Thomas Allen Hinson

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
01 October 1948 - 27 July 1969
Houston, Texas
Panel 20W Line 057

Army Aircrew

Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Thomas A Hinson

The database page for Thomas Allen Hinson

14 Aug 2004

Tom Hinson was in my basic training company at Fort Polk, Louisiana from September 20, 1967 through November 17, 1967. Our BCT Company was D Company, 5th Battalion, 1st Training Brigade. Tom was a big guy when he came into the unit, about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed about 230 pounds. I was in first platoon and Tom was in the second. The 2d Platoon had the meanest, baddest drill sergeant in the company. He paralleled Lee Ermey's portrayal of the DI in "Full Metal Jacket". Tom was like the character Leonard Lawrence/Pyle. Tom struggled through basic training and I can still hear Sgt. Herren screaming at him. Tom would be among the last to come into the company area after a long distance run. The rest of us would be getting ready to do something else and there would be Tom, sweating and coughing as he struggled to complete the run. Sgt. Herren asked him once about why he was in the Army. Tom told him he was going into helicopters, to fly in them. Typically, Sgt Herren screamed, "A helicopter can't get off the ground with you on it."

To Tom's credit, he never quit, he made it through without being re-cycled. There were several who found themselves going back to the beginning. That wasn't going to happen to Tom and he worked hard to get through. The pay-off was that he graduated with the rest of us.

After basic, I went to Fort Huachuca, Arizona for Army Administration AIT and Tom went to Fort Rucker for AIT. He achieved his goal to be a crewman on a helicopter.

About six months ago, I started a journey to honor my area Vietnam Veterans who had perished there. I had often wondered about those in my basic training and others whom I served with in the Army. One evening I took my BCT book down from the shelf and I began to enter names and sadly I found that Tom had perished in Vietnam. Tom started his tour about five weeks after mine and he was killed in a non-hostile crash in July, 1969. Tom had extended his Vietnam tour.

If there is a heaven, I know Tom is there. He never gave up.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

At about 1800 (6 PM) on 27 Jul 1969 the 57th AHC was alerted to scramble aircraft to support an emergency extraction of a patrol in trouble near Ben Het. Four UH-1H troop carriers and two UH-1C gunships departed Kontum for Dak To, where they refueled and proceeded to the extraction area. However, weather conditions precluded an extraction and the flight remained in orbit for an hour or more before withdrawing to Ben Het. At this point one aircraft, UH-1H tail number 67-17800, was detached from the flight in order to return to Kontum. During the approach to Kontum 67-17800 was in intermittant IMC conditions and the Kontum approach radar was not able to provide a precision approach, so 67-17800 flew a radar surveillance approach with Approach Control providing recommended altitudes at one-mile intervals. Radio and radar contact was last with the aircraft less than four miles from landing. An immediate search was conducted and the wreckage of 67-17800 was found about 300 feet below the top of a ridgeline. Four men died in the crash:
  • WO Eric E. Bergquist, Houston, TX, pilot
  • 1LT James A. Carr, Dublin, OH, copilot
  • SP4 Thomas A. Hinson, Houston, TX, crew chief
  • PFC Jerry R. Dees, Phoenix, AZ, gunner

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a Basic Training buddy, D-5-1, Fort Polk, Louisiana,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762 
14 Aug 2004

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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 08/14/2004