SCHELL, RICHARD JOHN Name: Richard John Schell Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: HHC, 4th Infantry Division Date of Birth: 26 July 1944 (Wabasha MN) Home City of Record: Minneiska MN Date of Loss: 24 August 1967 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 141813N 1075140E (ZA087831) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Refno: 0811 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 1998. Other Personnel in Incident: Richard M. Allard; Kenneth B. Goff; Ronald L. Holtzman (all missing); Dayton Witherall; Richard N. Morrison; John R. Ulp; Cynthia Colburn (all rescued); Sterling A. Wall (killed, body recovered) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: On August 24, 1967, WO Dayton Witherall, pilot; WO Richard N. Morrison, aircraft commander; SP4 Richard L. Holtzman, gunner; SP4 Richard M. Allard, crewchief; 2Lt. Kenneth B. Goff, 2Lt. Richard J. Schell, Sgt. Major John R. Ulp, 1Lt. Sterling A. Wall, and Miss Cynthia Colburn, passengers; were aboard a UH1C helicopter (serial #66-12526) which departed Polei Kleng, South Vietnam to Plei Krong, South Vietnam on a combat support liaison mission. The 4th Infantry, with the assistance of the 25th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry (Airmobile), was at that time conducting an operation called Paul Revere IV, a continuing effort near the Cambodian border of Pleiku Province. The UH1H flying over Pleiku Province that day in August 1966 was flying out of Pleiku, where its crew and passengers were stationed. (NOTE: While the U.S. Army and describes the flight mission as combat-related, it also acknowledges that Ms. Colburn was on the aircraft, a situation which was "illegal", as women serving in Vietnam were not supposed to be placed in combat situations. It is not clear in public record why she was on the aircraft, although Phyllis Allard, Richard Allard's mother, has said that the aircraft was carrying passengers enroute from a hospital and that Colburn was a Red Cross worker.) During the flight, the pilot elected to fly low-level along the Dak Bla River. While attempting a 180 degree turn, the aircraft failed to recover and was caught in a severe downdraft and crashed into the Krong Bo Lah River in about 10 feet of water at a point where the current was swift and the water was deep. (NOTE: loss coordinates place the site of loss unquestionably on the Se San River about 15 miles southwest of the city of Kontum, and about 28 miles due south of the city of Dak To. Just south of Dak To is the juncture of the Se San and another river. Whether at this juncture the two rivers have other names cannot be determined with materials on hand at the time of this writing. Information provided by family members states that the aircraft landed in the "bottomless, rapid Boc River called Dak Bla".) Rescue helicopters arrived 10 - 45 minutes after the crash and rescued WO Morrison, WO Witherall, Ms Colburn and Sgt. Major Ulp, after their having been swept several hundred feet downstream. 2Lt. Goff, SP4 Allard and 2Lt. Schell were not seen by any of the survivors after the crash. SP4 Holtzman was seen by WO Morrison, who stated that Holtzman was wearing a flight jacket, armor plate, and a flak jacket, and called out to Morrison that he could not swim. WO Morrison stated that Holtzman drifted away in the swift current before he could help him. Later searches of the area revealed several pieces of debris, but the aircraft itself was not found. In September, Lt. Wall's body was retrieved from the river. Searches were conducted through December 26, but neither the aircraft nor the four missing men aboard it were found. Richard Allard's mother received a collect call from Cambodia a few days after the crash by someone she believed was Richard. She subsequently had the call checked by Illinois Bell and states that the results "produced evidence that they [the crew] were in the hands of the enemy". In 1970 she saw a prisoner on television in a Viet Cong film which she believed was Richard. The Army was elusive in its conclusions on both events, so Mrs. Allard borrowed money from friends to go to Cambodia in January of 1972. Through a series of events which belong in a spy novel, Mrs. Allard said that she found herself in a cave where she was blindfolded and led into a bare room. An official and a soldier came in with her son. In the moments he was allowed to stay, he said, "Shame on you for coming." He apparently was afraid for his mother's safety. The Army later said they couldn't believe Mrs. Allard's account unless the Communists corroborated it in writing. Mrs. Allard has worked continually for 22 years for information about her son. In 1969, a communist defector was shown a number of photographs of missing men. One of the photos he identified positively as being a prisoner of war was Richard Schell. The U.S. could not determine why the photo was selected. Clearly, all the evidence is not in on the events of August 24, 1967. Whether Mrs. Allard's story is true is unknown. Whether Allard and Schell were truly prisoners can only be known by the communists, and of course, Allard and Schell themselves. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of any of the four missing.
Fri Sept 4, 1998
Subject: Lt Richard J. Schell
Please contact me as to anyone acquainted with Lt
Richard Schell, Missing in Action August 1967,
South Vietnam. He was part of Operation Paul Revere, Mecong Delta. His helicopter shot down around
Se Saen River. He is a relative of my wife, Margaret. We have gotten several accounts of exactly what
happened. Some of them seem inaccurate. Would like to truly know what happened.
DAV Post 39, Anoka MN