Operation Thunderhead

Operation Thunderhead was a highly classified combat mission conducted by U.S. Navy SEAL Team One and Underwater Demolition Team 11 (UDT-11) in 1972. The mission was conducted off the coast of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War to rescue two U.S. airmen said to be escaping from a prisoner of war prison in Hanoi. The prisoners, including Air Force Colonel John A. Dramesi were planning to steal a boat and travel down the Red River to the Gulf of Tonkin.[1]

Lieutenant Melvin Spence Dry was killed on the mission. He was the last SEAL lost during the Vietnam War. His father, retired Navy Captain Melvin H. Dry, spent the rest of his life trying to learn the circumstances surrounding his son's death. The details, however, were long shrouded in secrecy.


In April 1972, SEAL Team One left Subic Bay in the amphibious-transport submarine USS Grayback. The plan was to launch the team at night from the submerged submarine in a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) piloted by two UDT-11 operators and head for a small island off the mouth of the Red River.

On 3 June 1972, Lieutenant Dry decided to conduct a clandestine reconnaissance mission that night. Shortly after midnight the team launched from Grayback but a combination of navigation errors and strong current took them off course. After an hour, the crew was compelled to abort the mission. They were unable to locate Grayback and they were forced to scuttle their underpowered SDV after its battery power was exhausted.

The next morning, the team was rescued a few miles off the coast. The four men were flown to the USS Long Beach, Operation Thunderhead's command ship.

At 2300 hours on 5 June, the men were to be transported back to Grayback by helicopter. The team would perform a night water drop next to the submarine. During briefings with the pilots, Lt. Dry and Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Martin emphasized the maximum limits for the drop were 20/20-- 20 feet of altitude at an airspeed of 20 knots, or an equivalent combination.

When the helicopter arrived near Grayback's expected position, they could not locate the submarine. As they desperately searched for the submarine's beacon, Lt. Dry and his men prepared to enter the water and lock into the submerged submarine.

According to a post-mission assessment, Lt. Dry informed the helicopter crew that they were too high, too fast, and downwind. Specifically, they were approaching the drop point with the winds, estimated at 15 to 20 knots, on the helicopter's tail. The velocity of the tail wind, added to the helicopter's forward speed, was well beyond the 20-knot ground speed needed for a safe jump. "They wanted us out, and we felt the altitude was too high and the speed too fast," recalled CWO Martin, an experienced parachute jumpmaster." As drop-master, I was looking for the tell-tale signs of spray from the helo—either coming in the door or when I looked toward the rear and below the helo."[2]

According to CWO Martin, the drop was conducted downwind, adding another 15 to 20 knots of forward velocity when the jumpers hit the water. Lt. Dry died immediately of "severe trauma to the neck" caused by impact with the water, according to the Navy's death report. Two other team members were badly shaken, and one was seriously injured.

Several hours earlier, Grayback launched its second SDV but the team abandoned their mission when their air ran out; subsequently, they made an emergency free ascent to the surface. After seeing a strobe light and hearing voices, the two teams rendezvoused.

At about 0100, they found Lt. Dry's lifeless body, inflated his life vest, and held him in tow as they swam seaward to be rescued. An HC-7 helicopter rescued the men at dawn and returned them to the Long Beach.

On 12 June, the remaining team members were transferred back to Grayback. With the likelihood of a successful prisoner escape by sea lessened by the recent U.S. mining of North Vietnam's ports and rivers, Operation Thunderhead was soon terminated.

Because the mission was classified, the Navy did not acknowledge Dry's death as a combat loss until February 2008, when he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for Valor.[1]


  1. ^ a b Eisman, Dale, Navy honors SEAL killed in secret mission in Vietnam, The Virginian-Pilot, 26 February 2008.
  2. ^ Captain Michael G. Slattery, U.S. Navy (Retired) and Captain Gordon I. Peterson, U.S. Navy (Retired) (2005), Spence Dry: A SEAL's Story, Copyright 2005, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.

External links

1972 in the Vietnam War

1972 in the Vietnam War saw foreign involvement in South Vietnam slowly declining. Two allies, New Zealand and Thailand, which had contributed a small military contingent, left South Vietnam this year. The United States continued to participate in combat, primarily with air power to assist the South Vietnamese army, while negotiators in Paris tried to hammer out a peace agreement and withdrawal strategy for the United States. One American operation that was declassified years after the war was Operation Thunderhead, a secret mission that attempted to rescue POWs.

