GRELLA, DONALD CARROLL
Name: Donald Carroll Grella
Rank/Branch: E5/US 7th Army Special Forces Group
Unit: Aviation Company, (Assault Helicopter) 299th Attack Helicopter
Battalion, assigned to 1st Cavalry Division
Aviation Company, 7th SFGA was withdrawn from the 7th SFGA and redesignated
as one of the four companies (A-D) of the 229th Aviation Battalion.
It would have been designated, for example, Co A, 229th Avn Bn (Aslt Hel).
It was not uncommon for units and personnel to unofficially insist
on using their old designation when they were absorbed into another
unit and redsignated. That appears to be the case here.
Date of Birth: 01 December 1940 (Coleridge NE)
Home City of Record: Laurel NE
Date of Loss: 28 December 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 135702N 1084955E (BR570450)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Jesse D. Phelps; Thomas Rice Jr.; Kenneth L.
Stancil (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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 2009.
REMARKS: OVERDUE ON 10-15 MIN FLIGHT - J
SYNOPSIS: The large influx of American combat and support battalions
arriving in Vietnam in the mid-1960's afforded the Army Special Forces a
wealth of potential military backup and engineer support. Airmobile infantry
promised quick and decisive response to CIDG patrolling opportunities or
adverse camp situations. The availability of engineers assured required camp
construction and defensive strengthening of existing sites.
In exchange, the Special Forces provided support, regional intelligence and
area indoctrination for the arriving Army formations. In mid to late
December 1965, Special Forces Major Brewington's B-22 Detachment helped the
1st Cavalry Division to settle into the An Khe area. Assisting, was the
299th Attack Helicopter Battalion of the Aviation Company of 7th Special
Forces Group (Assault Helicopter).
On December 28, 1965 a UH1D helicopter from the Aviation Company departed An
Khe on a supply mission to a combat unit in the early hours. Radio
transmissions revealed that flight was difficult because of weather and
darkness. The pilot, WO2 Jesse Phelps, radioed for weather reports. The
other crew of the aircraft consisted of SP5 Donald Grella, crewchief; WO3
Kenneth Stancil, co-pilot; and SP4 Thomas Rice, door gunner.
When the aircraft was about 10 minutes' flying time from An Khe, radio
contact was suspended, and no further word was received from the aircraft.
When the UH1D failed to return, an intensive search was conducted, with no
sign of either the lost aircraft or its crew. The crew was believed to be
The crew of the UH1D are among nearly 2500 Americans missing in Southeast
Asia. In the 1950's Henry Kissinger predicted that "limited political
engagements" would result in nonrecoverable prisoners of war. This
prediction was fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where thousands of men and
women remain missing when ample evidence exists that many of them survived
(from both wars) and are alive today. For Americans, and particularly the
families of those who are missing, this abandonment of military personnel is
unacceptable and the policy that allows it must be changed before another
generation is left behind in some future war.
Friday, December 29, 2000
Sister: MIA 'Deserves To Come Home' Nebraska MIAs
... Thirty-five years ago this week, Spc. 5 Donald Grella disappeared in
He and three special forces comrades climbed aboard their helicopter for
what was supposed to be a 15-minute, pre-dawn flight. Their chopper never
Published Tuesday July 28, 2009
MIA war casualty coming home
LINCOLN — In the government lingo of soldiers missing in action,
the case of Spc. Don Grella was “off the scope.”
There were no known eyewitnesses to the downing of the helicopter
that carried Grella and three other Army Special Forces comrades over
the jungle-choked central highlands of Vietnam on Dec. 28, 1965......
Contact the writer:
Spec DON Grella, MIA – KIA Vietnam
Central Highlands 1965
The Patriot Guard Riders are honored to be asked by the family to
provide an escort for Spec Don Grella, Army Special Forces, MIA/KIA,
28 DEC 1965, in the Central highlands of Vietnam. Spec Grella would
have been 68 years old now.
Spec Grella will be returning to Nebraska accompanied by his only
sibling, Shirley Haase and her husband Ron on Saturday, September 26,
2009. The flight is scheduled to arrive at Eppley Airfield in Omaha at
1:05pm. Ron Haase is a Vietnam Veteran.
The PGR will lead the coach carrying Spec Grella with a 5 man
“Missing Man” formation leaving Eppley Airfield at 1:45pm with a
scheduled arrival in Laurel at 4:30pm. Other Patriot Guard Riders will
follow the coach as Spec Grella makes his final journey home more than
40 years after his Huey went down reportedly based on a villager’s
account that he shot down a chopper in 1965.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No.
April 08, 2010
U.S. Soldiers MIA from Vietnam War Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced
today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from
the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for
burial with full military honors.
A group burial for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth L. Stancil,
Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer Jesse D. Phelps, Boise, Idaho;
Spc. Thomas Rice, Jr., Spartanburg, S.C.; and Spc. Donald C. Grella,
Laurel, Neb., as well as Rice's individual remains burial will be
tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery. Stancil, Phelps and Grella were
buried individually last year.
The four men were aboard a UH-1D Huey helicopter which failed to
return from a mission over Gia Lai Province, South Vietnam to pick up
special forces soldiers on Dec. 28, 1965. The exact location of the
crash site was not determined during the war, and search and rescue
operations were suspended after failing to locate the men after four
From 1993-2005, joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams led by
the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command attempted unsuccessfully to locate
the site. But in April 2006, a joint team interviewed two local
villagers, one of whom said he had shot down a U.S. helicopter in 1965.
The villagers escorted the team to the crash site where wreckage was
found. In March 2009, another joint team excavated the area and
recovered human remains and other artifacts including an identification
tag from Grella.
JPAC's scientists employed traditional forensic techniques in making
these identifications, including comparisons of dental records with the
remains found at the site.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to
account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call 703-699-1169.