Steven Michael LarrabeeChief Warrant Officer
F TRP, 1ST SQDN, 9TH CAVALRY, 1 CAV DIV
Army of the United States
25 August 1949 - 24 March 1971
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The database page for Steven Michael Larrabee
Steve, I held you in my arms as you left this world. I hold you now in my heart, my dreams, my soul. May God hold you now in his loving spirit and may you be eternally at peace. I love you and I miss you.
Your pal, Fragman
From a brother in the field,
For R. "Fragman" Matthews ...
Contact us ...
Steve was a much loved brother and son. He was born in Portland, Maine, and moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1950 as his father, who was in the Navy, was stationed there. We moved to Costa Mesa in 1951 and lived there until 1964 when he moved with his father and brother Jeff to Laguna Beach. He lived In Laguna Beach until he went into the Army. The Irvine, California, address is his mothers. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. He left a lot of friends and family behind who will never forget him.
From his brother,
My beloved son Steven. You have left this earth, but not my heart
I see your picture and a rubbing of your name from the Wall every day.
We place flowers every March,close to the 24th, on the alter and the song "Amazing Grace" is sung. You will never be forgotten.
I moved to Washington in 1990. I would appreciate hearing from any one that knew my son.
From his father,
Dear Larrabee Family,
It's been almost 34 years to the very day that Steve and I graduated from flight school. It was April 15th 1970, and it marked the culmination of 9 months of the most intense study and work that I had ever been through.
We were excited to be where we were and we were proud to have made it to the finish line. Most of our training was over. We'd already completed instrument training and jet transition and were involved in the tactical end of air mobile operations. We were "super seniors" as they called Warrant Office Candidates that belonged to the next graduation class and we were the coolest of all the helicopter students in the entire United States Army. It was such a fabulous time for all of us.
Most of the guys felt the same way. Everyone had a really great feeling about our accomplishments and for many of us, it was the single, most honorable and respectful thing we could have accomplished for ourselves and our families. We didn't have any reservations about what we had done or where we were going. I don't think any of us had any thoughts of being stationed in Germany or Hawaii, although we knew that there would be some going to Europe instead of Vietnam.
Despite the risk and the uncertainty of it all, there wasn't a single man who wasn't thrilled to be where we were. Steve was certainly one of those guys.
On one particular week end, Steve and I were restricted to the company area and forbidden to have any access at all to anything other than the barracks and the parking lot next to the barracks. At least there, we could buy a hogie and an ice cold coke.
During that particular week end, we had a lot of time to burn. Steve played guitar and so did I, but I wasn't quite as good at it as he was. I'll never forget sitting on the bunks and strumming away. He taught me a Beatle song that was one of his favorites. It was called Rocky Raccoon. I can close my eyes and see the two of us, jamming away the week end.
Before we knew what had happened, we'd graduated and were given leave. To my knowledge, all of us went home for a month with a package of orders for us to report to Travis Air Force Base in California for "Overseas Movement" as they called it then.
Graduation day was the last time I ever recalled seeing Steve. I kept up with as many of the guys as I could, but I was sent to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade near Long Binh and so many of our other guys were spread out over the rest of the country.
Five months after I arrived there, I was transferred to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment where I learned to fly the same mission as Steve. I started out flying gunships, but like Steve, I volunteered for Scouts and ended up flying the same helicopter type that he did. It was the Hughes OH-6. Anybody in Army Aviation would tell you that we were a breed unto ourselves.
When you think of the entire Army Aviation program, whether you think of it in terms of what you see today or what went on in the very late 60's and early 70's, you have to know that we wrote the book. There was no Airmobile Division until we came along. When you think about Steve, you have to know that he was one of over 2,000 guys who wrote the book at a different level than guys like me or anyone else who came home.
I can't imagine if you were ever in the military, but I'm certain that you've had relationships in your life where you were thankful of the friends you had or the people who surrounded you from time to time. Steve was that kind of kid. We were glad to have him with us and glad that he felt the same way about us. I can still see that smile on his face and see the little space between his teeth that made his smile so uniquely his.
Fred Thompson, who has now left us, was another friend of Steve's. In the same sense that I mentioned above, we were glad to have him in our group as well. Cancer took Fred from us, and another member of our group has gone on.
It's a tough thing, dealing with loss of a loved one. When I received a letter from Leah, Steve's observer's sister, I had a moment to reflect on all the things that we experienced all those years ago. When I thought about her questions and the thoughts she had about her brother's last moments on earth, I naturally thought about Steve.
I can't help but tell you that he was absolutely one of the best pilots we had. No one wants to be left out in the cold, relative to searching, and never finding an answer about things like death, especially the death of a family member. I'm the same way. I wanted to know about the circumstances of the shoot down, until I heard that Steve was flying OH-6's. That's when I knew that neither of them suffered. It was just the nature of the mission ... always close to the ground, sometimes the closest to the enemy. Some of the guys refer to it as being the "Tip of the Sword" and we were that.
Anyway you cut it, anyway you think about it, know this:
One kid went all the way with me from the day I reported to the Army until the day we reported to Vietnam. I'll miss them all and I'll miss them for the remainder of my life. Gone too soon, but not gone without making a huge mark on all the lives of all the young guys that were around them. I'm proud to have known him and to have been in the "Brotherhood of the Realm" ... that uniquely structured Brotherhood that men who march to battle enjoy.
God Bless you guys and know that I am very pleased to have been asked to write this small token of my recollections of Steve for you.
It was unreal being at the spot where you and Smith left this earth. I said a prayer and I know y'all could hear me and this week this story will be on the local news and on it's way to national news. I hope to take the 30 hours of film of my trip to Washington state to let your father watch it. Steve, I know my father has missed you all these years along with everyone else. Steve, I'm going to make it where no one will ever forget that day in March 1971. Your spirit will live forever and I want to thank you for an incredible trip. I'll be back again but hopefully next time with my father and a stone monument to be placed in the spot so years from now people will not forget the hurt of wars and the loss of Loved ones and best friends.
Talk to you later, man -
My father flew with Steve in E and F Troops.
Two men of F Troop, 1st of the 9th Cavalry, died in the crash of their OH-6A LOACH (hull number 68-17322):
"On 24 March 1971, WO1 Steven M. Larrabee was the pilot in command of an F Troop OH-6A which was acting as the scout aircraft on a "Sniffer" mission in the Tinh Long Khanh Province (near FSB Silver YT 829-043). The time of day was 1100 hours, the weather was clearing after a morning rain shower, and the terrain was gently rolling hills with 150' to 200' trees. The mission was being run independently of any friendly troops in the area of interest.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 30 May 2001
Last updated 11/13/2010