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven (HC-7) was a helicopter squadron of the United States Navy.The squadron was nicknamed the SEADEVILS, established September 1, 1967, N.A.S. Atsugi, Japan. At this time the ONLY dedicated Navy Combat Search and Rescue squadron. Cerberus, the mythical three headed dog who protected the Gates of Hades (the Gates of Hell), became the symbol for this over tasked helicopter squadron, representing the original missions; Combat Search and Rescue, Vertical Replenishment, Seventh Fleet VIP. These tasks expanded to include Aerial Mine Countermeasure, Oceanographic support, Incident response (Korea-1968 & 1969) and Heavy repair center. March 1971, the home base relocated to N.A.S. Imperial Beach, CA. while decreased detachments, the Combat Search and Rescue commitments increased.

While the North Vietnam conflict intensified the squadron deployed 16 separate detachments, constantly on the move, branded with the nickname “The Orphans of the Seventh Fleet”. Their temporary homes changed positions, (ships leaving the war zone) the Seadevils cross-decked to a new ship on an average of 14 days. Move all the crew, tools, parts, helos to another temporary home.

HC-7, one of the most highly and most decorated naval aviation squadrons for their heroic actions. 150 persons were rescued, some from deep within North Vietnam, many along the coast of hostile territory, men over board and local persons. Several attempted rescues were conducted along with countless medical evacuations.

1974, HC-7 continued to provide worldwide combat search and rescue capabilities and the development of rescue techniques, also HC-7 Det Cubi (Heavy repair center) closed. HC-7 disestablished June 30, 1975. The legacy lives on. ( hc7seadevils.org )

During the Vietnam War a combat support squadron of the United States Navy established Sept. 1, 1967 and disestablished June 30, 1975. One of its members, Lt.(J.G.) Clyde Everett Lassen received the Medal of Honor

Providing continuous Combat Search and Rescue along the coast and inland of North Vietnam for six and one half year, nicknamed "The Orphans of the Seventh Fleet" Cross-Decking on average every 15 days to a new home as the host ships departed the Tonkin Gulf. Cross-decking, in this sense, is the practice of sharing or relocating assets between ships while underway rather than while in port.

Also; Seventh Fleet Flag Helicopter, Vertical Replenishment, Mine Countermeasures and Helicopter Support for North Korean incidents .

Compiled / written by:

Ronald D. Milam “Lil Ron” : HC-7 Historian – 2013 Mark Starr Awardee

Robert E. McGowan: HC-7 Web Master.

Documentation from HC-7 historical collection obtained from the SeaDevil brotherhood and many government sources - known facts.

Introduction; A tribute and remembrance for the HC and HS helicopter squadron members who shared their experiences and losses during the establishment of HC-7. BLESS YOU and THANK YOU.

U.S. Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7) the “SeaDevils”

"Combat SAR Prevents POWs"


Web site = hc7seadevils.org

Several PRC radios are screaming; Phue Phue Phue Phue!! “May Day, May Day, May Day. This is WAR PAINT 304. We have four air crewmen in the water. Approx. 5 miles north and 2 miles west of Point 2, 4, Point 2. 4”. Command Information Center (CIC) aboard USS Halsey (DLG-23), sounds the CSAR alarm. The Big Mother 72’s crew scrambles to the Sikorsky H-3 helo on deck, launches. The Clementine crew, readies to push the Kaman H-2 from the hangar as BM-72 lifts off. Six minutes have passed, the two CSAR helos are en-route to the downed pilots. BM-72 enters an inland river, taking fire when a new vector is given, turn 180 degrees, to locate pilots 1,000 yards off shore, under artillery fire. Big Mother and Clem pause to deploy their rescue swimmers, depart the area to drop diversionary smoke. Artillery is close- concussions in water, RESCAP works on the gun emplacements. All six (downed crew and rescue swimmers) picked up and depart for the safety of the ship. These actions are a condensed version of the lifesaving efforts conducted to save military personnel from the GATES of HADES (North Vietnam).

September 1st, 1967, marked the beginning of one of the most storied periods in US Naval Aviation History with the establishment of UNIQUE - Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7), the "SEADEVILS". The next 7 years and 9 months were filled with no finer examples of dedication, professionalism and heroic acts (continuously stationed in the GULF of TONKIN – Sept 1, 1967 to Sept. 24, 1973) (Squadron, 2216 days – Det 110, 2046 days). HC-7 SeaDevil(s) received the highest decoration (Medal of Honor), and being one of the Most Highly Decorated Naval Squadrons in Vietnam. July, 1971 – HC-7 was awarded “Presidential Unit Citation” (PUC) dated Sept 1, 1967 to Apr 30, 1969. For Extraordinary Heroism. Ceremony held at HC-7 Imperial Beach.

