Last Known Activity|
On 18 June 1972, Capt. Paul F. Gilbert, pilot; Capt. Robert A. Wilson, co-pilot; Maj. Robert H. Harrison, navigator; Capt. Mark G. Danielson, electronic warfare officer; TSgt. Richard M. Cole, Jr., flight engineer; SSgt. Leon A. Hunt, aerial gunner; TSgt. Richard E. Nyhof, aerial gunner; TSgt. Larry J. Newman, aerial gunner; SMSgt. Jacob E. Mercer, aerial gunner; SSgt. Stanley L. Lehrke, aerial gunner; TSgt. Donald H. Klinke, crew member; Maj. Gerald F. Ayres, crew member; and three unidentified men who were rescued the next day, comprised the 15-man crew of an AC130A Spectre gunship on a night operational mission to attack elite NVA forces known to be in that area. At 2355 hours it was struck by intense hostile fire (possibly a missile), exploded in the air, and went down near the A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. Multiple emergency beepers were immediately heard by other US forces, and according the debriefing statements given by the men who were rescued, a bailout order was given by Captain Gilbert, and at least one additional parachute was observed by them.
(Continued in Tributes)