HILL, BILLY DAVID
11/14/2015 - DPAA made an ID. Funeral set for Dec. 17th in Texas. No details on recovery yet. D.
Billy Hill will be escorted by the Texas PGR from Scott's Funeral Home in Gatesville at noon on December 17th to the Central State Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas, where a graveside memorial service will be held at 1:00 PM.
Name: Billy David Hill Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Unit: 282nd Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion Date of Birth: 17 December 1946 (Wichita KS) Home City of Record: Fallon NV Date of Loss: 21 January 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 163722N 1064434E (XD860385) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D Refno: 1000
Other Personnel In Incident: Jerry W. Elliott (missing), McKinsey, W01 Gerald L) REMAINS RECOVERED 8 April 1968.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 March 1991 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 2015 (KIA sp from Semyo to SEYMOE/McKensey to McKinsey.)
SYNOPSIS: On January 21, 1968, Captain Tommy C. Stiner, pilot; WO Gerald L. McKinsey Jr., co-pilot; SSgt. Billy D. Hill, doorgunner; and SP5 David H. Harrington, crewchief; were aboard the lead UH1D helicopter on a troop insertion mission. PVT Jerry W. Elliott was the doorgunner on the UH1D following the lead ship. The two choppers were inserting ARVN troops at an old French fort approximately 1200 meters east of Khe Sanh. Also in the lead aircraft was LtCol. Seymoe, senior advisor to the ARVN unit being inserted.
As WO McKinsey's aircraft touched down on the landing zone, NVA troops stood up all around the aircraft and began firing at the aircraft at almost point blank range. As soon as all the ARVN troops were off-loaded, the aircraft lifted off. At approximately 8-10 feet off the ground, the aircraft was hit by either a 57mm recoilless rifle or a direct hit mortar fire, burst into flames and crashed. PVT Elliott's UH1D landed approximately 50-60 feet from the crashed aircraft.
LtCol. Seymoe died while pinned under the aircraft. His body was subsequently recovered. The pilot, Stiner, exited the aircraft successfully, evaded capture and returned to friendly lines. Harrington was able to board a rescue aircraft that had landed in the LZ. Before leaving the vicinity, Capt. Stiner was in a defensive position with WO McKensey. Stiner later reported that he witnessed McKensey being shot in the back of the head and killed.
PVT Elliott and his crewchief exited their aircraft to assist survivors of the downed helicopter. In a matter of seconds, the crewchief returned to his aircraft and advised the pilot to take off immediately because of the highly intense hostile fire. The aircraft lifted off, leaving Elliott on the ground, circled and returned to the LZ, but could not locate PVT Elliott.
Three days after the incident, a helicopter searched the area and observed a body in the tall elephant grass and small trees. By process of elimination, the pilot determined that the body was that of PVT Elliott.
Two sets of remains were recovered from the crash site by an unidentified unit. The remains were later positively identified as those of Seymoe and McKinsey. Hill was last seen by Capt. Stiner, just prior to the aircraft being hit in the compartment in which Hill was manning his machine gun. Stiner stated that Hill was probably struck by the same volley of rounds that downed the aircraft as his machine gun was observed blown to pieces. Stiner searched the area before taking evasive action, but Hill could not be located.
Hill and Elliot were declared Missing in Action. Although it is believed that both men were injured, perhaps mortally, there is no proof that they died. The proximity of enemy troops allows for the possibility that the two were captured. They are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain missing from the Vietnam war.
Although over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, its official policy is that no conclusive proof has been obtained that is current enough to act upon. Detractors of this policy say conclusive proof is in hand, but that the willingness or ability to rescue these prisoners does not exist.
Hill and Elliot, if among those hundreds said to be still alive and in captivity, must be wondering if and when their country will return for them. In America, we say that life is precious, but isn't the life of even one American worth the effort of recovery? When the next war comes, and it is our sons lost, will we then care enough to do everything we can to bring our prisoners home?
Billy D. Hill was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant and Jerry W. Elliott was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.