The following information is about the personnel (1700 +), machines and missions of the squadron in supporting the war to preserve the independence of the Republic of South Vietnam and support the operations of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE, (HC-1) was reorganized to create several additional helicopter squadrons. The existing HC-1 Detachment Atsugi based at NAS Atsugi, Japan (21 miles SW of Tokyo) was redesignated Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (HC-7). Established with sixteen Officers and seventy-five Enlisted plank owners.

Upon establishment, HC-7 was tasked with multiple missions including Logistics, Vertical Replenishment, Seventh Fleet Flagship, Aerial Mine Countermeasure, Oceanographic, home station SAR and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). It didn't take long before the Navy realized that the CSAR mission deserved the complete attention of the unit and all other missions were tasked to other squadrons (mid-1971). This left HC-7 as the Navy's “ONLY” active duty squadron dedicated to CSAR to ever exist. The CSAR mission was not new; it was being accomplished by HC and HS squadrons as an additional duty. HC-7 however turned the lessons learned by the other units into a functional CSAR doctrine that would be its sole focus.

Volunteer crewmen attended “Combat Aircrewman Rescue School”; “JEST”, “SERE”, combat swim school, aerial gunnery / weapons, medical, hand-to-hand combat, 10’-10 mph helo rescue swimmer deployment. HC-7 owed its success to the establishment of the training instructors of “Paramedic Rescue Team ONE”, Cubi Point, PI.

Many personnel who had trained together at technical schools and other helicopter squadrons before orders to HC-7, were often deployed on different detachments and schedules may not see each other again during their entire tour with HC-7. Years, yes years apart.

This historical information is also dedicated to the families of the men who served so proudly in HC-7. These wives and families were in the unique position of often "standing alone" while their husbands and fathers rotated individually in and out of Detachments 101 - 116, Yankee Station and various small boys of the Seventh Fleet. These women did what had to be done, set the standard for the CAN-DO model and managed to smile through their tears as they waited at home.

Five quotes that will assist in forming an accurate perception of HC-7;

• "It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" - Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. • "McHale's Navy with Helicopters" - Unknown • The "Orphans of the Seventh Fleet" - Flag Officer • "Heroes are not born nor made, they are victims of circumstance wherein they perform beyond any calling." - L. Parthemer • "Helicopters can’t fly, they just beat the air into submission" - Robert "Todd" (Combat) Conlin


A special dedication for four SeaDevils, ( RIP Brothers );

MAY 14, 1968

LT. Terry Lee Smith, AE1 Robert Harold Dabel and AO3 Carl Delbert Martin: flight crew, perished when their UH-2A helicopter crashed at HC-7 Det Cubi - NAS Cubi Point, RP

FEBRUARY 20, 1970

AZ3 Scott Ferris Moore Jr: passenger, perished when an SH-3A helicopter crashed near USS Constellation (CVA-43), Tonkin Gulf, MIA, BNF (AZ3 Moore was the only SeaDevil lost in the Vietnam War)

Commanding Officers:

• CDR Lloyd L. Parthemer - 9-1-1967 to 9-24-1968

• CDR Ronald N. Hipp - 9-24-1968 to 9-16-1969

• CDR Donald G. Gregory- 9-16-1969 to 9-11-1970

• CDR Gerald L. Glade - 9-11-1970 to 8-4-1971

• CDR John E. Woolam - 8-4-1971 to 7-6-1972

• CDR David J. McCracken - 7-6-1972 to 7-27-1973

• CDR Billy C. Lamberth - 7-27-1973 to 7-26-1974

• CDR Walter B. Lester - 7-26-1974 to 6-30-1975

HC-7’s insignia has a central focal point CERBERUS who acclaimed as one of the most feared creatures in Greek and Roman mythology. Like CERBERUS, HC-7 rescue helicopters are guardians of the Gates of Hades (North Vietnam or possible death at sea). The three heads attached to a single body aptly symbolize the three basic missions of the squadron, ie; rescue, vertical replenishment and utility. The gold circle surrounding the insignia represents a halo, hence the downed aviators reference to the rescue helicopter an “angel”. Approved August 1968.

HC-7 provided “on-call” 24 hour search and rescue, medevac, and VIP transportation at home bases – NAS Atsugi Japan (Sept 1967 to March 1971), NAS Imperial Beach, CA (March 1971 to June 1975), and Cubi Point, Republic of Philippines (Sept 1967 to Aug 1974).

