GEORGE THOMAS CONDREY III
Chief Warrant Officer 3, Aviator
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Atlanta, Georgia
Date of Birth: February 12, 1944
Tour of Duty begain June 13, 1967
Killed in action on May 8th, 1968.
Helicopter 64-14172 was shot down.
Status changed from MIA to Presumed to be dead.
George Thomas (Tommy) Condrey, III
was born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 12, 1944. He grew up
in the Atlanta area and was a very active young man from an
early age, participating in Sports, Boy Scouts and fishing
with his Father and Grandfather, George Thomas Condrey.
Tom with his father fishing and as a Boy Scout
Tommy Graduated from North Fulton High School in 1962 where he was the Cadet Commander of the Army Jr. ROTC program, was a member of the basketball team and was the starting quarter back for his High School football team. Following high school Tommy attended Young Harris and Georgia Southern Colleges until he joined the Army in June of 1966. He completed basic training, was sent to Fort Walters, Texas for initial rotary wing training and on to Fort Rucker, Alabama where he graduated on June 6, 1967, with Class 67-7, and was awarded the silver wings of an Army Aviator.
graduation Tommy married Jo Ann King in the Covenant
Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Tommy and Jo Ann
were active in the Covenant Presbyterian Church where Tommy
participated in the church's youth activities and sang
in the choir.
In early July Tommy left his new bride and his family for the trip to South Vietnam where on July 13, 1967 he joined the 281st Assault Helicopter Company. His initial assignment was with the Bandit Platoon in support of the 5th Special Forces and Project Delta, where he became a highly skilled and respected Aircraft Commander. Tommy, natural leader, was held in high esteem by his fellow crew members and his superiors. He earned the respect of everyone, and was a friend to all. In war, there are individuals who are "go to" leaders that can be called on to perform difficult missions; in the 281st, there were several such men. However, Tommy was at the top of this list and was always ready and willing to do more than was expected.
Tommy then decided to join the Wolf Pack and fly gun ships. On May 8, 1968, Tommy and his crew were flying mission supporting the recovery of a
Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Team (LRRP) that was
engaged in a fire fight with a large hostile force and
were in danger of being captured. When Tommy and his crew
arrived on the scene their gunship immediately came under
intense enemy fire. As the pickup helicopter approached the
landing zone, Tommy and his crew flew close fire support placing
suppressive fire on the hostile forces and at the same time
placing the themselves between the lightly armed pickup
helicopter and the hostile force they were able to draw the
ground fire away from the recovery helicopters. Although drawing
heavy fire from the hostile forces on the ground Tommy and his
crew continued to provide cover for the pickup helicopters until
their helicopter was hit by a barrage of enemy fire
that caused it to explode in mid-air and crash on the bank of
the Buong River. The violent midair explosion of the aircraft indicated that it
had been hit by an explosive projectile.
Shortly after the incident, recovery personnel landed in the vicinity of the crash, but were unable to find any signs of life. On 12 May a ground patrol located the remains of four individuals in the vicinity of the crash site. However, due to heavy enemy activity the remains could not be recovered.
There are conflicting stories concerning the aircraft and the crew members. There is, with supporting witnesses, a belief that the remains were recovered by the Project Delta Battle Damage Team. However, to date, mortuary records that reflect unidentified individuals on the dates associated with the crew loss have not been located. As of February 2018, these records are again being researched and the effort to locate their remains is ongoing by DOD. The official report, located at the end of this page, also contains a note of possible siting of the remains.
For service to his country and his actions in combat Chief Warrant Officer 3, George Thomas Condrey,III was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (posthumously), the Air Medal with sixteen Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart (posthumously), and various US and Vietnamese Service awards.
