SCHMIDT, PETER ALDEN
Name: Peter Alden Schmidt
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: 71st Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group,
23rd Infantry Division (Americal)
Date of Birth: 07 November 1949
Home City of Record: Milwaukee WI
Date of Loss: 15 August 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 153046N 1072021E (YC509163)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: James C. Becker (missing); Michael D. Crist;
Raymond W. Anderson (both rescued)
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 August 15, 1970, 1Lt. James C. Becker, pilot; CW2 Raymond W.
Anderson, aircraft commander; SP4 Michael D. Crist, crewchief; and SP4
Peter A. Schmidt, door gunner; were flying a UH1H helicopter (tail number
69-15375) on a reconnaissance team extraction mission in Laos.
Because of the difficult terrain in the area of the planned extraction, the
recon team was to be lifted out by ladder. The helicopter hovered 50 feet
over the pickup zone and dropped the ladder from the right side of the
aircraft. Five of the team members climbed onto the ladder, and the
helicopter began to lift off. At about 100 feet the aircraft began to
receive small arms fire and crashed.
The five team members were stripped off the ladder by the trees as the
helicopter descended. After the crash, CW2 Anderson checked the two crewmen
on the right side of the aircraft, noticing that 1Lt. Becker was upright in
his seat, however, it seemed that he had hit his head into the overhead
instrument panel in the force of the impact. Becker's helmet was gone, and
there was blood on the floor. CW2 Anderson stated that Becker did not appear
to be breathing. Anderson then unsuccessfully attempted to free Schmidt from
the right gunnel. He noted no blood on Schmidt, but stated that Schmidt did
not appear to be breathing.
SP4 Crist checked SP4 Schmidt and noticed that he was breathing, and in
short gasps, and was losing a great deal of blood. Crist had dislocated his
collarbone, so was unable to free Schmidt from the wreckage.
Crist and Anderson returned to the pickup zone and were extracted. No
attempts were made to return and recover Becker and Schmidt because of the
location and hostile forces in the area. Although no other personnel are
listed as missing from this incident, the fate of the team members on the
ladder remains unknown. They were either recovered (dead or alive), or were
indigenous personnel (and would not be listed on U.S. casualty lists).
Becker and Schmidt are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain missing from
Vietnam. Schmidt, at least, was not dead when last seen by the surviving
crewmen of the crashed helicopter.
With thousands of reports having been received by the U.S. Government, and
still being received today, of Americans still held captive in Southeast
Asia, most experts believe there are hundreds of Americans still prisoner in
Southeast Asia. There can be no certainty that Becker and Schmidt died the
day their helicopter crashed. They could be among those said to be alive. If
so, what must they be thinking of us?