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CPL Kenneth Lloyd Crody HMM-165 KIA 11 July 72

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  • CPL Kenneth Lloyd Crody HMM-165 KIA 11 July 72

    Kenneth Lloyd Crody
    HMM-165, MAG-36, 1ST MAW
    United States Marine Corps
    03 August 1953 - 11 July 1972
    Griffith, IN
    Panel 01W Line 055

    CPL Kenneth Crody was assigned as a door gunner with HMM-165 embarked in USS TRIPOLI (LPH 10).
    On the morning of July 11, 1972, Crody's CH-53D helicopter launched from the USS TRIPOLI to insert South Vietnamese Marines behind enemy lines near Communist-occupied Quang Tri City, Republic of Vietnam. The CH-53 carried 50 Vietnamese Marines, an American crew of five and a combat photographer from BLT 1/9.

    While approaching the drop zone and while still 100 feet above the ground, the helicopter was struck in the starboard engine by a heat-seeking SA-7 missile. The detonation of the SA-7ís 5.5 pound warhead in the helicopterís starboard engine sent engine turbine fragments into the passenger compartment. The pilot autorotated the flaming aircraft to the ground in a controlled "crash and burn" procedure. Two crewmembers were killed outright and a third seriously injured. Most of the Vietnamese troops on board were killed, with only seven returning to friendly lines. The helicopter was completely destroyed by fire and the detonation of ammunition carried by the Vietnamese. The surviving Americans took shelter in a nearby bomb crater and hunkered down as the wreckage cooled and NVA soldiers poked through the remains.

    At dusk, a Vietnamese Marine patrol located them and brought them to friendly lines. American Army helicopters returned them to their ship.

    Three crewmen died as a result of the crash:

    CPL Kennth L Crody (died outright, body not recovered)
    SSGT Jerry Wayne Hendrix (died outright, body not recovered)
    SSGT Clyde K Nelson (rescued, died of wounds 09 August 1972)

    Photo from from Personnel Missing -- Southeast Asia
    (PMSEA Database) files
    Attached Files
    Last edited by GEORGE CURTIS; 01-17-2003, 23:18.
    Semper Fidelis

    George T. Curtis

  • #2

    This was very unluckly crew as they had just pasted behind a sorba prior to being hit. the two gunners killed outright from fragments of the engine I guess. SSgt Nelson was badly burned frpm JP as he tried to exied the acft and died from those burns in the states. Sgt Cox the crew chief was medvaced to the states die to his wounds. not sure what happed to the photog? Pilot and CoPilot kelpt flying as memory serves me.
    Additionallly that acft had just been brought back into combat status by long hard work of the 53 crew a few days before.
    top A


    • #3
      FYI from Declassified files

      On 11 July 1972, as part of Lam Son 719 Phase II, a total of 34 US Marine helicopters and their aircrews participated in a major troop insertion operation into to LZ Blue Jay and LZ Crow. These landing zones were located close together in a densely populated and hotly contested sector of northeastern I Corps approximately 2 miles southwest of the coastline, 6 miles north-northeast of Quang Tri City and 11 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. Numerous hamlets and villages dotted the coastal plain to the north, south and west of the LZs while marshes with scattered rice fields were located to the east of them. The Dam Cho Chua River, which was a major tributary that branched off of the Cua Viet River, flowed roughly ľ mile west of the planned landing zones and Highway 560 was located Ĺ mile west of them.

      The aircrews were assigned to either HMM-164 from the USS Okinawa or HMM-165 from the USS Tripoli, and the Americans were transporting a total of 840 Vietnamese Marines, who were assigned to the 1st Vietnamese Marine Battalion, along with their equipment, rations and 12,000 rounds of ammunition. The troop carriers, which totaled one half of all helicopters participating in this mission, were protected by AH-1G Cobra and UH1H Huey gunships.

      SSgt. Clyde K. Nelson, crewchief; SSgt. Jerry W. Hendrix, door gunner; Cpl. Kenneth L. Crody, door gunner, and an unidentified pilot and co-pilot; comprised the crew of a CH-53D helicopter (serial #156658) assigned to the USS Tripoli. Also onboard this aircraft was a US Marine combat photographer from Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 1st Battalion, 9th Marines and 50 Vietnamese Marines.

