It took a long time, but the name patches belonging to a Cedar Springs man that was killed in a helicopter crash 42 years ago have finally been returned to his family.
The Post recently received a note from Wayne Price, the brother of 2nd Lt. Jack Price, who was killed at the age of 28, while taking a Chinook helicopter on a test flight in South Viet Nam. Wayne said that Jack’s flight engineer saw one of the memorial websites he had put up in honor of Jack and contacted him. It turns out that not only did he have a story to tell, but that he had something for Wayne: the name patches from Jack’s uniform.
The soldier, Donald Rogers, told Wayne that he had just finished preflighting the Chinook that Jack was going to fly and was about to walk into the Chinook’s ramp. A fellow Fight Engineer tapped him on the shoulder and told him the commander wanted to see him. On his way to the commander, Donald turned and saw Jack lift off. Later, Donald said he saw Jack’s Chinook on his landing approach about a half-mile from the runway. He said the Chinook’s nose rose as normal for landing, but kept on rising, did a half loop, nosed into the ground and burst into flames. He said that the fire was so intense that there was nothing anyone could do. Seven men died in the fire.
Donald then went to the barracks and collected the name patches from the uniforms of the men that died. He told Wayne he spent 40 years trying to find relatives of those seven men, so he could give them the patches. He sent Wayne a cloth 2nd Lt. patch, and a unit patch.
Wayne sent this information to some of the other soldiers that worked with Jack. It turns out that one of the men from his OCS class, and several other classmates, chipped in together and had a granite memorial made honoring Jack and three other classmates who lost their lives in Viet Nam. It stands at Fort Sheridan. Jack’s wife, Darlene, and his children Dawn, Jack Jr., and Jeff, recently visited the memorial.
“(It’s) through the Grace of God I continue to receive bits and pieces of my brother’s military life,” remarked Wayne.
Many residents will remember the Chinook helicopter that landed in Cedar Springs on Veterans Day. That happened as a tribute to 2nd Lt. Jack Price and all veterans in the area.