50 years later: families honor 34 soldiers killed in Vietnam chopper crash

Loved ones flocked to the Vietnam War memorial to commemorate the anniversary Tuesday.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 3:31 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Tuesday marks 50 years since a helicopter carrying 34 American soldiers crashed in Vietnam, killing everyone on board. This made 34 families instant members of the Gold Star organization for families of the fallen.

Roy Adams was part of the battalion, and the last person to see any of them alive. He’s a member of the Angry Skipper Association, a group of veterans who were part of in D Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1stCavalry (airmobile) Division from 1965 - 1972.

“My true friends are on that wall,” said Adams, “They’ll always be my friends.”

For children of the victims, like Sherry Elenburg who was just a baby when her father Alvin died, hearing stories from those who knew him in war help paint a picture of the man she never got to know.

“He had an infectious laugh,” said Elenburg. “He was loud. Well, we’ve always questioned why we’re so loud.”

The day featured bell tolling for the 34, a color guard, and wreath-laying ceremony.

Chris Harrell was left to raise small children by herself after her husband was killed.

Tuesday, she tells us she feels a sense of community and a closeness to the man she loved.

Her husband, Samuel, piloted the ill-fated flight, which was later determined to have crashed due to a mechanical error.

“He was a man with a huge heart,” said Harrell. “He had not much to say, but when he said something, it meant everything.”

According to the National Park Service, these men are 34 of 58,318 names at the Vietnam War Memorial.

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