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Dear Mr. Stevenson,
Thank you for contacting History Hub!
Since the plane was on loan to the Navy from the Air Force and U.S. Navy Squadron VR-7 was involved in the accident, there are two possibilities as to where you may locate an accident report..
If the U.S. Air Force wrote an accident report, that report would be in the custody of the Air Force Safety Center, 9700 G Avenue SE, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM 87117-5670. The web site is http://www.afsc.af.mil/.
If the U.S. Navy wrote an aircraft accident report, then the reports (from 1920-1972) are in the custody of the Naval Aviation History Branch, Naval History & Heritage Command, 805 Kidder Breese Street, SE, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC 20374-5060. The reports are a record of operational losses and normally do not include combat losses. Requesters must have the type of aircraft and date of the accident in order to obtain a copy of the report, which are available only on microfilm.
Additional information about the accident may be included in the command histories. Command histories for aviation squadrons during the Vietnam War are also in the custody of the Naval Aviation History Branch. Please contact them directly for access to these histories.
We hope that this information is helpful and we wish you the best of luck with your research!
Thank you Becky.
In 2013 I had contacted the Naval Aviation History Branch and the AFSC at Kirtland AFB, NM, both under FOIRs. Both informed me that they don't have the requested report. AFSC told me that they keep no AIRs relating to combat losses, only accidents, whereas the AFHRA (next para) could not locate it in the 22nd AF's files. I had previously tried a number of other Navy and AF offices without success.
I then contacted the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), who kindly did a deep-dive on my behalf into the 22nd Air Force's unit histories and provided me with helpful contextual details and all references to the lost aircraft, but they could not locate the AIR.
The AFHRA Archivist did confirm that the HQ 22nd AF had immediately appointed an aircraft accident investigation team, headed by Col. Alden G. Glauch of the 22nd AF's Operations section, and that his team had left Travis AFB CA for the crash site (40 nautical miles east of Nha Trang AB, SVN) on the same day as the crash -- 17 June 1966. The aircraft investigation board concluded that the cause of the accident was combat related and the Director of Aerospace Safety, HQ USAF, then based at Norton AFB CA, agreed. That organization is now known as the AF Safety Center, based at Kirtland AFB.
Since NARA does not have the AIR document, three years later, I will try again with AFSC-KIrtland via the link you've provided, and am now able to provide them with the additional details cited in the above para. I have no way of knowing whether my earlier request to them was thoroughly researched, but by elimination and in the absence of anywhere else to seek it, it's my only remaining hope.
My pursuit of this document is driven by the fact that my older brother, Lt-jg Clement Olin Stevenson Jr, was the co-pilot on this flight, which exploded in midair with the loss of all fourteen aboard: the 8-man Navy crew and 6 AF passengers. While our family was told at the time that a Viet Cong saboteur's altimeter bomb was suspected, and the accident investigation board concluded that the aircraft loss was "combat-related", the records I received from the AFHRA provide no further details supporting the finding. In addition, both the Air Force records and the personnel file details to this day list the cause of these individuals' deaths to be "non-combat, accident" and/or "Non Hostile Death while Non Hostile Missing", even though the AF determined that all who died were eligible to be awarded the Purple Heart, and the awards were made. These awards are given only on the determination that the casualty has resulted directly from enemy action.
I have been on a years'-long quest to obtain the AIR in order to have the documentation I need to try and set the official records straight on the various memorial websites such as this one for my brother, which shows among other details the following:
Body recovered Not true: Navy said none of the 14 were recovered
Non-hostile, died while missing Incorrect on both
Thank you again for your suggestions, which I am now pursuing. I'll be grateful if you have any other suggestions for where this AIR document might be located. For example, if it is true that the AFSC does not file combat-loss-determined AIRs, where are they filed? The person who called me from AFSC did not know the answer.
All the best,