Samuel Ray Gardner

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
07 May 1943 - 05 May 1968
Wichita, Kansas
Panel 55E Line 012


Army Aviator

DFC, Bronze Star (Merit), Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendation, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Samuel Ray Gardner

22 May 2008

Sam was a great guy with a fabulous sense of humor. He was a three year varsity letterman in both track and cross country at Wichita State University. He was not only a great teammate but a fellow ROTC jock.

I saw him shortly before he left Wichita for Vietnam. We were in the Student Union. I occasionally get back to Wichita and go back to the campus. When I'm in the Student Union I walk past the place I last saw Sam I remember him and what was lost in Vietnam so many years ago. When I think of Sam I remember him not only tall and straight in uniform, but also in a track singlet running like the Kansas wind.

I will always remember Sam. I think of him often. I'm well over 60 and over and my days as a competetive athlete have long since passed but in my heart he will be 22, in athletic trim and running like the great athlete he was. He was the only varsity letterman to have died in this war. He will always be a part of the traditons of Wichita State.

Rest in Peace and Glory, my friend and teammate.

From an ROTC classmate and Track/Cross Country teammate.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

During early May 1968 elements of the 198th Infantry Brigade had several engagements with NVA forces in Quang Tin Province, particularly along the east-west axis formed by LZs EAST (Hill 488), CENTER (Hill 348), and WEST (Hill 440) along the Hiep Duc Valley.

At 1030 05 May 1968 a UH-1D (tail number 66-17075) from the 176th AHC was shot down at BT069246 while carrying troops for a recon patrol southeast of LZ CENTER. The aircraft was hit by .51 caliber fire while at 2,500 feet, lost its main rotor, crashed and burned, killing ten men:

  • Aircrew, 176th AHC:
    • CWO David L. Blattel, Scott City, MO, pilot
    • 1LT Samuel R. Gardner, Wichita, KS, copilot
    • SP4 Gordon L. Terrell, Gervais, OR, gunner
    • PFC Gary M. Meier, Lake Crystal, MN, crew chief

  • Passengers, E Co, 1st Bn, 6th Infantry:
    • SGT James P. Freeman, Masterson, TX
    • SGT Robert E. Quick, Elkhart, IN
    • SGT Barry T. Reinhardt, Minneapolis, MN
    • CPL Russell W. Eggert, Cleveland, OH
    • CPL Duane M. Normandin, Gentilly, MN
    • CPL Robert G. Weddendorf, Inglewood, CA
Fifteen minutes later UH-1C tail number 66-00510 from the 71st AHC was shot down at BT075248. Although all four crewmen were injured, none died. Soldiers from Bravo 1/6 Infantry were picked up by helicopter at LZ Center and combat assaulted at 1435 hrs to secure the area near the downed aircraft. At 1750 D Company, 1/20 Infantry were inserted to reinforce Bravo 1/6. At 1824 Bravo 1/6 and Delta 1/20 received incoming 82mm mortar fire at BT083247, killing one soldier and wounding six others from Delta 1/20. An immediate air strike was called at BT083246, only 100 meters distant from the friendly troops. Three US soldiers were wounded by bomb fragments - and one of them died from his injuries. These two men were
  • SGT Larry F. Gleason, Harleysville, PA, A Co, 26th Eng Bn, and
  • SP5 John L. Vories, Booneville, AR, medic, HHC 1/20 with Delta 1/20.
As night fell the two rifle companies formed a defensive perimeter, and on 06 May recovered the bodies from the burned out hulk of 66-17075.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
an ROTC classmate and Track/Cross Country teammate. 

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KS State Index . Panel 55E
176TH AHC Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 22 May 2008
Last updated 05/29/2008