Gregory Scott Copenhaver

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
21 July 1955 - 15 May 1975
Port Deposit, Maryland
Panel 01W Line 130


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Gregory Scott Copenhaver

02 August 1999

Remembered by
Scott Copenhaver

31 December 2001

I barely remember you for I was 2 when you died defending our freedom. But I have never forgotten you. Just recently by reading the book The Last Battle by Ralph Wetterhahn I realized what a true hero you were. I did not know the facts but now I do and for what you did I thank you and the others who died freeing the Mayaguez. You are my uncle and I will never forget you. "Semper Fi", as you would say ...

Take Care
Your Nephew,

04 Apr 2007


by his second cousin,
Jacob Jay Copenhaver
605 D Country Club Road, Red Lion, Pa 17356

The Mayaguez Incident

After the fall of Cambodia and South Vietnam to the Communists, Cambodian forces captured the US-registered ship SS MAYAGUEZ, taking her to the offshore island of Koh Tang. President Gerald Ford directed that the ship should be recaptured and her crew freed by use of force.

The USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43) battle group and an assault group from the 9th Marines were directed to land on the island and retake the ship and crew. Although intelligence estimates indicated that the island was lightly held, in fact there were a considerable number of Cambodian troops in place - and they had hand-held weapons suitable for use against helicopters.

The Marines staged through U-Tapao RTAFB in Thailand and were landed by USAF CH-53A helicopters. As the helicopters approached shore, the aircraft were taken under fire and four were brought down:

  • One had disembarked its troops and ditched offshore; the crew was picked up.
  • One went down in the surfline and all aboard made it ashore.
  • One went down in the surfline with a single casualty.
  • One went down offshore; eleven Marines and two Navy Corpsmen were not rescued. PFC Greg Copenhaver was among those lost.
In a sense the rescue effort was successful - the ship was recaptured and its 39 crewmen recovered - but the cost was high: 14 servicemen believed killed in the downed helicopters, one known dead Marine and three missing Marines ashore, and 50 wounded.

Eventually the US and Cambodian governments agreed to attempt the recovery of remains from Copenhaver's CH-53A, and in 1995 a number of human remains were repatriated. During May and June of 2000, the US government announced the positive identification of nine men from the CH-53A, including Gregory Copenhaver.

As of 31 December 2001, nine men who participated in the MAYAGUEZ raid haven't come home:

  • From Copenhaver's CH-53A:
      PFC Daniel A. Benedett, USMC
      PFC James J. Jacques, USMC
      PFC James R. Maxwell, USMC
      PFC Richard W. Rivenburgh, USMC

  • From another CH-53A:
      SSGT Elwood E. Rumbaugh, USAF

  • Ashore:
      PFC Gary L. Hall, USMC
      LCPL Joseph N. Hargrove, USMC
      PVT Danny G. Marshall, USMC
      LCPL Ashton Loney, USMC

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Scott Copenhaver

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 02 Aug 1999
Last updated 09/10/2007