GROTH, WADE LAWRENCE
Name: Wade Lawrence Groth
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: 50th Medical Detachment, 43rd Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade
Date of Birth: 14 May 1947
Home City of Record: Greenville MI (joined Army in Cleveland OH)
Date of Loss: 12 February 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 121721N 1074713E (ZU030600)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Harry W. Brown, Alan W. Gunn, Jerry L. Roe (all
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: On February 12, 1968, SP5 Harry Brown, medic; 1Lt. Jerry Roe,
aircraft commander; WO Alan Gunn, pilot; and SP4 Wade Groth, crewchief, were
flying a UH1H (tail #66-17027) dispatched on a night medical evacuation
mission (dustoff). Dustoff 90 departed Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam for Gia
Nghai Special Forces camp.
As U.S. Air Force Tactical Control Radar operators at Ban Me Thuot tracked
the flight, the blip that was the UH1H dustoff chopper disappeared from the
screen at 2019 hours. The helicopter apparently went down 20 minutes
outbound from its base in a mountainous region of Quang Duc Province.
An Army Infantry unit searched the apparent crash site near the Cambodian
border for 36 hours, but found neither the helicopter nor its crew. Snipers
were not known to be in the area, and it is not believed the helicopter was
shot down, according to an Army report, indicating possible mechanical
In April 1969, CIA was asked to analyze the positive identifications made by
a rallier of a number of photographs of missing Americans. The rallier
selected the photos of both Harry Brown and Jerry Roe as two men he believed
to have been prisoners of war. CIA could not determine why the source
In 1979, Sean O'Toolis, an Irish-American, was touring Bong Song Camp, 40
miles south of Hanoi, on an IRA gun-buying mission, when he alleges he met
and spoke with American prisoners, Brendon Foley and Wade Groth, a prison
workmate of Foley's. He also claims to have talked to men named MacDonald,
Jenning and an O'Hare or O'Hara. He brought a message to Foley's brother and
fingerprints of Foley and O'Hara. He identified old photos of Groth, and
gave believable descriptions of Foley and Groth. Neither family knows
whether or not to believe O'Toolis, as much of his account of his travels
Whether the four men aboard the dustoff lost on February 12, 1968 survived
to be captured is unknown. The coincidence of two separate sources
identifying three members of the crew seems to strong to ignore. The U.S.
Government does not believe there is any substance to these reports. Based
on thousands of still-classified sighting reports, many experts believe
hundreds of Americans did survive, and are still alive, waiting to be
brought home. If even one is alive, he must be brought home.
February 1968 medevac crew still has not returned
On the evening of Feb. 12, 1968, aircraft commander Lt. Jerry
Lee Roe, call sign "Dustoff 90," and his crew: CW2 Alan Gunn, pilot;
Spec. 5 Wade L. Groth, crew chief; and their, medic, Spec. 5 Harry W.
Brown, departed Ban Me Thuot in their UH-1H for an urgent medivac at
the Gia Nghai Special Forces Camp.
The crewmembers and helicopter were from the 50th Medical
Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance), normally stationed at Tuy Hoa, and
were on standby at Ban Me Thuot in support of Special Forces operations
in the area.
At about 8:19 p.m., 20 minutes out of Ban Me Thuot, Dustoff
90's blip disappeared from the U.S.A.F. TAC control radar screen.
There was no "May Day" call or indication there were any
problems. That last position would have put them close to the top of a
mountain we commonly called "VC Mountain".
The mountain had plenty of Triple A and small arms fire from
the enemy, so it was normally avoided like the plague.
Yet the coordinates given for the last contact was about 100
meters from the top of the mountain.
Helicopter crews from the 155th Assault Helicopter Company were
dispatched for search and rescue operations.
An Air Force AIE Sandy joined the search and reported seeing
"fire and lights" on the mountain.
The following morning, a helicopter crew from the 50th Medical
Detachment piloted by the unit's commanding officer, Maj. Ronald C.
Jones and the unit's XU, Uapt. Ronnie Porta, arrived and joined the
search and rescue effort.
A Special Forces soldier using a "sniffer" device which detects
the presence of ammonia in human urine also joined the crew. Flying low
and slow over a mountain you normally could not fly close to made the
search seem almost surrealistic.
We could have reached out and picked the leaves off the trees.
It was unbelievable.
