Name: James Edward Hunsicker
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 57th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st
Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 29 November 1946 (Ephrata PA)
Home City of Record: Denver PA
Date of Loss: 24 April 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 143918N 1074711E (ZB001219)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 1833

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.

Other Personnel in Incident: Robert W. Brownlee; George W. Carter; Wade L.
Ellen; Johnny M. Jones; Kenneth J. Yonan; Franklin Zollicoffer (all
missing); Charles M. Lea; Rickey B. Vogel (helicopter crew, rescued); Julius
G. Warmath; John P. Keller; Walter H. Ward (helicopter passengers, rescued);
Charles W. Gordon, Cao Ky Chi (evaded capture near Dak To)


SYNOPSIS: On the evening of April 23, 1972, Capt. Kenneth J. Yonan
accompanied his ARVN counterpart to a water tower located on the
northwestern edge of the Tanh Canh base camp compound near Dak To, Kontum
Province, South Vietnam. Yonan was an advisor assigned to Advisory Team 22,
MACV, and was assisting the ARVN 42nd Regiment based there.

At about 0530 hours on April 24, Capt. Yonan was still in the water tower
when Viet Cong attacked the camp perimeter. Although tanks fired at and hit
the water tower, two other advisors spoke to Capt. Yonan after the firing
and Yonan reported that he was not hit and planned to join the other
advisors when it was safe to do so. Radio contact was maintained with Yonan
until 0730 hours. The other U.S. advisors began escape and evasion
operations from the beleaguered compound.

Team 22 Advisors Maj. George W. Carter, Maj. Julius G. Warmath, and Capt.
John P. Keller, were extracted by helicopter. The aircraft was a UH1H from
the 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, (serial #69-15715) and was
flown by Lt. James E. Hunsicker. WO Wade L. Ellen was the co-pilot of the
chopper, and SP4 Charles M. Lea, and SP5 Rickey B. Vogel were crewmen. Other
persons extracted included 1Lt. Johnny M. Jones, from the 52nd Aviation
Battalion; SP4 Franklin Zollicoffer, from the U.S. Army Installation at
Pleiku, and Sgt. Walter H. Ward, unit not specified.

The helicopter departed to the northwest from Dak To, but was apparently hit
by enemy fire, as it crashed and burned on a small island in the Dak Poko
River about 500 meters from the end of the dock to the runway. Because of
the rolling terrain, personnel at the airfield did not see the aircraft
impact. A pilot flying over the wreckage reported that the helicopter was
burning, but they could see no survivors. It was later discovered that five
people did survive the crash - Warmath, Keller, Vogel, Ward and Lea.
According to their statements, Hunsicker, Ellen, Zollicoffer, Jones and
Carter were all dead.

Two other Team 22, MACV Advisors, LtCol. Robert W. Brownlee and Capt.
Charles W. Gordon, and their ARVN interpreter, Sgt. Cao Ky Chi, were in a
bunker near the airstrip approximately 4 kilometers to the west of the base
camp when they were forced to withdraw under heavy enemy attack. They
proceeded south of the compound across the Dak Poko River, but LtCol.
Brownlee became separated from the others as they were advancing up a hill.
Sgt. Chi and Capt. Gordon called out to him, but received no response. From
the top of the hill, Sgt. Chi heard the enemy call out to someone in
Vietnamese to halt and raise their hands. Sgt. Chi believed the Viet Cong
were speaking to LtCol. Brownlee. Gordon and Chi evaded capture and
eventually made their way to safety.

A Vietnamese who was captured and subsequently released reported that he had
talked to another prisoner who had witnessed LtCol.Brownlee's death. He was
told that LtCol. Brownlee had killed himself with his own pistol when
communist soldiers told him to raise his hands in an attempt to capture him.
Additional hearsay reports of his suicide were reported by another ARVN

Yonan never caught up with the others. For three days, helicopter searches
were made of the area with no success. Ground search, because of the hostile
threat in the area, was not practical.

In April 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Capt. Kenneth J.
Yonan and returned them to the U.S. in a spirit of stepped-up cooperation on
the POW/MIA issue. For nearly 20 years, this 1969 West Point graduate was a
prisoner of war - alive or dead. His family now knows with certainty that he
is dead, but may never learn how - or when - he died.

