Remains Returned, Identified 06/06/2001
Name:  Charles Edward Dietsch
Rank/Branch: W3/US Army
Unit: 243rd Assault Helicopter Company, 10th Combat Aviation Battalion
Date of Birth: 08 May 1922 (Avalon NY)
Home City of Record: Mt. Dora FL
Date of Loss: 20 October 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 122945N 1090753E (BP890830)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: CH47
Refno: 1306
Other Personnel In Incident: Jerry G. Bridges; Henry C. Knight; Charles H.
Meldahl; Ronald V. Stanton (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: On October 20, 1968, CW3 Deitsch, aircraft commander; WO1 Knight,
pilot; SP5 Meldahl, crewchief; SP4 Bridges, flight engineer; and SP4
Stanton, door gunner, departed Dong Ba Thien Airfield, South Vietnam, in a
CH47A helicopter (serial #66-19053) on a resupply mission to Ban Me Thuot,
South Vietnam.
The CH47 "Chinook" helicopter was one of the workhorses of the Army's air
fleet. As a cargo lift, the Chinook could carry up to 28,000 pounds on its
external cargo hook, and is credited with the recovery of 11,500 disabled
aircraft worth more than $3 billion. As troop carrier, the aircraft could be
fitted with 24 litters for medical evacuation, or carry 33-44 troops in
addition to the crew. On one occasion, a Chinook evacuated 147 refugees and
their possessions on a single flight. The Chinook could be outfitted for
bombing missions, dropping tear gas or napalm in locations fixed wing
aircraft could not reach. The big bird could carry a large cargo of
Deitsch radioed at 0700 hours on October 20 that his aircraft was over the
Ninh Hoa Valley. That was the last anyone heard of the CH47. At about 0800
hours, it was determined that the helicopter was overdue.
An intensive search effort was made, but no wreckage was ever found of the
CH47, and search efforts were concluded on October 28. Villagers were later
canvassed throughout the Ninh Ho Valley, and literature was distributed
asking about the crash of the Chinook, but no new information was ever
Subject: SSG Jerry Glen Bridges
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 01:02:07 EDT
Between 1984 and 1994,Vietnamese residents and refugees offered information
and material evidence potentially linked with the crash. In 1994, the crash
site was located and in 1995, during the 33rd Joint Field Activity, the site
was excavated, yielding additional information. In October 2000, the
investigation was completed and it determined  that all members of the crew
went down with the helicopter and did not survive the crash. SSG Jerry Glen
Bridges remains have since been returned home. On June 10,2001 SSG Jerry
Glen Bridges was finally layed to rest where he belongs in Giles County
Memory Gardens. Home at last.
Subject: Deitsch, Charles
Date: Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Charles Deitsch remains will be returned to the family on 6/20/01 and all
of the crew was also identified through DNA.
At 1000 hrs, 20 June, 2001, beneath a clear Texas sky the remains of CWO-4
Charles "Pappy" Dietch were laid to rest at Restland Cemetary, Dallas,
Texas. The services, held at graveside, was both a fitting statement for
someone of Pappy's exemplary service to country as well as one that brought
closure to the family.
The 4th Inf. Division, Ft. Hood, provided the burial detail and they
performed flawlessly. The Chaplain, also from Ft. Hood, delivered a
genuinely moving service stressing our need to honor both Pappy and God.
And, when speaking of "Pap" he reminded us of his many "loves"; his family,
the Army, flying, and the people he served with. As one who had the extreme
pleasure of serving and flying with Pappy I can attest that truer words were
never spoken. There were two company members at the service, Tony Alvarado
(pilot) and me and we both got to speak with Mrs. Dietch, and the Chaplain,
for some time. It was a memorable experience. I extended condolences from
all I knew that knew of Pappy or 053, which she genuinely appreciated.
Then, for quite a few minutes, she and I exchanged some "Pappy stories". She
also introduced me to her two sisters... they both, especially the oldest
(91 yrs) are "keepers"!
Side notes:
The SSgt in charge of the detail stood at attention at the foot of the
coffin for the length of the service... never blinking. At the end of the
service he presented Mrs. Dietch with the flag with the traditional speech,
"On behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful Nation ...".
He then walked to the position of the first rifleman in the detail and
gathered three spent brass which he gave to Mrs. Dietch, again speaking with
He then left, moving down the line of seated family, shaking the hands of
each and returned to a position behind the canopy where Tony and I were
standing ... he had a big ol' tear rolling down his right cheek. The
"services" were over and someone standing near me commented, "does this get
to you, Sgt?"
He replied, "Sir, when this doesn't get to me, I'll quit." A few minutes
later the detail came back up to the gravesite and spoke to all, shaking the
hands - even hugging, some of us vets... thanking us for paving the way.
They were all Artillery, Forward Observers. After Arlington and Dallas I'm
proud to report, Sir, that we left the Army in capable hands.
In attendance were family, friends, two old Company members, and various
Viet Vets including three from the Viet Vets Motorcycle Club. And we all
walked away feeling better; we'd shed a few tears but with a smile on our
faces. The Old Chief thinks that even Pappy would have been proud... and the
Good Lord knows that we were proud to have known Pappy.
I was there when the aircraft was rolled out that morning. I was there when
Pappy and Mr. Knight showed up. Someone commented that the weather was too
bad: and Pap replied "people are dying out there, we need to fly!"
I was also there listening against hope for rotor beats from the north.
Wanting, praying, for one more bird to come home. When I think of 053 I
think of the Bible. John 15:13.   Greater love hath no man this, that a man
lay down is life for his friends. Is that not the legacy of 053? Or a lot of
the folks we've known?