      After picking up the Vietnamese troops and their gear, all aircraft proceeded toward LZ Blue Jay and LZ Crow in an assault formation. Before the troop transports arrived onsite, the entrenched NVA positions surrounding the designated landing zones were subjected to an intense barrage from artillery and air attacks. Once the barrage was lifted, the Cobra and Huey gunships fired upon any visible enemy position while the Sea Stallions raced toward the LZs to unload their passengers.

      As the transports approached the their respective LZs, they came under intense NVA ground fire from entrenched bunkers and firing pits. The vulnerable Sea Stallions were exposed to an intense crossfire from small arms, heavy weapons, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and missiles.

      As the battle raged around them, the helicopter that was crewed by Kenneth Crody, Jerry Hendrix and Clyde Nelson, approached the LZ. The pilot flared it, then descended toward the landing zone. When the Sea Stallion reached an altitude of 100 feet above the ground, the well-armed communist forces fired a ground-to-air missile at the vulnerable aircraft. The missile, which was either a SA-2 or an SA-7, struck it in its right power plant sending engine turbine fragments down and forward into the passenger compartment devastating its occupants and igniting fuel and ammunition. The pilot auto-rotated the flaming aircraft to the ground in a controlled "crash and burn" procedure. As he did so, the heat and fire continued to ignite more ammunition causing a series of explosions within the fuselage. As soon as the helicopter touched down, only a few surviving crewmen and passengers were able to escape the intense inferno.

      According to witnesses, Jerry Hendrix, Kenneth Crody and the majority of the Vietnamese Marines were killed outright and their remains incinerated in the fire that literally consumed the Sea Stallion. Once on the ground Clyde Nelson was on fire as he exited the helicopter's wreckage. The pilot and co-pilot, who were already out of the burning hulk, put the fire out and then pulled him into the relative safety of a nearby bomb crater. The combat photographer and 7 passengers were the only other survivors of this incident.

      The seven Vietnamese Marines successfully escaped and evaded enemy forces to reach the safety of friendly lines. The four Americans stayed together in the bomb crater. As the battle continued all around them, the Sea Stallion's wreckage burned until very little of it was left. When the wreckage cooled sufficiently, the Americans watched NVA troops poke through the twisted wreckage and ashes. Fortunately, their hiding place remained undetected.

      At dusk a Vietnamese Marine search and rescue (SAR) patrol successfully reached the bomb crater. After treating their wounds, the Marines transported the Americans to friendly lines. Afterward, a US Army medivac helicopter evacuated Clyde Nelson to an American hospital and the pilot, co-pilot and combat photographer to their ship. Later SSgt. Nelson was moved to a special burn unit where he died of his injuries on 9 August 1972. At the time of loss, Kenneth Crody and Jerry Hendrix were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
      Attached Files
      Semper Fidelis

      George T. Curtis


      • #4
        cpl. kenneth crody,mia

        On may 11th, 2004 I was informed by the family of cpl.Crody that his remains had been positively Identified within the last 10 days by DNA testing.
        He will find his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.
        Cpl Kenneth Crody is listed on our Griffith Indiana war memorial as MIA.
        On this memorial day I will have a a wreath placed on the monument by one of the Marine Viet-Nam Veterans from my Post and also speak of Cpl. Crody during my Memorial day speech.
        Never forget those that gave their all, and God bless those that returned home.
        Darrell C. Luedtke
        Commander, Griffith Indiana VFW Post 9982


        • #5
          Closure after 32 years

          Remains of local Vietnam vet finally identified, returned for proper burial.

          Times Staff Writer

          The name of Kenneth L. Crody is chiseled into Griffith's War Memorial as "missing in action" since 1972.

          He's not missing anymore.

          After 32 years buried under foreign soil, the U.S. Marine corporal's remains were excavated from South Vietnam on Aug. 29, 2000.

          Crody's tiny, fragmented skeletal remains were finally identified April 23 of this year, along with remnants of some personal items -- his double-edge razor, nail clippers, part of a comb, part of his watch and a standard, military-issued fork and can opener.

          And his dog tag. The only thing left intact.

          The Griffith teenager was three weeks from his 19th birthday when he died.

          'Don't worry, Mom'

          On the morning of July 11, 1972, Crody was flying in a CH-53D helicopter carrying 50 South Vietnamese Marines, an American crew of five and a combat photographer.

