YK-13 Slams Into the Hai-Van Pass at Night
BUNO 153379

Butler, Charles King, 1stLt. USMCR (Pilot) (Photo)
Higgins, William Patrick, 1stLt. USMCR (Co-Pilot)
Swain, Robert Ray, SSgt. USMC (Crew Chief)-(Photo)
Beadnell, William Lee, Pfc. USMC (Gunner)
Alderman, James Muriel, (Passenger)
Pence, James Howard (Passenger)
Shelton, Leslie Lewis (Passenger)
Storm, Edward Reynold (Passenger)
Walsh, Richard Davis (Passenger)
Gates, Robert Sidney (Passenger)

This incident occurred on December 28, 1969.

Frank, as I did the accident investigation on this accident, I will work up a decent narrative and send it to you.  Butler and Higgins ran into Hai-Van Pass (AT 908921) at night (approximately 2030 hours), under instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).  They were coming back from Phu Bai and had filed an IFR flight plan.  They were experiencing radio problems and were cleared at 5,000 feet mean sea level (msl) but read back and flew the flight at 3,000 feet msl.  Da Nang Approach Control made numerous attempts to alert the crew to their mistake and transmitted on all UHF frequencies at their disposal, including Guard, with transmissions such as, "Swift #__ Turn left, you have a mountain at your 12 o'clock, distance 2 miles!"  The  crew never responded and flew into Hai-Van Pass under IMC conditions, impacted the terrain and all aboard were killed instantly.  Lt Bill Higgins was at the controls at the time of impact, as Lt "Chip" Butler had a pen in his right hand.  The only positive outcome of this was that Da Nang Approach Control added FM radios and frequencies as backup communications.  All of our helicopters were equipped with both UHF and FM radios.


SSgt. Swain had asked the crew chief who had been temporarily assigned to YK-13, Cpl. Terry D. McDade, to take the flight because he needed the flight time for the month of December to qualify for his hazardous duty pay. To view Cpl. McDades vivid memories of this incident click here.

Logo rescued from YK-13 in the "bone yard" by Stephen W. Mills was given to your webmaster during the 2002 Reunion at Pensacola, FL.  This logo will be framed and displayed at future Purple Fox gatherings to honor and remember the crew and passengers of YK-13.  Mike Skertich, former LCpl. USMC 64-66 stands beside the logo.

November 10, 2006
The logo has now found a permanent residence within the
National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Va.

Frank Gulledge views the logo now on display in the museum.  It resides at the entrance to the immersion gallery depicting the Siege of Khe Sanh and Hill 881S.  The small metal plaque listing the names of those killed has been removed.  To cover the profane words scratched on the logo, the museum requested an original patch from the 1968 time frame.  Cpl. John Sabol, who flew in support of Hill 881S, still had his flight jacket and donated the patch you now see covering the profanity.

Cpl. John Sabol, Jr,
His Flight Jacket

Information provided by:
    Walt "Worm" Wise, former 1stLt. USMCR
    Terry D. McDade, former Sgt. USMC
    William N. "Pappy" Hill, MGySgt. USMC(Ret)
    John L. Lane, former Cpl. USMC
    HMM-364 Command Chronology for Dec. '69
    Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Major USMC (Ret)

Photographs provided by:
    Glenn F. "Smoke" Burgess, Col. USMC (Ret)
    Robert B. Steinberg, former Sgt. USMC
    David L. Powell

Logo Presented by:
    Stephen W. Mills at the 2002 Reunion