William Craig Nystul

United States Marine Corps
04 January 1946 - 29 April 1975
Coronodo, California
Panel 01W Line 124


Naval Aviator

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William Craig Nystul

07 Dec 2007

I flew with Bill from MCAS Futema to the carrier USS MIDWAY and cross-decked with him again to the carrier USS HANCOCK in the Philippine Straits. On ICS I heard some of the crew teasing Bill about his low number of flight hours in the CH-46 as I was eating a very ripe mango. Bill dumped the collective, starting an autorotation which pushed the mango up my nose and all over my face. As soon as he finished the maneuver, I stuck my fruity face into the cockpit. Both pilots laughed so hard I could not tell who could still be flying the Frog. While on Cinderella Liberty in a Singapore watering hole, a hostess brought a round of beer to the table. I asked where it came from and she pointed to a guy at the bar: Bill. Every time Bill and I passed each other in the tight shipboard passageways or in the Ready Room, he would try to restrain his laughter but that breaking smile always gave away our mango massacre. I still owe him a beer.

From a fellow Marine from the Composite squadron, Skid Kid, and friend,
Jeffrey T. Jones, CWO4, USMC (Ret)
E-mail address is not available.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

At the end of April 1975 the victorious North Vietnamese Army was entering Saigon while US military forces, predominantly Navy and Marine air, were desperately trying to evacuate US military, diplomatic, and civilian personnel from Saigon and the surrounding areas. The last four US military members to die in Vietnam were Marines, two ashore and two afloat: Cpl McMahon and LCpl Judge were killed by a rocket attack while defending the Defense Attach´┐Ż Building on Tan Son Nhut Airbase; their bodies were not recovered in 1975, but their remains were repatriated on 22 Feb 1976.

Captain Nystul and 1stLt Shea were piloting a CH-46D helicopter, BuNo 154042, providing SAR support for the malstrom of aircraft coming and going from the US naval forces offshore. Just before midnight on 29/30 April, while flying a downwind approach to landing on the USS HANCOCK, the CH-46 impacted the water and sank. While two enlisted crewmen (Cpl Richard Scott and Cpl Stephen R. Wills) were rescued, the two pilots went down with their aircraft. Their bodies were not recovered. Additional details are available on the Pop-A-Smoke site.

Burial at Sea ceremony for Capt Nystul and 1stLt Shea.

Courtesy of
George T. Curtis
Master Gunnery Sergeant
USMC Retired 66-91
Now deceased

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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 Dec 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009