Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. It was first established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
So today, I remember my close friend, fellow scout helicopter pilot, and “hooch mate,” John Berry, along with his gunner, Billy Evans, who were shot down in South Vietnam near the Cambodian border on December 5, 1968. The nickname given to John by us fellow helicopter pilots was “Mr. Clean” since he did not drink alcohol or smoke. On that day, John was flying as lead aircraft for a scout team of two LOH 6A helicopters. The team was working the Northwest corner of the 1st Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division Area of Operations. As the scout team started to cross an open area in the jungle at tree top level, both aircraft came under heavy fire. Berry and Evans’ OH-6 was hit immediately and was seen to nose over while in a left bank, go inverted, and explode on impact. The grenades and ammunition aboard the helicopter quickly began to explode in the ensuing fire, and within minutes there was nothing identifiable left of the wreckage. The bodies were never recovered and both John Berry and Billy Evans are listed as missing in action. May God rest their souls and comfort their families.