LZ ST GEORGE KIA:
AIR CREW MEMBER KILLED ENROUTE
found this article and was not aware of someone that died other than the ground
casualties on St. George."
Jim "Tex" Shelton
Enari near Pleiku, II Corps, November 6, 1969.
4th Aviation had the primary stand-by flare mission. My unit (D/1/10 Cav) had the secondary stand-by flare mission. Ed Skaggs was the Crew Chief, and Greg Rugenstein was my door gunner. We were scrambled in the wee hours of Nov 6, 1969 to help Fourth Aviation drop flares for LZ St. George, south of Pleiku.
took off for LZ St. George to relieve the 4th Aviation ship on station. After
arriving, we dropped a couple of flares for Dustoff who came in for some
wounded. While preparing for the next drop, the
flare exploded into
crew member Greg Rugenstein's face and blew his helmet out the door. He dropped
to the floor in a pool of blood, and the crew chief, Ed Skaggs, was knocked out
temporarily. The flare fully deployed and ignited inside the ship. Ed came to in
time to toss the burning flare out of the ship, but the parachute caught on the
M60 gun mount. He cut the lines, and the flare fell away. I had to abandon the
mission, but St. George had just requested darkness anyway. They had called for
Spooky, and they didn't want any more flares until Spooky arrived. So with the
lull in flare requests, the accident didn't affect the situation on the ground.
took Greg to 71st Evac in Pleiku where the hospital personnel were waiting on
the pad. They tried to save his life, but apparently they couldn't stop the
bleeding and he died a few days later. The crew chief, Ed Skaggs, was not
injured. He was stunned and immobile for maybe a half minute or so, but that's
have corresponded via email with one of the EM who was on duty in the 71st Evac
ER that night we brought Greg in. He told me about the nature of Greg's injury
and of the many units of blood (70+) they used trying to save his life.
All our slicks, including 328 and 454, were destroyed in a sapper attack at Camp
Radcliff, April 4, 1970.