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Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data
Photo #: NH 66526 (Extended caption)
Sikorski HO3S-1 Helicopter
On board USS Los Angeles (CA-135) after it crashed while
landing on the ship with Rear Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, Commander
Cruiser Division Five, and Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet,
Commanding General, Eighth Army, aboard, circa June-July 1951.
No one was injured in the accident.
Admiral Burke's account of this accident is provided below.
Donation of Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN(Retired), 1969.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 98KB; 740 x 615 pixels
The following is an account of this accident contained in
a letter Admiral Arleigh A. Burke sent to Rear Admiral Ernest
M. Eller, the Director of Naval History, on 26 February 1969:
You asked for a description of the helicopter crash on the
stern of the USS LOS ANGELES in 1951 to put on the back of your
Dear Judge: (RAdm. Eller's old Naval Academy nickname was
At that time I was Commander Cruiser Division Five which
consisted of the LOS ANGELES and a couple of destroyers. We were
operating off the East coast of Korea primarily as artillery
support for the First ROK Corps who were fighting their way north
toward Wonsan. The Corps was commanded by General Paik Sun Yup.
I think he was a Major General at the time. We had other duties
too, such as keeping North Korean shipping clear of the area
and bombarding targets of opportunity.
On this particular morning General Van Fleet was visiting
the First Corps Headquarters, and I had gone over in my helicopter
to attend the First Corps' briefing. I was the last briefer and
briefed as the artillery commander of the First ROK Corps. They
didn't have any other artillery but us.
When the briefing was over General Van Fleet and I were going
to fly the line of combat to determine the enemy positions and
the usual things that one looks for on such a mission. I knew
of General Van Fleet's great liking for ice cream, and of course
there wasn't any on the beach, so I asked him if he would first
like to come aboard LOS ANGELES for a good dish of ice cream.
The helicopter pilot was the AP. When he started to land
in LOS ANGELES he must have become excited by having so much
rank in the helicopter and approached the side of the ship too
low. Of course the variation in air pressure when the helicopter
got over the edge of the ship twisted the helicopter backwards
and over on its side, and she crashed real good. The helicopter
was dangling on the life net trying to make up its mind whether
it wanted to fall overboard or not. Of course there was gasoline
all over everything. The crew in the ship pulled it aboard. This
took about one minute, I guess. General Van Fleet was on the
right side of the helicopter and I was on the left side on the
bottom. General Van Fleet asked immediately after we crashed,
"What do we do now?" I told him to kick the damned
window out on his side and not step on my groin anymore. He crawled
out first, or course, and then I followed him.
When we got on deck I didn't know what to say or how to apologize,
so I asked him what he wanted on his ice cream. He said "pineapple,"
and then thoughtfully added that the AP must be shook up a bit
and wouldn't it be a good idea for him to have some ice cream
too, which he did.
Since that was the only helicopter we had, the next question
was how to get General Van Fleet back on the beach. We sent a
radio to the First ROK Corps headquarters and asked that he be
met with a jeep on a certain part of the beach.
I went in with him in the motor whale boat. On the way in
I asked the coxswain how much experience he had had landing through
a surf. He said he had been ordered as coxswain of the boat about
a week before and had never been through a surf. I then asked
the boat officer, an Ensign, if he had had any experience in
landing through surf. He said no, he was assigned as boat officer
because he was junior officer of the deck. The bow hook and the
engineer had equal experience.
I then told General Van Fleet that he was going to be the
first General of the Army in a long time to be landed through
a surf with a Rear Admiral as coxswain. I then took my position
as coxswain. The surf was pretty high, but we made it all right
without incident. After I had landed General Van Fleet I waited
and waited and waited until he got out of sight in his jeep before
I tried to bring that boat out through the surf again, because
I wasn't so sure I could do it. However, it worked out all right.
I have just returned from Europe and am about to take off
for the Far East. I'll be back near the end of April.
With warmest regards,
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10 November 1999