          The chopper was launched from the USS Tripoli, its mission to drop the Marines behind enemy lines near Communist-occupied Quang Tri City.

          Crody, who enlisted at 17, served that day as the chopper's door gunner.

          "Don't worry, Mom," he told his mother, Wilma Crody, weeks earlier. "Marines aren't ever sent into Vietnam. I'll be fine."

          Those were his last words to her.

          As the chopper approached the drop zone, still 100 feet above the ground, a heat-seeking SA-7 missile hit the aircraft's starboard engine. The missile's 5.5-pound warhead exploded engine turbine fragments into the passenger compartment.

          Crody, along with another crewman, Marine Staff Sgt. Jerry W. Hendrix, died at the scene. A third Marine was rescued but died of his injuries a month later. Seven of the 50 Vietnamese Marines made it out alive.

          Back in the states, Wilma Crody, driving to her job at Purdue University Calumet that day, clicked on the car radio and heard a special report: A U.S. helicopter was shot down by hostile gunfire in South Vietnam. Dozens of casualties. Crew presumed dead.

          "Those poor guys," Wilma sighed to herself.

          Later that day, two Marines walked up to Wilma at work. That's about all she remembers from that day. That's about all she cares to remember.

          'I always had hope, but ... '

          Shortly after Crody's death, the family held a memorial service for their "Kenny."

          "We had to do something for him ... for me... for us," Wilma said. "It helped some."

          A couple years later, Crody's father, Guy, lost his job at a local plant. Guy and Wilma, who came to Griffith in 1949, left the region to find work in Texas.

          The years peeled away. Five, 10, 20. Then they moved back to Indiana, to downstate Linton, about 80 miles south of Indianapolis, to be near family.

          The Marines sent occasional letters to the couple, informing them that efforts were being made to find their boy's body, along with 1,859 other MIAs from the Vietnam War.

          In 2000, Crody's sister, Beverly O'Brien, was asked for a DNA sample by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military and civilian group based at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. The high-tech group conducts recovery and forensic identification efforts of missing soldiers.

          The family got its hopes up. But another year peeled away. And another and another.

          "I always had hope, but ..." said O'Brien, who lives in Texas.

          The last time she saw her brother was at her wedding, almost a year before his death. He assured her that he was being shipped to the Philippines, not Vietnam.

          "He was only in Vietnam for a month before he was killed," O'Brien said.

          A town kept the light on

          Marthann Gatlin has lived in Griffith for 35 years. She's a member of the town's war memorial committee, which erected the Central Park War Memorial to honor local soldiers.

          "I feel like I've come to know Ken Crody through the years," she said.

          She never honestly believed his remains would be found, but she prayed for it each night, she said.

          Delford Jones, chaplain for the Griffith VFW Post 9982, said he will have a hard time finding the words today to express how the town feels about Crody's homecoming. At 10 a.m., the VFW will honor Crody during its annual Memorial Day ceremony.

          "To find a soldier's remains after all these years is so special," Jones said. "To know that soldier is from Griffith makes it so much more."

          Wayne Govert, a Griffith businessman who knew Crody in high school, said, "This means so much to this town. Especially to the people who remember Kenny. He's finally coming home."

          A joint burial

          Five weeks ago, Crody's remains were identified, along with the remains of Hendrix, who was from Wichita, Kan. It turns out that DNA comparisons were not used in the "group identification," officials said.

          Both Marines will share a joint burial this summer at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The soldiers' families are choosing a date.

          "Families live for this day, for closure if nothing else," said Hattie Johnson, head of the Marines' POW/MIA Affairs Headquarters in Quantico, Va.

          It was Johnson who visited Crody's parents last month at their Linton home to tell them the news in person.

          In the past three years, Johnson has visited with seven families of soldiers whose remains were found. Everyone treated her like family, she said.

          This summer, Crody's remains, escorted by a Marine, will be flown from Hickam Air Force Base to Arlington National Cemetery for a proper military burial.

          "It will be so comforting to know our Kenny will be finally buried right," said Wilma, who's in poor health and unable to attend the burial in Virginia. "It's OK, I guess. At least I have his dog tag and his class ring."

          Crody's sister, however, will attend with her family, including her first-born son. His name is Kenneth.

          "I got pregnant right after my brother died. It just seemed right," O'Brien said.