GARRETT, MAURICE EDWIN JR.

Name: Maurice Edwin Garrett, Jr.
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Army
Unit: Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 
17th Cavalry, 
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)                            

Date of Birth: 17 April 1946 (Sharon, PA)
Home of Record: Mercer, PA
Date of Loss: 22 October 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163701N 1065442E (YD033383)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Staus in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G "Cobra"
Other Personnel in Incident: Danny A Cowan (killed, remains recovered)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   The first Bell AH1G Cobra helicopter gunships arrived in Vietnam on 1 September 1967 and since it carried both guns and rockets, it was a major step forward in the development of the armed helicopter. The Cobra had enough speed to meet the escort mission perimeters, tandem seating, better armor, and a better weapons system than any previous helicopter of its day. By 1970-1, the Cobra's armament included the 2.75-inch rocket with a 17-pound warhead, the very effective 2.75-inch flachette rocket, and the SX-35 20mm cannon which made it a truly powerful aircraft.

On 22 October 1971, Capt. Maurice E. Garrett, Jr., pilot; and 1st Lt. Danny A. Cowan, co-pilot/gunner; comprised crew of an AH1G helicopter (serial #67-15752) conducting an armed reconnaissance mission over the rugged jungle covered mountains northeast of Khe Sanh with the intent to seek out and destroy all enemy activity found in their area of operation. This "Hunter-Killer team" consisted of two AH1G Cobras, one OH6A Loach and one UH1H Huey helicopters.

The team departed Quang Tri Airfield, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam and proceeded to the west-southwest. Capt. Garrett, who was the flight leader, instructed the other flight members to hold their positions on the eastern side of a ridgeline while he continued westward into an extremely long, narrow jungle covered valley running in a generally east-west direction to check the weather conditions that appeared marginal for team operations.

Approximately one minute after entering the valley, Capt. Garrett reported the conditions to be about 200 feet overcast, and continued his weather assessment flight. Roughly 5 minutes from the time he was last seen, Maurice Garrett reported he was canceling the mission due to poor weather, that he was in the clouds and would return to Quang Tri Airfield on instruments. He also gave instructions for the rest of the flight to return to base and to stay clear of his intended flight path.

Shortly after Capt. Garrett's last transmission, the Cobra apparently struck trees and continued for a short distance before crashing into the ground, then violently exploding. The remaining flight members were on site within minutes. They reported that the aircraft impacted and exploded with such force that the only large identifiable aircraft part found was a vertical fin with part of the serial number. Some parts of the cockpit section were also found and identified, but all were badly burned, smashed and scattered by the explosion. The location of loss was in rugged mountains approximately 2 miles south of the valley, 7 miles east-northeast of Khe Sanh and 15 miles southwest of Quang Tri City.

A search and rescue (SAR) team was immediately dispatched to the crash site. They were able to find and recover 1st Lt. Cowan's remains. However, they were unable to find any trace of Capt. Garrett. The opinion of the investigating team determined that the explosion was so great that it disintegrated the body of Maurice Garrett. Due to the intensity of enemy activity in this area, no other ground or aerial searches were possible. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, Maurice E. Garrett, Jr. was listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

While Maurice Garrett's fate seems in little doubt, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all possible. If he was thrown free by the crash only to be captured by the Communists his fate, like that of many other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.