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War Stories

Daniel "Dan" Wilson Story - 1969

Allen "KC" Allcock - see also About Colleen


We were close friends. He was a very dependable mechanic and a great maintenance person on both the slick and cobra helicopters. He became a crew chief on a slick.

Dan was KIA a couple of months after I left "D" Troop. There was another maintenance mechanic by the name of Kenneth Sharp, who also became a Crew Chief, who wrote me a letter telling me of Dan's death. When I came in contact with Dan's sister, Colleen, I did not know all the details of him being KIA. After Jack Nemeyer and I got in contact with one another, Jack filled me in on that part of the story.

Dan arrived in Vietnam about two months behind me. I believe it was the very end of June. Another person that arrived in the country about the same day was Paul Fegal. Dan and Paul were assigned to the D Troop Service Platoon and seemed to really become great friends. They really worked as a good team on various assignments. At that time I was a "mechanic" also, but flying as a reserve gunner, or crew chief quite often to give relief for the various flight crews.

Dan was very interested in being a part of a permanent flight crew, and often he would question me about "happenings" and other details of flight missions I had been on. I know he would take every opportunity to go out on "test flights" on slicks that came out of maintenance. After all, he was a mechanic who worked on these aircraft and earned that privilege to ride along on test flights. He would always come back with a big Minnesota grin on his face.

Dan became my little brother. He was energetic and always pulling little "pranks" on others and myself. But, when it came down to serious situations, he was always so steadfast. I have mentioned he was like my little brother, because he always reminded me of my actual little brother, who also was always doing little stunts as we grew up. I believe Dan was about 1-2 years younger than I.

Dan loved foods that would make him "gassie" and loved letting off those "silent bombs" while amongst a crowd. They were horrible. I can't remember who it was, but we got a new CO that wanted to have a 1300 hr inspection of the Maintenance Platoon. Right after dinner. Hot sun bearing down. We had to have our field gear on, and M-16s. I believe Dan was in the third squad and the CO, and another officer, and myself had to go along with the inspecting CO and the CO was making comments and I had to take notes on good comments and bad comments. We were going down the row between the third squad and the fourth squad, about down to Dan Wilson when I barely heard this almost silent, high pitch whistle, and I knew what it was. I even heard some chuckling from others standing nearby. I knew what was coming. About the time the officers doing the inspection got right behind Dan and the silent enemy struck. The CO had just started to look at someone's M-16 when this gas hit him, and he shoved the M-16 back into the hands of the trooper, turned and said, "Dismiss the troops!" Dan was in top form that day!

Sometimes I would be doing other duties, and I would ask Dan to be a "go to" person in my short absence. He really didn't like doing that so much but he was good at the routine. One day on such an occasion, some new guys were sent in. FNG's fresh from the USA. Dan knew that I had a procedure that I sometimes used to get new men acquainted with their surroundings. I wanted the new guys to know that we were just regular helicopter maintenance, but also there were "higher" support maintenance we had to go to at times. So, he instructed them to go to 725th Maintenance across the runway and get a couple of gallons of "prop wash." Now, if they had talked to the person in charge at the 725th Maintenance., he would probably tell them to go on down to the "higher" tier of maintenance, which was located well across the way in another direction. Well, these new guys only talked to a mechanic at 725th, and that mechanic told them that "there was no such thing as actual 'prop wash' and then just explained the "ruse" they were being put through. Well when I got back sometime later, Dan explained what he had done, and we felt sure that the new guys should have been back. We went searching for the new guys. We finally found them at the PX drinking beer. The new guys thought it was funny how they had learned about the "lesson" Dan was trying to teach them. Dan was frustrated and felt bad about what had just happened. So, I asked Dan, "What do you think we should do about these guys?" He really didn't know what to suggest and then informed me that he had KP, Ash and Trash, and Bunker line guard duty coming up. So, I saw that these new guys got to pull Dan's duties for Dan.

Dan wanted to be a Crew Chief. Since I was part of the group that made recommendations for that job, Dan would often pester me for a ship when openings would come up. Now, I knew from experience that flying added "risks" that the Crew Chief and Gunner had to take. I wanted to protect this kid. Dan was very good at his maintenance work and I would really miss him. I really hated to lose him from my platoon. Finally Dan talked to someone and got his dream. When it was all settled that he would become a Crew Chief, he asked me if I thought he could do the job. I told him I knew that the helicopter would be in good hands. Yes, that kid knew how to do "dailys" perform the crew chief level of maintenance and would do his best to protect the aircraft while engaging the enemy. But, also that day, I groaned inside me with concern for my good friend, my little kid brother, Dan Wilson.

When I received the letter from Kenneth Sharp regarding his death, I wept hard. ...Kc


About Colleen Wilson Maddox, Dan's Sister:

In Mike Vaughn's great story about his First Reunion (2002) he mentioned that a young lady spoke to the audience. That lady was Colleen Maddox (Wilson), Dan Wilson's younger sister. She was so happy that contact had been made to her regarding her brother Dan. I am the one who made that contact, and had visited with her several times before she came to the reunion. That ordeal of finding her is quite a story in itself. Since then, she has made several reunions, mainly the Veterans Day reunions.

In 1992, I was persuaded to attend my first reunion in Huntsville, Alabama. The first phone call and the second phone call came from one of the men who served with me by the name of Garnett Holcomb. The third phone call came from Bobbie Hollis, who I see is now deceased. He tried to persuade me as well. The fourth phone call came from Col. McGowin, and I finally decided to go. The reunion, although quite small in number, changed many aspects of my life. At the Unit Reunion, it was decided to publish a newsletter called, Mackenzie's Raiders, and in that publication later on was a notice that someone was wanting some information concerning various members of 3/4 Cavalry and I noticed the name of Dan Wilson. The article provided a phone number, which happened to be a number located in Washington, D.C. leading to a group who were helping to find contacts of various soldiers. So, I called the number.

The Washington, D.C. organization, checked me out, then gave me a Minnesota phone number to call. I cannot remember the woman's name, but she had been the girlfriend of Dan Wilson, and remained a dear friend to Dan's sister, Colleen, even following his death. She had contacted the Washington, D.C. organization with the plea regarding Dan on behalf of Colleen. The first time I called her, she was on her way out the door to go to work, so the talk was very brief, and we agreed the next day to make contact again, via phone. The next phone call revealed who she was, a former girl friend of Dans, and a good friend of Colleen. By that time, I was a little confused, and was wondering what I might be getting myself into. But, she gave me Collen's phone contact number, and I called her. Over the passage of time, I was able to fill in a lot of information about Dan and his service with me, and to put Colleen in contact with Jack Nemeyer, who was present with Dan the day he was KIA. In fact, Jack was present the evening before with Dan and Dan was busy packing up his "stuff" to ship home because the end of his tour was only days away. Since then, Colleen has involved her brother and sisters, and other Wilson kinspersons in our 3/4 Cavalry reunions. The Wilsons are true patriots.