Beginning with two detachments, increasing to high of sixteen during 1969 then in 1971 as the requirements changed HC-7 condensed to one detachment (110). HC-7 crews rescued 150 persons, 130 of which were within the Vietnam Combat zone being potential POWs. Two pilots were rescue twice. In brief, five successful rescues took place deep within North Vietnam (feet dry), many rescues occurred along the coast (feet wet) within range of heavy enemy artillery. Many attempted rescues took place during the war, the Viet-Cong were efficient in capture and decoy. Quick identification, location and pick-up were to be the success of POW prevention. The crews received small arms fire, artillery shelling, and missile launches. Below are brief descriptions, of a select few of the heroic missions. For in-depth information visit the HC-7 web site.

HC-7 helicopter armament included; P-38 pistol, M-16 rifles, M-79 grenade launcher, M-60 machine guns. 1970 Big Mothers H-3s were modified installing a mini gun (GAU-2B/A) upon armor plated mount in right rear aft cargo door. The HH-2Cs arrived having a chin mounted mini-gun turret system, no guns were ever received. With essential CSAR equipment installed, to remain below the 12,500-pound max., the turret system was removed. Fuel and CSAR equipment had priority over the mini-gun. M-60 machine guns were mounted in the cargo doors. One detachment installed six broom handles in the mini-gun turret. It increased moral and gave the helo a more menacing look. It fooled ship’s company and even other squadron personnel. The H-3s were tested with mini gun pods mounded exterior aft, which proved to be too heavy for the existing climate of the war zone. So, NO forward-looking guns, just turn sideways and shot. Larger target, yes - for the enemy. The primary mission was COMBAT RESCUE, not a fire fight.

Listed are rescue problems encountered; wrong vectors, too many persons on communication channels, too short of rescue cable, too slow of hoist speed, no forward firing weapons, jammed guns, loss of ICC, too many strobe lights, missiles fired, no forest penetrator aboard – use sling with tie down chain, broken hoist cable, farmers - enemy trap, lost rescue swimmer, hoist stopped below helo, lack of night flares, close artillery fire - swimmer receive concussion, co-pilot empty fired brass hitting pilot in face and burning, parachute of downed pilot caught in wind, chute drags pilot below surface, red beacon light – soup can blocked view from below, rescuee dawning the horse collar backwards.

January 1969 HC-7 developed, “CSAR Operations and Procedures”; check list, team effort, prepared for unexpected – should not be committed into hostile environment until survivor is located, identified and information, RESCAP available throughout the entire mission. Fly no lower than the highest column that may result from exploding enemy ordnance. “Swimmer in the water” technique (10’ altitude / 10 knots). Deploy smoke canister as a diversion for artillery shelling, Jinxing will reduce the possibility of battle damage. Today, this documentation is supplementing CSAR training within Navy helicopter squadrons. October 1974, HC-7’s experiences were compiled within a manual “Combat Search and Rescue Tactics”.

The Vietnam War was coined as the helicopter war, reports state that approximately 11,000 helicopters operated with over 5,000 destroyed. Within the war zone HC-7 lost six helicopters, Three UH-2A/Bs (1-combat shot down, 1-self shot down, 1-fuel starvation) Two H-46s (each having engine failure) and one SH-3A (tail system failure).

An adage “A helo has 50,000 moving parts and it is the responsibility of the maintenance personnel to keep them in order.” A synopsis; • H-2 during rescue demo – lost power crashed in Subic Bay, •H-46 Lost engine crashed in Tonkin Gulf, •H-2 (self) shot down due to faulty M-60 (Golden BB),• H-2 lost directional control – crash,• H-2 loss of ground cushion -crash, •H-2 loss power gear up landing,• H-3 loss of landing gear, land on jack stand, •H-2 fuel starvation – wrong vector – ditched,• H-46 night vert rep - loss engine, ditched, •H-3 quick turn, tail rotor hit building, •H-3 hit trees – crippled to DaNang, •H-3 chased by big gun – broke tranny – Flying crane to DaNang, •H-3 rotor blades hit gun turret, change all tips,• H-3 lost tail rotor, crashed – sunk,• H-46 backing hit Marine H-46 – cut in half, •H-3 engine failure, land tail wheel off deck, •H-3 engine fail – crash on Golf Course, •H-3 on approach - wind shift 180 - crash, •KA3 from VAQ-130 landed too far to the right - destroyed three Big Mothers. •The screaming and expletives have been removed.

