HAL C. CASTLE, JR., LTJG, USN
Hal Castle, Jr. '67
Date of birth: May 20, 1945
Date of death: April 28, 1969
From the 1967 Lucky Bag:
From Wall of Faces:
Crew members included LJG Richard J. Reardon (KIA), AO3 Michael E. Schafernocker (KIA), LJG Hal C. Castle Jr. (KIA), and AN James B. Page Jr. (Rescued). There are two accounts of the crash involving U.S. Navy helicopter UH-1 tail number 63-08603.
FIRST ACCOUNT: LTJG Richard J. Reardon was a pilot assigned to Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3, Detachment 3 'Seawolves' in Vietnam. He flew the UH1B 'Huey' attack helicopter gunship with his co-pilot LJG Hal C. Castle, and two enlisted gunners. On April 28, 1969 the Detachment 3 fire team was based at the Special Forces Camp, Moc Hoa, and sent on a patrol of the Vam Co Tay River. This location is in Kien Tuong Province, right on the Cambodian border. The river was notorious as a Viet Cong infiltration route and a large number of abandoned sampans were targeted. During the attack run, intense enemy fire was encountered and suppression fire was called for. LJG Reardon was seen to impact in a near-vertical crash and become engulfed in flames. One enlisted crewman was either thrown from or crawled clear of the wreckage and was later rescued by the lead helicopter only after engaging heavy ground fire. With the crash circumstances as they were, and the visual consensus of other helicopter crews in the flight, there was little to no likelihood that anyone else could have survived. The crew, including Reardon, was listed Killed in Action. In later recovery attempts, the remains of two crewmembers, including Castle's, were recovered. Reardon's remains were [recovered in 2003].
SECOND ACCOUNT: The Seawolves did lose a Huey on this day. It was from Detachment 3 and was Seawolf 320, a UH-1B or C. While operating inside Cambodia it was hit by heavy auto weapons fire and crashed. Killed in the crash were the pilot, LTJG Richard Reardon, the copilot, LTJG Hal Castle, and the gunner, AO3 Michael E Schafernocker. The crew chief, AN James B. Page, Jr. was severely injured. The second team member, Seawolf 305 was hit in the engine oil system and made a forced landing near the wreck of Seawolf 320. They recovered Page under fire and held out to be picked up by a slick from the 175th AHC, Outlaw 29, after several attempted landings. While taking off, the pilot of Seawolf 305 was shot by ground fire and killed. He was LJG Joseph F. Hart. A crewman observer also rescued (AN Charles Larsen) was seriously wounded on take-off as well. Location of this incident was approximately Grid XS153986. The bodies of LtJg Castle and AO3 Schafernocker and a third body were returned by Cambodian officials on 20 Feb 70. The third body was not identified at the time. (Second account submitted by Pete Harlem) [Taken from vhpa.org]
From Wall of Faces:
Chip and I were in Pensacola for 2nd class Summer flight orientation. I remember his calm enthusiasm for flying. I was deeply sadenned by news of his death, which came before my my three tours on the ground and waterways of Vietnam, with super Seawolf support in the Rung Sat Special Zone.
God bless you and your family Chip.
Bill Applegate, USNA '67 7th co BILL APPLEGATE, WGAPPLEGATE@GMAIL.COM, 5/25/15
Long ago and far away
I arrived at HAL-3, Det 3 in April of 1969. I met Hal on arrival and he was the one who first showed me around and was helping me to get oriented. I only knew him for a very short time but liked him from the first day. Couldn't believe it when it all happened. Before my first combat flight, I was one of those who had the sad duty of packing up his personal effects to be shipped home. Those kind of memories you never forget. Rest in peace, sir. BRUCE WATTS, HAL-3, DET 3, APRIL '69 TO APRIL '70, 4/25/15
Hal "Chip" Castle, Jr. was my dad's (Bill's) older brother, killed five years before I was born. Their dad (my grandfather, USNA '44), and his three sons (Chip, USNA '67; Bill, University of Virginia NROTC '69; and Chris, USNA '72) all served in Vietnam. I never served in uniform, but passed (along with my father) Chip's memory and our family's naval service to my own son, Riley (USNA '16), who has followed in Chip's, as well as his other great-uncle's and great-grandfather's, footsteps to the USNA. Chip's memory will always be remembered and honored by our family, even by those of us who never had the privilege of knowing him. [Riley had a friend take the attached picture while visiting D.C. last Spring.] BILL CASTLE, JR., 11/1/13
Hal's youngest brother, Chris, and I were classmates from the Naval Academy - Class of 1972. Hal graduated from the Academy with the Class of 1967. He was lost in VN during our plebe year - 1969. We were all saddened for Chris and his family. Hal was a Huey pilot - my recollection is that he was lost in Cambodia during Nixon's secret war. His remains were not returned for sometime, as I recall, and then were interred at Arlington.
Should anyone visit the US Naval Academy and tour the Academy's museum, you will notice a display of all the class rings. If you look closely at the ring from the Class of 1967, you will see that it belongs to Hal - donated to the Academy by his family.
The Castle family have a unique distinction. During VietNam there were four Castles on Active duty - Hal Cushman Castle, Sr.(USNA Class of 1944), Hal Cushman Castle, Jr.(USNA Class of 1967), Bill Castle, (NROTC Univ of Virginia Class of 1969), and my classmate, Christopher H. Castle, (USNA Class of 1972).
Rest in Peace. ALLEN SZIGETY, ALLEN.SZIGETY@NCR.COM, 6/21/99
According to a Wall of Faces post, he was survived by his wife, Julie. He was also survived by his mother, Martha, father Hal Cushman Castle, Sr. '44, brothers Bill, and Christopher '72, and sister Katherine.