"A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN"
SAMUEL M. WALL
"Birth: May 5, 1948
South Carolina, USA
Death: Mar. 17, 1983
South Carolina, USA
Vietnam Veteran of the U. S. Army, Private. His obituary appears in The Spartanburg Hearld Journal Obituary section on, March 19, 1983, on page B4. Services for SAMUEL MICHAEL WALL, 34, husband of MARYLN HUGHEY WALL [predeceased by his father, Samuel Reid Wall and his sister, Brenda Kay Wall; survived by his mother, Veola Wall, and his brother, Wayne Wall.]"
Colonel JAMES A. "JIM" WARREN
Captain James (Jim) Warren joined the 281st at Fort Benning and arrived in Vietnam aboard the troop ship.
Initially he was assigned to the Bandits as the Platoon Leader and OIC of the Project Delta task force.
Jim was one of the pioneers of the unit and he led the way for others. The Intruder family shall always remember him.
His obituary follows:
"COL. Warren was born November 8, 1936 in Statesville, North Carolina to the late Clyde and Maude (Pierce) Warren.
He graduated from North Carolina State and earned his commission in the United States Army.
COL. Warren proudly served his country during Vietnam as a Huey pilot.
Over the course of his 25 years of service, COL. Warren rose through the ranks and became highly decorated.
His awards and decorations include: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, 2 Meritorious Service Medals, 6 Army Commendation Medals, Combat Infantry Badge
and Master Aviation Wings. His memory and legacy will be treasured by all who knew him, but especially by his family:
son, Daniel Lee Warren, also of Hiawassee, son, James Michael Warren of Leavenworth,KS."
Steve Watson, a former 281st AHC INTRUDER, and member of the Wolf Pack during 1969-70 passed away on 11 Feb. 2002 in Bangkok Thailand. Before his death Steve flew helicopters in Thailand. His death was reported by Bob Moberg who knew him in Thailand. Steve is remembered by many former intruders especially those of the Wolf Pack and the Bandit Platoon with whom he worked closely. Bob Mitchell recalls that " Steve was a great pilot who covered him on numerous insertions and extractions".
Steve is remembered by Jim Holt, his platoon leader in the 281st AHC. "As Steve's platoon leader during 69/70, I can affirm that he was one of the most dedicated men I have ever known.
He was brave, adventurous, and patriotic. He never hesitated in accepting a mission, and often volunteered for most. Steve and Stobe usually worked as a team, and together they performed their duties with professionalism and courage. Perhaps the most striking thing I remember about Steve was his enthusiasm, smile, and willingness to serve. Our country, and our unit should be proud of this great American soldier, who was my friend and fellow aviator. I know all of Wolf Pack will think of him often, and remember him with love and affection.
James R. "Pappy" Holt "WolfPack 36" 4/69-4/70
LARRY W. WEBB
Larry was born on 3 April 1948 in Alabama and died in Alabama on 2 July 1995 . He served in Viet Nam with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company as a Specialist 4th Class.
Larry Webb is interred at Moton Hill Cemetery, Leeds, Jefferson County, Alabama.
He will not be forgotten.