Transportation of the SeaDevils was completed by any means possible. Most detachments traveled in small groups 10-30 persons, excepting Det 110 personnel who traveled mostly as individuals. At Atsugi, detachments deployed aboard respective ships from harbors as; Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Yokohama. From Det Cubi to catch the host carrier, several rode oilers, ammo, and cargo ships then to HIGH LINE to duty station. Infrequently the Clem crews cross decked, on one occasion the crew placed aboard a whale boat, when the DLGs left the area to pursue a MIG – would they be found later or POW? Example; depart Det Cubi on a C-130, arrive in DaNang Vietnam, catch a COD to a carrier – tail hook, next day Big Mother provides flight to DLG off North Vietnam coast, cross-deck with helo, as prior crew rotates to Det Cubi. Only five locations in two days. SeaDevils’ mail became a valuable commodity when it finally caught up to the crew – where are they?

Rest and Relaxation (R&R): The SeaDevils pushed R&R to the limits; having their own helo bar at the Rufadora (one of 500+ bars) - Olongapo, PI, a Bonka Boat (MP-69) and an exclusive squadron private party location at Paradise Beach. Creating a few foggy memories from the consumption of MOJO and San Miguel (Japan – Akadoma wine). What happened in the “O” stayed in the “O”. Several detachments handed off their helo to a rotation crew to ride their ship to other exotic ports of call. At the three main bases, competitive SeaDevils took championships in several intermural sports.

Aircraft; • 19 – Kaman UH-2A/B (Sea Sprite) • 33 – Sikorsky SH-3A-G (Sea King) • 12- Sikorsky HH-3A (Sea King) • 3- Sikorsky RH-3A (Sea King) • 12- Boeing UH-46A-D (Sea Knight) • 1- Sikorsky UH-34 (Sea Horse) • 5-Kaman UH-2C (Sea Sprite) • 7-Kaman HH-2C-D (Sea Sprite), 92 total.


Detachment 101 – UH-2A/B – (1970 UH-2C) SeaSprite – “Blackbeard One” – aboard flag ships USS Providence (CLG-6) and USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) primary flights for Commander of Seventh Fleet. (VIP, non-VIP, mail transfer flights) 10 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. (9-1-1967 to 1971)

Detachment 102 – H-46 – SeaKnight – Vertical Replenishment – aboard USS MARS (AFS-1), two H-46s, 22-24 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. Continued operations 1-Sep-1967, departed 27-April-1970 to HC-3. Recorded operations of a 1968 cruise, 79 ships supplied with 943 tons of stores. Also, transporting supplies to inland bases located at Vung Tau, South Vietnam.

Detachment 103 – Oct. 1, 1967, HC-7 assumed duties from HC-1 Det Cubi, Jan 1, 1968- Det 103 Cubi assumed station SAR for NAS Cubi Point, PI. 1-Sept-1968 Redesignated “HC-7 Det Cubi” (configuration / repair / training center, Staging area for CSAR detachments) – Republic of Philippines. A previous sea-plane base, located 300 yards southeast of the northeast end of Cubi Point air field. The only permanent detachment. Beginning with 2 officers & 25 enlisted. Last muster entry 8-Aug-1974.

Detachments 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 & 109 – UH-2A later HH-2C –(SeaSprite) “Clementine” – Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). (9-1-1967 to 1971) Stationed aboard small boys (DLGs & DDs) – North and South CSAR stations off the coast of North Vietnam. 8-10 Seadevils, 30-60 day rotation. Cross-decking on a minimal time frame. Also, deployed during the North Korea incident – EC-121 shoot down (April 15, 1969).

FACTS: Det 110 and 111 stationed aboard the Yankee Station host carrier. From 18-Feb-1968 to 24-Sept-1973, these detachments were continuously (2045 days) stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin. Formed from HS-6’s six helicopters aboard USS Kearsarge. They, “Cross-Decked” – the operation to re-locate the Big Mother crew from the departing host carrier to the arriving host carrier. Normally 5-6 helicopters and 35-55 men, with all repair equipment, tools, gear, taking four to five flights each. Det 110/111 completed 142 cross decks. Big Mothers pre-positioned prior to air strikes and co-existed with the Clementine helo crews aboard North and South SAR. Nick-named “Orphans of the Seventh Fleet” a new home, (some pleasant, some not) on average every 14 days. Home for as short as 2 days with a maximum of 42 days. Sleeping in locations as; condemned compartments, brig, VD ward, chain locker, sick bay, torpedo room, spud locker, fo’c’sle, hot racking. No lockers, living out of parachute bags.

Detachment 110 – HH-3A SeaKing – “Big Mothers” – Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), approximately 35-55 SeaDevils, and 5 helos, (3 CSAR and 2 Logistic) From 18-Feb-1968 to 25-Sept-1973.

