ROBERT EARL JENNE
Specialist Fouth Class, Combat Aviation Door Gunner
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date of birth: January 7, 1948
Killed in Action: May 8, 1969
Helicopter 64-14172 was shot down.
Status changed from MIA to Presumed to be dead.
Robert Earl" Bob" Jenne was born on January 7, 1948 in Salt Lake,
Utah to Irene Albert and Aaron Frank Jenne. He grew up in the
same area and went to neighborhood schools. He was always good
natured and had an infectious smile. Bob, as he was known, had
a gift of getting to know people.
As a young boy he would often be found helping the elderly in the neighborhood.
Whether it was helping them clean, going to the store, or just
visiting he was there for them. Little children were also attracted
to him. He loved children and enjoyed being with them.
He played clarinet while in school and could play with ease.
He played by ear which often frustrated his music teacher.
At the age of 16 with drivers license in hand, Bob purchased a motorcycle, which became his pride and joy. Later he progressed to a MG sports car.
On January 27, 1966 at the age of 18 Bob joined the army at Fort Douglas, Utah. He went to fort Bliss Texas for basic training and in April of 1966 he was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for training in the Field Artillery. From there he went to jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia where he was assigned to the 44th Airborne Training Company, graduating and receiving his Silver Jump Wings on July 8, 1966.
Bob volunteered for three tours of duty in Viet Nam. He said, "If I can save one other guy from having to go over there it's worth it. I've been there, I know what to expect and how things work." His first tour of duty was as a Cannoneer with the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. His second tour was as a Pathfinder with the 10th Combat Aviation Battalion. On April 19, 1968 he started his third tour in country as a Door Gunner with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company.
On May 8, 1968, Bob was flying a combat aviation mission in support of Project Delta. He was serving as the Door Gunner on a 281st AHC Gun Ship when the UH-1C was shot down. Bob and the 281st crew were assigned the mission of 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 as such were in danger of being captured. When they arrived on the scene their gunship immediately came under intense enemy fire. As the pickup helicopter approached the Landing zone the crew flew close fire support placing suppressive fire on the hostile forces and at the same time by placing the themselves between the lightly armed pickup helicopter and the hostile force they were able to draw the ground fire away from the pickup helicopter. Although drawing heavy fire from the hostile forces on the ground the crew continued to provide cover for the pickup helicopters until their own helicopter gun ship 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 a rocket type explosive projectile. During the gun runs other 281st crew members reported seeing Bob hanging out of the aircraft, suspended by his safety strap, so as to get a wider range of coverage with his machine gun. 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 4 individuals in the vicinity of the crash site. However, due to heavy enemy activity the remains could not be recovered.
Lost with Bob were CWO George Condrey III, the pilot, CWO James Dayton, the aircraft commander, and SP-4 Daniel E. Jurecko, the crew chief. For technical details covering the crash of Helicopter 64-14172, see CWO Tommy Condrey's page on this website.
Bob's story was written by his sister, Mrs. Joyce Jeppson who also
provided his pictures.
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER....ALWAYS AN INTRUDER