Group burial announced 08/04/08

Name: Manuel Reyes Denton
Rank/Branch: E4/US Navy
Unit: First Marine Air Wing, Fleet Marine Force Pacific
Date of Birth: 18 June 1941 (Sam Antonio TX)
Home City of Record: Kerrville TX
Date of Loss: 08 October 1963
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 160207N 1073440E (YC758744)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH34D
Refno: 0019
Other Personnel In Incident: Luther E. Ritchey (missing) (see 2003 update)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.
NETWORK 2003 -- see source below.  2020


SYNOPSIS: In 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson
took the office of the President of the United States. Few Americans had
more than a passing knowledge of Vietnam, yet in February, a U.S. Senate
panel reported that annual American aid to South Vietnam totaled $400
million. By the end of the year 16,300 Americans were on station there "on
dangerous assignment." During this year, the war in Vietnam captured U.S.
media attention when Buddhists staged demonstrations, revolts and
self-immolations during that summer.

Lance Corporal Luther E. Ritchey, Jr. was attached to HMM 361, Marine Air
Group 16. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Manuel Reyes Denton was a crewman
assigned to the First Marine Air Wing, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. On
October 8, 1963, the two were crewmen aboard a Marine UH34D helicopter
conducting a search mission for a downed friendly aircraft.

Denton and Ritchey's aircraft crashed some 43 miles west of Da Nang, South
Vietnam in a mountainous jungle terrain, in what was then hostile territory.
The exact cause of the accident is unknown (according to the Navy), although
Joint Casualty Resolution Center had some evidence that an air collision
occurred prior to the aircraft crashing.

Denton and Ritchey were initially placed in a casualty status of Missing and
later changed to Reported Dead. Since their remains were never recovered,
they are listed among the unaccounted for servicemen from the Vietnam war.

Denton and Ritchey are among nearly 2500 Americans still missing from the
Vietnam war. Nearly 10,000 reports have been received regarding these men
since war's end which have convinced many authorities that hundreds are
still alive. Whether Denton and Ritchey are among them is unknown, but as
long as even one man remains alive in enemy hands, we have failed as a


Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 22:39:51 -0500
From: Jerry Ostapowicz <>
USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Pilots
Subject: Info on RITCHEY, Luther E

INCIDENT DATE 631008 HMM-361 UH-34D 148781+ and HMM-361 UH-34D 148759+

[CREW - UH-34D 148781+]
Whitehead Jr., Charles F WO1 AircraftCommander HMM-361 631008
Richardson, Arthur "Bud" Gene 1stLT Copilot HMM-361 631008
Skoviak, Ronald Frank CPL CrewChief HMM-361 631008
Davidson, Donald Frederick LCPL SARCrew HMM-361 631008
Tuthill, Charles Preston CPL CombatPhotographer
SubUnit2/MABS-16/MAG-16/1stMAW 631008
Rice, Claude HN(USN) SARCorpsman 631008

[CREW - UH-34D 148759+]
Harris, William Thomas CAPT AircraftCommander HMM-361 631008
Lessig, Daniel Kepner 1stLT Copilot HMM-361 631008
Jameson, Larry Duane SGT CrewChief HMM-361 631008
Farrell, Bruce Charles, LT(USN) SARFltSurgeon HMM-361 631008
Ritchey Jr., Luther Edmond LCPL SARCrew HMM-361 631008
Denton, Manuel Reyes HM3(USN) SARCorpsman HMM-361 631008

DAVIDSON DONALD FREDERICK : 1928576 : USMCR : LCPL : E3 : 6481 : 21 :
SHREVEPORT : LA : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body recovered :
Quang Nam (Danang) :02 : 19420910 : Cauc : Protestant/single : 01E : 029

DENTON MANUEL REYES : 5287032 : USNR :HM3 : E4 : HM3 : 22 : KERRVILLE : TX :
19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew - Corpsman: body NOT recovered :
Quang Nam (Danang) :04 : 19410618 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 029