Detachment 111 – SH-3A SeaKing – “Protector” – logistics flights aboard host carriers (with Big Mothers), also deployed (23-Jan-1968 to 4-MAR-1968) as a separate crew in response to the 23-Jan-1968 capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) by North Korea. Helos were tropical equipped, crews had to improvise for the winter conditions.

Detachment 112 – H-46 -SeaKnight– Vertical Replenishment – aboard USS NIAGARA FALLS (AFS-3) two H-46s, 22-24 SeaDevils, rotation of 40-60 days. Commenced operations 1-Jan-1969, departed 6-Sept-1970 to HC-3.

Detachment 113 -RH-3A – SeaKing – Aerial Mine Counter Measures – aboard USS Catskill (MCS-1), two helos, 32-36 SeaDevils, rotation of 30-60 days. “Mine Manglers” Arrived 19-FEB-1969, departed for HC-5 12-August-1970. Providing aerial mine sweep operation throughout SE Asia, and SEATO exercises. Being the only helicopter mine countermeasure operation in WESTPAC.

Detachment 114 – No record data.

Detachment 115 – H-34 – SeaHorse - logistic support aboard oceanographic ship, USS Maury (AGS-16)– South Korea, three deployments during the Spring and Summer of 1969.

Detachment 116 – SH-3A – SeaKing - North Korea incident – VQ-1 EC-121 shoot down (April 15, 1969)

1967 (14 rescues [3 combat, 11 others] - 7 helos (1220 flight hours)

Oct-4 Combat Day - Diverted from an inland attempt, – Clementine crew rescues a pilot amongst the cargo ships within Haiphong harbor. The next day, Oct 5 - three attempts to grab inland pilot, code word “LAMB”, pilot captured, crew shot down – helo ditched - crew rescued.

Oct-14 Combat Day - Just off of the coast helo crew beats out many sampans, pick-up one like text book, second still in raft, helo pilot uses rotor wash to trap raft, crewman drops horse-collar in his lap.

Dec-16 Day Rescue – 12 miles off shore – LCDR Hernandez (first time), Clem launches – 15 minutes to recovery, HS-6 H-3 showered with flak.

1968 ( 42 rescues [ 17 combat – 25 others] Staffing – (July) 66 Officers – 399 Enlisted – 12 helos (6950 flight hours)

April 15 – Combat Day – heavy artillery, four crewman rescued, swimmers use D ring, hoist pilot and self with one lift. ON the RUN. BUG-OUT.

April 28 – Combat Night Rescue – 4 miles off shore – LCDR Hernandez (second time), Clem observes day smoke, both pilots in rafts, pick-up, use M-60 to sink rafts.

May 8 – Inland Day Combat Rescue -18 miles inland- 45 minutes feet dry, over dense jungle, pilot could hear helo, all hell broke loose, suppressive fire, no forest penetrator, several tries with horse collar, added tight-down chain, Young crewmen - “10 feet tall and Bullet Proof”.

Jun 19 – Inland Night Combat Rescue – 7 miles inland – 58 minutes feet dry, dense jungle, mountain side, continuous enemy fire, two low hovers in rice paddy, one attempt in tree tops, hit tree, flares cease, again to rice paddy, lights on, success – missile launch, aboard ship, 5 minutes of fuel remaining.

Aug 30 – Inland Day Combat Rescue – 120 mile round trip (7 miles from Laos) 30 miles inland -(straight) 70 minutes feet dry – LCDR Eikel (first time), flight along ridge tops, avoid SAM sites, heavy AAA fire entire flight, heavy jungle, crewman held M-16 on hoist cable, WHO was coming up? – RECAP indispensable. M-60s jam several times. Co-pilot M-16s expended rounds hit pilot in face. A-4s suppress flak. “They saved our skins”

Sept 6 – Inland Night Combat Rescue – 3.5 miles inland – 20 minutes feet dry, power descent, find strobe, first pilot in river off island, area well lighted by nearby military base, green tracers everywhere – got him, second pilot upon island, helo turns on light, enemy has him, two more attempts, heavy automatic fire, intensifies, A TRAP. Head feet wet, POW

Nov 1 – Bombing halt over North Vietnam – Peace is in the works.

1969 (NO command report available) (13 rescues [ 0 combat – 13 others]

Staffing – (July) 105 Officers – 562 Enlisted – 24 helos

Jan 16 – LT Clyde E. LASSEN, (June 19, 1968, Combat Night rescue) presented Congressional Medal of Honor by: president L.B. Johnson, Note: USS LASSEN (DDG-82) guided missile destroyer - Commissioned – Apr. 21, 2001. Motto: “From Courage Life”

1970 (19 rescues [ 13 combat (classified) – 6 others]

Staffing – (July) 80 Officers – 492 Enlisted – 35 helos (2660 flight hours)(1017 VIPS)

Aug 12 - First (and only) rescue by HC-7 HH-2C – routine day – helo airborne before pilot hit the water, a routine pick-up using NATOPS procedure. Just like we had trained to do repeatedly (Over and over again and again.)

