Rank / Branch:
PFC E-3, U.S. ARMY
Date of Birth:
HOSTILE, CRASH HELIC
Awards & Decorations:
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FLORENTINO FLORES, PRIVATE FIRST CLASS, U.S. ARMY, WELCH, DAWSON COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, RVN Campaigne Medal
Florentino Flores was born in Cameron County, Texas to Isabel Perez and Isabel Flores. He was the second child born of five children. The family moved to Dawson County, near Welch, Texas and Flores attended the Dawson School in Welch. He married Sylvia Cortez in Lamesa on March 8, 1969. He was drafted into the U.S.Army in November 1969. He completed his basic training at Fort Bliss and then did AIT at Fort Ord, California.
He started his tour in Vietnam on June 29, 1970 and was assigned as an infantryman with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Infantry Brigade, 23rd (Americal) Division. D Company and several other companies of the 2/1 Regigment were operating in an area known as Kham Duc in Quang Tin Province.
On August 25, 1970, orders came down to abandon this area of operation. CH-34B Chinook and UH-1 Huey helicopters were being used to ferry the troops and equipment out of the area. Huey and Cobra gunships were flying in support of the operation.
On August 26, 1970, the second day of the operation, evacuation of the area continued. PFC Flores was among the last troops on the ground. They had been providing security while all others troops were being taken out. CH-34B, tail number 67-18445 had made several runs in and out over the two days and was the last Chinook to come in for the last troops and equipment. The Chinook had a normal crew of five and they took on 27 infantryman along with their equipment. Because of the distribution of equipment and people, the helicopter was full to capacity. The helicopter took off and was enroute to LZ Judy as its final destination. The flight distance was about 19 miles. There were seven Chinooks in the formation and as each one landed, off loaded, another then another would land and do the same. Each Chinook in the air was in a holding pattern until their turn to land. On its final approach into LZ Judy, at an altitude of about 150 feet, the last Chinook, tail number 67-18445, began to take ground fire. The pilot was killed immediately by small arms fire. A RPG then hit the Chinook and it started to lose altitude and tilt to the right. The co-pilot attempted to bring the craft under control. Ammunition and ordinance on board began to cook off, a 20 mm rocket on board went through the cabin from inside. The co-pilot was able to bring the Chinook down in trees sideways. The co-pilot began to try to get back to the cargo bay to help people get out, but equipment was blocking his way. He went out of the aircraft from the side and fell about 25 feet to the ground. While he was extracting, the aircraft settled into the trees and exploded. One other soldier had managed to get out as the helicopter was coming down, he had jumped from the side door. Of the 32 people on board, 30 perished along with PFC Flores.
PFC Flores was buried with full military honors at the Lamesa Perpetual Memorial Cemetery in Lamesa, Texas. He was survived by his wife, his parents, by his older brother, Fidermico, younger brother, Lupe and his two sisters, Maria and Cleotilda.
Lamesa Perpetual Memorial Cemetery, Lamesa, Texas