Russell Eugene Moke

First Lieutenant
HMM-364, MAG-16, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
19 January 1944 - 07 February 1969
East Peoria, IL
Panel 33W Line 080

1ST MAW CH-46 HMM-364
Naval Aviator

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

The database page for Russell Eugene Moke

02 Aug 2003

On 7 Feb 1969 two CH-46A Sea Knights of HMM-364 were conducting medevac missions throughout the day. On their 8th mission, they were called for a mission near An Hoa. SWIFT 1-1 (CH-46A BuNo 153334) was piloted by Captain Ernie Bartolina; his wingman, SWIFT 1-2, was piloted by Lt. Dick Hardin.

Although the area was reported as secure, it was not. As Bartolina began his descent into the landing zone his aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire. Both of the CH-46's hydraulic boost systems failed, rendering the big helicopter uncontrollable. Hardin's crew reported that lead suddenly pitched nose-up, rotated a full 360 degrees, and crashed into a rice paddy in an upright position. When Hardin attempted to land next to the downed aircraft, heavy gunfire forced him to abort the attempt.

Additional fire support was brought to bear and ground forces attempted to reach the site. An airborne recovery effort was mounted, with 1st Lt Thomas J. Sullivan bringing in a recovery team led by 1st Lt Courtney B. Payne. Although both the insertion aircraft and the ground team came under continuous heavy fire, the Marines succeeded in recovering their dead and injured. Sullivan was awarded the Silver Star and Payne the Bronze Star for their actions during the recovery ... but six men died in the crash:

Gunner Gregory J. Tomaro was the only survivor.

First Lieutenant Russell Moke, and the other Purple Foxes who served in Vietnam, are remembered by the women who waited at home, whether mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, or friends. Those women, the

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Purple Foxy Ladies

continue to support today's Purple Foxes of HMM-364 as they serve our country.

the Purple Foxes

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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 08/10/2009