In addition to the reports regarding Brownlee's death, a South Vietnamese
soldier reported that he observed the capture of one "big" American from the
camp. Another report described the capture of a U.S. Captain stationed at
the camp.

Since the war ended, reports and refugee testimony have convinced many
authorities that not only do the Vietnamese possess several hundred sets of
Americans' remains, more startlingly, they also control hundreds of living
American prisoners.

As long as they are allowed to do so, the Vietnamese will return remains at
politically expedient intervals. As long as they are allowed to do so, they
will hold our men prisoner.


Official data bases do not tell the whole story of this mission.

While Rickey Von Vogel is only noted as "rescued", in reality, Sp5 Vogel was
missing from April 24, 1972 until his return to military control May 6,
1972. During that time, despite severe wounds that included bullet wounds
and broken bones, he managed to escape and evade capture for almost 2 weeks
until his rescue.

Rickey Vogel was awarded the Purple Heart and 3 Air Medals in addition to
various Vietnam awards and decorations for his service. After his medical
evacuation and recovery, he continued to serve his country until his
discharge in 1974.


From: "W Page"
Subject: POW- Kenneth Yonan - captured mid May in bunker
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 20:50:32 -0500
My interest in POW/MIA (returned) Kenneth Yonan is very personal. Some of us
( D 1/12th Cav in AO at the time) were tasked to rescue him but couldn't because of
the numerically superior enemy and armor.
Thought you may be interested to know of this document found at the Texas Tech Archives.
The archive document number is actually the numerals within the named file. View the very
last page at the bottom. Before Jimmy Gillespie ( my buddy in D 1/12th Cav), who was
with me passed away he had reminded me of an American who had come into our tiny AO
and stayed a bit and left. We never knew who he was. We always wondered if it could
have been Ken Yonan or someone else. So many records are wrong or incomplete.
Note that Kenneth Yonan had previously been the CO of D 1/12th Cav before he transferred
to Adv. Team 22. Captain Dombrosky replaced him at D 1/12th and in turn Captain John H.
Wheeler replaced Capt. Dombrosky about mid March 1972.

More files from W. Page   09/2007

National Archives Documents

24 April 1972 "TAN CANH LOG

National Archives Docs



Not missing from their memories
Survivors respond to articles on servicemen whose remains were not recovered.

Staff Writer

It's been more than 37 years since Lt. James Edward Hunsicker lost his life in Vietnam.

But Kathryn Hunsicker's small, cozy apartment in Brethren Village is decorated with
numerous reminders of her son, an Army helicopter pilot who died April 24, 1972,
while on an emergency rescue mission.

A handsome, framed photograph of him, dating from his college days, sits on a table.
His collection of medals including the Silver Star he was posthumously awarded
for heroism hangs on a wall.

Scrapbooks and photo albums chronicling his too-brief life rest in a basket on the floor.

After the Sunday News ran a package in September on local servicemen whose remains
are unaccounted for in the Korean and Vietnam wars, some family members came forward
to tell their stories, including Mrs. Hunsicker. Others participated in interviews after their
names were provided to the paper.....




Return to Service Member Profiles

On April 24, 1972, a UH-1H Iroquois (tail number 69-15715) with a crew of four left Dak To II airstrip carrying a six-man military advisory team. The helicopter encountered heavy enemy fire shortly after take-off to the northwest of Dak To II, crashing and burning on a small island on the west side of the Dak Poko River. Five of the personnel on board were killed in the crash. Of the five survivors, only two were fit enough to try to get to friendly territory and seek help. When these two survivors reached friendly positions nine days after the crash, they informed authorities of the other survivors awaiting recovery, and a rescue team was able to reach the three survivors and extract them from the area on 6 May, 1972.  Two of the dead were buried by the survivors near the crash site while the other three dead could not be buried due to the situation on the ground.  The bodies of the five men who died in the crash could not be recovered because of enenmy forces in the area, and subsequent searches for their remains have been unsuccessful. 

First Lieutenant James Edward Hunsicker, who joined the U.S. Army from Pennsylvania, served with the 57th Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group. He was the pilot of the helicopter when it crashed and he did not survive. His remains could not be recovered after the crash. First Lieutenant Hunsicker is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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