JOHN R. WEHR
John Wehr served in the 281st AHC from 11 / 67 until 11 / 68 as the commander on the Bandit Platoon. (Bandit 26). During his tour of duty he was responsible for training, and leading aviators and crew members flying combat missions in support of the long range reconnaissance units of the 5th Special Forces Group. John was recognized as an outstanding leader of men and an accomplished aviator. He shall be missed, but always remembered. His obituary follows:
LTC John R. Wehr, USA, Ret., age 74, entered into rest on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. John was born on July 27, 1944 in San Luis Obispo, California to the late Edward John Wehr and Betty Gretter Wehr. LTC Wehr proudly served in the United States Army for nearly 24 years where he was a helicopter pilot. He served two tours in Vietnam and received numerous commendations- including the Distinguished Flying Cross- with three OLC (Distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight), Bronze Star Medal-1 OLC (Heroic or meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone), Defense Meritorious Service Medal-1 OLC (The third-highest award that the Department of Defense issues, and is awarded to those who distinguish themselves though non-combat meritorious service or achievement, in a joint capacity), and the Army Commendation Medal- 3 OLC (Distinguishes himself by an act of heroism, extraordinary achievement, or meritorious service which has been of mutual benefit to a friendly nation and the United States.) A true soldier and leader, LTC Wehr was humble, valiant, and selfless. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 48 years, Billie L. Wehr; his son and daughter in law, John R. Wehr II and Ashley of Grovetown; and his feline companion, Garfield. He was loved and adored as “Pa” by his two year old grandson, John Hudson “Huddy” Wehr III and his one year old granddaughter, Charlotte Harper Wehr. He is also survived by many friends including his buddies at the Smokehouse Hunting Club. A celebration of John’s life will take place at 2:00 P.M. Sunday, December 9, 2018 in the chapel of Platt’s Funeral Home Belair Road. Pastor Ron Fearneyhough will officiate. Full military honors will be rendered. Interment will be private.
Jack Mayhew, Intruder 06:
John Wehr was the right guy with the right attitude to command the Bandit platoon in combat. John was a skilled pilot who was not afraid to take it to the bad guys. However, he was smart, and never let his men take unnecessary chances. John was my right arm during Delta operations, and with Fred Mentzer on the other arm I was a lucky commander with a team that knew what they were doing and did it with great skill. If I were to rank John with all the commanders I worked with in my career I would put him at the top of the list. John was a leader and always willing to be the point man. Over the past years, I have spoken to numerous crew members about their service in the 281st and to a man, those who served in John’s platoon speak highly of his leadership and his care for his troops. When Will McCollum wrote “Above the Best,” he asks John to write the forward for the book; here is how he remembers the Intruders he served with: Rest in piece my dear friend.
A 281st BANDIT PLATOON LEADER REMEMBERS:
In my judgment, the pilots and crews of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company were like the knights of old. They went out day after day, singly or in twos and threes, to hold the battlefield against all comers and to do battle in defense of the Fifth Special Forces and its long-range reconnaissance unit, Detachment B-52, Project Delta. Pilots and aircrews felt they were invincible. Single-ship missions were done without support. The life of each man depended on his own skill while working in harmony with the skills of the rest of the crew against the enemy. A single-ship insertion into a jungle hole was a result of collective mission planning between the Project Delta Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team leader and the aircrews. The teamwork for the organizing, planning, equipping, operations, rehearsals, briefings, and execution of this precision mission made the difference between failure and success. This process drove a bond of close relationships, cohesion, accountability, and ownership for a Project Delta LRRP team during its various stages of operation.
Pilots and aircrews followed the daily movement of their inserted LRRP team and were prepared to extract the assigned team under any conditions, day or night. In the process of an emergency extraction, a few sets of rotor blades might be lost, but the LRRP teams came home safely, ready for another day of work. In summary, I did not find this bond of cohesion and trust between the foot soldiers and Army aviation in other units in which I served. Each act of valor I witnessed went so far beyond human comprehension that no one could really explain it, not even those who had served in battle and were involved in the events.
Today, 46 years later, I find these acts of sacrifice so profound that I am somewhat uneasy with the commonness of my own humanity. The 281st certainly did personify the ideals and virtues of Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. The battlefield and the strategic environment changed as the 281st moved into the Delta, Central Delta, Central Highlands, and A Shau Valley, but the character of the unit did not. On many occasions, the 281st displayed immeasurable loyalty and courage under the most harrowing conditions. As I recall, when the 281st was fighting in the A-Shau Valley, aircrews risked their lives repeatedly during insertions, extractions, combat assaults and evacuation of the wounded and dead. The 281st became the LRRP's and reaction forces' only connection to the world outside the bloody battleground.
