Josephine (JoLee) Swisher (West)
Jack and I dated in High School and we stayed friends through college. What a wonderful guy, my first love! He loved playing soccer and lacrosse at Haverford.
Here is a report I found searching the internet for facts about his death. We lived out of state when he was killed and my mother waited to tell me because she knew I would be upset, but I missed the funeral because of it. I know he had been married and his parents had moved to the MidWest.
"1st Lt. John E. Ecterling, Jr. was killed in an helicopter accident near Pegnitz, FRG, on 18 August 1971. The crash occurred when elements of the Heavy Mortar Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, were being transported from Ludwigsburg to Grafenwoehr for live fire training exercises. At some point enroute, the rear rotor system malfunctioned (details unknown) and the helicopter crashed and exploded, killing all 37 souls on board. The last known location of 66-19023 was in the Federal Republic of Germany."
Jack was my next door neighbor and playmate growing up and we live on Friendship Road. One of the nicest person's I have ever known.
James G. Hayward
A huge tragedy. Several years after this accident I joined this Chinook unit. The accident aircraft was a Ch-47 'A' Model. The rotor blades on the A model Chinook were notoriously problematic. Sadly in this accident a Rotor Blade failed in flight, unbalancing the aft rotor and leading to the catastrophic failure of the aircraft structure and propulsion system. No one survived. The 4th Aviation Company, stationed in Schwaebish Hall, West Germany purchased a several foot high Granite stone with a plaque on it honoring those who lost their life in this horrible accident. Not too long after this accident, CH-47 A models were refitted with CH-47 C model blades....a far superior rotor blade both in safety and in performance.
I don't remember exactly when I met Jack, but I do remember how friendly he was to me immediately. We did have share some classes and played on the Lacrosse team together and although he was much more talented than I, he never treated me as an inferior. If I remember correctly he was raised in a military family, and I think he attended PMC. It is a pity that he lost his life so soon. God Bless him.
I played lacrosse with Jack for three years, and he never seemed to have an unkind word for anyone. I knew of his death because I worked in the Admssions Office at Widener College(previously PMC) for five years. The director of the music program ar Widener had been a good friend of Jack's during college. Having a son who was in the military for nine years, I find any military-related death to be tragic because it usually happens to some who has his whole life ahead of him. To think it happened to Jack due to a helicopter rotor is doubly maddening. RPI, Jack. The lacrosse team members at the 50th will have one in your honor.
Jack and I also were teammates in lacrosse for three years. I was never close to him, but felt that he was a really nice guy who would go out of his way to be friendly to everyone. To die so young was truly a tragic event, particularly to his parents, as we all (not all, even more unfortunately) can only imagine. I feel that our class lost a really decent and nice person when the military accident took his life so early in life. We all were fortunate to have known such a really good guy, and should try to remember how nice it would have been to see him at our 50th, along with, unfortunately , quite a few others lost from our wonderful class. Perhaps we should take a few minutes during our June 20th celebration for remembering our missing friends.
I found this posted on a Facebook page:
On August 18, 1971, the entire 33-man heavy mortar platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn 4th Inf, stationed in Neu Ulm, was enroute to the Grafenwöhr training area in a CH-47 cargo helicopter of the 4th Aviation Company, 15th Aviation Group to participate in a live fire training exercise. At 0945, a faulty rear rotor blade broke free and struck the helicopter causing structural failure. The CH-47 broke into two parts and crashed in a hay field near Pegnitz, West Germany with the complete loss of life including the four members of the flight crew. (An unconfirmed report indicated that a faulty rotor blade was removed and turned into the supply system. The rotor blade then reportedly was incorrectly reentered into the supply system as serviceable, returned and installed back on the aircraft.)
The names of the flight crew were: CPT James W. Hensley, CW3 James H. Perry, SP5 Lawrence J. Angetini, and SP4 Dennis A. Ferraro. The names of the infantrymen were: 1LT John E. Echterling, 1LT Henry L. Pittard, Jr., SSG Paten L. Smith, SGT Terry E. Bowerman, SGT George J. Gongaware, SGT Christopher W. Pyzik, SGT Harold D. Dillaman, Jr., SP5 Russell L. Schroder, SP4 Fernando Apodaca, PFC Ronald F. Scholl, PFC Arthur R. Kearney, PFC Roger M. Hartman, PFC Ronald R. Pestka, PFC Eric L. Landry, PFC Samuel M. Cherry, PFC David P. Dunks, PFC David W. Stover, PFC Michael L. Annis, PFC Raymond T. Gadbois, PFC Lawrence H. Karaschin, PFC David A. Person, PFC Paul E. Hickson, PFC Charles E. Fife, PFC Jeffery M. Vickerman, PFC Eddie W. Nichols, PFC Richard Willis, PFC Vernon J. Ailstock, Jr., PFC Noel Velez, PFC Mark P. Connors, PFC Edward A. Monnin, Jr., PFC Raymond H. Cork, PFC Clarence C. West, and PFC John P. Egelund.
The citizens of Pegnitz placed a bronze plaque and hold an annual memorial service at the crash site in honor of those young men who gave up their tomorrows on that tragic day.
Mounted on a large boulder is the following bronze lettering which read: HIER STARBEN 37 JUNGE MENSCHEN IN EINSATZ FUR FRIEDEN UND FREIHEIT. FLUGZEUGABSTURZ AUGUST 1971.
(HERE DIED 37 YOUNG MEN ON A MISSION FOR FREEDOM AND PEACE. AIRCRAFT CRASH AUGUST 1971)
Our son, our brother, a boy, a man. Kept his promise to believe.
His challenge countered with courage. His unfulfilled dreams as soon connected with God.
18 August 1971