Although this page is linked to menu “Larry Phipps”, it is also a memorial for The other
members of his crew: CW3 Rainer Ramos, SSG Warren Newton, and SP4 Fred Secrist.
Most pictures of the funeral courtesy of AP
May 23, 2015 12:00 am • DAWN JAMES JG-TC Staff Writer
Traveling to Arlington Cemetery for the funeral and interment services of her brother, Chief Warrant
Officer 3 (CWO3) James “Larry” Phipps, is a trip Gail (Dennis) Phipps Moore of Lake Mattoon is
looking forward to taking next month.
“Actually, it’s more joyous than the other way,” Gail said. “It is closure. It’s bittersweet. They’ve
changed his status with material evidence. It’s all evidence, but you have nothing. I totally agree
with closing the case, but there’s always a missing part.”
Larry, a 1962 graduate of Mattoon High School, is the son of the late Jim and Mildred Phipps.
The funeral and burial will put to rest a 47-year journey Gail and her family have endured in not
knowing the fate of her beloved brother and friend, who was declared missing at age 24 after his
helicopter was hit amid enemy fire, crashed and went down in flames in South Vietnam on Jan. 9, 1968.
The crash site was at what is known today as Quang Nam Province.
He and three other crew members were flying in a UH-1C (aka Huey) helicopter. He was in his second
tour of duty with the Army.
Larry enlisted in the Army in 1962 at age 19, first serving as a security officer in Germany and
Turkey, and then became a helicopter pilot on his second re-enlistment. Between Nov. 8 and 21,
1967, Larry and his crew flew 25 aerial missions over hostile territory.
During all of these missions, Larry displayed the highest order of air discipline and acted in
accordance with the best traditions of the service, according to Army documentation. By his
determination to accomplish his missions in spite of the hazards, he was awarded the Air Medal and
the Purple Heart.
His military status following the crash was declared Missing In Action. He was the lone Vietnam MIA
soldier from Coles County. His status was changed to Presumed Dead in 1976. Larry was receiving
paychecks from the government during that time, and they couldn’t keep doing that forever, Gail said.
A recent search of the helicopter crash site in 2011 was the fourth excavation throughout the past 47
years. It was done at a deeper depth and greater area than the other excavations.
After reviewing the case, the Army Military Review Board found enough material evidence including
bone, skeletal and dental fragments (five teeth) to warrant closing the case. None of the evidence
could directly be linked to Larry. Also other material items were found consistent with Army
personnel circa 1968, including an Army metal medallion with the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry name and
The Moores, along with many of their family and friends, will be traveling to the Washington, D.C.
area this summer for two days of celebrating and honoring Larry’s service to his country and his
life. Gail will meet 15 members of Larry’s squadron as well as see many family members that she
hasn’t seen for 50 and even 70 years, she said.
“My husband and I, children and grandchildren all plan to attend,” said Gail. “Sadly, my parents both
passed away in March of 2004 not truly knowing the fate of their only son. However, I will now have
closure regarding my brother.”
The local Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) and the Patriots made the June 15-20 trip possible by
providing funds for airfare, Gail said. She expressed how kind the two organizations have been to
her family since Larry was declared missing.
“That was very generous of them,” said Gail, who also acknowledged that without the donations the
entire family probably would not have been able to go.
A full burial is planned on June 17 for the helicopter crew at Arlington National Cemetery. The other
members of the crew were CW3 Rainer Ramos, SSG Warren Newton, and SP4 Fred Secrist. They
and Phipps will share the same headstone, Gail said. The visitation is planned from 6 to 8 p.m.
June 16 at a funeral home in Arlington.
The casket will contain the material items and remains that were found in the excavation in 2011. The
items will be placed in a bag then wrapped in a military issued green wool blanket.
A uniform matching Larry’s, as he was the senior officer on the mission, will be placed on top of the
remains. The casket will be flown from Honolulu to Arlington with a military escort.
