SEWARD, WILLIAM HENRY Remains Identified 06/16/00
Name: William Henry Seward Rank/Branch: O4/US Marine Corps Unit: HMM 165, Marine Air Group 36 Date of Birth: 11 April 1937 Home City of Record: Atlanta GA Date of Loss: 06 March 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 145208N 1075713E (YC456958) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: CH46A Refno: 1077
Other Personnel In Incident: Robert Lopez; indigenous personnel; (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: On March 6, 1968, Maj. William H. Seward, pilot, and LtCol. Robert Lopez, passenger, were aboard a US Marine Corps CH46A helicopter (tail #151909, call sign Yankee Whiskey 17) as lead aircraft in a flight of two in company with several other support aircraft on an insertion mission in South Vietnam. Also onboard Seward's helicopter were an unknown number of indigenous personnel working with the Special Forces team to be inserted.
While hovering above an 80-foot canopy to insert a the reconnaissance team, the aircraft received moderate small arms fire and began settling. The aircraft continued its descent until the rotor blades struck the trees and the aircraft twisted and fell, coming to rest on the right side in a nose-low attitude.
Following the crash of the helicopter, both Seward and the co-pilot were helplessly trapped in the twisted wreckage of the cockpit. The personnel who were able to get out of the burning aircraft succeeded in freeing the co-pilot. Maj. Seward was unconscious and trapped in the opposite side of the cockpit. Every effort to free him failed. LtCol. Lopez appeared to be trapped between the aircraft and the ground, and efforts to free him were useless.
Once flames reached the cockpit and ammunition began exploding, the men were forced to abandon rescue efforts. Within 30 seconds, the aircraft exploded and was completely consumed by fire. A short while later, the survivors were extracted by rescue helicopters and evacuated. A recovery team entered the crash area about 2 hours later. The remains of one passenger, believed to be those of Lopez were found, but were charred beyond recognition, and it was decided not to attempt recovery. Other remains were apparently destroyed by fire and explosion. The other men reported missing were indigenous, names unknown.
Lopez and Seward are listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply vanished without a trace.
=========================== National League of Families UPDATE LINE: June 16, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This message is being recorded on Friday, June 16th. The number of Americans still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is now 2,017.
Today, the Defense Department provided the names of three Americans now accounted for, and the name of a fourth was not publicly released at the request of his family. Those announced include Captain Roger M. Netherland, USN, of PA, LTC Robert Lopez, USA, of WA, and Major William H. Seward, USMC, of GA. The remains of Captain Netherland, missing since May 10, 1967, were unilaterally repatriated by the Government of Vietnam on September 11, 1989. The remains of LTC Lopez and Major Seward were jointly recovered in August of 1993 and October of 1994. The accounting for these three Americans, plus the one Air Force officer not publicly identified, brings the number still missing and unaccounted for to 2,017, 1,514 in Vietnam. Of the 427 still missing in Laos and the 68 unaccounted for in Cambodia, approximately 85% were lost in areas under Vietnam's wartime control. There are also 8 Americans still unaccounted for in the territorial waters of the PRC.