Naval helicopter squadrons utilize maintenance facilities at HC-7 Det Cubi. HH-3A helos arrive at Det Cubi, having design problems, were not operational by years’ end.

Date unknown – Inland (classified) rescue/recovery of nine South Vietnamese nasty boat crewmen – sunk boat. Three wounded, three dead, three scared to death of helo. Landed on carrier while ship celebrated its birthday. “It almost seemed like it couldn’t be real, but a look at our passengers and our two boyish gunners quickly brought me back to reality.” “ portion of Ken Kirkpatrick’s autobiography”

1971 ( 1 rescue [ 1 combat – 0 other] Staffing – (July) 54 Officers – 306 Enlisted – 47 helos

Dec 30 – Combat Day Rescue – heavy shelling – badly injured pilot “Your Beautiful People” just off enemy island, deploy swimmer, assist pilot, North Vietnamese boats, RESCAP strafed, exploding artillery, large track gun appears from cave on island, rescue hoist cable BROKE, was debris field, helo lands in water – recover swimmer, pull him in, vertical lift, dodging explosions. Search for second pilot unsuccessful, many boats, forced to exit.

1972 (58 rescues [ 45 combat – 13 others]

Staffing – (July) 49 Officers – 277 Enlisted – 25 helos (4951 flight hours)

April 9 – CSAR flights doubled – 2-4 helos launched to preposition locations for each air strike

April 12 – mini detachment sent from USA to Tonkin Gulf aboard USS Kitty Hawk

May 9 – Operation Line-backer I began, bombing of North Vietnam. Within 10 days – four helos and 138 personnel deployed to WestPac. ALL Navy HH-3As transferred to HC-7. To expedite an Air Force C5-A air-lifts two helos to Det Cubi.

May-10 – Water Combat Day Rescue – ACEs Cunningham & Driscoll, three Big Mothers launch from USS Okinawa, bad vectors, RESCAP good vectors, visual two smokes, fin broke-no fins, swimmer away, cut survivor loose of raft, hook hard to open, 8-10 SAMs fired at RESCAP, second pilot hooked up wrong, hoist manual over-ride only.

May 24 - Water Combat Day Rescue - LCDR Eikel (second time), found wreckage, RESCAP gave vector 50/1, continued, day smoke, swimmer dropped, drop coiled cable, “D” rings attached, pick-up, frayed cable seriously injured crewman’s hand, directed to nearest ship for medical attention.

May-June - Operation Thunderhead – potential POW recovery (Top Secret), flight path along North Vietnam coast line, within estuaries, searching for AGENTS, two weeks, lost SEAL teams from USS GRAYBACK found and rescued, NO POWs. Canceled.

Aug 7 – Inland Combat Night Rescue – LT Lloyd - 9 miles inland- 45 minutes feet dry, five hours evading the enemy, “rescue / death or capture”, give us a strobe, first strobe THERE, intense barrage of ground fire, enemy fires pencil flares, helo lands, crewmen fire on advancing troops, 50 feet distant, Lloyd puts on horse collar, then runs to helo, crewman yank him in, FULL power vertical lift off, 21 miles to feet wet, 2 missiles streak by. Jim Lloyd – 2006, “HC-7 guys – Thanks for your heroic efforts throughout the war. There are a lot of us who are alive because you were all willing to risk it all for us.”

HC-7 maintained 2 helos for worldwide CSAR to be dispatched on a 48-hour notice

Continued development of rescue technics (Special Projects): chaff and flare dispensing systems, N2 Laser/Dye Marker search system, Emergency Low Visibility Approach System, new snap link and rescue swimmer check list, mini gun syllabus, anti-aircraft fire control warning, voice encryption, electronic location finder.

1973 (2 rescues [ 0 combat – 2 other] Staffing – (July) 56 Officers – 242 Enlisted – 25 helos

Jan 14 – Last CSAR mission.


February-March Det 110 provided SAR backup for the Haiphong harbor mine clearing operations and plane guard flights for host carrier.

