The Search for Jolly Green 36

The HH-3E called "Jolly Green 36" was the single most historic aircraft of the Vietnam War.  Yet it's serial number is still unknown.


            - Substantiated via personal flight log or unit history documents
            - So we can determine whether JG 36 was one aircraft or two different aircraft during the period 1966 - 1970


Please send any information concerning the identity of "JG 36" to:
        Ron Thurlow
        Box 171
        Alpha, OH 45301

or EMail:

Thank you.

Following are the missions that we know JG 36 participated in - based on actual "Mission Narrative Reports":

Call Sign Mission Date Crew/Details
JG 36 Air Force Cross 5 Oct 66 Oliver O'Mara-AC/Three p/u attempts, forced to leave area
JG 36 Silver Star x 3 5 Oct 66 John Perry-CP, Howd Massengale-FE, A. Farrior-PJ
JG 02 High bird during event 5 Oct 66 L. Kennedy-AC, D. Harris-CP, D. Hall-FE, R. Williamson-PJ, Survivor: 1Lt Edward Garland, F-4
JG 02 Low bird, shot down 20 Oct 66 Youngblood-AC, Burford-CP, Meyer-FE, Davis-PJ, Farrior-PJ
JG 36 Air Force Cross 20 Oct 66 Leland Kennedy-AC/Saved 5 from JG 02, then 03B + Elmer Lavender-CP, Raymond Godsey-FE, Robert Ward-PJ, Survivors: Lt Joe Merrick, Maj Lacey Breckenridge - F-4
JG 36 P/U acft, Double Air Force Cross 6 Feb 67 O'Mara-AC/p/u D. Hackney from JG 05, Pat Wood/crew fatal + Harold Bradley-CP, Ray Godsey-FE, Luther Davis-PJ
JG 56 Attempt p/u, AC KIA 16 Feb 67 Pullara-KIA, Jerrold Ward-CP, Wm Lowe-FE, Wm Flower-PJ
JG 36 Attempt p/u, driven off 16 Feb 67 Kennedy-AC, James Cayler-CP, Ray Godsey-FE, Bowers-PJ
JG 37 Made successful p/u 16 Feb 67 Robert Powell-AC, P. Moore-CP, J. Rogerson-FE, D. Sliger-PJ, Survivor: Col Frank C Buzze, DCO/31 TFW, F-100D
JG 36 Emer Indg due SA hits 16 Sep 67 Gerald Haynes-AC, Patterson-CP, Allen-FE, McComb-PJ
JG xx Pickup two from JG 36 16 Sep 67 E. Thompson-AC, P. Moore-CP, J. Brooks-FE, M. Fraboni-PJ
JG xx 200th p/u for 37th ARRS 16 Sep 67 Joe Ferrell-AC, P/U three from JG 36 after emerg Indg + Richard Wagner-CP, Bernard Gau-FE, John Pighini-PJ
JG 36 AFC / 1968 Cheney 30 May 68 Tom Newman-PJ, rode JG 36 in/ JG 70 (HH-53) out + James Platt-AC, Paul Reagen-CP, Narsiso Otero-FE
JG 20 High bird during event 30 May 68 E. Russell-AC, M. Washington-CP, B. Grau-FE, J. Lombard-PJ
JG 36 P/U acft, Jones MOH 1 Sep 68 Ed Heft-AC, S. Silver-CP, G. Gallagher-FE, D. Beasley-PJ, Survivor: Carter 02A/Capt Jack R. Wilson., F-4
JG 20 High bird during event 1 Sep 68 T. Reinhardt-AC, D. Weeden-CP, K. Hannegan-FE, J. Smith-PJ
JG 36 Save 1 x Dallas 03 6 Dec 68 Royal Brown-AC, D. Weeden-CP, L. Maples-FE, C. King-PJ, Survivor: Capt Ronald M. Walker, F-105
JG 17 High bird during event 6 Dec 68 J. Oliver-AC, G. Lintner-CP, G. Gallagher-FE, L. Johnson-PJ
JG 36 1,500the save in SEA 21 Dec 68 L. Eagan-AC, J. Morse-CP, L. Maples-FE, R. Sully Jr-PJ, Survivor: Litter 81/Maj Forrest Fenn, F-100
JG 09 High bird during event 21 Dec 68 W. Cameron-AC, R. Gibson-CP, K. Hannegan-FE, C. King-PJ
JG 36 Save 2 x Wolf 02A/B 28 Jan 69 Royal Brown-AC, G. Lintner-CP, A. Krumm-FE, D. Widner-PJ, R Harris-PJ, Survivors: Cpt. Gary Smith/Lt H. Dobbes, F-4D
JG 20 High bird during event 28 Jan 69 J. Morse-AC, J. Schwank-CP, G. Gallagher-FE, W. Samuelson-PJ
JG 19 Save 1 x Cupcake 507B 3 Apr 69 Low bird, Don Carty-AC, R. Gibson-CP, H. Burnett-FE, R. Harris-PJ, D. Davison-PJ, Survivor: LCdr E. G. Redden
JG 36 Save 1 x Cupcake 507A 3 Apr 69 High bird, Robert Smith-AC, M. Nash-CP, T. Brown-FE, W. Samuelson-PJ, Survivor: Lt. John F. Ricci
JG 36 Save 1 x Nail 53 16 Mar 70 Robert Ritchie-AC, C. Adams-CP, D. Bond-FE, C. Pythian-PJ, E. Rendle-PJ, Survivor: Capt David J. Erickson, OV-10
JG 35 High bird during event 16 Mar 70 Joe Nall-AC, L. Seagren-CP, C> Franks-FE, J. Hoberg-PJ

