Fred Howell McMurray, Jr.
Captain, United States Army
Fred Howell McMurray, Jr. was born on November 16, 1943 and joined the Armed Forces while in Charleston, South Carolina.
He served as an aviator in the United States Army, Troop B, 1 Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, Battalion 1, Regiment 9, and attained the rank of Captain.
Fred Howell McMurray, Jr. is listed as Missing
in Action. There is an "In Memory Of" stone in his name in Arlington
McMurray piloted a bubble-topped Bell OH13 Sioux, nick-named "Possum," which was a standard Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) that saw extended service during the Korean War. By 1968, the US Army was in the process of phasing out this two-man aircraft because the Army had long since found it to be too old and too difficult to maintain under the conditions that existed in Southeast Asia.
On 7 April 1968, then First Lieutenant Fred
H. McMurray, Jr., pilot, and Sergeant James J. Powers, observer/door gunner,
comprised the crew of an OH13S, tail #63-9084. The helicopter departed
Landing Zone Stud, the 1st Cavalry Division's base camp, in a flight of
two aircraft. The second helicopter on this armed reconnaissance
mission was an AH1G Cobra gunship, and they were flying in support of a
ground operation in the dense jungle-covered mountains approximately 6
miles northwest of Thon Khe Xeng, 25 miles due west of Quang Tri, 17 miles
west of the
At 1600 hours, Lieuenant McMurray was flying
low-level when he reported seeing several recently repaired enemy automatic
weapons positions along with freshly used trails. Fred McMurray marked
the enemy location with a smoke grenade to allow the AH1G to identify and
fire rockets on the target, and at the same time he reported
While attacking an entrenched NVA position, Lieutenant McMurray's aircraft received enemy automatic weapons fire, began burning in flight, and crashed to the jungle floor. Sergeant Powers, who was badly burned in the fire, was rescued shortly afterward. When queried about the aircraft's pilot, he informed his rescuers that he believed Lieutenant McMurray was still in the aircraft. Extensive searches in and around the crash site over the next few days were unsuccessful in locating any trace of Fred McMurray. However, one American boot-print was seen, along with McMurray's chest protector and helmet. Because there was no trace of him in the helicopter, his family believes there is every reason to believe he was captured. Since there was a possibility he escaped the crash only to be taken prisoner by the NVA, Fred McMurray was listed Missing in Action.
OH13S, tail number 63-9084, is the only "Possum"
shot down during the Vietnam War whose pilot remains unaccounted for from
the Vietnam War.