FARRELL BRUCE CHARLES : 663304 : USN : LT : O3 : 2105 (FltSurgeon): 28 : SAN
FRANCISCO : CA : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew - FltSurgeon : body
recovered : Quang Nam (Danang) :06 : 19350627 : Cauc : Roman Catholic/single
: 01E : 030

HARRIS WILLIAM THOMAS : 065229 : USMC : CAPT : O3 : 7335 : 30 : MESQUITE :
TX : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : AircraftCommander : body recovered :
Quang Nam (Danang) :10 : 19330612 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 030

JAMESON LARRY DUANE : 1299735 : USMCR : SGT : E5 : 6481 : 29 : CANTRIL : IA
: 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam
(Danang) :10 : 19340804 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 030

LESSIG DANIEL KEPNER : 080903 : USMC : 1stLT : O2 : 7335 : 26 : WEST READING
: PA : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam
(Danang) :03 : 19370625 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 029

RICE CLAUDE : 5472522 : USNR : HN : E3 : HN : 19 : MARSHALLVILLE : GA :
19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew - Corpsman : body recovered : Quang
Nam (Danang) :01 : 19431029 : Negro : Protestant/single : 01E : 030

RICHARDSON ARTHUR GENE : 084399 : USMC : 1stLT : O2 : 7335 : 24 : ROCHELLE :
IL : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam
(Danang) :04 : 19390111 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 030

RITCHEY LUTHER EDMOND JR : 1928239 : USMCR : LCPL : E3 : 6481 : 20 :
MANSFIELD : OH : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body NOT recovered
: Quang Nam (Danang) :02 : 19430127 : Cauc : Protestant/single : 01E : 031

SKOVIAK RONALD FRANK : 1863559 : USMCR : CPL : E4 : 6481 : 22 : WARREN : MI
: 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body recovered : Quang Nam
(Danang) :04 : 19410803 : Cauc : Roman Catholic/single : 01E : 031

TUTHILL CHARLES PRESTON : 1883723 : USMCR : CPL : E4 : ----- : 22 :
UNIONDALE : NY : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : Passenger : body
recovered : Quang Nam (Danang) : 03 : 19410417 : Cauc : Protestant/single :
01E : 031

WHITEHEAD CHARLES F JR : 051318 : USMCR : WO : W1 : 7335 : 37 : MILL VALLEY
: CA : 19631008 : hostile, crash, land : AircraftCommander : body recovered
: Quang Nam (Danang) :14 : 19251018 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 01E : 031

Comments on Incident:
The two UH-34's that were lost on this date were on a SAR mission for two
downed pilots in a VNAF T-28 (one Vietnamese & one US Air Force). According
to contemporary news accounts, the nine Marines and three Navy medical
personnel killed represented the biggest loss of American lives from a
single incident up to that time in the war. Cpl. Charles Tuthill was the
NCOIC of the SHUFLY photo lab at the time of his death. Submitted by Dave
Hugel, worked in the SHUFLY Photo Lab.

Comments on Incident:
See Combat Photos Page, At 361 Crash Site, 1963

Comments on Incident:
Conclusion of Investigative Report by Maj. Robert V. Reese, HMM-361: "The
place of the accident [site of the wreckage] was identified as 240 degrees,
43 miles from Danang, RVN."

"The subject men were killed when their helicopters crashed while on a
combat rescue mission in South Vietnam. The actual cause of the crashes
could not be determined; it is presumed that the men died as a result of
injuries sustained in the crashes. Their deaths are not attributable to the
intent, fault, negligence or inefficiency of any person in the naval

"About 081930H October 1963, the pilot of the L-19 [Army] lost visual and
radio contact with the two helicopters and returned to base. Prior to both
aircraft being declared overdue or assumed missing, search operations were
initiated. Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the search was
discontinued until first light of the next day, 9 October 1963."

