years. After Hunter he went to Korea and I lost track of him. I made contact with him in the either 2003 or 2004 but he was not interested in renewing his ties with the 281st. He said tht he had some real problems with flash backs and didn't want to get involved. I lost contact with him again after he moved to New Mexico.
I was really shocked when I got Gary's phone call reporting his death. Lynn
From: Fred Phillips
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2011
I knew Tom Buckley well.
He was the best poker player in the 281st. Whenever we were out on a Delta operation, a couple of majors and several other officers had a serious game that ran whenever we weren't flying. Tom crushed it. Some months, his winnings would double or triple his pay.
He arrived in-country sometime in '66 and saw first serious combat in August, on Black Sunday, near Song Be. Tom and Ron Gaddis were flying the recovery slick when Ray Oksa and Curt Garrett got shot down while trying to pick up a Delta team that found itself in the middle of an NVA Battalion. Tom landed in the extremely confined LZ, picked up the crew and then hovered, backwards, into one corner of the LZ to get a long enough takeoff run to clear the trees. He did all that under fire from multiple automatic weapons, at a range of 50-100 meters. Magnificent.
When I went home couple of months later, he took my spot in the Wolfpack.
We've lost a really good guy and a great aviator.
BOBBY D. BUMBALOUGH
Bobby served in the 281st AHC in Vietnam and rose to the rank
of Specialist 5.
His internment was in the West Cemetery, Cookeville, Putnam
He shall not be forgotten.
From Jack Interstein:
He worked in Operations. Was a really terrific young man who was very helpful to a 19 year old JINT, when I first got to 281st. He did spend time in the FOB as operations man on the scene. Always wondered what happened to him. He taught to me to drive a jeep and had a lot patience with someone who had never driven a stick before. A real southern gentleman. R.I.P. Bobby!
SGT DAVID A. BUTCHER
Last known residence: 33549 Lutz, Hillsborough, FL.
SSAN Issued: West
Virginia or North Carolina.
David served in the 281st AHC as an Aircraft Maintenance NCO
SP4 JAMES L. BYERS