JERRY GLEN BRIDGES was born on January 7, 1948 and joined the Armed Forces while in Columbia, Tennessee.
He served as a 67U20 in the Army, 243 AV CO 10 AV BN 17 AV GP, and attained the rank of SSGT/E6. He began a tour of duty on October 20, 1968.
Sandra Bridges, sister of Staff Sergeant Jerry Bridges,
held the flag that draped Bridges' casket during the service.
NEWSRELEASE: 23 MAY 2001
After more than 33 years the remains of an Army helicopter crew missing since the Vietnam War will finally come home. The crewmembers, part of the 243rd Assault Support Helicopter Company, will be buried in a joint grave at Arlington National Cemetery on May 25, 2001 at 11:00 a.m.
The five crewmembers were last seen near the Ninh Hoa Valley in the Central Highlands in South Vietnam on October 20, 1968.
The Chinook Helicopter crew departed Dong Ba Tin Airfield, South Vietnam, on an emergency re-supply mission to Ban Me Thout in the Central Highlands. They were the lead aircraft of a three-helicopter mission. The helicopter and crew, call sign Freight Train 053, left their location before the other two aircraft, but typhoon type weather conditions, forced the other two aircraft to return to the airfield.
Chief Warrant Officer Deitsch, the aircraft commander, radioed that they were in the Ninh Hoa valley and would proceed on to Ban Me Thout. The helicopter never made it to Ban Me Thout. The unit conducted an intensive search for the next eight days, but no wreckage or the aircraft was ever found
In 1994, two Vietnamese farmers discovered the wreckage of a helicopter that was ultimately identified as the missing Chinook from the 243rd. Several more years would pass before the remains of the five American crewmembers were excavated and removed to the lab in Hawaii operated by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting unit.
Only recently were the crew positively identified using modern DNA technology.
The Aviation unit returned to the United States from Vietnam in 1972, but the men from the 243rd never forgot about their comrades and this Friday, the unit's final mission will be completed when the remains of their crew members are buried at Arlington Cemetery. Sixty-five former members of the 243rd “Freight Trains” as well as family members and friends of the deceased crewmembers will be in attendance to pay their honors. Aircraft from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve will perform a flyby and missing man maneuver.
The five crew members, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles “Pappy” Deitsch, Aircraft Commander; Warrant Officer 1 Hank Knight, pilot; Specialist 5 Charles Meldahl, crew chief; Specialist 5 Jerry Bridges, flight engineer; and Specialist 4 Ronald Stanton, door gunner, will receive full military honors.
Services for the Crew of 66-19053
May 24-25, 2001
Funeral services for the crew of Freight Train 053 will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on May 24th and 25th, 2001. Visitation will be on May 24th from 1800 hours to 2100 hours. The funeral service will be at the Fort Meyer Chapel at 1100 hours on May 25th. Immediately following the group service, a service will be held for Henry Knight. Flowers may be sent to:
Murphy Funeral Home
4510 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22203
Phone (703) 920-4800
Accommodations for the families of the crew will be at the Executive Suites on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington. Where possible everyone should plan to be here for the visitation at 1800 to 2100 hours on the 24th of May. This will be the best time to meet the family members and for the unit members to pay tribute to the crew.
A block of 40 or more rooms has been reserved at the Embassy Suites, Crystal City-National Airport, 1300 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington VA 22202. For reservations call 1800-362-2779 or 703-979-9799. Room rates for King Suite single is $139.00 (group rates) plus tax (includes full breakfast) plus $11.00 a day for parking. This hotel is just south of the Pentagon next to the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon City Metro Station so it will be easy to get around. They also pick up at the airport. For more details and the agenda see Hotel and Agenda Newsletter (updated May 19, 2001)
Graveside services will include a “missing man” formation fly-over by five CH-47D Chinook helicopters. Three of the aircraft will be from Ft. Eustis, Virginia and two will be from the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Photo Courtesy of the United States Army
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard