William James Simpson

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
12 August 1946 - 27 November 1968
Forest Park, Illinois
Panel 38W Line 077

Army Aircrew

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

The database page for William James Simpson

04 Sep 2002

Hey Willy-Peter

I sure do miss you. Chicago has changed a lot since you have been gone. I tried so hard to go out that day you went down, but they would not let me. But I went to your grave when I got home, saw your Brother and Mom. Went down to Springfield, they have your name on the wall down there. I carry your name on a bracelet I had made up, got one for Acosta too. Don't worry - I'll never forget you.

Keep flying high, Man ... Your Buddy, Chaz

Charles A Bergandi

21 Feb 2005

Bill, we continue to miss you and think of you often. You are loved by many. I remember great times growing up and being at your mom's for all the family gatherings. You were a very special cousin to all of us and many have joined you. You have two name-sakes in the family... Rob's son and Kathy's Grandson are both named William for you. We are proud that you served in Vietnam but we were devastated to lose you. I wish we could have you back for one day. We have so many questions about the baby you may have had born over there. We tried to find out through the Red Cross at the time but we did not have enough information for them to investigate any further. I will always miss you and you will always be in my heart. Love Sharon

From his cousin,
Sharon Saviano
Warrenville, IL

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 27 November 1968 the 118th Aviation Company provided airlift for an ARVN force conducting an operation on the Cambodian border west of Tay Ninh. The 118th provided 10 lift UH-1 Hueys, one command and control ship, and two UH-1C Huey gunships. The mid-morning insertion was unopposed, with the ARVN troops landed in rice paddies near a small village on the border. The lift UH-1s departed for their staging area, leaving the C&C ship and one, possibly both, gunships to provide cover for the ground troops.

One of the gunship UH-1Cs (tail number 66-15015) was conducting a firing run on the village when it was hit by .51 caliber machinegun fire and went down about 300 yards from the village, between the advancing ARVN troops and the defending enemy force. The fighting intensified as both sides attempted to gain control over the downed helicopter and the ARVN approach stalled in the face of heavy fire. At about midday a smoke grenade was popped at the crash site, indicating that at least one of the crew had survived, and plans were made to insert a U.S. infantry unit.

Late in the afternoon that insertion was made and the US force was able to advance to the crash site while the enemy withdrew from the village. The infantrymen recovered the bodies of three of the four crewmen; the fourth could not be located:

  • WO1 Nicholas Richard Alexander, pilot, KIA
  • WO1 Leslie Howard Larocque, copilot, KIA
  • SP5 William James Simpson, crew chief, KIA
  • SP4 Earl F. Gurnsey, gunner, Missing in Action
The US government subsequently learned that SP4 Gurnsey was under control of the Cambodian government and arrangements were made for his release. SP4 Gurnsey was turned over to US authorities on 06 January 1969. He is reported to have died on 29 May 1982.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009