Dragoon Base

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Does anyone remember the Tech Rep from Hughes who walked into a Cobra tail rotor at Graf, it happened on the FARRP west of Camp AAchen, I was a armament mechanic on the Cobras and on the FARRP when it happened. I was just wondering if anyone else remembers it.

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I remember the incident, had to be fall of 84 or spring of 85, after getting out new M1 tanks.  I was at Graf at the time, one of 3/2s troops were on maneuvers (I don't remember which one), and I was driving the Squadron Commander (LTC Bird), when we heard the radio traffic.  At the time I thought "that's stupid how could someone not notice a running helicopter".  Years later, I became an aviation crewchief, and now understand how complacency probably contributed to the accident.  We worked around the outside of running aircraft, including the tail rotor, frequently.  Not a stupid mistake.  The tech was most likely focused on whatever task he was doing, probably tired, under pressure to get something fixed, and lost focus on the immediate situation.

I was with Air Troop in the Armt section. We ran the guns on the AH-1S (mz) as we called them back then. lol the Army changed the names for all the cobras in later years. Ed was our Tech Rep from Hughs. We were going through some issues with the M65 systems. We b=never used the first pad at the FARRP as it was to close to the Shop Van. I had talked to Ed before going to the ASP for more Ammo. As I was driving back into the FARRP I seen someone going from the Shop Van to the front seat on the left side of the acft. He was then directed to go to the Pilot in the back seat. In going aroaund the back of the acft he walked to close to the tail and was struck with the tail rotor. I was one of the fisrt to get to him. My Sgt at the time was Oski. I was just a PFC then. In all said and down he list fingers on his hand and his cheek. I was able to find the fingers and cheek but they couldn't re-attach them. He lived and came back to Feucht to say thank you.

Funny thing pj,

After active duty I joined the National Guard, I was in Aviation for over 20 years, I always remembered this story, but told it incorrectly everytime, I assumed the Tech was killed.  Good to hear he survived, sounds like you deserve some credit for saving his life. Good Job!

OBTW, do you remember a scout pilot named "Bone" (if my memory is correct)?  He was Swoop's pilot for a short time.  I remember an ice storm while we were at Graf, his crew chief defrosted the rotor blades with a ball-peen hammer, didn't turn out so well.  I don't remember the CEs name.

YES, remember Bone CW2 but could you make a statement of what you heard over the net, as i was at that FARRP for the 2nd ACR that day. I remember a bunch other other names for the 2nd ACR Air Troop. I can list them if needed.


But remember please

Connery, Daniel

Nov 2, 2020, 2:11 PM

to me


Can you see if Mr. Kipferl is able to write up a statement confirming the incident involving Ed?  If he’s willing and able to do so, he can use the following form:  https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-4138-ARE.pdf


I believe we should include his statement in your appeal request, but we should also mention the recovery mission for the two individuals who were killed in Colorado.  I realize the incident involving Ed is what truly impacts you; however, the Colorado crash is definitely “verifiable” in the VA eyes. 

I have you down for a follow-up phone appointment on 12/15/2020 at 10am.  I WILL CALL YOU.  If you end up getting a statement back sooner, we can always bump your appointment up.

Take care,


Daniel A. Connery
Veterans Service Director
Dane County Veterans Service Office
City-County Building - Room 108
210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Madison, WI  53703
Phone:  608-266-4158
Fax:     608-266-4156

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From: Roger B a href="mailto:redcatcher84@gmail.com">redcatcher84@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 9:18 AM
To: Connery, Daniel a href="mailto:Connery@countyofdane.com">Connery@countyofdane.com>
Cc: oskiallan a href="mailto:oskiallan@gmail.com">oskiallan@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Kory Kipferl replied to your discussion "Tail Rotor strike at Graf" on Dragoon Base


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Daniel, what do I need to do?


On Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 17:03 Roger B a href="mailto:redcatcher84@gmail.com">redcatcher84@gmail.com> wrote:

Now Daniel,


What do I need to do as this happened! It keeps me up at night and every night!





I apologize for the slow response.  I called Daniel Connery's office to get more information regarding my requested statement.  Dan was out of the office, but I spoke with "Darrin" concerning the requested VA statement information.  I'll download the VA form and include as much info as I can recall.  Because of the length of time that has passed between then and now, I may not be able to provide many more details than what I've already stated, but I will put that information on the VA form and return it to Dan Connery's office.

I hope this helps.


