Sgt. Allen McElfresh was the crew chief of a Marine CH-53D (BuNo 156667) . He served with HMH-463. He was killed along with his four crew and 4 passengers in the crash of the CH-53. near Doi Dian, Thua Thien Province, RVN enroute to Marble Mountain, Mag 16 Marine Air Base.
Cpl Larry R. Hatter, (gunner)
Major Wayne R. Hyatt (aircraft commander)
Sgt. Allen K. McElfresh, (crew chief)
Sgt. Wiliam C. Odom Jr., (gunner)
1st Lt. Strather F. Wood, (co pilot)
SSgt. Richard T. Baker, MAG-16 1st MAW
Sgt. Richard A. Lillie, H&HS-1 MWHG-1/1st MAW
Sgt. Gregory A. Sloat, Gregory , H&HS-1, MWHG-1
SFC James A. Long, MACV Advisory Team-1, U.S. Army
For forty-seven years, this loss was officially due to mechanical failure. However, on April 8, 2018 the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) approved the awarding of the Purple Heart to Maj Hyatt and the other Marines. An after (LONG After) action report investigation when the remains of the aircraft was recovered from the crash site after the war along with evidence from others in Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463 were able to show it was more than likely that the crash was the result of hostile fire. They had recieved fire going into and coming out of one of the Sophia firebases and probably felt the rounds hitting. They sat down went they cleared the pink line separating S Vietnam and Laos, did an inspection and reported they were confident they could continue on to base about 8 miles south of Danang. Made it about 1/4 of the way, something came apart or separated on the rotorhead, blades had separated and were found a couple hundred yards from the crash site. They crashed in hard.
I flew with each of the above Marines numerous times and lived in the same hooch as Allen (Mac) McElfresh. Maj Hyatt was our maintenance officer. Odom worked in the hydraulic shop and Hatter was in check crew. The only passenger I knew was SSgt Baker who was temporarily attached with different squadrons as an S2 liason.
Etched forever in my brain, Feb 18 is always a 'difficult' day for me.
They fly off in their bird, we flew off in ours, both went to Laos, and we learn after we rtb they didn't make it back. The last words you spoke and heard with each other at chow and in the flight shack that morning and they're just gone. No funeral there, no bodies to view, just pack up their stuff and get it ready to send to next of kin. An empty bunk waiting for their replacement to take.
Hand Salute! Semper Fi Marines.
[This message has been edited by maryjane (edited 02-19-2021).]