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Daniel Arthur Sulander

sketch

Sketch by Cliff Wheeler

Warrant Officer, Aviator
281st Assault Helicopter Company
10th CAB, 17th CAG, 1st AVN BDE


From Minneapolis, Minnesota
Born on Sep 18, 1943
Lutheran, Missouri Synod

His tour of duty began on June 21, 1966
His helicopter was shot down on December 2, 1966
in Laos
Presumed to have died while missing

Rotary wing training class: 65-17W
VN Wall Panel 13E - Line 7



1stAB Army Aviator

guidon DFC, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal (7 Awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Military Merit, RVN Cross of Gallantry, RVN Campaign medals

sketch Daniel Arthur Sulander was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 18, 1943. Danny grew up in Minneapolis and Donald Michel, his close friend from childhood remembers him:

I would like to tell you about my best friend Daniel Arthur Sulander.

Danny was placed in a foster home in my neighborhood when he was about 10 years old. He adapted well to being the new kid in the neighborhood and we soon found out we shared the same interests. We belonged to the Boy Scouts and Danny really enjoyed the outdoor activities especially camping out. Later on he joined The Civil Air Patrol and explained to me that they had two things the scouts did not have, airplanes and girls. He introduced me to one of those girls and she later became my wife. He always liked gadgets such as cameras, tape recorders, and CB radios, but flying was his favorite experience.

Danny graduated from Hopkins High School, in a suburb of Minneapolis, in 1961. During his school years he played hockey, belonged to the ski club, and did stage lighting for plays and shows. After high school he went to the University of Minnesota for a year before joining the Army. While driving trucks out of Fort Lewis Washington the opportunity came for helicopter training at Fort Rucker. He jumped at the chance to do what he loved best, fly. He was proud of his accomplishment of becoming a pilot.

Danny loved life and always had a plan and goals. His ability to adapt to any situation always amazed me. I think of him often and wonder what could have been.

Sincerely,
Donald Michel
633 East Park Valley Drive
Hopkins, MN 55343
djdksj@aol.com

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high school pic
Daniel Sulander, 1961
High School Graduation
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Before attending flight school Danny rose to the rank of Specialist 5th Class in the Engineers. He graduated from RW Class 66-9W and was commissioned as a Warrant Officer on 13 May 1966. Danny was assigned to the 281st Assault Helicopter Company and arrived in Nha Trang Vietnam on 21 June 1966. Fred Philips, a fellow Intruder and friend remembers him:

I'd been in country for several months when Dan Sulander arrived. At first, we weren't much impressed with his flying. He was just another clueless guy, like all of us had been when we first got there. But Dan was different. Before long, we saw that he could keep his cool under fire. When the bad guys started shooting he was the greatest there ever was and that's a fact. It was his downfall. In the 281st, the best pilots got the worst missions.

But you asked what Dan did that made us laugh, or chuckle, or puke, or whatever. Before he went to flight school he was in the Army Engineers where, he claimed, he learned how to make stuff. On a really bad operation near a Montanyard village called Boun Blech, Dan took it upon himself to build a field shower, which would presumably improve our hygiene. For two or three days, he gathered tools and materials and worked like a beaver. He finished that masterpiece just as the monsoons arrived - with natural warm showers far better than he could ever construct.

Dan also owned the most extreme combat stereo system I ever heard. He had an amazing amp and a pair of huge speakers (purchased in Hong Kong or maybe Bangkok) that worked off of an Army generator. It didn't matter what kind of music you liked - rock, country, big band, classical, jazz, folk, whatever - he had it all and you got whatever you wanted, even in a firefight (Literally) in the middle of the night at some forward operating base like Song Be or Tay Ninh.

Dan Sulander was one cool guy and, like you, I miss him.

-- Fred Phillips

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WO Daniel Arthur Sulander was lost on December 2, 1966 along with WO Donald Harrison, SP/4 William J. Bodzick and SP/4 Lee J. Boudreaux, Jr. A brief synopsis of the mission in which they lost their lives follows:

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WO Daniel Sulander was assigned as the Aircraft Commander on UH-1D 65-10088. He and his crew left Khe Sanh South Vietnam, along with six other UH-1s from the 281st AHC at approximately 10.00 a.m. on 2 December 1966. Their mission was to recover a long-range recon team located inside the borders of in Laos. The team, consisting of two Special Forces personnel (MSG Russell Bott and SMAJ Willie Stark) and a number of South Vietnamese Army personnel were in contact and under heavy fire from larger enemy force from the NVA 325B Division, Stark had been wounded in the chest and leg, and several ARVN troops had been killed or wounded. The team reported that they were running low on ammunition and that their situation was precarious. SGT Irby Dyer, a medic with Det B-52, 5th Special Forces Group was on board the aircraft with WO Sulander.

As the UH-1D neared the team's position and begin to make its approach it came under heavy intense automatic weapons fire. The crew of a 281st AHC helicopter flying protective cover reported that the WO Sulander's aircraft descended in a nose down attitude and crashed. The aircraft immediately engulfed in flames and continued to burn for the approximately fifteen minutes.

Searches conducted between 10 and 13 December located the UH-1D wreckage and identified the remains of the five men aboard, but the search team was not able to recover the bodies. No trace of Bott and Stark was found. Another team was inserted to recover the remains of the helicopter crew, but found that US air strikes in the area had hit the UH-1 wreckage. While three bodies could be positively identified and recovered, WO Sulander and SGT Dyer's remains could not be identified. Although there was some evidence that Bott was captured, there is no certainty of what happened to either of the two Special Forces men.

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Danny WO Daniel Sulander's body was not recovered. On 2 August 1973 his status was changed from missing in action to presumed to have been killed in action on 2 December 1966. WO Sulander was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star, the Air Medal For Heroism and the Government of South Vietnam awarded him the Gallantry Cross With Silver Star, The Military Merit Medal and the Gallantry Cross With Palm. Danny was 23 years old when he gave his life in the performance of his duty. His service with the 281st AHC and his outstanding performance of duty under fire clearly marks him as an "Intruder" that that shall not be forgotten. His Grandmother, the late Mrs. Ella Bockler, his brothers Gary L. and George Sulander and his life long friend, Donald Michel, survived him.


Compiled by:
COL. JOHN W. MAYHEW, USA (RET.)
2021 HUNTWOOD DRIVE
GAMBRILLS, MD 21054
410-451-4087
FAX 410-451-4087
email to Jack Mayhew

A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN

ONCE AN INTRUDER ... ALWAYS AN INTRUDER

huey sunrise

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