DANIEL EDWARD JURECKO
Sergeant, Combat Crew Chief
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Corpus Christi, Texas
Date of birth: August 19, 1948
Tour of duty began:
Killed in Action: May 8th, 1968
Helicopter 64-14172 was shot down.
Status changed from MIA to Presumed to be dead.
Daniel E. Jurecko was a 19 year Crew Chief flying a combat aviation
mission in South Vietnam when the UH-1 helicopter in which he was flying
as crew chief and gunner was shot down.
Daniel was flying with James Dayton, Aircraft Commander, George Condrey III,
pilot and Robert Jenne, Door Gunner. Daniel's body was not
recovered. The loss of Daniel and his fellow crew-members was felt
by each member of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company and they
shall not be forgotten.
In memory of her brother Danny, his sister Debbie wrote the following:
Daniel Edward Jurecko was born at 2:25 p.m. on August 19, 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas to proud parents, Edward and Betty Jurecko. When Danny was 9 years old he was visiting with his grandmother and wrote a letter home to our mother and father that expressed his love of airplanes.
July 3, 1957:
“Dear Mother and Father - I have three airplanes and next time we go to town Grandmother is going to buy me a B29 Bomber or a big Martin B-26 Marauder Bomber. Daddy, how many airplanes do I have now?"
Danny also loved to take things apart and see what made them work. When he was 16 years of age - he took the engine out of his first car, and dissembled it part by part and then put it back together. In growing up, he had many remote controlled model airplanes that he built and would spend hours flying them, overwhelmed with what made them fly. As a hobby, he raised pigeons and built a home for them in our backyard, big enough for him and I to get inside with them. We would sit there for hours, as he explained to me everything about them. Our father would drive us miles from home and Danny would release several of his prize, racing Pigeons. We would return home and wait in anticipation for their return, and one by one here they would come.
Danny had a newspaper route and he would convince his best friend, Ray to help him, because the earlier Danny was done the more time they had to explore the world. They had BB gun battles in our back yard with protective bunkers they had made by stacking up bricks. Many days, they would make trips to an old land fill area behind some riding stables that always had water in it. Using it as their own personal lake they had appropriated a galvanized horse water trough as a boat. It leaked like crazy, and they would patch it with mud, then take it back into the lake so it could sink with them, again.
Danny enjoyed fishing, especially when cold fronts came through (when no one else with any sense would be out there). One day he rented a boat to try out his outboard motor that he had found in a junkyard and thought he had restored. It was midnight when the motor stalled, the choke fell out of it, and he thought for sure he would be run over by a tugboat pushing barges. He also enjoyed fishing off the breakwaters next to the T-Heads in Corpus Christi. One day he realized he didn’t have a dime (yes, it was just a dime back then) to call for a ride back home so he tried to file a penny on the concrete sidewalk to use in the pay phone.
Danny taught Ray how to wrap fishing rods, putting on grips and eyes on rod blanks. They upgraded fishing to Tarpon and other big fish. They never caught one, but had fun anyway. When the surfing craze hit, Danny tried it. He would rent a surfboard, and back then they were enormous and heavy, but he would manage to hang ten as he walked off the end of the board. He loved the outdoors and was very adventurous.
Danny’s enthusiasm for joining the military was motivated to some extent by his desire to emulate our father, a veteran of World War II, parachuted into France the night before D-Day. Danny didn’t have to go to Vietnam, because as the only son he was exempt. January 4, 1967, Danny enlisted in the Army and studied Aircraft Maintenance at Ft. Polk, LA and before leaving for Vietnam he was assigned to Fort Bragg, NC 3rd Special Forces. March 13, 1968, Danny was assigned to the 281st Assault Helicopter Company where his first assignment was as a helicopter mechanic. Shortly after, he volunteered to be a Crew Chief and was assigned to missions supporting the recovery of Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Teams (LRRP).
In Danny’s last letter home he tried to explain to our mother, who had urged him to keep his job as a mechanic and stay on the ground, why he wanted to fly.
