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Lcpl Ronald Lee Longanecker, Pow/mia

Conflict: Vietnam

Service: United States Marine Corps.

Status: Unaccounted For

On July 8, 1966, a CH-46 Sea Knight (bureau number 151947, call sign "Deadlock 18-1") carrying a Marine reconnaissance patrol to its insertion point in the Thua Thien Province of South Vietnam was shot down in the vicinity of grid coordinates YD 885 148. Although the ammunition in the helicopter exploded almost immediately after the crash, the helicopter crew managed to escape the burning aircraft, along with all but one of the Marine patrol members. The crash site and wreckage were later investigated by a search team, but the remains of the Marine could not be recovered.

Lance Corporal Ronald Lee Longanecker, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps from Oregon, served with Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. He was the sole reconnaissance patrol member who did not escape the helicopter when it crashed, and whose remains could not be recovered from the wreck. Lance Corporal Longanecker is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 



: OR : 19660708 : hostile, crash, land : Passenger - "A"Co3rdRecBn: body

NOT recovered : Thua Thien (Hue) : 00 : 19471013 : Cauc : Protestant/single:

09E : 007


March 01, 2001

Thought you would like some accurate information on the loss of Ronald Lee

Longanecker (MIA) KIA/BNR since you have nothing in your

file on him other than ID information.

George Neville


Enter website at


Comments on Incident:

    2 H46's inserted recon team SW of Cam Lo. The team made heavy contact and

were successfully extracted. The same team was inserted 2 hours later. On

this insertion a 46 piloted by 1st Lt. Bert L. Nale and 1st Lt David W.

McCleery (HMM-164) was shot down. The helo burst into flames and all on

board were able to exit the bird with exception of Recon LCpl Ronald

Longanecker is believed to have perished in the blaze. This incident was

the first of many choppers to be shot down in Quang Tri Province and

Longanecker was the first Marine KIA in Quang Tri. Also, the first to be

listed as KIA/BNR. Submitted by George Neville, A/3rdRecBn/3rdMarines.

The narrative from "Never Without Heroes" by Lawrence C. Vetter Jr.

"The first patrol zone was to be about 4.5 miles southwest of Cam Lo in a

pocket with ridgelines on all sides. The only openings were made by the Rao

Vinh River where it flowed into and then out of the bowl. The method of

the operation was the same.

    Al Gordon was on the first chopper to land and remembers:

"The back hatch dropped, and I ran down the ramp into the grass followed by

Ray. The whole squad was out and heading for the tree line when we suddenly

realized that the second chopper had come under heavy fire and couldn't get

in. There seemed to be a couple of automatic weapons, and I don't know-how

many other small amts firing away at the birds from a nearby hill, not more

then two to three hundred meters away. We took cover in the trees and

watched our helicopters in the air trying to stay out of range, and we

wondered what the hell was going to happen next.

    Then we got the word that jets were coming in to rip the area, and we should

mark our positions. So I took a colored panel out in front of us and then

just sat back and was fascinated by the air show that came in. Our squad

hadn't yet come under fire, and now it was an air?to?ground battle with us

as spectators."

"The Huey gunships came in first," Ray Strohl added. "We always had two of

them nearby during these DMZ patrols. They were the first to hit that

hillside. When the jets came in, I swear they were so close I believe I saw

the pilot of one of those jets winks at me."

Sitting in the trees and wondering about its fate, the first squad didn't

have long to wait before the 46 returned under fire to extract the


    The platoon was flown back nine miles to Dong Ha. The men were starting

to unpack when the word came that they were going back immediately. Within

the hour, the platoon was back in the air. Ray Strohl stated that they had

just about made up their minds that there was no need to take any chow, just

stock up on ammo. In fact, at that point, they started taking an M60 machine

gun with them. This time the patrol insertion point was going farther south,

about two miles southeast of the last attempt and at a higher elevation, a

three hill complex about 300 meters tall. They were to land in the middle and

just to the side of the center knoll.

    The first chopper, with Gordon, Strohl, and Lieutenant Terrebonne, dropped

down to the planned LZ and immediately was hit by enemy fire. Before the

the team was able to jump out, the chopper pulled away, under fire all the

while, and miraculously made it out. The second chopper wasn't so lucky. The

first tried to warn the second away but, hit by ground fire, the second

the helicopter lost power, tried to jettison fuel, but instead came in for a

crash landing. The pilot did manage to fly a short distance to the west

before bouncing down and rolling over. A fire burst out within the chopper

as the Marines on board fought to get out of the bird in both directions.

The lead chopper had turned and followed its crashing wingman. It quickly

set down not far from the first, and the first squad scrambled out the back

hatch to set a security perimeter for the Reconners trying to get out of the

crashed chopper. Al Gordon and Lieutenant Terrebonne, however, both ran for

the helicopter, which was lying in the heavy brush on its side.

    Al Gordon said: "We landed below the other 46 before those guys had been able to get out. I

ran for them, and Terrebonne was right behind me. It was lying on its side,

and I climbed up on the topside and looked in the window. And to this day I

can still see Longanecker sitting there, on his back now as the chopper was

on its side. He was dead, but his eyes were staring straight ahead. Then a

little voice told me to get the hell out of there. The fire was starting to

burn more, and everybody had gotten out. Some had to stumble and run through

the fire. I ran, and when I was about fifty meters away, the chopper blew

sky-high behind me."

    Strohl couldn't tell what exactly was happening at the helicopter because he

was a part of a defensive position in the bush farther out. But one Marine

had been killed and seven wounded in the crash."

Image of Lcpl Ronald Lee Longanecker, Pow/mia