PATRICK JOSEPH RONAN
Sergeant, Combat Aviation Crew Chief
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Born: September 2, 1948
Tour of duty began September 12, 1967
Killed in action on February 18, 1969
His helicopter crashed at Phu Yen, South Vietnam
as a result of engine failure while hovering to
pick up Long Range Reconnaissance team.
SGT Patrick Ronan, a 20-year-old soldier, joined the 281st AHC on September 12, 1967, as a UH-1 Helicopter Crew Chief. On February 18th, 1969, the crew of his helicopter UH-1H 715 were performing a recovery mission for a Long-Range Recon Team from the 173rd Infantry Brigade in a hostile area in the vicinity of PHU YEN, South Vietnam, approximately 25 miles southwest of Tuy Hoa Air Base. The crew of 715 consisted of WO Vick Rose, Aircraft Commander; WO Frank Martin, Pilot; SGT Ronan, Crew Chief, and an unidentified Door Gunner. The crew maneuvered the helicopter over the pickup point and were preparing to recover the recon team when the aircraft engine failed. WO Rose moved the aircraft away from the ground troops and crash landed it in the vicinity of the pickup point. SGT Patrick Ronan was killed in the crash and the remaining crew members were seriously injured. Recovery assistance was requested. A USAF CH-53 of the 38th ARRS (USAF) reached the scene and lowered Sergeant Michael E. Fish, and a firefighter to the ground. Despite intermittent enemy fire and pressure, three of the trapped crew members were freed after considerable effort on the part of the rescue team and hoisted aboard the CH-53 just before darkness fell. WO Rose and the Door Gunner had sustained serious injuries in the crash and were medically evacuated.
The pilot of 715, WO Frank Martin, was trapped in the wreckage and could not be freed. With night approaching and WO Martin still in the helicopter, the rescue aircraft was forced to leave the area. Sergeant Fish, the USAF Medic, and the Recon Team, despite being low on ammunition, remained on the ground with WO Martin overnight. Covering fire was provided into the night by supporting army gunships and "Spooky" aircraft. The remaining 281st helicopters continued to fly covering support throughout the night. Early the next morning the recovery task force returned and continued to encounter small arms fire. However, they were able to free WO Martin, and both he and SGT Fish were evacuated from the area. For his actions, SGT Fish was awarded the Air Force Cross.
SP4 Patrick Ronan was promoted posthumously to grade of Sergeant E-5, AUS, as of 17 February 17, 1969, under provisions of Public Law 680, 77th Congress, as amended. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial wall on panel 32W-line 56.
Patrick's body was escorted home by his friend and fellow Philadelphian, Mark Dietz.
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER ... ALWAYS AN INTRUDER