"Rescue operations - at first light 9 October 1963, two squadron helicopters
accompanied by an O-1B weather reconnaissance aircraft were launched on a
search for the missing helicopters. The search aircraft sighted the wreckage
... The first troop carrying helicopter made an approach to the landing zone
and was fired at by an enemy automatic weapon, hit, wounding the copilot and
killing an RVN trooper in the passenger compartment."

"During one troop lift, the wreckage of the second Marine helicopter ... was
found within approximately 500-600 yards from the first crash site in dense
jungle growth with no apparent survivors ... Enemy small arms fire continued
intermittently throughout the period. At the completion of operations, three
Marine pilots had been wounded."

On 10 October 6 bodies from one aircraft and the body of the pilot of the
second a/c were recovered. The next day three additional bodies were
recovered from the other aircraft. The remains of LCpl Ritchey and HM3
Denton were not recovered (thorough search within a 250 yard radius). "Due
to the condition of the wreckage, conclusive evidence existed beyond a
reasonable doubt that both were dead and that they had died in the same
accident at the same time as the other crew members."

Comments on Incident:
Be advised that in an article written by David Kranz of the "Argus Leader"
of Sioux Falls SD, it is reported that a Vietnam veteran named Doug Haugstad
while on a humanitarian mission in Vietnam was handed a package by a middle
aged woman that contained two brittle teeth, and a military dog tag with the
name: Ritchey, Luther E. Jr. This woman told him these items came from a
helicopter that had crashed during the war. This happened near the village
of Tuy Hoa, about 100 miles south of DaNang. The woman told him, "Here, take
them back."

These items were eventually sent to the Central Identification Laboratory in
Hawaii and they said that tests showed they were almost certainly the
remains of Ritchey. This should bring some closure to the family and
squadron members who knew LCpl Ritchey. The newspaper item included a
picture of Ritchey and a UH34D...

Submitted by Roger Lawson, previously of HMM-16



August 04, 2008

Sailor Missing from The Vietnam War is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, has been identified.

He is Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Manuel R. Denton, U.S. Navy, of Kerrville, Texas. He will be buried as part of a group on Thursday in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On Oct. 8, 1963, Denton was one of six men who crewed a UH-34D Choctaw helicopter that was on a search-and-rescue mission. While over Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, the helicopter came under intense enemy ground fire and crashed. There were no survivors. Over the next several days, the remains of four of the crewmen were recovered, however the remains of Denton and one other crewman, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Luther E. Ritchey Jr., were not recovered.

Between 1991 and 2000, several joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), traveled to Quang Nam Province to investigate the incident and interview witnesses. Teams also surveyed the crash site and found wreckage consistent with a UH-34D.

In 2000 and 2001, human remains associated with this incident were turned over to U.S. officials. In 2002, a joint team excavated the crash site and recovered human remains.

As a result of the remains turned over in 2000 and 2001, and of those recovered from the crash site in 2002, Ritchey's remains were identified in 2003. Some of these remains could not be individually identified, and they are included in a group representing the entire crew. Denton's remains are in this group, which will be buried together in Arlington.

JPAC used forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence in Denton's identification.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at or call (703) 699-1420.




On May 14, 2008, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Hospital Corpsman Third Class Manuel Reyes Denton, missing from the Vietnam War.

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Reyes joined the U.S. Navy from Texas and was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. On October 8, 1963, he was one of six aboard a UH-34D Choctaw on a search and rescue mission over Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. While flying over Quang Nam, the Choctaw was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed. All of the Choctaw's crew were killed in the crash, and immediate search efforts were unable to locate HM3 Denton's remains. After the war, joint U.S. and Vietnamese search teams investigated the Choctaw's crash site and recovered human remains, and additional remains were also turned over to authorities. Modern forensic techniques were eventually able to identify HM3 Reyes' remains among the remains recovered. 

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Reyes is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.