Angel Luna

Technical Sergeant
United States Air Force
19 July 1932 - 10 October 1968
San Antonio, Texas
Panel 41W Line 041



USAF Aircrew

Air Medal, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Angel Luna

29 Feb 2004

Dear 'Joe', I heard about the crash of your HH-43B 'Pedro' rescue helicopter when I arrived at Nha Trang AB in 1970. They told me the words you said, and the way you died that day ... I cried. We who knew you haven't forgotten, and never will.

From his OIC and friend,
Vernon P. Wagner, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)

27 Mar 2004

Angel Luna was a 90251, Aeromedical Specialist (Air Rescue). I was one of two night shift NCOIC's of the Emergency Room at 35th USAF Dispensary and worked with Angel at Phan Rang. He was on the rescue chopper with the firefighters when it went down responding to an inflight emergency of an F-100.

From a fellow Medic.
E-mail address is not available.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Detachment 1 of the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron provided Search and Rescue services at Phan Rang Air Base, home of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.

At about 2030 (8:30 PM) on 10 Oct 1968 a B-57 aircraft declared an in-flight emergency. Det 1 38th ARRS launched a helicopter (HH-43B tail number 58-1845, call sign "Pedro 44") with a fire suppression kit to cover the B-57's emergency landing. During the landing roll out of the B-57, Pedro 44 entered a left hand climbing turn as if departing the area for return to the alert pad. Almost simultaneously, and without any radio transmission, the helicopter crashed and burned. Firefighting equipment and medical assistance, already on hand for the B-57 emergency, responded immediately to the scene, extinguished the fire within 15 seconds, and removed the crewmembers from the aircraft. None the less, the crash inflicted fatal injuries to all five aircrew members:

  • Capt Von M. Liebernecht, Burbank, CA, Det 1, 38th ARRS, pilot
  • Major Donald R. Brooks, Decatur, GA, Det 1, 38th ARRS, copilot
  • SSgt Milard L. Bledsoe, Athens, TN, 35th CE Sqd, crewman
  • TSgt Angel Luna, San Antonio, TX, 35th USAF Dispensary, medic
  • TSgt Emmett S. Orr, Ashland, KY, 35th CE Sqd, crewman
Analysis of the wreckage determined the crash resulted from a materiel failure which caused an in-flight disintegration of the rotor system and loss of aircraft control.

As it happens, the photo used at the top of this page is of HH-43B tail number 58-1845, taken by Jim Travis at Phan Rang Air Base in August 1966.

The photo sequence above is of the same aircraft (although with a camoflage paint scheme) launching on an earlier emergency call with TSgt Luna aboard as the flight medic. The photos were provided by a unit member who was at Phan Rang AB at the time.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Feb 2004
Last updated 08/10/2009