Remains Returned 00 February 1993; Identified 15 February 1994
Name: John Wesley Frink 
Rank/Branch: Warrant Officer/US Army 
Unit: F Troop, 8th Cavalry, 
196th Infantry Brigade 

Date of Birth: 07 November 1945
Home of Record: Albuquerque, NM
Date of Loss: 02 April 1972 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 165022N 1070455E (YD218628) 
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: Ronald P. Paschall and Byron K. Kulland; (missing), Jose M. Astorga (Returned POW)). 


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 the afternoon of 2 April 1972 an EB66E aircraft with a crew of 6, call sign "Bat 21", was shot down while on a pathfinder escort mission for a cell of B52s who were conducting a bombing mission near the DMZ. One member of that crew, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton, was able to establish voice communication with other flight members almost immediately.

The location of loss was in the populated and hotly contested generally flat jungle approximately 1 mile north of Firebase Vandegrift, 2 miles north of Highway 9 and 5 miles west of Highway 1 with rugged mountains 4 miles to the west and open fields 2 miles to the east. It also placed the downed aircraft 6 miles northwest of Dong Ha, 12 miles south of the DMZ, 14 miles northwest of Quang Tri City and 20 miles northeast of Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

A nearby Army search and rescue (SAR) team that consisted of two UH1H Huey slicks and two AH1G Cobra gunships was dispatched to attempt to rescue Col. Hambleton. The crew of one of the Huey's was comprised of 1Lt. Byron K. Kulland, pilot; WO John W. Frink, co-pilot; SP5 Ronald P. Paschall, crew chief; and SP4 Jose Astorga, door gunner.

The SAR aircraft approached the location where Iceal Hambleton was hiding just before dark. One of the gunships flew at 300 feet above the ground to provide air cover for the other helicopters that were flying at only 50 feet. Just after flying over some huts nestled near the tree line and over a clearing, the helicopters encountered heavy and accurate enemy ground fire. The result was two of the helicopters, one Cobra and one Huey, were shot down.

SAR efforts rapidly shifted gear to include searching for both downed helicopter crews. The two-man crew of the gunship, call sign "Blue Ghost 28," were able to successfully crash-land the Cobra and make their way to secure location nearby. Shortly thereafter, they made radio contact with other members of their flight and were rescued. During their debriefing, the gunship crew reported they never saw the other downed helicopter or any of its crew.

Other witnesses reported seeing the Huey trailing smoke as it descended toward the ground. Its burning wreckage was over flown by the remaining SAR aircraft. They attempted to make radio contact with the downed aircrew, but were not able to do so. As they hovered above the Huey to visually inspect it, they saw no trace of survivors in the wreckage or around the crash site. At the time this portion of the search operation was terminated, Byron Kulland, John Frink, Ronald Paschall and Jose Astorga were immediately listed Missing in Action.

SP4 Astorga was wounded by ground fire in the chest and knee, which caused him to loose consciousness. He came to after the aircraft crashed. According to the door gunner, Byron Kulland and John Frink were still strapped in their seats. WO Kulland was either unconscious or dead, and WO Frink was conscious, as was SP5 Paschall. All three crewmen were pinned inside the wreckage.

WO Frink threw two survival vests to Jose Astorga, told him to exit the aircraft and that everybody else would have to be left. Rather than leaving, SP4 Astorga worked as rapidly as possible within the limits of his own wounds to free Ronald Paschall, who was the easiest of the trapped men for him to reach. As communist troops moved closer to t |‰‡èöòëúöíýöëüøæ÷óìÿüåøõìÿÿq†„'$        êüï1D;DVUH[bBTe2EZ.CY(?U,DV&>J&D*=@*9;,.#"                           %$ &, $$&                2?=ÔâÞè÷óñÿúçøôçøôîÿþâõòíÿÿÐåãDWT#        åùí6KCL`aI\c?Ra6J\8K`/EW3JY,CK*>C)=>#24$&!!"                                "! %+ %$&                     -+ºÈÄçöòîþ÷æ÷óêû÷ëþûáôñêÿýãøör…‚/*      èýô;RJPdeJ]e?Ra9M_;Oa3GX3IU-CI*=@(:9-, ''#!                                    "(##%                  "      !•£Ÿçöòêúóæ÷óîÿûçú÷áôñçüúåúø—ª§#72!        ëÿú?VQShjK^f?Ra=Na?Pc5HW2FQ-AF+=>'76)(!$..&$!                              "          %+ "'%(        $'(+#&     o}yè÷óç÷ðçøôðÿýä÷ôáôñåúøâ÷õ£¶³1,       äûöD[WQfhCX`BUd7IZ1CT7GW=PX2EH%76-*%#!!#&!))#!                           $ #        &,%*+.            !$$'$& "         " 9GCÞíéãóìñÿþéúöçú÷ïÿÿÛðîãøöOb_$83      áøó@XVNdiCX`CVe:L]6FW:JW3EL+