Stephen P Hanson

HMM-165, MAG-36, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
04 January 1940 - 04 October 1974
Burbank, California
Panel 21E Line 046



Naval Aviator

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

The database page for Stephen P Hanson

30 Jan 1998


by Dale Debord
2 Aug 2004

I have recently received an MIA bracelet and searched this site to learn more about Major Stephen P. Hanson. It makes me feel honored to wear this bracelet to his honor and to honor the memory of all those who have given it all. If any one has more information on Major Hanson I would like to hear from you. Please email me.

From MIA bracelet,
Travis Nordyke

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On 02 June 1967 USMC and VNAF helicopters inserted a "Hatchet Force" company into Laos about 15 miles west of the A Shau Valley - but there was a problem. The Hatchet Force troops had been inserted virtually on top of an NVA Regimental base camp and found themselves in a stand-off situation, possessed of enough firepower to avoid being overrun but without enough force to break out or to defeat the enemy. On 03 June helicopters were were dispatched from Khe Sanh to extract the friendlies.

Five US CH-46 aircraft were involved in the mission. They successfully flew in and loaded American and South Vietnamese troops, but two of the aircraft went down after take-off. One of the two, CH-46A BuNo 150955, carried

  • then-Captain Steven P. Hanson, pilot;
  • 1st Lt John G. Gardner, co-pilot;
  • Sgt Timothy R. Bodden, crew chief/door gunner;
  • LCpl Frank E. Cius, doorgunner;
  • SFC Billy R. Laney, US Army;
  • SFC Ronald J. Dexter, US Army;
  • SFC Charles F. Wilklow, US Army; and
  • an unknown number of ARVN personnel.
Hanson's aircraft had received extensive automatic small arms fire upon takeoff from the landing zone and crashed 350 meters from the LZ. The helicopter did not burn on impact, and continued to receive fire.

The troops waiting at the LZ could not search because of the hostile threat in the area, but three troops from the aircraft were able to return to the LZ. Air searches located the survivors of the crash, but they could not be evacuated. The troops remaining at the LZ were extracted the following day.

None of the Americans aboard the aircraft were recovered at once. SFC Wilklow did evade capture and was rescued by US forces several days later. LCpl Frank Cius was captured by the NVA and released in 1973; during his debrief he told U.S. military investigators that he last saw Captain Hanson still strapped in the cockpit.

Captain Hanson's remains were repatriated in 1999 and identified in August 2000.

Additional details are available on the
Pop-A-Smoke site .

A number of American and ARVN troops were killed and captured in this incident. The American dead from Hanson's aircraft included

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Dale Debord 
30 Jan 1998

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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 08/04/2004