Castle, Hal Cushman, Jr., LTJG

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1968-1969, 131X, HA(L)-3 Seawolves
Service Years
1967 - 1969
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Lieutenant Junior Grade

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

34 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Daniel L Arnes, CMC to remember Castle, Hal Cushman, Jr., LTJG.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Norfolk, VA
Last Address

Casualty Date
Apr 28, 1969
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Panel 26W Line 069 / Section 12, Site 4460

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family Registry
  1969, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2017, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2017, The National Gold Star Family Registry

 Tributes from Members  
After Action Report posted by Short, Diane (TWS Chief Admin, Ruth, Harding), SA 4751  
 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings

 Duty Stations
HA(L)-3 Seawolves
  1968-1969, 131X, HA(L)-3 Seawolves
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1969-1969 Vietnam War
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1963-1967, United States Naval Academy1
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  His Father's Obituary
  Apr 28, 2017, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
On 28 April 1969, Lt. JG Richard J. “Dick” Reardon, aircraft commander; Lt. JG Hal C. Castle, Jr., co-pilot; AO2 Michael C. “Mike” Schafernocker, crewchief; and AN George Page, door gunner; comprised the crew of the #2 aircraft (serial #63-08603, tail #320), call sign “Seawolf 37,” in a flight of 2 conducting a series of morning missions near the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border. The crew of the lead aircraft (tail #305), call sign “Seawolf 38,” consisted of Lt. JG Joseph Hart, aircraft commander; Lt. Cmdr. James Keyes, co-pilot; ADJ1 Lloyd Williams, crewchief; AN Charles Larson, door gunner; and AN Dennis Miley, door gunner trainee. 

At 0900 hours, the flight returned to Moc Hoa Special Forces Camp to refuel. An Army Forward Air Controller (FAC), call sign “Swamp Fox,” reported numerous abandoned sampans at a major communist infiltration route on the border and called for air support to destroy the targets. At 1000 hours, Seawolf 37 and 38 arrived in the target area that was located 8 to 10 miles northwest of Moc Hoa and covered a large area that included several large tree lines and the canal where the abandoned sampans were located. The target was also approximately 39 miles due west to Saigon. Further, in this region the canal formed part of the border dividing the two countries. On the Cambodian side of the canal/border were two Cambodian National Police outposts that were supposed to be manned by neutral personnel.

Lt. JG Reardon’s aircraft flew in trail behind Seawolf 38 so they could provide cover fire for Lt. JG Hart’s gunship as both crews put in airstrike after airstrike on the sampans. As the aircraft commanders of both helicopters made multiple rocket passes on the waterborne targets, both co-pilots zeroed in with their 4 external mounted M-60 Flex guns and the crewchiefs and door gunners fired away with their handheld “free” M-60 caliber machine guns. 

After the fourth rocket attack, and as Lt JG Hart pulled off target, his gunship was struck in the cabin and cockpit by several rounds from crewserved and automatic weapons fire from concealed enemy positions hidden in two tree lines. He immediately broke hard right and away from the ground fire as he reported the coordinates of the enemy’s firing positions to Lt. JG Reardon. At the same time, the trail aircraft was also struck by heavy and accurate gunfire. Lt. JG Reardon transmitted, “I’m hit, going down.” >[>As the lead aircrew watched in horror while fighting for their own survival, Mike Schafernocker and George Page dumped rocket pods and ammo boxes through the open side doors to lighten the aircraft before impact. Lead’s crew continued to watch as Mike Schafernocker stood on the skid firing into the enemy when he was stuck by automatic weapons fire and fell under the Huey as its main rotor blade began slowing and fire was seen coming from the fuselage just before impact. The tail boom struck the ground first as the aircraft was engulfed in flames. While the two gunships were operating from the South Vietnamese side of the canal, the momentum of the disabled gunship carried it across the border where it crashed in an open rice field in an area known as the Plain of Reeds, Chantrea District, Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia.

Joseph Hart immediately transmitted a Mayday call as his crew began to lay down protective fire for the downed aircrew. During the intense exchange of gunfire, the lead helicopter was also disabled. Lt. JG Hart made a second Mayday call as his helicopter auto-rotated to the ground landing in the rice field 40 to 50 meters away from his wingman’s burning wreckage.

The crew excited and set up a defensive perimeter around their aircraft with AN Miley to the rear with an M-60 machinegun, AN Larson on the right side with an M-16 rifle, Lt. Cmdr. Keyes with an M-16 at the nose, Lt. JG Hart at the 10 o’clock position with an M-79 grenade launcher and Petty Officer Williams with an M-60 to the left at the 8 o’clock position. An intense battle raged between opposing forces on the ground and when one of the Americans tried to shift positions, the enemy fire only increased.

The crew was returning fire when James Keyes and Lloyd Williams spotted George Page moving around the burning wreckage of his aircraft engulfed in flames from the waste down. The transmission had fallen on top of AN Page after being thrown from his Huey. Lloyd Williams called for covering fire as he ran with his M-60 to aid the door gunner. He grabbed George Page, pulled him to the ground away from the burning and exploding wreckage, and cut off his gun belt and burning clothing.
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