VANDEN EYKEL, MARTIN DAHLBER II
Remains Returned - ID Announced March 1990 - Son refutes I.D.
Name: Martin Dahlber Vanden Eykel II
Rank/Branch: W2/US Army
Unit: 129th Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 04 October 1943 (Chicago IL)
Home City of Record: Wheaton IL
Date of Loss: 02 December 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 141944N 1085447E (BR750850)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: William Sanderlin; Michael Shanley; William C.
Dunlap (all remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.
NETWORK in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: On December 2, 1969, CW2 Martin VandenEykel, aircraft commander;
CW2 William C. Dunlap, pilot; SP5 Michael H. Shanley, gunner; and SP5
William D. Sanderlin, crew chief, were flying in the second UH1B gunship
(serial #64-13959) in a flight of two in a night ground support mission in
Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam. (Note: some records place this incident
in Kontum Province, but according to coordinates, it is in Binh Dinh
At 2030 hours, CW2 Dunlap's aircraft and the flight leader's aircraft
departed LZ English to provide fire support for a long range reconnaissance
patrol (LRRP) that had radioed for help.
The two helicopters were led to the reported LRRP location by another
helicopter equipped to drop flares. Upon arrival at the target area, the
flare ship began dropping flares, while the two gunships tried to make radio
contact with the LRRP team. CW2 Vanden Eykel radioed that he had made a turn
to avoid crashing into a mountain, and the ground forces lost contact with
him. CW2 Vanden Eykel's acknowledgement was the last known radio
transmission in the vicinity.
The Bong Son region of South Vietnam, which is where the operation was
taking place was so well-known for its treachery to aircraft that it became
known as the "grave yard of helicopters." Many had been lost in that area.
Following the loss of the helicopter and crew, a board of inquiry was held.
A Vietnamese woman stated at the hearing that she had seen the helicopter go
down and the crew was captured by the Viet Cong.
In July 1973, Vietnamese woodcutters reported finding the wreckage of a
helicopter in that vicinity. Investigation disclosed that the aircraft was
not a helicopter, but a fixed wing airplane and not related to this case.
In December 1974, another source reported finding aircraft wreckage in this
area, but upon investigation, it was found that the wreckage was that of a
Vietnamese helicopter, rather than one that was involved in this case.
There has been no further word of the crew of the UH1B helicopter. No one
saw them die; no one found the wreckage of their plane. To this date it is
not known if they died or survived to be captured by the enemy.
In March 1990, the U.S. Government announced that the Vietnamese had
discovered the remains of Dunlap, Sanderlin, Shanley and VandenEykel, and
they had been returned to U.S. control. These families finally could begin
their grieving, knowing at last their loved ones were dead.
We may never know exactly what happened to the ill fated UH1B that day in
December 1969. For over 20 years, these men were prisoners of war -- dead or
alive. And although it is clear that they are now dead, we may never know
how...or when they died.
Thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government that
Americans are still alive, held captive in Southeast Asia, yet official
policy is that "no conclusive proof" has been obtained. Detractors allege
the Government is debunking good information. While the possibility exists
that Americans are being held against their will, there can be no question
that we must do everything we can to secure their freedom. They deserve no
less than our best efforts.