• 58-1697 US Army. Delivered 23-Jan-1959. Designated U-1A.
Delivered to Sharpe Army Depot at Stockton, CA.
Initially allocated to 17th Aviation Company, Fort Ord, CA.
27-May-1963. Arrived in Vietnam by sea and attached to 339th Transportation Company.
Jun-1963. Attached to 18th Aviation Company.
Accident Ha Than, fifteen miles west of Quang Ngai, Vietnam. 13-Jun- 1965. Force landed; other details unknown. Destroyed during recovery by Chinook at Quang Ngai on 14-Jun-1965.
• Destroyed •
Otter 311 was delivered to the United States Army on 23rd January 1959 with serial 58-1697 (tail number 81697). It was assigned to the 17th Aviation Company, Fort Ord, California. It was delivered from Downsview to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California before continuing on to Fort Ord. It was one of eight Otters from the 17th Aviation Company transferred to Vietnam in 1963 to augment the 18th Aviation Company. The eight Otters arrived on 27th May '63 on board the 'USNS Core' and were initially taken on charge by the 339th Transportation Company. The Otters were taken to Tan Son Nhut airport, where they were re-assembled by Air Vietnam, and by the end of June '63 all were again in flying condition. 81697 joined the 18th Aviation Company in June 1963.
81697 was serving with the Da Nang based platoon of the 18th Aviation Company when it was destroyed on 13th June 1965. The following extract from the history of the 339th Transportation Company explains what happened: “On 13th June 1965 a U-1A (81697) force landed at Ha Than, fifteen miles west of Quang Ngai. What seemed to be a routine CH-37 helicopter recovery turned out to be a challenging and meticulous task for one of the helicopter crew members. The recovery was handled in two stages, since it was necessary to make two trips to completely evacuate the aircraft. On the first load, the wing, propeller, rudder, elevator stabilizer, tail wheel, radio sets and doors were recovered”.
“The following day, the CH-37 returned to sling load the fuselage to Quang Ngai. The recovery went without mishap until they arrived at Quang Ngai. Upon touchdown, the sling hook would not release and a member of the crew, SP6 James Vernon, climbed down the helicopter's hatch and onto the sling, releasing the load. Due to SP6 Vernon's courageous and skilful performance, combined with the CH-37 team effort, the mission was successfully accomplished in the prescribed time”. Except of course that “releasing the load” caused the Otter to fall and resulted in its destruction!
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)