Paul Bruce Lambertson
Specialist 5th Class, Combat Aviation Crew Chief
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Van Nuys, California
Born: July 14, 1949
Tour of duty as a Rotary Wing Mechanic
began on June 26, 1969.
While flying as a door gunner, he was
killed in action on May 20th, 1970
in Binh Thuan, South Vietnam in a
non-combat helicopter crash.
SP5 Paul B. Lambertson was a 20-year-old single soldier from Van Nuys, California. His tour of duty began on Jun 26, 1969. Paul was flying as a member of the crew of UH-1H 66-16009 when the helicopter crashed near Binh Thuan as a result of pilot error, on the part of the aircraft commander, killing Paul and Arthur G. Qualls. The pilot, a Captain from the Field Forces Headquarters staff, was also killed in the crash. The aircraft commander, a WO from the 281st AHC, was seriously injured and evacuated to the states where he was medically retired. Paul was a skilled and highly respected power train mechanic, who had also cross-trained in the 281st as a hydraulic and rotor specialist. Paul and Arthur Qualls, also a member of the maintenance platoon, volunteered to fly as the crew of 16609. Paul and Arthur were the last individuals lost by the 281st Assault Helicopter Company in the Vietnam war, and they shall never be forgotten.
1 Jul 2004
Although it has been over 30 years, I still remember my roommate Paul very clearly. Paul was a good guy and a great leader. You could always count on Paul to pick up the slack in the unit and do any job that needed to be done. From one who will never forget.
From his roommate in Nha Trang,
From: BEN GOWDY
Even today, after all these years I still have a real tough time talking about Paul. We got acquainted during AIT in Fort Eustis, Va, as we were in the same class, and we rapidly became best friends. I was from the mountains of Colorado and he was from the beaches of California. We did everything together even met in Oakland and shipped out together to Nam. We were separated at 90th Replacement. I met his dad in Oakland for just a brief few minutes but I think he was about 55 in age then and Paul was an only child. I have tried several times and different ways over the past ten years to find a family survivor and have not had any results. I was at one time put in touch with his Nam roommate and we stayed in touch for a long time, but when my old computer crashed, I lost his info. Paul was a school trained power train mechanic, but he cross trained at your company to be a hydraulic and rotor specialist also. I also went thru that training because the school training we had was for depot level, not company, so our hands were tied to do power train work cause we could not get parts at the company level. Paul was down in Long Binh about a month before his crash and we spent several days catching up, even snuck over to Bien Hoa to a depot company where 6 of our classmates were stationed and spent the day with them. A month later, even though I was a hanger jock, I was assigned to the maintenance ship as crew chief for one day to go on a recovery mission to An Loc to search for one of our ships that did not come the night before. We finally found it upside down mostly burned within a NVA bunker perimeter that had twin 51 cals set up etc. We went, recovered as many of the bodies of the 14 on board as we could and returned to Long Binh. As I approached the hanger that eve, I saw two officers that had Paul's unit patch on, they informed he had gone down two days prior. When I got to company headquarters, I had a letter from home that my high school basketball coach which was also my next door neighbor and great friend had died of liver cancer. The next few days were lost in many bottles of booze. I have not yet been able to find any pictures of Paul but I will not give up the search. I know that Paul's high school sweetheart and fiancé dumped him while he was home on leave just prior to Nam, she didn't want to wait for a Nam solider. He was pretty lonely when we shipped over. He was a very great guy and I still ask today, why Lord did I make it home and not him......BEN
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER ... ALWAYS AN INTRUDER