KURT W. GAREISS, CAPT, USAF
Kurt Gareiss '57
Date of birth: February 15, 1936
Date of death: February 24, 1965
From the 1957 Lucky Bag:
From Talking Proud:
An A-1E went down on February 24 with two USAF crew aboard. They crashed on a rubber plantation about 15 miles south of the base. The rescue effort got to be, as Archie put it, “(a game of) musical chairs with three helicopters between Bien Hoa, Tan Son Nhut and the crash site.”
Here’s how it went down.
Capt. Warden and Lt Connell for Det 4 were on secondary alert and got aloft in HH-43 #712. Capts. Boyles and Spaur launched with the FSK in #711. Capt. LeFevre and Archie assumed LBR alert in #716 and were scrambled on another aircraft incident just minutes later.
Nr. 712 lowered two men by hoist to cut a landing pad for #711 and the FSK. Capt. Warden recovered one body and two wing guns and returned to Bien Hoa for fuel. As he approached the base, LeFevre and Archie departed in #716 to help Capt. Boyles in #711. But when they got there, Boyles had to return for fuel. So #716 circled to land, but in swooped a VNAF H-34 from Tan Son Nhut and he took #716’s landing pad. An H-34 was brought in by USAF Capt. Fetzner and an EOD team. They picked up two more guns and left. They received one hit from hostile fire on departure. LeFevre and Archie on #716 landed with a chain saw. Then Capt. Boyles returned with #711 and helped search for the second body. In the mean time, Warden flying #712 with an A-1E body was ordered to got to Tan Son Nhut. Armed UH-1s arrived to provide cover as a group of Lambettas (motor scooters) were seen coming down the road. They also spotted a couple ox carts approaching, often used to transport mortars and shells.
I believe the two lost in the A-1E were Capts. Thomas C. McEwen and Kurt W. Gareiss (shown here), USAF. If correct, Gareiss was an instructor pilot and McEwan was on an evaluation and training flight. The aircraft entered a spin at about 3,000 ft. while executing an acrobatic maneuver and struck the ground in a flat attitude and exploded about 15 miles from Bien Hoa. They were flying with the 1st Air Commando Squadron of the 34th Tactical Group. Nr. 716 left and I am not sure whether they found the second pilot. Both are listed on the Vietnam War Memorial.
Kurt was survived by his wife, Laurae, and two children, Kim and Kurt, Jr. (Information from April 1965 issue of Shipmate.) He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Doc is among those names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. As his loss was not due directly to hostile action, though, he does not appear in the Vietnam War section of the Killed In Action panel in Memorial Hall.
Thomas McEwen, Jr. '52 was the other pilot aboard.