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VMGR-152 Remember "Basketball 809",February 1st, 1966.

51481987 2499387393424370 2797960946104926208 n 2 2 mbp 1

 50938115 2498790163484093 8104633940733591552 n 2 2 marine

 Remember "Basketball 809",February 1st, 1966.

 

 

Remembering "Basketball 809"
Final post

On February 1st, 1966, aircraft 149809 from VMGR-152 was on an aerial refueling mission over the Gulf of Tonkin. Just after crossing the border into North Vietnam, 1stLt. Prevost reported to Danang that he was observing flashes on a small speck of land called Tiger island on the Navigation charts. The Navy had been using it to dump their remaining bombs before returning to the carrier. They can't land aboard with bombs.

1stLt. Prevost observed the flashes but didn't see any of the Navy's A-4's. Thinking they might be coming from a downed pilot, Prevost told Danang that he was going down for a closer look. It was shortly after that Danang lost contact with the aircraft.

Neither 1stLt. Prevost nor any of the Navy pilots were aware that, during the 37 day truce period, the North Vietnamese had moved a radar-controlled anti-aircraft gun onto the island. It was well fortified and dug in so it could be rolled underground when not being used. This gun fires a high-explosive round, quite accurately.

1stLt. Prevost and the crew of aircraft 149809 may have been shot down by this enemy weapon, however, the search planes failed to find a single piece of the aircraft.

First Marine Aircraft Wing Intelligence picked up a coded enemy message sent to Hanoi reported that a plane had been shot down near Tiger Island, but it was never confirmed if it was 149809.

Aircraft 809 had roughly 65,000 lbs of fuel aboard, and if it was indeed shot down, it would have disintegrated.

On February 3rd, 1966, the Navy "bombed the hell out of the island" to ensure no further threat would come.

 

 

UTM: 48QYE520190
Lat/Long: 172038N / 1072218E

KC-130F
BUNO 149809
VMGR-152

All six crew members are "Killed In Action, Body Not Recovered" and are listed among those unaccounted for with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
https://www.dpaa.mil/portals/85/Documents/VietnamAccounting/pmsea_una_p_usmc_20190125.pdf

1stLt. Albert M. Prevost, USMC/Aircraft Commander
Maj. Richard A. Alm, USMC/Co-Pilot
GySgt. Galen F. Humphrey, USMC/Navigator
SSgt. Peter G. Vlahakos, USMC/Flight Engineer
SSgt. Russell B. Luker, USMC/First Mechanic
SSgt. Donald L. Coates, USMC/Radio Operator

Lost 53 years ago today, but never forgotten