HOUSH, ANTHONY FRANK “TONY”

Name:  Anthony Frank “Tony” Housh
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army
Unit:  Company B,
228th Aviation Battalion (Assault Support Helicopter),
11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division
Date of Birth: 26 June 1946 (Decatur, IL)
Home of Record: Newton, IL
Date of Loss: 19 April 1968
Country of Loss:  South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates:  161918N 1070921E (YD291087)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: CH47A “Chinook”

Other Personnel in Incident:

REMARKS:
 

SYNOPSIS:The Boeing Vertol CH47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter arrived in Southeast Asia in September 1965 and could carry almost anything. Airlifting troops, supplies, artillery pieces and field equipment were routine tasks for “The Hook.” More important, with its two Lycoming T-55-L-7 turboshaft engines offering 4,400shp, it could salvage downed aircraft and return them for repair. Few helicopters were as powerful or as versatile as the Chinook.

The A Shau Valley was one of two vital communist strategic areas in South Vietnam. Surrounded by exceptionally rugged mountains many with sheer cliff faces, the valley was located in western Thua Thien Province approximately 5 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border. The long, narrow 25-mile triangular shaped valley, which was covered in jungle, 15 to 20-foot high elephant grass and bamboo groves was an extension of the Ho Chi Minh Trail funneling troops and supplies into the acknowledged war zone.

Route 548 was a well traveled road that ran nearly dead center through the valley. It was cleverly concealed and had established bridges over the streams as well as Binh Trams - roadside rest stops with overhead cover that were used for vehicle maintenance, supply depots, etc. The NVA had also constructed a gasoline pipeline running adjacent to the road. At the northern end of the valley was the major NVA staging area known as “Base Area 611.” Because of the valley’s importance to the communists plan for victory, the A Shau was ringed by one of the most sophisticated interlocking anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) battery systems devised to date. Further, at any given time the enemy garrisoned 5,000 to 6,000 troops within their valley stronghold.

Operation Delaware/Lam Son 216 was a joint mission launched to reestablish an American and South Vietnamese presence in the A Shau Valley. To that end on 10 April 1968, a 9-day air campaign to “soften up” the valley in advance of the planned assault began with 21 B-52 air strikes and 209 Air Force and Marine fighter sorties along with artillery barrages that pummeled enemy positions.

At 0930 hours on 19 April 1968, the main assault to establish a fire base on the top of a 3,580-foot ridge on the northwest edge of the A Shau lifted off from a marshalling point located just southwest of Camp Evans. Landing Zone (LZ) Tiger would command the approach into the northern end of the valley from the west. The entire flight, which included 40 lift helicopters and 8 supporting gunships, was forced to climb to 6,000 feet in order to fly over the clouds and descend one at a time into the valley through holes in the overcast. In spite of the heavy bombardment leading up to the assault, each aircraft approaching LZ Tiger ran a gauntlet of withering ground fire ranging from small arms and automatic weapons to .50 caliber machine guns and radar controlled 37mm AAA fire.

Ultimately the decision was made to establish a second LZ Tiger approximately 900 feet below the first with original one known as LZ Tiger Upper and the second as LZ Tiger Lower. Interestingly, the exact location of each was determined by the placement of bomb craters. This situation also contributed to the placement of Signal Hill, Vicky, Pepper, A Luoi, Stallion, Goodman and Cecil, the other fire base/landing zones that were established as part of Operation Delaware.

On 19 April, then SP6 Anthony F. “Tony” Housh, flight engineer; and SP5 Michael J. “Mike” Wallace, crew chief; were part of the 5-man aircrew onboard a CH47A helicopter (serial #66-19063) that was conducting a mid-day supply mission. The Chinook was transporting a sling-loaded 105mm howitzer to LZ Tiger.

At approximately 1300 hours, the helicopter descended through the overcast and was on its initial approach to the landing zone when it was struck by enemy ground fire, caught fire and began to burn. As the Chinook continued toward the ground, the fire spread from aft to front. When the Chinook was roughly 100 to 150 feet above the ground, the gunner saw Tony Housh and Mike Wallace jump from the crippled aircraft into the jungle below. Within seconds the aircraft crash landed a short distance away. The three men who stayed aboard were rescued by another helicopter.

The aircraft commander, pilot and door gunner stated in their after action report that at no time after the two men jumped did they see or hear from them again. A brief visual and electronic search was conducted, but when no trace of them was found, Tony Housh and Mike Wallace were declared Missing in Action.

Beginning in 1992, several joint US/Vietnamese teams under the auspices of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) traveled to the A Shau Valley, A Luoi District, Thua Thien Province to investigate several losses, including that of the Chinook. They interviewed several witnesses who possessed firsthand and hearsay information about case. They also traveled to the site of the official loss coordinates in Hong Van Village, but found no evidence of a crash site, remains or personal effects of the missing crewmen.

If Tony Housh and Mike Wallace died as a result of the loss of their helicopter, each man has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. However, if they were able to survive the fall when they jumped from their crippled helicopter, they could have been captured by NVA troops openly operating throughout the region and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, 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.

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

During Operation Delaware/Lam Son 216 enemy gunners damaged 25 helicopters including 10 that were shot down. Of those 10 losses, 4 were lost within 5 kilometers of each other and had aircrews or a passenger declared POW/MIA.