War Stories 27

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 BY: Terry A. McCarl, Historian

The 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, suffered a total of 45 KIAs during the Vietnam War. Of these 45, 32 were Medevac personnel. Of the 32 Medevac KIAs, 16 resulted from hostile action and 16 resulted from non-hostile action. The fourth 15th Med Battalion KIA and the first non-hostile Medevac KIA was PFC Rudolph “Rudy” Jackymack.

Rudy Jackymack
Rudy in Vietnam Circa 1965-66.

Rudy Jackymack
Rudy in the Door Gunner seat in his Medevac Helicopter (Circa 1966).

Rudolph “Rudy” Jackymack was born on 01 August 1944 in Dearborn, MI. The Army drafted him in July 1965, and his scheduled ETS (Expiration Term of Service) was July 1967. His MOS (military occupational specialty) was 11B10 (Infantryman). He completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in November 1965 and received orders to Vietnam, where he was initially assigned to HHC, 1st Cavalry Division. In approximately January of 1966, he transferred to the Air Ambulance platoon (Medevac) of HSC (Headquarters and Support Company), 15th Medical Battalion as a door gunner on a Medevac helicopter. His scheduled DEROS (Date Estimated Return from Overseas) was November 1966.

The following account is from comments posted by W. Killian (wkillian@smjuhsd.org ) on 8 January 2017 for Rudolph Jackymack on the Wall of Faces Website (http://vvmf.org). “On May 4, 1966, he was the door gunner on a U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D (tail number 63-08790) from the 15th Medical Battalion.

While the aircraft was flying on the 1st Cavalry’s base perimeter at An Khe Airfield, the helicopter lost power and crashed. First responders removed the pilot from the cockpit, then the crew chief, who was in the left seat of the cockpit, only after cutting his seat belt and harness with a knife as the instrument panel and cyclic stick pinned him in. Because a fire engulfed the rear cabin of the aircraft, rescuers were unable to save PFC Jackymack.“

In an Accident Report on the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association website (vhpa.org) entitled “Helicopter UH-1D 63-08790,” the crew members listed were:

P (Pilot) W1 GA COX
CE (Crew Chief) E5 W MAYFIELD

Ed Lemp was one of the first responders who observed the helicopter crash and performed the rescue of the pilot and crew chief. His account in the accident report for Helicopter UH-1D 63- 08790. (http://vhpa.org) states:

“I was first at the a/c (aircraft) and got the pilot out. Mayfield, the crew chief was in the left seat. (I went to maintenance school at Rucker with him.) I helped get him out. It was a mess with the instrument panel, and cyclic pushed up against him with the a/c on fire. I got someone's knife and cut his seat belt and shoulder harness to get him out. I didn't check the rear cabin and that still haunts me to this day. The ship went down on the Cav's base camp perimeter (the Green Line) at An Khe.” From: ED LEMP

We found on the 1st Cavalry Division Association Member Directory that Ed Lemp served as a crew chief and door gunner with the 82nd Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division. Further investigation revealed that he passed away in 2009.

A 15th Medical Battalion 01/66 Officer personnel roster provided the following information about WO1 George A. Cox: MOS 02680 (Pilot), DEROS 07/66, ETS 07/68.

A 15th Medical Battalion 01/66 Enlisted HSC personnel roster provided the following information on SP5 William H. Mayfield, MOS 67N20 (crew chief), DEROS 09/66, and ETS 08/67.

Chuck Johnson, a Medevac Pilot 1965-66 served with George Cox and found information that he passed away on 10 October 1991 at the age of 49. Chuck sent the poto below showing WO1 George Cox (at left in uniform) and WO1 George Rice (at right in T-shirt) who was KIA 18 December 1965.

Rudy Jackymack

Chuck also found information that William Harris Mayfield passed away on 02 February 2012 at the age of 76. Therefore, unfortunately, all known survivors of the crash are deceased.

 Apparently, the aircraft was flying from HSC, 15th Med Bn area at An Khe to another area at An Khe for maintenance when the engine failed. No other information has been found. While serving with HHC 1st Cavalry Division, Rudy received the CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge).

While serving with HSC 15th Medical Bn, he also received the Air Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.

The 15th Medical Battalion Association is always pleased to connect with our 45 Vietnam War 15th Med Bn KIA families! It is difficult for us to find contact information for the families because it is generally unavailable to the public. So, we greatly appreciate the efforts that Shannon Combs, the niece of Rudy Jackymack, made in contacting us by commenting on our Facebook page asking if we had any information on Rudy and the circumstances of his tragic death.

Shannon and her family, as well as the 15th Medical Battalion Association, would appreciate any additional information that anyone might have. If anyone has photos or memories of Jackymack, Cox, or Mayfield, please e-mail them to: historian@15thmedbnassociation.org. Thank you!

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