CWO George Thomas Condrey III, was one of four men lost when UH-1C 64-14172 was shot down. Condrey, James Dayton, the aircraft commander, Daniel Jurecko, crew chief, and Robert Jenne, gunner, were all highly respected members of the 281st AHC and they shall always be remembered. (To visit the other crew members remembrance sites click on their name)
Remembrances from Tommy's fellow members of the 281st:
Tommy will always have a
special place in my heart. I had just been shot down the day
before with Dan Digenova and Don Creed and then Tommy went out the
next day with Dayton and both were killed. It hit us all hard.
That was a bad week for all of us in the Ashau.
Wolf Pack 33
With all the pictures of Condrey being shown and his Remembrance site now up I feel a little more on Condrey is warranted. Tom was my primary AC (67-68) and pretty much taught me how to "really fly" that slick. The guy was sharp and had a sense of humor and at the end of the day wherever he sat others gathered. He was at home as much with the guns as with the slicks and did the stories ever fly when he got both of them together.
Condrey holds a little known 281st record and was given a "plaque" for his achievement of such. The avionics guys gave Tom a plaque for saving them the trouble of replacing all the radios in the aircraft that he was shot down in. After being shot down behind enemy lines Tom emptied his 45 into the radio compartment from approximately 6 feet away and managed to miss every single one. With the exception of one bullet, every one of his shots went in-between the radios. The one bullet that did hit a radio just wedged in front of the case in the deep dent it had made. Didn't say he could shoot, just fly the heck out of that thing.
Tom had a keen sense of self-preservation matched by few in the 281st. He had a set of black pajamas made to his size and wore them to bed each night whenever he was in the field. He also had a big radio that would pick up "Hanoi Hanna" and he would listen to her for the latest news, even the arrival of the "famed" 281st to their newest Delta site. He told me not to worry about being attacked until Hanna was through because Charlie liked listening to her too. Tom's view of things was that the security at some of the bases we were stationed at was down right shabby. If the place was going to be overrun those black pajamas just might be the thing to get him to the tree line without getting shot if it finally came down to that.
When we heard of his death I went to his room, I wanted something of his to remember him by. An officer was already there taking care of things and packing things away. I asked him if there was something of his I could keep and was given Tom's beloved popcorn cooker because it had not been packed yet. I still have it to this day and with me it will stay until I die. When my son is ready he will be told the story behind that old popcorn cooker that use to fill the barracks with it's aroma.
A "lucky" shot got Tom. That's something even Tom couldn't cover. Every December 15th (shot down day), every Memorial Day, and every Veterans Day his memory has been with me and for all these years he has been remembered. There was much more to Tom and I tried to do him justice, as best I could, in the stories section of the 281st. How lucky I was to have him as my AC.
Typical recollections of Tommy are contained in the stories written by John Galkiewicz, who joined the 281st as a new pilot and was assigned to fly with Tommy's crew. John recalls that Tommy not only took him under his wing and gave him the tools and confidence to develop into a skilled aircraft commander, but of equal importance, he became a friend. John's stories about his experiences in the 281st AHC contain several references to the leadership and guidance that Tommy provided him, and others, during his tour of duty with the unit. John's stories can be seen at: John Galkiewicz. John can also be reached at: 115 Nevils St., PO Box 20, Harrogate, TN 37752-0020, Tel: 423-869-8138 (FAX same) or by e-mail at: email@example.com .
Letter from Tommy's college classmate.
College cheerleading team. Tommy on the right. classmate
This remembrance was assembled by Jack Mayhew,
with help from Tommy's sister, Mary Ellen Nabors.
His parents, Mrs. Betty Johnson Condrey and Mr. George Thomas
Condrey, Jr. have both passed away. His Mother died in 1993 and his
father in 1996. If you have questions, comment or materials that you
would like to contribute to WO Condrey's remembrance, or would like to contact his family, please contact us at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-451-4087
Young Thomas (Tommy) Robert Turner at his
uncle Tommy's Memorial Marker,
at Lenox Towers, Peachtree Road,
Tommy, 6 years later,
at his uncle's memorial grave
site in Arlington National Cemetery
Observing Memorial Day 2005 and giving proof to our belief that:
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER....ALWAYS AN INTRUDER