Ronald Edward Doughtie

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
18 December 1945 - 09 June 1972
Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Panel 01W Line 039

Army Aviator


Bronze Star (2 awards), Purple Heart, Air Medal, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for Ronald Edward Doughtie

07 Apr 2005

I served with Ron in the 54th Infantry at Fort Knox in late 68 and early 69. I hated the service and Ron loved it. While I was in the process of trying to see how bad I could mess my life up, Ron was making plans for his career. When I left the army he was in Drill Instructor School and had applied for OCS. I did not know of his death until I read the book "A Bright and Shining Lie". He was always a courageous man and worked hard for what he wanted. I remember his favorite TV program was "The FBI". Ron had a beautiful and personable wife named Kay and a charming baby daughter, "Kimmy".

His work ethic was admirable and the love for his family was awesome. May God bless and rest the soul of this courageous young hero.

God bless.
Roy Townsend

29 Jul 2005

I met Ronald Doughtie in flight school, we were stick buddies with the same Instructor Pilot at Fort Wolters, Texas. During our flight training at Fort Rucker Southern Airways, which had the contract to train my class in instrument flying, went on strike and what cursory training we got by Army IPs was more like survival skills in case of inadvertent IMC. In August 71 we met again in Seattle and flew to Vietnam together. We went to separate bases but met and talked in the Spring of 72 when he had just started flying Vann. I met him and his wife again in April 72 on R&R.

When the crash occurred I was assigned to the accident investigation team and had the unpleasant task of going through his things and interviewing the people who spoke to him just before the flight. Ron did not want to go, but may not have spoken his mind to Vann. As I said Ron had not been adequately trained in Instrument flight (we got a Tactical Ticket only, not a Standard Instrument Rating) and the OH-58A helicopter did not have a complete instrument suite. This was not the first case of inadvertant IMC by a classmate in an OH-58A resulting in a crash by an inexperienced pilot. Also, Vann often flew the helicopter himself and may have been flying then. No one will ever know for sure. Vann had made the radio calls.

The night of the crash ARVN troops at a nearby firebase heard the helicopter pass by as it entered the pass. There were low clouds and intermittent rain showers in the area. Helicopters flying under the weather weren't visible on radar and there is a good chance that Ron didn't even know how to request radar flight following. I certainly didn't know how to and never did use it during my entire tour of duty flying in the same area in a UH-1. Nor did we file IFR flight plans. As far as I know there was no instrument approach at Kontum and I am sure I flew in and out of there a lot more than Ron did. The conclusion of the accident investigation team was that the helicopter flew into a rain shower in the dark and the pilot lost all reference to attitude. The OH-58A began a left descending spiral and after approximately 270 degrees of turn came flew into the hillside in the pass under power. The helicopter came down through trees and came to rest against the trunk of a tree where in exploded and burned.

The OH-58A did not have a VSI and the little attitude indicator it had was not that accurate. The purpose of this trip at night and in the rain was to deliver a cake to the ARVN Commanders and advisers to celebrate their recent victory over the NVA at Kontum. Ron had misgivings about going, but he went anyway. That was the kind of guy he was.

From a friend,
Captain Stephen E. James (Ret)

26 Aug 2005

To all who knew my husband...

Hello and hope this finds you well, I have corresponded with two gentlemen who knew my Ronnie, one in Fort Knox and one in Flight School and Nam... I love to hear from anyone who knew him. My e-mail address is and my home address is 800 West 5th Avenue, Parkesburg, Pa 19365. Ron never knew he had a son who was born after he died ... so his 3 children would love to hear from anyone who knew him. Thanks - and yes! Roy and I have been in communication with each other.

From his wife,
Kaye Doughtie Ralston
800 West 5th Avenue, Parkesburg, Pa 19365

28 Sep 2005

My brother, Ronald E. Doughtie, was the pilot killed along with John Paul Vann 0n 06-09-72. I would like to hear from the gentleman who worked the investigation or any others who have information to share regarding Ron's time in Viet Nam. I have heard so many different stories over the years and would like to know first hand what happened.

I know Ronnie loved the Army and was a career "Lifer." He served both as an enlisted man and officer just like our Dad. Our Dad joined the Army cav on horseback in the late 20's and later became a member of the Army Air Corps and was a Bombarder on B-17's in WWII. Later he became part of the Air Force and fought in Korea. He retired as a LtCol after 28 years. He then went on to work civil service for the Air Force for another 17 years. I was in the Navy and got out in 71. I then was a law enforcement officer for 30 years, now retired.

Ron is missed! I don't think I ever saw him again after about 1968 or 1969 as I was in the Navy and he in the Army. His kids are now grown and are wonderful. They live in Pennsylvania.

Thanks again and feel free to contact me or pass along info any time.

From his brother,
John Doughtie

John Paul Vann, Senior Military Advisor seen here in his helicopter with his pilot, 1LT Ronald E. Doughtie. This picture was taken outside Kontum City, June 6, 1972, three days before the fatal crash.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 09 June 1972 an OH-58A (tail number 68-16938) from the 201st Aviation Company (Corps) was detailed to fly a US civilian, John Paul Vann, from Pleiku to Kontum. Vann was an erstwhile career Army officer (LtCol, WW2, Korea, Vietnam (62-63); DSM w/ OLC, DFC, PH, ArComm w/ OLC) who returned to Vietnam as a civilian with the Agency for International Development. In 1971 he was appointed the II Corps Senior Advisor.

Three people were aboard the OH-58 when it departed Pleiku: the pilot, 1LT Ronald E. Doughtie, Mr. Vann, and Captain Robert A. Robertson, an Army intelligence officer assigned to the US Army Element, Pleiku. Departure was at 2050 in deteriorating weather conditions. Doughtie had not requested an instrument flight plan or radar flight following, but the flight seemed to be routine. The last contact with the OH-58 was at 2100, when Mr. Vann radioed the US Advisor unit at Kontum estimating arrival at about 2115.

The OH-58 did not arrive, but at 2130 a unit operating along highway QL14 did report what appeared to be a helicopter crash. A rapid survey indicated that Doughtie's aircraft was the only one unaccounted for in the area and a SAR effort was begun. The wreckage was located by a helicopter, which landed nearby while ARVN troops were directed to the site. Mr. Vann had been thrown clear of the wreckage and his body was recovered that night. The bodies of the other two men were recovered the following morning.

John Doughtie advises that his brother completed airborne training and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star for valor, Bronze Star for meritorious service, and the Purple Heart during his earlier service as an infantryman.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his wife,
Kaye Doughtie Ralston
800 West 5th Avenue, Parkesburg, Pa 19365

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 7 Apr 2005
Last updated 01/28/2007