|Name:||John Robert Adams|
|Rank/Branch:||Sergeant First Class/US Army|
17th Aviation Group
|Date of Birth:||31 July 1946|
|Home of Record:||Chico, CA|
|Date of Loss:||08 November 1967|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||WO McKenna; SP4 Begay and WO Weaks (rescued)|
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
On 08 November 1967, WO McKenna, pilot; WO Weaks, co-pilot, then SP5 John R. Adams, crewchief; and SP4 Begay, door gunner; comprised the crew of a UH1C gunship that was providing air cover during a Special Forces insertion mission into the hotly contested jungle covered rolling mountains west of Dak To, South Vietnam. While circling the team that had already been inserted by another helicopter, the gunship began to lose engine power. Immediately WO McKenna looked for a place to land his aircraft. Failing to find a suitable landing zone, McKenna allowed the aircraft to settle tail first into the trees.
As the helicopter struck the trees, the tail boom snapped off, it spun around and came to rest facing upslope, caving in the front of the aircraft. WO McKenna and SP4 Begay exited the right side of the chopper, while WO Weaks and SP5 Adams exited the left. SP4 Begay suffered a broken leg, WO Weaks injured his right foot and SP5 Adams' arm was broken in the crash. John Adams also appeared to be in shock. Further, the helicopter did not explode or catch fire during this mishap.
The crashsite was located in forested rolling mountains approximately 3 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border and the same distance northeast of the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join. It was also 7 miles northwest of Dak Seang, 7 miles west of the Krong Poka River and 14 miles west-northwest of Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam.
The crew had barely exited the helicopter when they began receiving Viet Cong (VC) small arms fire. WO McKenna immediately radioed the other aircraft for help and was instructed to evacuate his crew to a small clearing for extraction. WO McKenna, who was not injured, assisted WO Weaks as they began to move away from the Huey and SP4 Begay did his best to drag John Adams with him. Because of his own injuries, SP4 Begay, was unable to carry John Adams and was forced to leave him in a slumped over position against some bushes located next to the helicopter. SP4 Begay continued on to the nearby extraction point with the others.
After making sure his co-pilot and door gunner were okay, WO McKenna returned to the crash site to retrieve SP5 Adams. As he approached John Adams' position, he saw 2 VC who appeared to be shooting at his crewchief. WO McKenna shot at the enemy soldiers, then lost his balance and fell down the slope to the creekbed below. About the same time, WO Weaks and SP4 Begay were being recovered by helicopter. A few minutes later WO McKenna was also extracted from the creekbed.
When last seen, John Adams was sitting slumped over next to some bushes outside the left cargo door of the Huey's wreckage. Subsequent search and rescue (SAR) operations were frustrated by VC activity in and around the crashsite. When it became apparent search personnel would not be able to enter the area, the Company Commander of the 189th Aviation Company ordered all rescue efforts terminated. Shortly thereafter the downed helicopter was destroyed to prevent the weapons and equipment from falling into enemy hands. At the time the search was terminated, SP5 Adams was listed Missing in Action.
There is no question that John Adams survived the Huey's crash and that the VC knew exactly where he was. The only question is did they capture him and remove him from the area before the wreckage was destroyed or did he die from friendly fire when the Huey was demolished? If John Adams survived, his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia could be quite different. Either way there is no question the Vietnamese could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.
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.
Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam were prepared 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.