July 19, 1967 — North Vietnam
On July 18, 1967 pilot LCDR Richard Hartman was shot down near PHU Ly in Nam Ha Province, North Vietnam. A rescue mission was sent in on that day after radio contact with the pilot. The mission was stopped because of too much enemy gun fire. The next morning another helicopter (Sikorsky SH3A) was sent into try to rescue the pilot. On this helicopter were 4 navy personnel, one of which was Donald McGrane (AX-2, Gunner). At dawn, the helicopter started a low-level visual search of the dense jungle. While gunner McGrane's aircraft was making a second pass to the survivor, his helicopter was taken under heavy antiaircraft fire by a concealed gun emplacement and was hit repeatedly causing loss of control. There were other rescue escort aircraft on the scene at the same time who observed the subsequent collision with the ground. They reported that there were no survivors.
After the loss of the four crew members (AX2 Donald McGrane, LT Dennis Peterson (pilot), ENS Donald Frye (co-pilot), AX2 William Jackson (gunner) the mission was called off. LCDR Hartman was captured a couple of days later. He died in Captivity from unknown causes. His remains were returned home in March 1974.
Donald McGrane was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism, posthumously about six months later.
In October 1982, 15 years later, Donald McGrane's remains were finally returned to his hometown in Waverly Iowa. Donald Frye and William Jackson's remains were also returned along with Donald McGrane's. The pilot, Dennis Peterson, still is unaccounted for (MIA).
Donal McGrane left behind two sons, Daniel Patrick McGrane (3 years old) and Shannon Francis McGrane (17 months old) and his wife Karen Johanna McGrane. Donald had 6 brothers and sisters (Patricia, Roger, Michael, John, Janet, and Karen). His father was Don (Red) McGrane and mother Marlys McGrane. His father lived to see his son come home in October 1982 but past away two months later.
WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU !!