HAVRANEK, MICHAEL WILLIAM

Name: Michael William Havranek 
Rank/Branch: Lance Corporal/US Marine Corps 
Unit: 3rd Company,
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion,
3rd Marine Division 

Date of Birth: 30 May 1948 (Lynch, NE)
Home of Record: Missoula, MT
Date of Loss: 11 June 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 165454N 1065530E (YD048689)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: CH46A "Sea Knight"
Other Personnel In Incident: Curtis R. Bohlscheid, Dennis Christie; Charles Chomel; Jose J. Gonzales; Thomas M. Hanratty; James W. Kooi; John J. Foley; Jim E. Moshier; John S. Oldham; James E. Widener (missing) 

REMARKS:  A/C CRASH-EXPLODED-NO SURVS OBS-J

SYNOPSIS:  The Boeing-Vertol CH46 Sea Knight arrived in Southeast Asia on 8 March 1966 and served the Marine Corps throughout the rest of the war. With a crew of three or four depending on mission requirements, the tandem-rotor transport helicopter could carry 24 fully equipped troops or 4600 pounds of cargo and was instrumental in moving Marines throughout South Vietnam, then supplying them accordingly.

On 11 June 1967, Capt. Curtis R. Bohlscheid, pilot; Major John S. Oldham, co-pilot; LCpl. Jose J. Gonzales, crewchief; and LCpl. Thomas M. Hanratty, door gunner; comprised the crew of the lead CH46A helicopter on a troop insertion mission. Cpl. Jim E. Moshier, LCpl. Dennis Christie, LCpl. James W. Kooi, LCpl. John J. Foley, LCpl. Michael W. Havranek, PFC Charles Chomel and PFC James E. Widener comprised half of the Marine reconnaissance team being inserted into a designated landing zone (LZ) on an intelligence gathering mission. A total of four aircraft were involved in the mission, two CH46's and two UH1E helicopter gunships that were providing air cover for the transports. The LZ was located in the rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 5 miles northwest of Firebase Vandergrift, 9 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and 11½ miles northwest of Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

At 1115 hours, the flight of four helicopters departed Dong Ha and proceeded without incident to the LZ. Before the Sea Knights landed, the gunships made low strafing passes over the landing zone to set off any booby traps that might have been placed there as well as to locate any enemy positions in the area. When no booby traps were sprung and no enemy fire was received, the lead aircraft then began its approach to the LZ. At an estimated altitude of 400-600 feet, the helicopter was observed to climb erratically in a manner similar to an aircraft commencing a loop. As those aboard the other helicopters watched in horror, portions of the rear rotor blades were seen to separate from the Sea Knight. At the same time Capt. Bohlscheid radioed that they had been hit by machinegun fire. The helicopter then rolled to an inverted position, burst into flames and continued out of control until it crashed into a steep ravine on the north side of a stream that ran through it.

Ground units subsequently entered the area to search for survivors or recover the remains of the dead if possible. Due to a well-entrenched and camouflaged enemy bunker complex surrounding the entire LZ and crash site location, the ground units could only inspect the site through binoculars from a distance of approximately 500 meters. During the brief time available to them, they observed no survivors in or around the aircraft wreckage. At the time the ground mission was terminated, all eleven Marines were listed Killed In Action, Body Not Recovered.

If the crew and passengers aboard the Sea Knight died in their loss incident, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. However, if they survived, they most certainly would have been captured due to the fact that a large number of enemy troops were actively operating in this region. 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 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.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight 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.