Johnny Mack Jones

HHC 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

1st Field Force (IFFV)

Died with 17th Aviation Group

( Attached to MACV Advisory Team 22 )

KIA 04/24/1972

 

 

 

PERSONAL DATA:
Home of Record Auburn, AL
Date of birth: 07/01/1948

MILITARY DATA:
Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: O2
Rank/Rate: First Lieutenant

MOS/RATING: 71542: Infantry Unit Commander (Airborne Qual)

Unit: HHC, 17TH AVN GROUP, 1ST AVIATION BDE, USARV

CASUALTY DATA:
Start Tour: Not Recorded
Incident Date: 04/24/1972
Casualty Date: 04/24/1972
Age at Loss: 23
Location: Kontum Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body not recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died while missing
Casualty Reason: Helicopter - Noncrew
Casualty Detail: Air loss or crash over land

 

Johnny Mack Jones served with 1/22 Infantry at Tuy Hoa in 1971, and when the Battalion was
rotated home, in January 1972, he remained in Vietnam and was transferred to the 17th Aviation Group.

He was officially listed as a member of 57th Aviation Company,
52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade.

In the book, Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam by Thomas McKenna,
Johnny Mack Jones is listed as being a member of MACV Advisory Team 22.
It appears that Johnny was attached to the Advisory Team at an undetermined date.

He was killed when the helicopter in which he was a passenger was shot down, during the battle
at Tan Canh, in April 1972. Reports are that the aircraft was fired on and hit by enemy heavy
machine guns, of at least 12.7mm (51 caliber). North Vietnamese tanks were part of the
attacking enemy force, and the ground fire which downed the helicopter may have come from
their heavy machine guns. At least one report says it was a tank that shot the aircraft down.

Johnny was in a Huey helicopter, UH-1H 69-15715 (believed to be call sign Gladiator 715),
which crashed in the Dak Poko river area (Krng P K) approximately 4 kilometers west of Dak To.
The grid reference was reported as ZB028208.
The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association reports the grid reference as being ZB001219.

Johnny Mack Jones was listed as Missing In Action from April 24 to May 6, 1972,
when he was declared Killed In Action.

His body was not recovered.

 

 

The official entry in the Daily Journal (Morning Report)
Military Region II / Second Regional Assistance Group (SRAG)

Report courtesy of William B. Page
1st Cav Div (Airmobile)
3rd Bde (Separate)
B Co. 2/5th Cav 1971-'72
D Co. 1/12th Cav 1972 (OPCON to MR II / SRAG Easter Offensive)
William Page was part of the ground force sent to rescue the Advisory Team at Tan Canh.
He and his fellow Soldiers were prevented from reaching the Advisors, because of heavy fire
of enemy artillery and tanks. William saw the helicopter carrying Johnny Mack Jones
go down, but was unable to reach it.

 

 

An aerial map marked with the crash site location of aircraft 69-15715.
Note the proximity to the border with Laos and Cambodia.

From the Task Force Omega website

 

 

 

Johnny Mack Jones served in these three units in Vietnam at different times:

Left - 101st Airborne Division , Center - 1st Field Force (IFFV) , Right - 1st Aviation Brigade

 

 

 

On April 24, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army attacked the towns of Tan Canh and Dak To II,
in the western part of II Corps, South Vietnam. An overwhelming force of infantry, supported by
artillery and tanks, pushed the South Vietnamese Army and their U.S. Advisors out of Tan Canh,
with heavy casualties. As the base camp was being overrun, U.S. air assets were utilized to recover the
American Advisors and personnel in an attempt to remove them to safety.

Below is the official and most widely accepted version of the events concerning aircraft 69-15715:

"Helicopters from the 57th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group were dispatched
to rescue as many of the base camp survivors as possible. The crew of one of these Huey helicopters
(serial #69-15715) was comprised of Lt. James E. Hunsicker, pilot; WO Wade L. Ellen, co-pilot; SP4 Charles M. Lea,
door gunner; and SP5 Ricky B. Bogle, crewchief. Also aboard the Huey was SP4 Franklin Zollicoffer, a medic from
the US Army installation at Pleiku assigned to this flight to treat the wounded.