Additional Information

Following are "leads" we have developed in searching for the identity of JG 36 - none have been validated by unit histories, personnel flight log entries, crew member recollections, etc.

- Lt Col John Morse Sr, HH-3 CC at NKP, wrote the following in a letter to the USAFM Curator in the early 1970s: "Ref the 1500th SEA combat save - by 785, then call sign Jolly Green 36", and about S/N 65-12785: "JG 24 (785s call sign at the time) was wrecked in the compound of the Son Tay POW camp near Hanoi the night of 20/21 November 70." Comment:  This implies that JG callsigns for that aircraft changed, which sometimes happened for unknown reasons.  So far, we hav no documentation to verify that JG 36 became JG 24, or at what point is it's SEA history.

- Bruce Ware, HH-3 pilot at Clark, wrote the following: "I flew JG 36 in the PI during the period Aug 69 thru Apr 72.  I'm pretty sure the tail number was 66-13289.   It flew quite a few missions in the Phillipines, including the one which lifted Charles Lindberg out of southern Mindanao on Easter Sunday, 1972.  The aircraft was lost a few weeks later in the S. China Sea during a mission."  Comment:  It it possible that JG 36 could have carried her "JG" callsign to the next duty station after leaving SEA.  However, -13289 consistently carried the callsign of "JG 03" from 8 Sep 67 thru 1 May 68.  The final disposition of -13289 is unknown at this time (maybe under 12,500 ft of water!!).  In addition, JG 36 was still in SEA making rescues as of 16 Mar 70.

- Chuck Rouhier, webmaster of the Jolly Green Assn, provided these comments:   "I think I've narrowed down JG 36 to three possible Jolly's, based primarily on Kennedy's 20 Oct 66 AFC date.  Based on this date the Jolly had to have a tail number of 65- or earlier.  This leaves 64-14320 ( scrapped), 64-14232 (display at Kirtland) and 65-12787 (no idea)."  Comment:  Aircraft serial number are normally assigned 1 1/2 to 2 years prior to the aircraft rolling out the factory door.   In the case of H-3s in SEA, we notice there was more typically a one-year period.   ir, a 65-year group aircraft was making pickups in 1966, 66-year group aircraft made pickups in 1967, etc.  We have no combat history whatsoever on 230, Acft -232 was "JG 20" on 30 May 68, when it was the high bird during the Newman AFC event.   Acft -232 is also known to have been flown from NKP from Mar 69 - Apr 70.  We have no history on -787.

- Unit history documents (such as those maintained at Maxwell AFB) often listed a summary of pickups made by the unit for the respective reporting period, an some even had a list of Jolly Green / serial number assignements in the maintenance section (see example).  We have looked at many reports, and the staff at Maxwell has researched this question several times also, all without luck concerning JG 36.

- Direct contact with Leland Kennedy, Oliver O'Mara, Tom Newman, John Pigihni and others has failed to identify JG 36.

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