SOP for search and rescue operations: After three days of
searching, if the crew or helicopter had not been sighted, the operation
was suspended and the crew listed as missing in action.
Per SOP, the search and rescue on was officially suspended many
pilots from the 50th MedDetachment would continue to search during
missions in the area.
Now things begin to get strange.
It's 1970, and Ronnie Porta is back in Vietnam as a major and
in command of his own dustoff unit.
He receives a call at Cu Chi from a friend at Ban Me Thuot who
was there when Dustoff 90 went down.
His friend tells him the aircraft was found intact, minus rotor
blades, of course. His friend believed the crash was survivable. They
found an ambu bag, a pair of goldrimmed glasses, spent M-79, M- 16, and
.30-caliber carbine ammo casings, and part of a flak jacket.
Memorial Day, 1986: I had a report pulled from the POW/MIA
database maintained by the National League of POW/MIA Families. Lt.
Roe and Spec. 5 Brown were identified as POWs.
In April of 1969, the CIA was asked to analyze a positive
identification by a "Rallier" who had selected their pictures from a
book of personnel listed as missing in action.
The CIA had determined it was only a "coincidence" a "Rallier"
could positively ID two people from the same helicopter crew; one black,
one white, one located in the front of the book under Brown, and the
other listed near the back of the book under Roe? (Just a coincidence?)
According to the "Rallier" the location of the POW compound
where they were being held at the time was about two miles from Camp
Eagle, "home" to the 101st Airborne.
I decided to look up Wade Groth, also. In 1979, about six
years after all POW/MIAs not returned in "Operation Homecoming" had been
declared dead by Hanoi and Washington, Groth had been seen alive and in
good condition in a place called Bong Song about 40 miles south of
Hanoi, working on a railroad section.
An IRA gunrunner by the name of Sean O'Toolis spoke to Groth,
Brendon Foley, and another POW named MacDonald. O'Toolis was able to
obtain a fingerprint of Foley and a note for his brother.
He gave the CIA sketch artist a description so accurate it was
easy to tell it was Groth - red hair, freckles and all.
O'Toolis' word supposedly couldn't be "trusted". He was a
gunrunner and worked for the IRA, and, therefore, was disreputable in
our govemment's eyes. Since he freely took this evidence to the CIA, I
would think he had some connections there.
October 26, 1992: A search team finds what it believes is the
bum spot left by a crashed and burned UH-1H. Members of the team also
find the same things I mentioned before: Ambu Bag, gold-rimmed glasses,
part of a flak jacket, spent M-79 casings, and all the rest, but they
are here to bury this crew, not to find them (my personal view).
So, due to the size and depth of the bum spot, the team
reported the aircraft crashed into the mountain with such force it
exploded and the entire crew was killed.
Excuse me, but the search team grossly oversimplified its
"findings" on this point, 22 years after the aircraft had been found
comparatively intact in 1970. No human remains were found!
What really happened to Jerry Roe and the crew of Dustoff 90?
Are they prisoners of war or are they dead?
I am looking for anyone from the 155th Assault Helicopter
Company who may have witnessed the finding of Dustoff 90's helicopter in
1970, or the person who called Maj. Porta with the information.
The standard procedure when I was in Vietnam (196768) was, if
the aircraft couldn't be recovered, it was to be destroyed in place. In
other words, the helicopter would have been blown up or burned by our
So, if an otherwise intact "bird" had been blown in place by
our forces, the search team, not knowing this, would naturally come to
the wrong conclusions, based only on what they saw at the crash site.
You would think also that nearly everyone "in the business"
would know the difference between spent rounds that have been fired and
those that have simply exploded in a fire.
The implication, of course, is plain: If the cartridge casings
were from fired rounds, then Dustoff 90's crew was alive enough to
engage in a firefight after they were on the ground.
They were never confirmed KIA (killed in action). Three of
them were reported as having been seen alive. Therefore, they are still
missing in action! We have one mission still out: Dustoff 90.
If you were in the 155th Assault Helicopter Company or Special
Forces CCN, and you have direct knowledge of the finding of Dustoff 90's
aircraft in 1970 or if you were a POW held with Jerry Roe, Wade Groth,
Harry Brown or Alan Gunn, please contact: email@example.com
Don Caldwell artnhoss@bellsouth. net
Courtesy Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Newsletter 2001.