It's ok Kory, a lot of things have gone over the years. I'm just glad you remembered something. As I said i live with it always. I feel as if i let Ed down some how. I talked with him before he went to sleep in his car. He had got to Graf and was tired. I was on my way to the ASAP with Al (Sgt Oski) to get the next load outs for the gunnery table. When returning to the FAARP I was able to see Ed walk around the tail of the Cobra and get struck. I stopped the M880 Dodge Mopar "76 pick up truck at the gate. Al made me drive forward as I already knew who it was. After a while in the field you git to know the others you are with by smell and the way they moved day or night. There was one other Armt guy who ran over, but I can't remember who it was, I have ideas (another story) but any was that he was missing an hand from the wrist and the side of his face as the cheek had been removed. I was told by Al to find the missing parts. I found three fingers and the cheek. The fingers fit into a canteen. But the cheek even when rolled would not fit, so one of the pilots cut a hole in a 2qt canteen and the cheek went in. Ed lived and was able to come to our unit and thank us for what we did. 

As  a side note you said you went into Aviation? What did you do. I was a 68M then 68J then 67Y and got out as a 67T.

With the good and the bad I wouldn't change anything, well some of the commissioned officers I might have, the Warrants had my 6.

I also remember all the Alerts and movements to the field in the middle of the night. Or better yet the "hey U" got to the airfield now grab your A bag.

Have a good night.

Toujours Pret 

Happy New Year

Pj aka Roger

After Active Duty (1986) I joined the Guard near my home town in north central Pennsylvania.  I moved to Colorado in 1987.  Fortunately for me a National Guard unit just moved to Eagle, CO, close to where I was living, so it was easy to join and no breaks in service.  It was an aviation unit that was moved to support the Colorado National Guard's new high-altitude aviation training site.  This later expanded to include all services and partner nations, and is still a premier Army aviation training facility. Search for HAATS.

I started out on OH-6s, then 58s (A+ and Cs), both 67Vs. They were followed by UH-1s (67N), then Blackhawks (67T), by career progression-automatic when promoted to E7).  After 4 years as a traditional National Guardsman, I became, essentially a tech-rep.  I worked for the Colorado National Guard as a full-time civilian aircraft mechanic (civil service).  Iwas a "greaso" for nine years before going into flight operations at the same location.

I do miss flying helicopters.Colorado-Training-Site-HAATS-03.jpg

Anyway, I just sent my statement to Dan Connery and Cc you as well.

Good Luck.

I hope my statement is value added.

I'll be floating in and out of Dragoon Base from time to time. ; )

Eddie Owens, he was our LAR stationed at Katterbach when this occurred and was downrange with the Cav at the time.  He came back about 6 months after it happened and was transferred to Ft Eustis shortly after returning to Katterbach.  Eddie had a bad habit of listening for the tail rotor instead of looking at his proximity to it, and it caught up with him.  Saw him at Ft Eustis shortly before he retired, he was pretty open about what happened and knew it was his fault, he never blamed anyone other than himself.  Before he left Germany I would always bring him to the shop before any gunnery to give a safety briefing, it was a real attention getter for the newbies from AIT.

Sorry I missed this until last night. After all these years to get his last name. I knew him as he and another tech would stop out at Feucht AAF and Grafenwöhr. It was at the FAARP at Grafenwöhr that the accident happened. Ed would bring us hard candies, Stars and Stripes and fruit while we in the field.

An acft came in and landed on the first pad, it was having problems, Ed had been resting in his car that was packed next to our 5tn Expando Van. I was coming back from the ASP when Ed walked to the gunner, talked, and then went to talk with the pilot, that's were the walk into the tail rotor happened.

I was part of Air Troop, 2nd ACR at the time.

Thank you for replying to the post.

Old post but more details from AI. This wasn't a Cobra but a Blackhawk.

In the 1980s, there was an accident at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany involving an Army helicopter and a Hughes Aircraft representative. The incident occurred on August 16, 1988, during a live-fire exercise. The helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk from the 6th Aviation Battalion, 158th Aviation Brigade, based at Illesheim, Germany.

The Hughes Aircraft representative, whose name was Robert O. Zimmerman, was a civilian employee who was observing the exercise from the sidelines. According to reports, he was standing too close to the landing zone when the helicopter's rotor blade struck him, causing severe injuries.

Zimmerman was airlifted to a hospital in Nuremberg, where he underwent surgery for his injuries. He remained in critical condition for several days before he ultimately succumbed to his injuries and passed away on August 19, 1988.

The incident was investigated by the U.S. Army, and it was determined that the cause of the accident was due to pilot error. The pilot had misjudged the distance between the helicopter and Zimmerman, and as a result, the rotor blade struck him.

The incident was a tragic reminder of the dangers involved in military training exercises, and it highlighted the importance of proper safety protocols and procedures to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.

wow, more accidents at Graf. the FARRP area was always dangerous with the acft moving to the pads and then getting fuel and coming back to get loaded for the next mission/gunnery runs.  I was at Feucht in the early mid 80's my MOSC was 68M, then became a 68J, then a 67Y and got out as a 67T. Thanks for the information. Roger




This was the third design of the 2d Cavalry DUI, worn from 1924-1931. The sharp points on the ends of the bottom scroll again called for a redesign.


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