Walter Ripley TyrrellHospital Corpsman 2nd Class
HMM-364, MAG-16, 1ST MAW
United States Navy
03 July 1947 - 07 February 1969
Chemung, New York
Panel 33W Line 082
The database page for Walter Ripley Tyrrell
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:
Petty Officer Walter Tyrrell, 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
continue to support today's Purple Foxes of HMM-364 as they serve our country.
A memorial initiated by the
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Rip Tyrrell was my first cousin and his death forever changed the lives of not only his immediate family, but of his extended family as well. Our lives were forever changed by his loss and he is sorely missed to this day. We have great memories of Rip, but wish we could have known the man he should have had the chance to become. I can guarantee he would have been as special if he had continued to live, as he was in the short time he had on Earth. He has made me so proud and humble to be related to him. My memories of him make me smile to this day. I will forever miss him.
From a first cousin,
"You guys are the Marine's doctors -
There's none better in the business than a Navy Corpsman ..."
-- Lieutenant General "Chesty" Puller --
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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