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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

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Smith, William L. (P2, C4, L14)

Lieutenant Colonel William Leo Smith, 47, of San Antoinio, Texas and native of Louisville, Jefferson County, died on 27 November 1968 in an aircraft accident when the UH-1 Helicopter he was a passenger on crashed off the coast of Kangnung, Korea in the Sea of Japan. Smith was on extended active duty. He joined the Kentucky Army National Guard's Battery C of the 138th Field Artillery Battalion in Louisville in February 1949. He left the Guard in January 1954 as a Private.

Smith returned to the Kentucky Army National Guard, date unknown, and the Field Artillery as an officer and eventually went onto federal active duty. Kentucky Special Orders Number 111 separated him from the Army National Guard effective 27 November 1968, his presumed date of death, from an extra TOE (table of organization and equipment)i position. Weather was a possible factor in the crash with flying conditions at the time described as marginal with a heavy cloud cover from 700' to 9,000'. An Associated Press story at the time states that the aircraft was returning from a routine "service mission" that afternoon. Dropped off radar at approximately 4 p.m. The aircraft, assigned to the 6th Aviation Platoon of I Corps’ 59th Aviation Company, U. S. Army, was returning to its base at Kangnung, located approximately 100 miles east of Seoul. Search and rescue operations failed to locate the missing aircraft and were called off on 4 December. He is listed as having died of non-hostile causes.

Newspaper accounts at the time give his home of record as San Antonio, Texas and his age as 47.

Clippings courtesy of Jimmy & Elaine Sutterfield and SFC (R) John M. Trowbridge

    Aviators Kill Agent During All Out Hunt

    BULLSEYE newspaper I CORPS (GROUP) Korea (undated clipping)

    As the BULLSEYE went to press, I Corps’ 6th Aviation platoon was playing a major role in the biggest search for communist agents since the end of the Korean War

    Highlight of the then three-week operation was the reported helicopter slaying of a North Korean agent by the door gunner from Corps’ elite aviation outfit.

    The aviation platoon first became involved in the manhunt November 4, when it was alerted for action and responded with helicopters rushing to the east coast in an area where some 60 North Korean agents had been reported to have infiltrated the country by sea.
    Operating near Kang Nung, above the countryside around the sea coast city of Ulchin, the Huey's spent four days airlifting ROK soldiers from the 11th, 36th and 38th Infantry Divisions. The Korean soldiers were set down on mountain crests where they started their patrol and sweep missions, rummaging through heavy mountainous brush searching for traces of the Red infiltrators.

    On November 8, choppers from the 6th Aviation's Ch’unchon detachment took over the sweep mission as the first ships returned to Uiiongbu for backup support.

    The second contingent of Hueys set up base in a field site near Ulchin where it began operations with the ROK Special Forces.

    While working from the field location, during an airlift of ROK troops, one of the helicopters was fired upon by a concealed infiltrator. The door gunner on the craft returned the fire with his machine gun, slaying the agent, and clearing the way for the ROK troops in the craft to kill two other communists. For their work in the operation – and particularly, slaying an enemy agent- the crew received praise from President Park Chung Hee. Cited by the President were CW2 Sydney Austin and WO1 Robert Garrison, pilots of the craft; and Sp5 Claude Beers and Sp4 Chris Voag, the helicopter's crew.

    According to Capt. Ronald Craddock, 6th Aviation Commanding Officer, the platoon’s crafts and crews have taken part in roughly half of the successful kill and capture operations directed against the agents.

    At press time, with some 25 of the agents believed still at large, the platoon was continuing its support of the ROK elements in their sweep mission for the remaining members of the largest communist force to invade the South since the Korean Armistice.

    clipping of helicopter loading

    Photo by Dave Gallus, 6th Aviation Platoon - LOAD UP – Tough ROK soldiers from a Korean Special Forces unit on the Republic's east coast load into a 6th Aviation helicopter as the craft prepares to airlift the troops to a nearby mountain crest. Corps’ 6th Aviation platoon has been transporting the ROK soldiers since early this month, when over 60 communists’ agents were spotted infiltrating the Republic's sea coast.



    Hunt Pushed for Copter

    Newspaper clipping from undated unknown source

    Seoul (AP)-Search operations continued Saturday for a U.S. Army UH1D helicopter and its four crew members missing along South Korea's eastern coast since Wednesday, the U.S. Military here said.

    The helicopter from the 6th Aviation Platoon, U.S. I Corps (Group), was returning to the U.S. Air Force’s small airfield near Kangnung on the beach, 100 miles east of Seoul, when radar contact was lost shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, a spokesman said.
    The names of the four crew members are being withheld pending notification of their families.

    The military said the helicopter was returning from a routine service mission that afternoon.

