Patrick John Breslin

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
11 September 1952 - 18 October 1971
Philadelphia, PA
Panel 02W Line 042


UH-1 Huey

Army Aircrew

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Patrick John Breslin

04 Jan 2003

P J Breslin

The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.
Breslin graduated from Pennridge High School, Perkasie, Bucks County, in 1970, and entered the Army that fall. He was ordered to Viet Nam in May 1971 and assigned to the 176th Assault Helicopter Company of the 23rd Infantry (AMERICAL) Division. The specialist four, a helicopter crew chief and door gunner, died on October 18, 1971, when his aircraft was hit and crashed in the South China Sea. He was 19 years old. Breslin was survived by his parents and a sister.

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

Virtual Wall Note

On the evening of 17 October 1971, aircraft UH-1H tail number 68-15237 was assigned the night perimeter mission for the Chu Lai defense command. The crew consisted of
  • 1LT Robert Jameson Barton, pilot;
  • WO L N Pate, copilot;
  • SP4 Patrick John Breslin, gunner;
  • SP4 Wesley Stewart Shelton, crew chief; and
  • a Vietnamese national, name unknown.
The mission entailed flying at 300 feet MSL or below, checking the perimeter with landing and search light. 1LT Barton wanted to remain on 5 minute standby because he felt the weather was too bad to fly, but launched at 2230 hours. After arriving on station the weather was found to be better than expected and the mission was continued. The aircraft landed and refueled before midnight, but after arriving back on station in deteriorating weather the division tactical operations center decided to allow the Huey to return to the airfield and go on 5 minute alert.

One more pattern around the perimeter was flown before landing. As the Huey circled around the northern side of the base, where an over-water leg was necessary, the crew heard a loud thump. According to the only survivor (WO Pate), 1LT Barton commented "Don't worry, we only hit a bird. I hit one last night."

WO Pate leaned to his right and lowered his head to look at the engine instruments to see if there were any abnormal instrument readings. While he had his head lowered the aircraft struck the water. WO Pate remembered the airspeed indicator reading 80 knots just prior to the accident. The crash was heard by a bunker guard on duty approximately 300 meters from the crash site, who reported the mishap to his superiors, who in turn reported it to division and a search and rescue was put into motion. Two medivac aircraft and a flare ship were dispatched but the weather had become extremely hazardous and the SAR effort failed to locate either the wreckage or the crew.

Warrant Officer Pate was recovered alive at dawn, some 4000 meters south of the crash site. The bodies of the other four men aboard the Huey were recovered.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian & Viet Nam Veteran,
Jim McIlhenney 
5 Jan 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 01/05/2003