The “LAST” CROSS-DECK - Sept 24, USS Coral Sea, departs the war zone, steaming east to Subic Bay. Sept 25, Det 110’s two helos launch, to join two helos from Det Cubi. The helos flying in formation, the crewmen pop a day smoke and say farewell. Det Cubi has started a bodacious blow-out party – SeaDevil style! Helos land and all crewmen join. Det Cubi – continues Combat Search and Rescue contingency readiness – training.

1974 (0 rescues [ 0 combat – 0 others] Staffing – (Jan) 53 Officers – 262 Enlisted – 23 helos

May 21, Det Cubi sends aircraft and personnel to NALF Imperial Beach – closing HC-7’s part in the Vietnam War. HC-7 I.B. continues mission readiness and training.

1975 (1 rescue [ 0 combat – 1 other] Staffing – (Jan) 31 Officers – 167 Enlisted – 8 helos

Apr 8 – Last rescue – NAS Fallon, NV., While conducting SAR training an F8 pilot had ejected. The Big Mother crew, a joint squadron team, HC-7, HC-1 and HC-2. A fitting end to HC-7, by those who were to inherit the CSAR mission.

May – Message 0616262 – HC-7 to be disestablished.

June – transfers of men and equipment completed.

“The most turbulently colorful, unique and intensely proud unit in the history of Naval Aviation locked the doors and terminated service” Disestablishment June 30, 1975

The Legacy of the HC-7 SeaDevils – Lives ON – Thank you Brothers and Sisters

Index of underwater diving

See the Glossary of underwater diving terminology for definitions of technical terms, jargon, diver slang and acronyms used in underwater diving

See the Outline of underwater diving for a hierararchical listing of underwater diving related articles

See the Index of underwater divers for an alphabetical listing of articles about underwater divers

See the Index of recreational dive sites for an alphabetical listing of articles about places which are recreational dive sitesThe following index is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater diving:

Underwater diving can be described as all of the following:

A human activity – intentional, purposive, conscious and subjectively meaningful sequence of actions. Underwater diving is practiced as part of an occupation, or for recreation, where the practitioner submerges below the surface of the water or other liquid for a period which may range between seconds to order of a day at a time, either exposed to the ambient pressure or isolated by a pressure resistant suit, to interact with the underwater environment for pleasure, competitive sport, or as a means to reach a work site for profit or in the pursuit of knowledge, and may use no equipment at all, or a wide range of equipment which may include breathing apparatus, environmental protective clothing, aids to vision, communication, propulsion, maneuverability, buoyancy and safety equipment, and tools for the task at hand.

John A. Dramesi

John Arthur Dramesi (February 12, 1933 – September 17, 2017) was a retired Colonel in United States Air Force (USAF) officer who was held as a prisoner of war at the Hanoi Hilton in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Dramesi is one of only four members of the USAF to be twice awarded the Air Force Cross, the first for the mission on which he was shot down and captured, 2 April 1967, and the second for the six-month period following his second escape and recapture, from May to November 1969, when he was beaten and tortured. He also received an award of the Silver Star for gallantry during an escape on 10 May 1967 and the month following his recapture, when he also was beaten and tortured.

Dramesi is one of the very few captives who never broke under torture. He was held along with Senator John McCain and has criticized McCain's conduct as a prisoner and after release. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met." Dramesi has also criticized the conduct of a number of his fellow POWs.

Kevin Dockery (author)

Kevin Dockery is an American fiction and nonfiction author and military historian. He is best known for his work detailing the history and weapons of the Navy SEALs. He served in the US Army on the President's Guard, and as an armorer. Since retiring from the Army, he has worked as a curator for the SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, an historian, a game designer and as a lecturer. He has written 37 books, appeared in a number of television documentaries and served as technical advisor for several motion pictures.

He has written with or for several well-known figures, including Bill Fawcett, David Drake, Jesse Ventura, Harry Humphries, Dennis Chalker and several other SEALs.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1972)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1972, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the Khmer Republic, the United States and their allies.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (T–Z and others)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War, a war fought by America to try to stop communism in Southeast Asia, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their assorted allies. This is not a complete list.

Outline of underwater diving

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater diving:

Underwater diving – as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment.

USS Grayback (SSG-574)

USS Grayback (SS/SSG/APSS/LPSS-574), the lead ship of her class of submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grayback.

Her keel was laid down on 1 July 1954 by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California. She was launched on 2 July 1957 sponsored by Mrs. John A. Moore, widow of the last skipper of the USS Grayback (SS-208) and commissioned at Mare Island on 7 March 1958 with Lieutenant Commander Hugh G. Nott in command. Grayback was initially designated as an attack submarine, but was converted to a Regulus nuclear cruise missile submarine (SSG-574) in 1958.

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