U.S. ARMY CHEMICAL CORPS
Hall of Fame
CPT John Beek and CPT Jerry Denny
In late January 1970, the 25th Infantry Division was engaged in finding and destroying a large force of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars in the Tay Nihn Province of South Vietnam. Located on the border with Cambodia, the NVA base camps in Tay Nihn allowed the enemy to easily withdraw into the safety of Cambodia where U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were not permitted to pursue.
On 31 January 1970, while pursuing the retreating NVA forces, companies of the 25th Division were pinned down by heavy machine gun and rocket fire in a densely forested area known as the “Mo Con Woods.” A complex of heavily-fortified NVA bunkers was identified and a helicopter was sent to provide aerial cover.
CPTS John Beek and CPT Jerry Denny, along with CPT Paul Bowman (Hall of Fame 2010) were the three Chemical Corps officers aboard the Huey helicopter dispatched on this mission. The helicopter was assigned to the Chemical Detachment, 25th Division, and designated to provide aerial support for ground forces. It was known that the previous day another Huey was taken down under fire in that same area by enemy heavy machine guns.
The helicopter began making low level runs over the bunker complex, with CPT Bowman arming and dropping clusters of CS riot control agent bomblets while CPTs Beek and Denny laid suppressing fire. On one of these passes, the aircraft was hit and crashed into the jungle canopy, killing all seven Soldiers on board.
The efforts of the aircrew and CPTs Beek, Denny and Bowman were recognized by the men on the ground as being key to the capture of the bunker complex, and having saved the lives of many of those engaged on the ground. For their gallantry that morning, each officer was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.
CPT Jerry D. Denny was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His son COL (Ret) Eric Denny is here today to accept the Hall of Fame award on behalf of his father’s team. CPT John L. Beek was born in Washington, D.C. and CPT Paul B. Bowman was born in Newago, Wisconsin.