Thomas Richard OkerlundChief Warrant Officer
61ST AHC, 223RD AVN BN, 17TH AVN GRP, 1 AVN BDE
Army of the United States
05 August 1948 - 06 November 1978
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The database page for Thomas Richard Okerlund
Thomas Richard Okerlund
"Tommy Dick" was a native son of Skykomish, WA. He started ski racing at the age of six at Stevens Pass, WA, with the Stevens Pass Yellow Jackets. Cathy and Judy Nagel were his team mates and Jack Nagel was his coach. He excelled at ski racing and followed his ski family to Enumclaw when Crystal Mountain opened and they launched the Crystal Mountain Athletic Club. Tommy Dick raced throughout the northwest and soon became a national ranked competitor skiing for the Crystal Mountain Athletic Club and the University of Washington. He later returned to Crystal Mountain to coach for CMAC.
Tom graduated from Enumclaw High School where he was known for his unflappable good spirits and his gold Chevrolet convertible with the unmistakable aroma of mildew caused by a large hole in the floor under the driver's seat. It did not matter to Tom, he loved it.
Around the time he graduated from High School he was introduced to airplanes. Flying became his passion and he spent all his time and resources pursuing it. He finally accumulated enough hours to fly for the Army Reserve. When he went to Vietnam he flew Huey helicopters over Qui Nhon until he was reported missing in action. When Tom's personal effects arrived home his family was suprised to find commendations for bravery among them.
We still miss you, "Tommy Dick".
A Note from The Virtual WallAt about 0900 03 Jan 1971 a U-6A BEAVER (serial #52-25884) departed Qui Nhon on an administrative support flight to Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam, carrying crewmen from the 61st AHC to collect replacement helicopters for the company. The helicopter crewmen would then fly the helicopters back to Qui Nhon.
At 1120 hours, with the U-6 about 14 miles southeast of Phu Cat, radio and radar contact with the plane was lost. Because the pilot, Captain F. A. Rhodes, had announced plans to remain overnight at Ban Me Thuot, no immediate search was made. When search efforts were begun on 5 January, no trace of the aircraft or its seven occupants could be found. Formal search efforts ended on 9 January 1971.
Seven men were aboard the U-6:
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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