During one particular tactical emergency, many aircrews flew again and again through a barrage of antiaircraft and small arms fire to support Project Delta. "I was there as a Platoon Leader. I witnessed the events that unfolded while flying helicopter tail number 113, with Ken Smith as co-pilot, Jay Hays as crew chief and Ron De Leon as gunner." Those twin sixties fabricated by Jay Hays saved us. They barked with distinction, providing suppressive fire time and again. I never did ask Jay where he had obtained the extra M-60 machine guns. Someday I will. The modification and neat floor mike switches that Jay fabricated allowed Jay and Ron to keep those machine guns firing while talking to the pilots about the grave situation. Other aircrews and number 113 went many times into this single-ship, hot-landing zone ( LZ) while withstanding a gauntlet of automatic weapons fire. Ship 113 went out, again and again, to assist an aircraft that had been shot down or shot up with wounded on board. We sucked it in and went to deliver ground forces or extract wounded, downed crews or to rescue a maintenance rigging crew. Unfortunately, some made the ultimate sacrifice, and others were wounded. Heroism was reflected in physical courage, deep moral conviction, and the stamina to continue the fight.
Indeed, the legacy of the 281st is a story of a remarkable, unyielding spirit and uncompromisingly fierce defiance in the face of death and a determined enemy. I clearly remember the many acts of valor of this unit and the courage and sacrifice of the pilots and crews who fought and served with a one-of-a-kind aviation unit in Vietnam, the 281st. Today and always, my heart, mind, and soul are with the 281st because this Army Aviation Unit was the best of the best and flew above the best. There were no "we can't" words spoken by the pilots and aircrews of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company.
LTC. John Wehr,
U.S. Army, Retired
We had two "John Wehrs" in the 281st; I wish I had of know both of them. I talked to Colonel Wehr when I was seeking information and stories for our first book "Above The Best." We had a great conversation (about 40 minutes.) I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he grew up just down the road and had made numerous trips to Waterloo, Iowa. I asked him if he ever came back for a visit; he said: "yes, but only in the summertime." He wrote the foreword for our book, and what a great story it is.
From Ken Smith:
John was a great leader. The Bandits loved him. He was a guy that lead from the front. He was my friend my mentor & my teacher. The Bandits declared him an honorary “WOEGEE” with WO1 bars as Captain Tracks. He kept the plaque on the wall at his home. We gave him this plaque at his outrageous going away party in downtown Nha Trang.
John Wehr Rest In Peace my dear friend. I will never forget you heroism, you great skills as a pilot and your ability to lead men and mentor your troops. The best RLO I ever knew or served with. He wasn’t from Texas or the West, but he deserved the “Cowboy” name he adopted.
As long as I live, I will never forget the terror he struck in me as a young PP when he got permission from the USAF tower at Nha Trang Airfield to fly the length of the active runway in a "V of three" formation and we overlapped rotor blades for the entire length of the strip.
I was WP plt ldr while John had Bandit plt. He and I spent much time together both on the ground and flying missions. He was everything a platoon leader should be. He was easy to communicate with and, as someone said previously, he led from the front.
I spoke with John several times over recent years; we had some good laughs. My last conversation with John was prior to Gettysburg when he told me he would not be attending but planned on making the SAT reunion.
We lost another terrific Intruder this week. RIP, John Wehr!
Warrant Officer Frank Welch served his second tour with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company in the Republic of South Vietnam in 1970 as a UH-1 "slick" pilot. He remained with the 281st until it was deactivated. Frank served his first Vietnam tour as an enlisted specialist with the 5th Special Forces Group.
Sometime after his return to the USA, after his second tour, he reverted to his former enlisted status and became a member and then team leader (E-7) of the famous U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration team at Ft. Bragg, NC. On the morning of 8 March 1973, SFC Welch lost his life in the crash of the Golden Knights C-47 aircraft. Fred Funk, also a former member of the 281st AHC, recalls that he had been conversing with Frank at the Ft. Bragg Special Operations Hangar at Simmons Army Air Field on the morning the tragedy occurred. Fred relates that there were a
total of four teams, 18 parachutists, loaded on the aircraft on their way to a three-day parachute demonstration. The C-47 took off disappearing into rain and fog in minimal flying conditions. Within the hour word was received that the aircraft had crashed near Silar City, NC. There were no survivors.
