Jean Claude T E Esnault

Private First Class
Army of the United States
03 December 1943 - 14 December 1963
Elmhurst, New York
Panel 01E Line 038


Combat Infantry

National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Jean Claude T E Esnault

13 Jul 2001

Three men died when their UH-1B (hull number 62-04569) crashed:

MAJ James Herbert Allred, pilot
PFC Jean Claude T. E. Esnault, and
PFC Terrance Lee Lovenguth, 611TH Trans Co

I was a member of the 140th TC Det's SAR team which was part of the 117th Avn Co. The events of this incident are still clear in my mind and still very upsetting.

MAJ Allred was really a wonderful person. The two enlisted men aboard were actually Army fireman assigned to the airfield. They were always asking us if they could fly in a helicopter. They weren't trained for combat, so we couldn't let them fight. On this day, MAJ Allred was going on a milk run - some resupply or admin mission down the coast from Qui Nhon - so they decided to let them fly this mission. We launched our SAR teams when we learned the Huey was missing. I can remember flying over the ocean and shore that night. We took some fire but not enough to halt the search effort. After it was dark, we quit for the night but the next morning we launched virtually the entire company. There was no American Infantry in Vietnam at the time, but we armed everyone we could.

We found the Huey in the water and about the same time someone saw LT Busch walking along a trail. I believe the VC were using him as bait but were surprised at the huge response - so many helicopters and so many men put on the ground. They withdrew quickly. We landed and waded out toward the ship. The bodies came to the surface about this time one after another. The sharks started working on them. Very sad! We got the bodies but we left the Huey there. I think LT Busch had a broken arm and was in shock, sort of not making any sense. He was evaced and I never saw him again.

Jean Claude, I remember how you used to lift your home made weights, and how strong you were.

We looked hard for you that night, sorry we couldn't have spotted you, my friend.
You and your crew were missed by all at Qui Nhon, and you are not forgotten.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
David R. Holden 
13 Jul 2001

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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 05/31/2004