ALLEN DUANE CHRISTENSEN
Name: Allen Duane Christensen
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army
Unit: H/Hq Detachment, 37th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade
Date of Birth: 27 August 1947
Home City of Record: Fandreau SD
Loss Date: 03 April 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164458N 1071109E (YD330530)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Personnel in Incident: April 2: Robin F. Gatwood; Wayne L.
Bolte; Anthony Giannangeli; Charles A. Levis; Henry M.
Serex; (all missing from the EB66). LtCol. Iceal
Hambleton (rescued after 12 days from EB66). Ronald P.
Paschall; Byron K. Kulland; John W. Frink (all missing
from UH1H rescue helicopter), Jose M. Astorga (captured
and released in 1973 from UH1H).
April 3: William J. Henderson (captured and released in
1973 from OV10A rescue craft); Mark Clark (rescued
after 12 days from OV10A rescue craft).
April 6: James H. Alley; Allen J. Avery; Peter H.
Chapman; John H. Call; William R. Pearson; Roy D.
Prater (all KIA/BNR from HH53C "Jolly 52" rescue chopper).
Also in very close proximity to "Bat 21"on April 3: Allen D.
Christensen; Douglas L. O'Neil; Edward W. Williams;
Larry A. Zich (all missing from UH1H).
April 7: Bruce Charles Walker (evaded 11 days); Larry
F. Potts (captured & died in POW camp) (both missing from OV10A).
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published
sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.
SYNOPSIS: On the afternoon of April 2, 1972, two Thailand-
based EB66 aircraft (Bat 21 and Bat 22), from the 30th
Air Division, were flying pathfinder escort for a cell
of B52s bombing near the DMZ. Bat 21 took a direct SAM
hit and the plane went down. A single beeper signal was
heard, that of navigator Col. Iceal Hambleton. At this
time it was assumed the rest of the crew died in the
crash. The crew included Maj. Wayne L. Bolte, pilot;
1Lt. Robin F. Gatwood, LtCol. Anthony R. Giannangeli,
LtCol. Charles A. Levis, and Maj. Henry M. Serex, all
crew members. It should be noted that
the lowest ranking man aboard this plane was Gatwood, a First Lieutenant.
This was not an ordinary crew, and its members,
particularly Hambleton, would be a prize capture for
the enemy because of military knowledge they possessed.
It became critical, therefore, that the U.S. locate
Hambleton, and any other surviving crew members before
the Vietnamese did - and the Vietnamese were trying
hard to find them first.
An Army search and rescue team was nearby and
dispatched two UH1H "slicks" and two UH1B "Cobras".
When they approached Hambleton's position just before
dark, at about 50 feet off the ground, with one of the
AH1G Cobra gunships flying at 300 feet for cover, two
of the helicopters were shot down. One, the Cobra (Blue
Ghost 28) reached safety and the crew was picked up,
without having seen the other downed helicopter.
The other, a UH1H from F Troop, 8th Cavalry,
196th Brigade, had just flown over some huts
into a clearing when they encountered ground fire, and
the helicopter exploded. Jose Astorga, the gunner, was
injured in the chest and knee by the gunfire. Astorga
became unconscious, and when he recovered, the
helicopter was on the ground. He found the pilot, 1Lt.
Byron K. Kulland, lying outside the helicopter. WO John
W. Frink, the co-pilot, was strapped in his seat and
conscious. The crew chief, SP5 Ronald P. Paschall, was
pinned by his leg in the helicopter, but alive. WO
Franks urged Astorga to leave them, and Astorga was
captured. He soon observed the aircraft to be hit by
automatic weapons fire, and to explode with the rest of
the crew inside. He never saw the rest of the crew
again. Astorga was relesed by the North Vietnamese in 1973.
The following day, Nail 38, an OV10A equipped with
electronic rescue gear enabling its crew to get a
rapid "fix" on its rescue target entered Hambleton's
area and was shot down. The crew, William J. Henderson
and Mark Clark, both parachuted out safely. Henderson
was captured and released in 1973. Clark evaded for 12
days and was subsequently rescued.
On April 3, the day Nail 38 was shot down, a
UH1H "slick" went down in the same area carrying a crew
of four enlisted Army personnel. They had no direct
connection to the rescue of Bat 21, but were very
probably shot down by the same SAM installations that
downed Bat 21. The helicopter, from H/HQ, 37th Signal
Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, had left Marble Mountain
Airfield, Da Nang, on a standard resupply mission to
signal units in and around Quang Tri City. The crew,
consisting of WO Douglas L. O'Neil, pilot; CW2 Larry A.
Zich, co-pilot; SP5 Allen D. Christensen, crew chief;
and SP4 Edward W. Williams, gunner; remain missing in action.
On April 6, an attempt was made to pick up Clark and
Hambleton which resulted in an HH53C helicopter being
shot down. The chopper was badly hit. The helicopter
landed on its side and continued to burn, consuming the
entire craft, and presumably, all 6 men aboard. The
crew of this aircraft consisted of James H. Alley;
Allen J. Avery, John H. Call III, Peter H. Chapman,
William R. Pearson, and Roy D. Prater. Search and
rescue noted no signs of survivors, but it is felt that
the Vientamese probably know the fate of this crew
because of the close proximity of the downed aircraft to
On April 7 another Air Force OV10A went down in the
area with Larry Potts and Bruce Walker aboard. Walker,
the Air Force pilot of the aircraft, evaded capture 11
days, while it is reported that Potts was captured and
died in Quang Binh prison. Potts, the observer, was a
Marine Corps officer. Walker's last radio transmission
to search and rescue was for SAR not to make an attempt
to rescue, the enemy was closing in. Both men remain
Hambleton and Clark were rescued after 12 incredible
days. Hambleton continually changed positions and
reported on enemy activity as he went, even to the
extent of calling in close air strikes near his
position. He was tracked by a code he devised relating
to the length and lie direction of various golf holes
he knew well. Another 20 or so Americans were not so
In July 1986, the daughter of Henry Serex learned that,
one week after all search and rescue had been "called
off" for Bat 21, another mission was mounted to
recover "another downed crewmember" from Bat 21. She
doesn't know whether or not it is her father or another
man on the EB66 aircraft. No additional information has
been released. When the movie "Bat 21" was released,
she was horrified to learn that virtually no mention of
the rest of the crew, including her father, was made.
In Vietnam, to most fighting men, the man that fought
beside them, whether in the air or on the ground, was
worth dying for. Each understood that the other would
die for him if necessary. Thus, also considering the
critical knowledge possessed by Col. Hambleton and some
of the others, the seemingly uncanny means taken to
recover Clark and Hambleton are not so unusual at all.
What defies logic and explaination, however, is that
the government that sent these men to battle can
distort or withold information to their families, and
knowingly abandon hundreds of men known or strongly
suspected to be in enemy hands.
Thousands of reports have been received by the U.S.
Government indicating that Americans are still alive,
in captivity in Southeast Asia. It has been 20 years
for those who may have survived the 1972 Easter crashes
and rescue attempts. How much longer must they wait for
their country to bring "peace with honor" to them and
bring them home?