WILLIAM L. ARBOGAST, 1LT, USMC
William Arbogast '62
Date of birth: April 28, 1938
Date of death: December 26, 1964
From the 1962 Lucky Bag:
Bill was lost on December 26, 1964, when the helicopter he was co-piloting crashed while participating in rescue and relief efforts along the flooded Eel River in Humbolt County, California. Four others were also lost; the pilot was the only survivor.
From the February 1965 issue of SHIPMATE:
It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce the death of another classmate, William L. Arbogast on 26 Dec. Bill was a pilot attached to USS BENNINGTON which was taking part in relief and rescue operations off the coast of California and Oregon during the flood. His helicopter developed engine trouble and crashed in the Eel River.
I think the following words written by one of his closest friends sums up this young officer's brief life: if Bill could have chosen a way to die, it would have been while helping someone else. The service has lost a man who lived as he believed, in honesty, integrity, and a sense of dedi- cation to the common good.
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant William L. Arbogast (MCSN: 0-84194), United States Marine Corps, for heroism at the risk of life while participating in aerial flight while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron THREE HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE (HMM-363), from 24 December 1964 to 26 December 1964. While participating in rescue and humanitarian relief operations in Humbolt Country, California disaster area, First Lieutenant Arbogast as the co-pilot of a helicopter did, due to the urgency of the mission and knowing that uncharted power and communication lines existed across his flight path, repeatedly and heroically expose himself to extremely hazardous situations which required a conspicuously high level of aeronautical skill and mature judgment to relieve the suffering of the civilian populace in the disaster area. The constant foul weather made flight operations close to impossible in mountainous terrain which is hazardous to flight under best of conditions. By his aggressive attitude and superbly skillful airmanship, he was able under extremely adverse conditions to evacuate the sick and homeless and to deliver medicine, food and other vital supplies to those in desperate need. He gave his life in an attempt to bring help and comfort to the disaster victims and to prevent additional loss of life. His meritorious and selfless conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Action Date: December 25 - 26, 1964
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 363 (HMM-363)