Wichita Falls, Texas
U.S. Army Specialist Five Don Rose of Wichita Falls was a Huey helicopter crew chief serving with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam when he was Killed In Action on December 15th 1969. Rose was set to return home the next day when he volunteered to take one last flight on a night flare mission in support of ground troops.
The aircraft in which Rose was working, UH-1H tail number 68-16206, inadvertently went into instrument flight conditions in foul weather and the aircraft crashed before the crew could gain visual orientation. All five soldiers aboard were killed, including another Texan, Chief Warrant Officer Dee Hyden of Amarillo.
Because he was due to return, when the knock came at the Rose home, Donald’s mother assumed it was him. Instead, she was met by a U.S. Army representative who had come to deliver the worst possible news.
Donald Rose was 19 years old when he perished in service to his country. He is remembered at Panel 15, Line 60 on the National Vietnam War Memorial Wall.
The UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and its crew provided critical support to ground troops. Aircraft like Rose’s were known as “slicks,” and were used for troop transport and extraction, resupply and other support missions like the flare illumination request to which this crew was responding. As the aircraft’s crew chief, Rose was responsible for the maintenance and repair of his helicopter.
More than 7,000 Huey helicopters were used in Vietnam. Half were destroyed. The four-man crews of Huey helicopters were fearless in their commitment to helping the “grunts” on the ground, and many were shot down or, like Rose’s helicopter, crashed in bad weather conditions.
Photos and story submitted by his brother, Lester Rose.