George Wendell Long

Airman First Class
United States Air Force
30 September 1948 - 12 May 1968
Medicine Lodge, Kansas
Panel 59E Line 007

7TH AF C-130 774TH TAS
USAF Aircrew

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

Courtesy of his family

The database page for George Wendell Long

12 May 2002

"To live in the hearts we leave behind,
is never to have died."
(Thomas Campbell, circa 1888)

I had the good fortune of knowing Johnny Michael West and George W. Long. Both of these two handsome young men were older than I but made an impression upon me. Both times I have visited the Traveling Wall, I have sought out their names. They are remembered.

Peg Lipscomb

Notes from The Virtual Wall

The Kham Duc Special Forces camp (A-105) was located on the western fringes of Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. The only village in the area, located across the airstrip, was occupied by post dependents, camp followers and merchants. In the spring of 1968, it was the only remaining border camp in Military Region I. Backup responsibility for the camp fell on the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal), based at Chu Lai on the far side of the province. Kham Duc had several outlying camps; of particular interest is Ngok Tavak, about 5 miles distant.

Beginning at about 0300 on 10 May 1968, Ngok Tavak came under heavy attack by a North Vietnamese Army infantry battalion, an element of the 2nd NVA Regiment which was moving into South Vietnam from Laos. In a pitched battle, the small force of defenders staved off immediate defeat, but by noon on 10 May it was clear that Ngok Tavak would have to be abandoned. After destroying equipment and supplies which could not be carried out, the survivors began the move to the main camp at Kham Duc. They were picked up by helicopter midway to Kham Duc, arriving at the camp at about 2100 (9 PM) on 10 May. The defending force at Ngok Tavak had incurred numerous losses in both known dead and missing soldiers.

Kham Duc itself had been under attack by other elements of the NVA 2nd Regiment since the early morning hours of 10 May and the situation there was deteriorating rapidly. The camp was under constant attack through 11 May. Although additional Allied troops were airlifted in, the 1st NVA Regiment also entered the battle and by the morning of 12 May there was serious doubt if the camp could be held in against an enemy force of some ten to fifteen thousand men. By noon, the US 23rd Infantry Division commander had decided to withdraw entirely from Kham Duc. The evacuation was disorderly and, at times, verged on complete panic.

One of the aircraft used in the evacuation was a C-130 HERCULES transport (tail number 60-0297) assigned to the 773rd Tactical Airlift Squadron but being flown by a crew on temporary duty from the 774th TAS based at Mactan Air Base, Philippines. The C-130 aircrew consisted of

  • Major Bernard Bucher, pilot;
  • 1st Lt Stephen Moreland, co-pilot;
  • Major John McElroy, navigator;
  • SSgt. Frank Hepler, flight engineer; and
  • Airman George Long, loadmaster,
The C-130E landed in the midst of the continuing battle and immediately began taking aboard passengers, primarily civilians from the village of Kham Duc. Bucher began his take-off after loading between 150 and 200 passengers, but his aircraft was heavily hit by antiaircraft fire, exploded in flight, crashed in heavy jungle, and burned. There was no hope of survivors.

The evacuation continued and by nightfall of 12 May the vast majority of Allied troops and Vietnamese civilians had been evacuated from the camp. Kham Duc, the last border outpost in northeastern South Vietnam, had fallen to the enemy.

Two years and two months later, on 4 Sep 1970, the Americal Division recaptured Kham Duc. While the remains of a number of "missing in action" personnel were recovered, the wreckage of the C-130 could not be located and the remains of its crew have not been recovered.

Details of the Battle of Kam Duc abound in print and on the Internet. The following sources are cited:
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

News Release No. 1180-07
October 02, 2007

Servicemen Missing From Vietnam War Are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are Capt. Warren R. Orr Jr., U.S. Army, of Kewanee, Ill.; and Airman 1st Class George W. Long, U.S. Air Force, of Medicine Lodge, Kan. Long was buried Sept. 30 in Medicine Lodge and Orr's burial is being set by his family.

On May 12, 1968, these men were part of a crew on a C-130 Hercules evacuating Vietnamese citizens from the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp near Da Nang, South Vietnam. While taking off, the crew reported taking heavy enemy ground fire. A forward air controller flying in the area reported seeing the plane explode in mid-air soon after leaving the runway.

In 1985 and 1991, U.S. officials received remains and identification tags from sources claiming they belonged to men in this crew. Scientific analysis revealed they were not American remains, but it was believed the Vietnamese sources knew where the crash site was located.

In 1993, a joint/U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), traveled to Kham Duc and interviewed four local citizens concerning the incident. They led the team to the crash site, and turned over remains and identification tags they had recovered in 1983 while looking for scrap metal. During this visit, the team recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage at the site.

In 1994, another joint team excavated the crash site and recovered remains, pieces of life-support equipment, crew-related gear and personal effects.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index L
KS State Index . Panel 59E
774TH TAS Index

Contact Us

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 12 May 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009