Helgeson, Ellis Eugene, Jr., 1st Lt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 315th Air Commando Wing
Service Years
1966 - 1968
First Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt John Paul Jones, Sr. (JJ) to remember Helgeson, Ellis Eugene, Jr., 1st Lt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Phan Rang AB

Casualty Date
Mar 06, 1968
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Quang Tri (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery - St. Louis, Missouri
Wall/Plot Coordinates
43E Line 020

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial
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Aviator (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
311th Air Commando Squadron315th Air Commando Wing
  1967-1968, 311th Air Commando Squadron
  1967-1968, 315th Air Commando Wing
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1968 Vietnam War
  1967-1973 Young Tiger Operations
 My Aircraft/Missiles
C-123 Provider  
  1967-1968, C-123 Provider
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On 6 March 1968 Col. Frederick Hampton as pilot, 1st Lt. Ellis Helgeson as Co-Pilot , Sgt. Jeffery Conlin and Sgt. Dallas Moore as loadmaster/Crewchiefs were assigned to mission # 702 which was to fly to Phu Bai with a load of cargo and then on to Khe Sanh to offload supplies.

There is some confusion here in that the manifest lists a crew of 3 while other records indicate a crew of four and two passengers; two mechanics that were scheduled on an earlier flight to Kha Sanh to repair a broken C-123. The aircraft departed DaNang with it's cargo for Phu Bai. After off-loading the cargo the aircraft was subsequently loaded with 44 US Marines.

Phu Bai's passenger representative assisited the aircraft's loadmaster in organizing various pallets loaded with the passenger's gear, another set of pallets stacked with M-60 Machine Guns and other weapons, and more loaded with beer and soft drinks. The C-123 departed Phu Bai with a crew of three Air Force personnell, 44 Marines, 1 Navy Corpman and 1 Civilian Photographer for 49 total on the manifest. The aircraft flew from Phu Bai without incident and approched Khe Sanh and was cleard to land, however, a South Vietnamese aircraft was blocking the runway and Col. Hampton initated a go-around.

As the aircraft circled the field preparing for another landing attempt, it was struck by ground fire disableing the right jet engine. The C-123K has two prop engines and two small jet engines to aid in takeoff. The additional power of the J-85's allowed for heavier payloads and shorter takeoff runs. With one jet engine out and such a heavy load, remember the cargo and Marines, another go-around may be impossible.

With one jet out of service it makes the other kinda useless on a go-around because of yaw problems. Col. Hampton decided to divert back to DaNang.  As the C-123 started to depart the area it spiralled into the ground, exploded, and burned in a unsurvivable crash. The crash site was outside the defensive permieter in territory firmly controlled by the North Vietnamese Army and SAR attempts were not possible. 

Sgt. Conlin's remains were one of 35 bodies recovered and buried in a mass grave at Jefferson Barricks National Cemetery in Missouri. Only 19 bodies were identified and returned to their families .

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