Remains returned 1997, ID'd 05/98
Name: Harold James Hellbach
Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: VFMA 232, MAG 11
Date of Birth: 21 September 1942
Home City of Record: New Orleans LA
Date of Loss: 19 May 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170403N 1070255E (YD180880)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E
Other Personnel in Incident: none missing
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
photo reconnaissance.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.

Capt. Harold J. Hellbach was the pilot of an F8E. On May 19, 1967,
Hellbach's aircraft crashed near the city of Vinh Linh in Quang Binh
Province in South Vietnam. Little hope was held that Hellbach survived, and
he was declared Killed/Body Not Recovered. Defense Department records list
Hellbach's loss as hostile, so it is presumed that it was related to a
combat mission.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. Fighter pilots in Vietnam were called upon to fly in many dangerous
circumstances, and were prepared to be wounded, killed, or captured. It
probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country
they proudly served.

Military IDs Remains of Serviceman
The Associated Press 

HONOLULU (AP) - Five years after seeing photographs of aircraft wreckage in
a Vietnam military museum, the US military has identified the remains of a
serviceman whose plane was shot down 31 years ago.

The remains of Marine Capt. Harold Hellbach, 24, of New Orleans, ...