    6th Aviation Copter Missing on Coast

    BULLSEYE newspaper I CORPS (GROUP) Korea (undated clipping)

    By Jerry F. Boone

    As the BULLSEYE went to press, both US and ROK Army search craft were combing the Korean skies in search of a downed I Corps helicopter and its four-man crew.

    The copter, assigned to the 6th Aviation Platoon of I Corps’ 59th Aviation Company, was reported missing shortly after 4 p.m. November 27th, and thus far, search operations have proven futile.

    According to Maj. H. W. Meetze, commander of the 59th Aviation Company, “There is still (December 3) no knowledge of what happened to the craft or its crew.”

    The missing helicopter took off from its home base at LaGuardia Field in Uijongbu early the afternoon of the 27th and proceeded to Kang Nung where weather conditions would not permit it to land.

    Shortly after flying over the field at Kang Nung, air defense radar received a call that the ship was turning towards land and descending. This call is the last contact anyone is known to have had with the missing helicopter. At the time of the last contact, the helicopter was reported by radar as being two to three miles off the eastern coast of Korea.

    Search operations were initiated, and by 2 p.m. the next day, the skies over the east coast were filled with search craft.

    The 6th Aviation Platoon put every available ship into operation. Two 59th Aviation “Beavers” a C-47 from Osan, and a “Mohawk” from the 55th Aviation were pressed into service, along with several ROK Naval craft, all flying patterns up and down the rocky east coast – but to no avail. No trace of the ship or crew had been spotted as search operations neared the end of the sixth day.

    According to Major Meetze, an accident investigation board has been appointed to look into the mishap.

    End Search for 5-Man Huey

    S&S Korea Bureau (Believed to be the Stars and Stripes no date on clipping)

    SEOUL – The search for a U.S. Army UH1D “Huey” helicopter and five men aboard, missing since Nov 27 along South Korea's east coast was called off Wednesday night according to an 8th Army spokesman.

    Four crew members were listed as 1st Lt. Richard J. Griggs, 21; CW02 Julius H. Ingram, 20; Spec. 4 Terrence D. Miller, 20; and Pfc. Gary A. Holz, 19. One passenger, Lt. Col. William L. Smith, 47, was aboard.

    The copter from the 6th Aviation Platoon, U.S. I Corps (Group), was returning to the U.S. Air Force’s small field near Kangung, 100 miles east of Seoul, when radar contact was lost.

    The craft was being used to transport ROK security forces in the intensive manhunt for the remainder of the more than 60 North Korean infiltrators who landed along the coast early last month.

    U.S. Copter Lost in ROK

    Newspaper clipping from undated unknown source

    SEOUL (AP) – A U.S. Army UHID helicopter and its two crewmen have been missing near Kangung 100 miles east of Seoul since Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. military reported Friday.

    A military spokesman said the aircraft was returning to Kangung Air Bases from a routine service mission when its radar contact was lost shortly after 4 p.m.

    The small U.S. Air Force airfield on the beach at Kangung (unreadable word) bases mostly 6th aviation's (unreadable word) UH1D Huey helicopters which have been ferrying South Korean troops in a massive sweep along the east coast searching for a 60 man North Korean guerrilla team.

    Names of the two air crewman were not available

    S.A. Officer Missing in S. Korea

    San Antonio Express 6 December 1968 Page 18

    Army Lt. Col. William L. Smith, 47, of 427 Rockhill Dr., was reported missing along South Korea's eastern coast Thursday by the U.S. military in Seoul, Korea.

    Smith was a passenger aboard a U.S. Army UH1D helicopter that was returning to its base near Kangnung 100 miles east of Seoul, Nov. 27.

    Search Operations for the aircraft began when radar contact was lost. The fruitless search was ended Wednesday.

    Smith was on the helicopter with a crew of four – 1st. Lt. Richard J. Griggs, 21, of Williamsport, Pa.; CW02 Julius H. Ingram 20, of Montgomery, Ala.; Sp. 4 Terrence D. Miller, 20, of Minneapolis, and PFC Gary A. Holz, 19, of Madison, Ala.

    Missing Copter Crew Identified

    The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City 6 Dec 1968 P 87

    SEOUL, Korea (AP) – The U.S. military here made public Thursday the names of four helicopter crewmen and one passenger – missing along South Korea's eastern coast since November 27.

    They were aboard a U.S. Army helicopter which as returning to its base near Kangnung, 100 miles east of Seoul, when radar contact was lost.

    The four crewmen were identified as Lt. Richard J. Griggs, Williamsport, Pa., CWO Julius H. Ingram, Montgomery, Ala., Sp. 4 Terrence D. Miller, Minneapolis, and PFC Gary A. Holz, Madison, Ala. The passenger was identified as Lt. Col. William L. Smith of San Antonio.


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