WALTER F WROBLESKI - CWO
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- August 28, 1945
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- May 21, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Walter Francis Wrobleski was born on August 28, 1945 in Neptune, New Jersey to Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Wrobleski. His home of record is Freehold, NJ. Walter had one brother, Harry. He excelled in baseball and had the stuff to become a professional ball player.
In December of 1965 Walter entered the U.S. Army as a PVT E-1 (RA12749437) and was sent to Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Training Brigade at Fort Polk Louisiana for basic training. Following basic training, Walter was assigned to Rotary Wing Training Class 66-17 and went on to earn the silver wings of an Army Aviator. In December 1966, at the age of 21, he was assigned as a pilot with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company at Nha Trang, Republic of South Vietnam. Walter was initially assigned to the 1st Flight Platoon, (Rat Pack) flying UH-ID Huey slick helicopters. Later, after gaining flight experience he was transferred to the gunship platoon (Wolf Pack). His 1st Platoon Commander, Jack Serig, recalls giving Walter his first local orientation ride. Walter was relentless in demanding that he be sent to the gunship platoon (Wolf Pack) right away, as he wanted to kill the communist enemy. Every time he flew with his Platoon Commander he insisted he should be transferred to Wolf Pack. He eventually accomplished his wish.
On May 21, 1967, he was shot down in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam while flying as a pilot on UH-1C gunship 65-09480, assigned to the 281st Assault Helicopter Company. Walter was listed as missing in action. During this time he was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer (CWO).
The town of Freehold established a memorial of crosses near the downtown area for all of the Freehold residents who were killed or missing in action during the Vietnam conflict.
Synopsis (from the POW Network) as to the circumstances behind being listed as MIA:
Walter F. Wrobleski was the pilot of a UH1C gunship on an extraction mission in the A Shau Valley on May 21, 1967. He sighted the patrol he was to extract and other gunships accompanying Wrobleski established an orbit overhead.
Wrobleski was making a strafing run when his helicopter was hit by a burst from a heavy caliber machine gun, and the engine stopped. The aircraft immediately received more fire, causing it to go out of control and crash. It rolled down a ravine, and because of the intensity of enemy fire, other choppers could not get close enough to see if there were survivors.
At 3:57 p.m. the chopper exploded and started to burn. An Air Force search and rescue aircraft attempted to drop a paramedic team near the crash site, but were unable to maintain a hover to do so. Later, a Marine CH46 helicopter rescued one individual alive from the site. Subsequently, two other men from the incident were hoisted out under heavy enemy fire. Not realizing the two were on the lines, the aircraft, receiving fire, attempted to evade fire, dragging the hoist through the trees. The two men were knocked off the hoist.
Rescue aircraft continued to orbit the area and flashed signals to the ground. Those signals were answered from the recovery area and then from a light from the crash site. Because of the terrain and the short time between sightings, it was believed the signals could have been from the same individual.
On May 22, a Vietnamese Ranger company that had been inserted into the area located one of the individuals and had him evacuated by helicopter. The next day the Rangers located the other individual who walked out with them. Two American advisors who were with the Ranger unit made a thorough search of the wreckage and the surrounding area trying to find evidence of human remains. They believed at that time that the Viet Cong had not visited the site because of items they found that the Viet Cong would normally have salvaged.
No sign of Wrobleski was ever found. He is listed as missing in action.
Sources: Harry Wrobleski (brother), POW Network and NJVVMF.
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