John Dehaas Curran

Army of the United States
12 May 1946 - 25 May 1971
Phoenix, Arizona
Panel 03W Line 054

Distinguished Service Cross

Army Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Dehaas Curran

04 Apr 2008

John Dehaas Curran was a 1964 graduate of Glendale (Arizona) High School. A star athlete and All-Stater, Captain Curran served as co-pilot on the med-evac helicopter which crashed and burned killing all aboard on May 25, 1971. His photo is from the 1964 'Cardinal annual' and is provided courtesy of Guillermo Diaz.

From a schoolmate and fellow veteran,
Frank C. Paden

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 24 May 1971 a UH-1H (tail number 67-17760) from the 92nd Assault Helicopter Company was conducting an ammunition resupply mission near Firebase 5 north of Pleiku when it was hit by a mortar round on short final and exploded. Two men - CPT Larry Richard Dewey (pilot) and SP4 Gerald Martin Lubbehusen (gunner) - died in the crash. A third, SP4 John Wayne Littleton, survived the crash and was able to evade capture and make it to Firebase Five on foot. The name of the fourth man - the second pilot - is not known; since no other casualty in the 92nd AHC is identified, it is assumed that the fourth man survived the crash.

On 25 May, a UH-1H (tail number 69-15704) from A Company, 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion, was tasked to pick up SP4 Littlejohn and two unidentified wounded South Vietnamese troops from Firebase 5. Four men were aboard the 227th aircraft:

  • MAJ William E. Adams, Fort Collins, CO, pilot (Medal of Honor);
  • CPT John D. Curran, Phoenix, AZ, copilot (Dist Svc Cross);
  • SP4 Dennis C. Durand, Allen Park, MI gunner (Dist Svc Cross); and
  • SP4 Melvin Robinson, Greenville, SC, crew chief (Dist Svc Cross).
As noted above, Adams landed while under heavy fire, took the three wounded men aboard, and was shot down after lift-off, killing all seven men aboard.

According to Stanton's Vietnam Order of Battle the assets of A Company, 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion were used to form the 3rd Aviation Company in June 1971 when the bulk of the 1st Cavalry Division's 227th AHB was withdrawn from Vietnam. It appears, however, that the company actually retained its original designation after its assignment to the 52nd Aviation Battalion - but the designation was abbreviated as "A/227"

United States Army Vietnam
APO San Francisco

December 2, 1971



1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously.

John Dehaas Curran, Captain (Armor)
A/227th Assault Helicopter Company, 52d Combat Aviation Battalion

Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross
Date action: 25 May 1971
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John Dehaas Curran, Captain (Armor), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with A/227th Assault Helicopter Company, 52d Combat Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade. Captain Curran distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 25 May 1971 while serving as co-pilot on an emergency medical evacuation mission near Dac To. His helicopter was embarked on a mission to rescue a seriously wounded survivor of a U.S. helicopter which had crashed the day before. This involved braving intense enemy anti-aircraft fire since an estimated two enemy regiments surrounded the besieged firebase. Captain Curran realized the enemy situation and strength, but his concern for the life of a fellow American soldier overshadowed this knowledge. It was further learned that two ARVN soldiers were also critically wounded and in dire need of medical evacuation. Captain Curran's aircraft proceeded through the hail of fire to the firebase and picked up the seriously wounded American as well as the allied soldiers. Upon departing the firebase, his helicopter received heavy enemy fire and lost its motor before it burst into flames and crashed. Captain Curran's personal bravery and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a schoolmate and fellow veteran,
Frank C. Paden

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 04 Apr 2008
Last updated 05/01/2008