Veterans' Memorial Project
David William Skibbe
Des Plaines, IL
SKIBBE, DAVID WILLIAM Name: David William Skibbe Rank/Branch: O1/US Marine Corps Unit: L/1 Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division Date of Birth: 22 October 1946 Home City of Record: Des Plaines IL Date of Loss: 02 March 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 154501N 1075001E (ZC036432) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 2051 Other Personnel in Incident: Lavoy D. McVey Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: 2LT David W. Skibbe and CAPT Lavoy D. McVey were both members of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, but in different companies. On March 2, 1970, Skibbe’s recon team was operating in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam, about 10 miles northwest of the city of An Hoa when they engaged in a firefight with enemy forces. During the skirmish, Skibbe was injured by small arms fire. The corpsman in attendance described the injury as a “penetrating wound of the lower right leg, breaking the fibula 2″ above the ankle leaving an open fracture. Hemorrage was moderate and eased after a pressure battle dressing was applied.” Dave’s broken leg was immobilized by the application of a splint constructed from a small tree limb. Skibbe was in good mental command and continued to lead and encourage his men. The corpsman was at the same time treating another teammember who was more seriously injured. Shortly after treatment was administered, an emergency medical evacuation helicopter appeared in the recovery area, flown by a Marine major. That officer reported that he positioned his helicopter in a 75-100 foot hover above the team and under the direction of his crew chief, lowered the hoist cable, to which a jungle penetrator was affixed, as there was no suitable landing zone. After initial extraction of the more seriously wounded Marine was completed, Skibbe was fastened to the seat of the lift device by other members of the team and was slowly hoisted into the air. Team members later stated that they last saw Skibbe as he cleared the canopy which in some areas was 30-40 feet in height. They lost sight of him as he cleared the trees and assumed that he had been drawn safely into the aircraft. From the helicopter into which Skibbe was being hoisted, his company commander, Capt. Lavoy D. McVey, the medical officer, pilots and crewmen, watched Skibbe’s ascent into the aircraft until he reached a point about 20 feet from the chopper (100 or more feet altitude). At that moment, the hoist cable suddenly snapped and Skibbe fell to the ground, clearly visible to those onboard the helicopter, falling into heavy foliage which obstructed view of his actual impact with the ground. The pilot of the recovery helicopter immediately contacted the team on the ground by radio and they radioed “yes, he’s ok.” The pilot interpreted this to mean that the team knew that Skibbe had fallen and had located him. The pilot, therefore, swung about, lowered the extract ladder for the remainder of the team from a distance of about 100 feet. The team immediately affixed themselves to the ladder, again unaware that Skibbe had fallen very close by, and were hoisted into the air for the return trip to An Hoa. The pilot, believing that Skibbe had been strapped to the ladder, continued with the extraction. The team, believing that Skibbe was safely onboard the aircraft, rode on to An Hoa. It was at An Hoa that the pilot and team mutually discovered the error. Both helicopters that had been on the extraction returned to the area, and an attempt was made to insert Capt. McVey to search for Skibbe. It was during this insertion attempt that McVey also fell to his death. Because of the enemy position and dense jungle, it was decided not to attempt another insertion. To do so might have caused the loss of even more men. Although it was widely believed that both men sustained fatal injuries in their falls, no sign of the two was ever located in later searches.
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