The cause of the crash was that it reportedly exceeded the weight and balance limits due to a heavy metal plating that was installed in the aircraft floor during Vietnam service. The heavy plating's weight was never logged into the weight and balance data for the aircraft. Michael Johnson, another 281st AHC member, also contributed to this memorial.
THOMAS JAMES WEST, Sr.
Thomas James West, Sr., 62 of Port Orchard, Washington died in Bremerton, Washington on April 20, 2007. He was born November 24, 1944 in Tacoma, Washington to Malcolm James & Mable Opal Inez (Smith) West. Tom retired after 30 years with U.S. West Communication. He served in the US Army from 1962 to 1968 and was a member of the 82nd Airborne in German, also serving a tour of duty in South Vietnam. He was a member of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company, which supported Special Operations Missions of the 5th Special Forces Group. Tom was a member of Disabled Veterans of American and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Pearl; and beloved sons Thomas, Jr., James, David and wife Kristin.
Funeral services at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington with military honors were held on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm.
Dear Family and Friends:
This is a very difficult letter that I could ever write and send to you. My Husband Tom West passed away last Friday, April 20, 2007. For those of you who do not know, Tom suffered a very long time with Heart Disease and Diabetes. Tom was a Wonderful Man who had been a very active person, very much a people person, loved humor, camping, fishing, and golf. He loved his trip last summer through Canada and Alaska. Which he had hoped to be able to do again in June. Most of all Tom loved his family, friends and the many people that he met throughout his lifetime. You have All Enriched his life and I Thank You All for Having been a part of His Life. If you know of anyone that knew Tom, would you let them know, as there are many friends that I may have Forgotten on this list. I am not thinking very clearly right now, and would appreciate your help.
Tom was a Disabled Veteran and was buried in the Tahoma National Cemetery. And there were Military Funeral Honors Service for Tom on Wednesday, May 2, at the Tahoma National Cemetery in the Kent/Covington area that is bordering Maple Valley near Highway 18.
Thank you All.
Pearl, Tom JR, Jim, Dave and Kristin (Dave's Wife)
From LaRie and Bob Hamilton:
Tom West was a great person who could make you laugh and even though he knew he had but a little time left on this earth he was determined to make the best of it show his friends he cared and always smile. That and his love of life were his trade Marks. He had a love of life yet had just as many things going on with health and life as the rest of us. His attitude I can only hope to have when told you only have a few months to live. Tom loved the 281st and was a quitet person. I wanted to say good bye to him in this special way as he was special and spent a great deal of time with me at the last reunion. To me he was one of those special brothers who watched after you yet didn’t let you know he was at the time. He loved family and I don't believe I ever seen him without a smile.
WO KENNETH FRANCIS WILSON
WO Wilson served in the 281st AHC as an aviator in the 1st platoon from January until August of 1967. He shall be remembered by the Intruder Family.
His Obituary from the VHPA follows:
“Kenneth Francis Wilson – Flight Class 66-17 and 66-19, flew with the 281st AHC in 1967 and the 61st AHC in 1969.
Kenneth Francis Wilson, 64 died at home on April 11, 2011after a short bout with lung cancer. Ken was a member of class 66-17 and 66-19, and was a member of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company in Nah Trang in 1967. After a year as an IP at Fort Rucker, he attended the Maintenance Officers and Test Pilots Course. He returned to Viet Nam
In 1969 and flew with the 61st AHC. After leaving the Army in 1970, he attended the University of Washington graduating in 1973 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He retired from a career in engineering working in cryogenic and vacuum engineering applications. He resided in Columbus, Ohio with his wife of 20 years, Nancy. Also surviving are two children and two stepchildren. According to his wishes he was cremated and his ashes were spread over Lake Washington in Seattle Washington.”
WILLIAM O. WILSON
Interred in the Batson Cemetery , Millville, Indiana. Findagrave.com.
Last known address: 847 W State Road 38, New Castle, Indiana 47362-9703.
Possible telephone # 765-529-7252
THOMAS H. WINGFIELD