Joseph Alan Lofton

First Lieutenant
VMO-2, MAG-16, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
18 October 1945 - 12 November 1969
Akron, Ohio
Panel 16W Line 065


AH-1 Cobra

Naval Aviator

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

The database page for Joseph Alan Lofton

05 Jan 2004

1st Lt Joseph Lofton was flying with my father, Major Hank Henry, when they were shot down by VC fire and crash landed. While they were moving away from the downed craft they were hit by the rotor, killing both instantly.

Skip Henry

Placed by his crewmate's son,
Howard B. (Skip) Henry, Jr.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 12 November 1969 a patrol from 3rd Platoon, Delta 1/7 Marines encountered a dug-in NVA company on the north-facing slopes of the Que Son Mountains south of An Hoa. The Marines were caught in the open and were pinned in place by mortar and machinegun fire, taking cover in bomb craters and amongst the stubble of dry rice paddies. Air support was called in to help the infantrymen.

What happened next is described by one of the Cobra gunship pilots and is taken from the Pop-A-Smoke site:

Maj. Henry (Hostage Papa) and Lt. Lofton were shot down on Nov. 12, 1969 in a AH-1G Cobra (68-15080) while attacking a heavy machine gun dug into the north face of the Que Son Mountains. Lt. Dumas and I (Papa 2) were attacking the same gun position.

This gun was causing considerable problems for the Marines operating in the immediate area and had a number of Marines pinned down in a bomb crater. Our attack was made generally west to east. Numerous gun runs were made without effect. After a couple of runs our weapons systems malfunctioned. The minigun and 40 mm jammed and the rockets would not launch due to an intervelometer problem. Papa sent us high and dry to the west.

From that position we watched as Papa made a couple more firing passes. Apparently, the gun was mobile and was possibly being moved in and out of a cave. We were close to the gun. Even in the relative sound proof cockpit of the Cobra the gun was clearly audible as it returned our fire.

On their last pass we radioed that they were taking hits and we could see pieces of the aircraft coming off. At about that same time, Maj. Henry radioed he was on fire. We could see what looked like a ball of fire in the exhaust but no flames were visible from the engine cowling. Lt. Dumas and I turned toward Maj. Henry and Lt. Lofton as they turned northeast. At that time, Lt. Dumas radioed there was a good emergency landing area at their 10 o'clock. I don't remember if they responded or not.

Their crash landing looked good. The Cobra appeared to be generally intact after impact. We dove down and made simulated firing passes in an attempt to keep the enemy away and to locate their exact position until we could get a '46 in to rescue them. There was no sign of them. We looked for them and we expected them to come up on guard. Nothing. A radio call went out for help and Lt. Bartlett arrived with his section of Cobras. As he arrived the H-46 landed near the burning Cobra. The crew chief found both pilots dead. The main blade had struck both of them.

Years later I found a picture of the crash site with the '46 on the ground next to the Cobra. In 1970, while being relieved as Officer of the Day at MCB Camp Pendleton, my relief was the Lieutenant that was among the Marines trapped in that bomb crater.

Submitted by Deane K. Swickard, Co-pilot in Papa 2

Six Marines died in the engagement:

  • AH-1G tail number 68-15080, VMO-2
  • D Co, 1st Bn, 7th Marines

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 07 Jan 2004
Last updated 08/10/2009