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Specialist 5th Class, Combat Aviation Crew Chief
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Jacksonville, Florida
Born: May 7, 1948
Tour of duty began September 30, 1968
Killed in action on February 14, 1970 in
in Khanh Hoa, South Vietnam due to
helicopter crash of unknown cause.

1stAB Army Aviator

guidon Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

Michael Hughey Michael Allen Hughey was the crew chief on board UH-1H 66-17127 when the helicopter crashed during the conduct of a “Sniffer” Mission, run out of Nha Trang, South Vietnam killing the four 281st crew members and two Special Forces equipment operators. The 281st lost Warrant Officer Duke Payne, Aircraft Commander, Warrant Officer Thomas Guenther, Pilot, and Specialist 5 Mike Hughey, Crew Chief, and SGT Bobby Brewer, Door Gunner. A summary of the accident follows:

The 281st  Helicopter, UH-1H, SN: 66-17127 was performing a combat aviation support mission for the 5th Special Forces Group using an Airborne Personnel Detector (SNIFFER) in the vicinity of Dong Bo Mountain, 4 Nautical Miles Southwest of Nha Trang, RVN. The aircraft carried six personnel on board; four aircraft crew members and two Special Forces soldiers operating the SNIFFER machine. At 1000 hours Army Aircraft 67-17127 took off from Nha Trang AAF enroute to its mission on Dong Bo Mountain. Its mission was to fly 50 Feet above the trees at 70 knots so that the SNIFFER machine could detect any smoke in the area.

The lead gunship, piloted by WO1 Gardner and 1LT McKeegan, was approximately 100 meters behind 66-17127. Based on their observations, the aircraft may have had an equipment failure causing the aircraft to assume a nose low attitude which resulted in loss of altitude and impact into the trees. The aircraft had a very slow airspeed and low rotor RPM when it struck the trees, rolled to the ground and exploded.

Following the explosion SP4 Johnson, the Door Gunner on the Command Ship, was lowered to the ground, near the crash site. There was no sign of life and SP4 Johnson was recovered from the area. All of the individuals on board the helicopter were recovered and returned for burial.

The aircraft crash was classified as a non-hostile incident in that neither ground fire or hostile forces were observed in the area.

Michael Hughey and his fellow crew members shall not be forgotten by the 281st AHC Flight.



huey sunrise

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