Name: Donald Lynn Wann
Rank/Branch: Chief Warrant Officer 2/US Army                         
Unit: 158th Aviation Battalion,  160th Aviation Group, 
101st Airborne Division 

Date of Birth: 31 May 1937 (Kosoma, OK)
Home of Record: Shawnee, OK
Date of Loss: 01 June 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164107N 1064423E (XD855454)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G "Cobra"
Other Personnel in Incident: Paul G. Magers (missing)


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 1 June 1971, CW2 Donald L. Wann, aircraft commander; and 1st Lt. Paul Magers, pilot; comprised the crew of an AH1G Cobra gunship (tail #68-15002). The gunship was on a multi-aircraft extraction mission to recover members of a ranger team approximately 6 miles west-southwest of Thon Khe Xeng, 31 miles west-southwest of the city of Quang Tri, 23 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and 5 miles east of the Lao/Vietnamese border, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

After another helicopter successfully extracted the Ranger team from a landing zone (LZ), CW2 Wann and 1st Lt. Magers were to destroy ammunition left on the LZ. Donald Wann began his pass on the target from about 1500 feet above the ground. When the Cobra reached 40 feet, it started receiving anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire from a preciously undetected enemy AAA site. It was hit repeatedly in the underside and tail section of the aircraft. The Americans aboard the other aircraft saw the escaping fuel on fire near the gunship's fuel tank. They then saw the aircraft nose up gaining roughly 100 to 150 feet in altitude before it lost power, and airspeed as it began a clockwise spin. It then appeared to shudder as it started a vertical right descending turn in flames.

As the aircraft descended in a spiral motion, 6 calls were made to the gunship on both FM and UHF radio channels, but none of the calls were answered by CW2 Wann or 1st Lt. Magers. The aircraft crashed, exploded, and then slid approximately 100 feet down a steep hill before the ammunition on board started tearing apart what was left of the aircraft. All witnesses stated that they believed the crash to be non-survivable and the aircrew almost certainly dead. Both Paul Magers and Donald Wann were immediately listed Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.

While the fate of CW2 Wann and 1st Lt. Magers is in little doubt, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate 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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

American servicemen in Vietnam were called upon to operate 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.