KUSICK, JOSEPH GEORGE
Name: Joseph George Kusick
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, 5th SFG
Date of Birth: 26 February 1945 (Butler PA)
Home City of Record: Bruin PA
Date of Loss: 09 November 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161458N 1065258E (YC012973)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Others In Incident: Bruce R. Baxter; Ralph W. Brower; Eugene L. Clay; Larry
W. Maysey (all missing); Gerald Young (rescued - awarded Congressional Medal
Of Honor for action); 3 indigenous personnel with Special Forces team
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.
REMARKS: CRASH-5 DED; PILOT RECV-J
SYNOPSIS: On November 8, 1967, two Air Force "Jolly Greens" (#26 and #29)
from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron were scrambled from Da
Nang Air Base at 1505 hours for an emergency extraction of five surviving
members of a Special Forces reconnaissance team which had suffered heavy
casualties while operating deep in a denied area in Laos. The recovery
effort was to be recorded by the Squadron as one of the largest and most
hazardous on record.
The two Air Force helicopters were advised by forward air control to hold
while three Army UH1B gunships softened the area with rockets and machine
gun fire. An Air Force C130 gunship, meanwhile, provided flare support for
the mission. At 1630Z, Jolly Green 29 picked up the three indigenous
personnel before being driven off by hostile fire. Damaged, Jolly Green 29
left and made an emergency landing at Khe Sanh. 20 minutes later, Jolly
Green 26, flown by CAPT Gerald Young, with flight crew consisting of CAPT
Ralph Brower, co-pilot; SSGT Eugene Clay, flight engineer; and SGT Larry
Maysey, rescue specialist; braved the ground fire to pick up Special Forces
SP4 Joseph G. Kusick and MSGT Bruce R. Baxter, both wounded. The helicopter
was hit by automatic weapons fire, crashed and burst into flames.
By the afternoon of November 9, a recovery team was inserted into the area
and reached the crash site of the burned HH3. Because of fading light, it
was impossible to inspect the wreckage at that time.
On 10 November, the wreckage was searched and 3 charred remains were found.
Two of the remains had identification tags which identified them as members
of the crew. The third remains had no tags, but were identified as SP4
Kusick, radio operator of the reconnaissance team, as the long antenna from
his PRC-25 radio were found on his body. CAPT Young had survived and was
rescued 17 hours after the crash of the aircraft.
About 34 meters downhill from the wreckage, another set of remains were
found which were readily identified as MSGT Baxter from the facial features.
No trace was found of the third crew member. The remains of the two crewmen
and Kusick were removed from the aircraft and placed with MSGT Baxter's
remains so they could be hoisted as one lift into a hovering helicopter. The
identificaton tags of the crewmembers were placed with the remains. Weather
conditions and enemy action would not permit helicopters to make the
extraction either that day or the day following.
The remains of the crew and passengers aboard Jolly Green 26 were never
recovered. Although the location of the crash is known, the bodies of the
crew and recon team who died still lie on foreign soil. The five are among
nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Not one prisoner was released from Laos,
and few remains have been recovered.
While it is a great sadness to know a loved one is dead and his body is
lying far from home, the greater tragedy is those known to have been
prisoners of war who did not return, and those who are missing in action.
Since the war ended, "several million documents" and "over 250,000
interviews" have been reviewed relating to Americans prisoner, missing or
unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Many officials who have reviewed this
largely-classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are
still alive in captivity today.
These reports increase the agony for families who want to know what happened
to their sons, fathers and brothers. If, as the U.S. Government seems to
believe, all the men are dead, it's time the information was declassified so
that all can understand the fates of these heroes. If, as many believe, men
are still alive, it's time they were brought home to bring the war in
Vietnam to an honorable end.
Subject: Bio Correction
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 23:00:21 EST
I wanted to point out a possible error in the bios you have listed for Capt
Ralph Wayne Brower, SSgt Eugene Lunsford Clay, Sgt Larry Wayne Maysey, MSG
Bruce Raymond Baxter, and SP4 Joseph George Kusick. All of these gentlemen
were KIA during the shootdown of a USAF HH-3 Jolly Green helo on 9 Nov 1967.
The bios have a date of loss of 8 Nov 1967. The loss occurred in the early
morning of 9 Nov 1967. Also, there is no mention of SSgt Clay's remains
I've been researching this loss and have obtained a copy of a report from
the commanding officer of Kusick and Baxter. In that report, he states that
Clay's body was also found outside of the aircraft by the recovery team and
identification was made by ID tags. I also have a copy of the mission
report from "Crown 1", an HC-130 aircraft that was on station overhead that
day. That mission report confirms that all five KIA, three crewmembers and
two recon team members, were found and identified. Unfortunately, I can't
find anything that specifically says that Clay's remains, like the rest of
the HH-3 crew were placed with Baxter's. I can only assume that. The
bottom line is that all KIA were accounted for, but not extracted from the
I appreciate what you do on your web site, and I'm just trying to share
information I've obtained that will help you make it more accurate.
Jeff Nash (retired AF Master Sergeant)