They were able to rescue Maj. George W. Carter, Maj. Julius G. Warmath and Capt. John P. Keller, who were all
assigned to Advisory Team 22. They also rescued 1st Lt. Johnny M. Jones who was attached to the Advisory Team
from the 57th Aviation Company, and Sgt. Walter H. Ward whose unit of assignment is unknown.

The Huey departed the base camp to the northwest. It was apparently struck by enemy ground fire because it crashed
and burned on a small island in the Dak Poko River. The distance the Huey traveled before crashing was only about
500 meters, which was also the distance from the end of the dock on the island to the runway. Because of the
rolling terrain, personnel at the airfield did not see the aircraft impact the ground. A pilot flying over the wreckage
reported that the helicopter was burning and that he could see no survivors. It was later discovered that at least
five people did survive the crash when they made their own way to safety. The survivors were Julius Warmath,
John Keller, Ricky Bogle, Walter Ward and Charles Lea. The survivors reported that James Hunsicker, Wade Ellen
(the pilot and co-pilot respectively), Franklin Zollicoffer (the medic), Johnny Jones and George Carter (both passengers)
all dead in the crash."

From the Task Force Omega website

 

 

SP5 Richard V. Vogel (name mispelled in above reports) was the Crew Chief
on aircraft 69-15715 in which Johnny Mack Jones was shot down. Richard
survived the crash, and escaped and evaded the enemy for 13 days afterward.
By the time he made it back to safety, the official report had been filed.
Richard has been able to show that the official report is inaccurate and incorrect.

Immediately below are two hand drawn maps, showing the location and disposition of the
crash of aircraft 69-15715. The first is the map drawn by Major Warmath, one of the
Advisors rescued by the aircraft, who gave his account of the crash.

 

     

The official map of the crash site.

As can be seen by Richard Vogel's
notations, the original map of the crash site
is inaccurate, even placing the crash
some 100 meters away from the actual site.

From Richard V. Vogel's website

 

 

Richard Vogel's hand drawn version
of the map of the actual crash site.

Richard shows the actual position
of the different parts of the wreckage,
the location of personnel killed in
the crash, including, on the left,
the location of the body
of Johnny Mack Jones
(LT Johnny Jones)

From Richard V. Vogel's website

     

 

 

Below is the biography of Johnny Mack Jones, posted by Johnny's niece,
Catherine E Milner, on the VVMF website:

 


 

 

 

 

On Monday morning, April 24, as the North Vietnamese forces were overunning the compound
at Tan Canh, Johnny Mack Jones and the other Advisors, led by Colonel Phillip Kaplan,
were moving to a spot where rescue helicopters could pick them up. Before they could get
to that spot, they encountered enemy tanks. After a failed attempt to destroy the tanks, the
Advisors made it safely to their pick-up point. The encounter with the tanks is described
in the book Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam by Thomas McKenna, in the
following passage:

 

 

The Lieutenant Colonel McClain in the above passage is Terrance McClain, who was the last Commander
of 1/22 Infantry in Vietnam. Like LT Johnny Mack Jones, McClain remained behind in Vietnam when
1/22 Infantry rotated home. McClain was transferred, to become Deputy Senior Advisor to the
ARVN 22nd Infantry Division.

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Mack Jones' decorations

The National Order of Vietnam, or Bo-Quc Hun-Chu'o'ng, is the highest military decoration
awarded by the Republic of Vietnam. Johnny Mack Jones received the 5th Class (Knight) of this award.

 

 

 

The name of Johnny Mack Jones is memorialized at the Courts of the Missing: Court B,
Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
at Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA

 

 

 

For tributes to Johnny Mack Jones, click on the following links:

 

Together We Served

 

VVMF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam by Thomas McKenna,
University Press of Kentucky 2011, page 109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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