April 27, 1968, he wrote - “The truth is I wanted to get out and fight for my country and be able to tell myself that I did something for the cause of this war.” “Right now, I’m in the field and will be here for thirty to sixty days.” “I’m sure that you have heard of the place I’m at on the news and in the paper.” I’m in the A Shau Valley and the war is different then that at Nha Trang.” “I told you that I wanted to crew in the gun platoon and that is what I got in.” “The third flight which is better known as Wolf Pack - Death on Call, and from what I have been doing so far that name is right.”
On May 8, 1968, less than two weeks after writing that letter, Danny was flying a combat aviation mission in support of Project Delta. Danny was Crew Chief on a 281st AHC gun ship when the UH-1C was shot down. At 9:00 p.m. the same night the doorbell rang at our home, to give us this news. It was Mother’s Day. Lost with Danny were WO George Condrey III, Pilot, WO James Dayton, Aircraft Commander and Robert Jenne, Door Gunner. They 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 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 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 to the pickup helicopters until their own helicopter gun ship was hit by a barrage of enemy fire that caused it to explode in midair and crash on the bank of the Vuong River. The violent midair explosion of the aircraft indicated that it had been hit by a rocket type explosive projectile. Shortly after the incident, recovery personnel landed near the crash, but were unable to find any signs of life. On May 12, 1968, a ground patrol located the remains of 4 individuals near the crash site.; However, due to heavy enemy activity the remains could not be recovered.
During the period of April 10, 1968 to April 30, 1968 while in Vietnam, Danny actively participated in more than twenty-five aerial missions over hostile territory in support of counterinsurgency operations. During all of these flights, he displayed the highest order of air discipline and acted according to the best traditions of the service. By his determination to accomplish his mission, in spite of the hazards inherent in repeated aerial flights over hostile territory, and by his outstanding degree of professionalism and devotion to duty, he brought credit upon himself, his organization, and the United States Army and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) for heroism, the Air Medal (Posthumously) and the Purple Heart (Posthumously) evidenced by actions above and beyond the call of duty.
Even though our parents were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in 2008, Danny will always live on in the hearts and memories of his family and friends. He will never be forgotten and my undying hope is even stronger today, than yesterday that one day his remains will be found and brought home. I’m blessed to have had a brother who faced danger of conflict with courage in-order to preserve the right of people to remain free. I will always be indebted to his bravery and selfless devotion.
I love and miss you,
Your sister, Debbie
(If anyone has any memories or photographs of Danny when he was in the service,
please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
From Ronny Awtry...
Danny was my mom's cousin,
He passed 55 days before I was born. Were it not for his passing and the freshness of the pain of loss, I would have carried his name. A crew chief on a UH-1C gun ship, he always dreamed of flying.
Growing up he tied towels around his neck and in superman fashion jumped off the roof believing he could fly!! My aunt as a small girl landed flat on her back and lost her wind, never forgetting she couldn't fly. I believe my uncle broke his first bone on one of these excursions.
As a young teen, Danny would go to downtown Corpus Christi late at night and collect roosting pigeons. He had a coop in his back yard with what seemed hundreds in it. He marveled that if set free they came back. A troubled teen, he joined the Army at his Father's insistence**. The family guilt exists to this day.
As the crew chief on the UH-1, one of Danny's last letters home said, " In these helicopters I have finally found myself, I am flying!!" Though later lost he was found on the most deeper sense at the end. This story mirrors many of us.
I told this story through the eyes and ears of my Mother, Father and Aunts and Uncles. I grew up as a cousin, because his memory filled a place in our families lives and stories. Danny was not forgotten, His memorial patch was the first patch on my vest, I tell his story often by mention of the patch.
It is through this website( Members Groups and Message Boards) that I found Danny's Unit and talked to his commanding officer. It is through this organization that I honor his memory as a Patriot Guard Rider today. We would have ridden missions together if he were with us today. Matter of fact, he does ride missions with us, because for me and my family, he is not forgotten.
This letter is written all my love,
Ronny "BEAR" Awtry
Director of Help On The Homefront
"Dear God, Please help me be the man that my dog thinks I am!!"
In memory of Danny Jurecko. May 8, 1968. 281st AHC Intruder. You are not forgotten.
**Note: Danny's Father served in WWII
For technical Details covering the crash of Helicopter 64-14172,
see CWO Tommy Condrey’s page on this web site.
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER....ALWAYS AN INTRUDER