2/28/68 Fallen Brother RVN

2/28/68 BU1 Charles O. Spillman, New Brighton, MN - Khe Sanh CBMU 301

Charles Otto Spillman

Home of Record: New Brighton, MN
Date of birth: 10/11/1935
Service: United States Navy
Grade at loss: E6
Rank: Builder 1st Class
ID No: 5533579
MOS: 0000: Not Recorded
Length Service: 14
Start Tour: 12/15/1967
Incident Date: 02/28/1968
Casualty Date: 02/28/1968
Age at Loss: 32
Location: Khe Sanh, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Repatriated: 02/28/1968 (Returned to US soil)
Identified: 03/01/1968
Casualty Type: Hostile, died while missing
Casualty Reason: Helicopter - Noncrew
Casualty Detail: Air loss or crash over land

ON THE WALL Panel 41E Line 074



Charles is buried at:
Fort Snelling National Cemetery
7601 34th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota 55450
Plot: Section M, Site 1074

DCR Report:
…BU1 Charles O. Spillman, New Brighton, MN (CBMU-301) Khe Sanh. Petty Officer Spillman was killed when the helicopter in which he was aboard was shot down by enemy fire. He was on a resupply mission bringing mail and supplies to Detail Bravo at Khe Sanh Combat Base

On 28 February 1968, CBMU 301's base camp at Dong Ha was named Camp Spillman in honor of BU1 Charles O. Spillman who died in the crash of a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter while inbound to Khe Sanh.

The report of that Crash can be found at:

This aircraft was downed by heavy automatic weapons fire enroute to Khe Sanh on a recovery mission. The helicopter crashed, rolled down a mountain, exploded and burned. There were no survivors. The crew included aircraft commander MAJ Edwin G. Meixner, pilot CAPT Robert L. Sevell, crew chief CPL Alfredo Benigni, and gunners CPL Danny D. Gard and SGT Marc W. McCabe. The aircraft was also carrying 18 passengers: CPL Kenneth R. Bradley, LCPL Ronald S. H. Christman, CPL Donald N. Cooper, LCPL John A. Thotland, SGT John P. Toth, CPL William O. Turner, BU1 Charles O. Spillman, CAPT Jay W. Stull, PFC Emmett C. Stanton, SGT Charles E. Parsons, SGT James H. Mikels, CAPT John P. Ellis, LCPL Matthew M. Dwyer, CPL Ronald L. Dempsey, LCPL Kyle J. Coles, CPL Robert E. Caldwell, PFC David Z. Balades, and HN Donald A. LaBonte. The HMM-262 Command Chronology reports this CH-46D incident as follows: 'One (1) aircraft was shot down by enemy fire while enroute to Khe Sanh, (XD916522) all twenty three (23) occupants on the aircraft were killed.' The 3rd Marine Division operations log February 28, 1968 entry 154 at 1315H says: 'From 4th Marines: At [1229H] one CH-46 aircraft proceeding from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh with crew of 4 and 19 other personnel was downed by enemy fire in grid square XD9453 ... ' Entry 155 says 'Platoon from 39 reached downed aircraft. One survivor reported badly burned not expected to live.' Entry 175 says in part 'Lima 39 platoon inserted as reaction force moved bodies and survivor to LZ 100 meters from crash site. Extraction completed at 1650H. 22 dead, 1 medevac.' It is clear there were 23 men on the helo, 22 were killed, and 1 survived the crash but was not expected to live. However, there is no known 'Died of wounds received in helo incident' between February 28 and March 31, 1968 inclusive. There are two possibilities: DD1300 for Donald A. LaBonte, 6857405 HN (E3) USN. LaBonte is in the CACCF as A2-D-7, died of wounds, small arms fire, ground. However, the DD1300 is specific in saying LaBonte was 'Killed in action February 28, 1968 in the vicinity of Khe Sanh Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam as a result of wounds sustained when aircraft was hit by automatic weapons fire.' The CACCF is correct in saying LaBonte died of wounds, but it is wrong in classifying his death as due to small arms fire in a ground engagement. Looking at it from a different direction, we have documented all personnel KIA on February 28th except LaBonte, as well as one WIA who died May 28, 1968. It seems clear that he was the badly burned survivor from 153360 (From Ken Davis) [Taken from vhpa.org]


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