Harry M. Cohen
Name: Technical Sergeant Harry M. Cohen
Date of Birth: February 8, 1933
Home of Record: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Casualty: July 19, 1969
Age at Loss: 35 years old
Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Detachment #12, 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron
Aircraft Model: HH-43B
Aircraft Tail Number: 59-1562
Call Sign: Pedro 70
Remains of Pedro 70
19 July 1969 - TECHNICAL SERGEANT HARRY M. COHEN. At Detachment 12, 38th ARRS, Utapao AB, Thailand, an HH-43 Huskie is scrambled in response to a bomber emergency during a heavy rainstorm. The crew includes Technical Sergeant Cohen and Staff Sergeant Tommy Miles, pararescuemen/firefighters. The bomber has aborted a heavyweight takeoff and has run off the end of the runway, its forward gear collapsing and catching the aircraft on fire. The Huskie approaches the nose of the bomber, hovers momentarily, then proceeds to hover three or four hundred yards from the scene. The crew is unable to get confirmation that the bomber's tail-gunner cleared the wreckage so they return to the scene. They make a fly-by, clockwise around the tail of the bomber at about 200 feet, and are westbound at approximately 500 to 600 feet from the bomber when the bombs explode. Shrapnel and debris tear the rotor system from the helicopter and it crashes, killing the pilot and Sergeant Cohen. Miraculously, Tommy Miles survives with massive life-threatening injuries, but after extensive surgery he returns to pararescue duty and eventually retires after a long and successful career.
"I was the navigator on the
last of 3 B-52's in the first of two cells (composing a 6-ship "wave") departing
from UTapao for a bomb run in summer 1969. The weather was terrible--heavy
tropical rain. We had taken off and were on our departure, monitoring the
progress of the wave, when we realized that the second cell never came up on
frequency. We then heard several transmissions of "Pedro seven-zero this is
UTapao tower on guard. Do you copy?"
When we returned from the bomb run, we discovered that the second cell lead B52, accelerating in the heavy rain, noticed an out-of-limit difference between the pilot's and copilot's airspeed indicators and aborted the take-off. They slowed down quickly but, in an attempt to clear the runway for the remaining two B52s, they pushed up the thrust levers to get to the end of the runway sooner.
The crew sped up too rapidly, however, and the aircraft--carrying about 300,000 lbs of fuel and 108 500-pound bombs--skidded off the runway into a ditch. The tail gunner popped his turret, slid down a rope, and was picked up by a maintenance crew who drove to the safety of a revetment. The remaining crewmembers escaped through overhead escape hatches at the front of the plane and were picked up by rescue personnel. By this time, the HH-43 rescue helicopter Pedro 70 was overhead.
When the ground rescue personnel only counted five of the six-man crew (they were unaware that the gunner had been rescued), they told everyone including Pedro that there was a man still in the B52. Pedro apparently decided to stay on station until the missing crewmember was located.
This was a fatal decision--the B52 exploded (the largest piece saw at the crash scene later was about the size of a Volkswagon bus) and Pedro was slammed into the ground, ultimately killing two of its crew. These were the only fatalities in the incident."
Thomas M. Sanders, Lt. Col. (Retired).