The second day will include a march to the cemetery. A military band will play, and a flyover will
commemorate the event. Also, an Army chaplain will give remarks and a flag folding ceremony with
flags being presented to the families will occur.
The Moores will fly out of Indianapolis on June 15, and return on June 19. Gail’s son, Larry (Tina)
and daughter Paula (Frank) Rupel plan to take their children sightseeing while they are there, Gail
Gail Phipps Moore will be participating in the ceremony honoring her brother Larry’s life and service
to his country on June 17 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. She will present the
Flashback of Years
Larry was born Dec. 9, 1943, in Washington, D.C. when Dad was stationed here while serving in the
Army. It is now his final resting place.
Growing up Larry and I had a normal brother/sister relationship. Being the older brother he could
talk me into doing his chores without too much persuasion.
Many people thought Larry was the best paperboy ever. From a young age Larry would get up at 4
a.m., fold papers, and deliver them before school. No matter the weather the paper was on time.
Larry was active in Boy Scouts and earned the honor of being an Eagle Scout. He worked at a scout
camp in New Mexico as a rifle instructor. In high school, he joined ROTC. His senior year he was
selected to serve as Unit Commander. Larry knew early on he was going to enlist in the Army after
graduation. He served in Germany and Turkey as as security officer for a couple of years. He then
decided to switch to helicopter pilot training.
While Larry was home on leave in 1965 he held his niece Paula for the first time — he was so proud
to be a first time uncle. I know he would be very pleased that his nephew Larry is named after him.
Larry received his wings at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He was then stationed at Ft. Knox, Ky., until his
unit was sent to Vietnam October 27, 1967.
I remember the day I walked Larry to the plane when he was leaving for his assignment to Vietnam.
As we walked I remember saying “We love you, take care and come home safely.” He said, “I will.”
Then came that January day our hearts were broken and life would never be the same. There was
always that void, uncertainty and longing to know Larry’s fate.
In April 2000, I made contact with Greg Ross a member of the squadron and Larry’s friend. After
talking with Greg it was the first time I can truly say I knew Larry’s fate. Although in my heart I
felt Larry and his crew were killed in the crash, hearing it first hand from a fellow squad member
who actually saw the site gave me a new peace of mind.
Even though Larry’s life was short, he had many wonderful experiences and followed his dream to
serve his country. After 47 years of uncertainty and wonder, there is now closure.
Larry and his crew served their country with honor.
I want to thank all my family, friends, the Patriots and the VFW of Mattoon for their love and
support over the years. Words cannot express my gratitude to the Blue Ghost members that have
come to pay final respect to Larry and his crew that lost their lives serving their country.
By Dailymail.com Reporter
Published: 21:36 EST, 17 June 2015 | Updated: 23:35 EST, 17 June 2015
Remains of four Vietnam soldiers finally laid to rest in Arlington, 47 years after they were declared
missing in action. The four men crashed into a mountainside in a helicopter after being hit with
enemy fire in Quang Nam Province in 1968. Their remains were found at the crash site in August of
2011 by excavation Some were only formally identified last year. More than 1,60 veterans still
remain unacounted for, according to Oregon Live.
The families of four U.S. soldiers who went missing fighting in Vietnam almost 50 years ago were
finally able to lay the men to rest on Wednesday. The remains of the men were interred at Arlington
National Cemetery as part of a group burial service.
The soldiers – aircraft commander James L. Phipps, 24, pilot Rainer S. Ramos, 20, door gunner
Warren Newton, 18, and gunner Fred Secrist, 19 – crashed into a mountainside in a helicopter
after being hit with enemy fire in Quang Nam Province in 1968.
The Department of Defense has spent years excavating land in Vietnam in order to retrieve the
remains of those who died in battle that were never brought home.
Chief Warrant Officer Rainer S. Ramos (left) and Chief Warrant Officer 3 James L. Phipps (right) were
the two officers piloting the helicopter when it was shot by the Viet Cong in 1968, crashing into a
Once the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) determines were they believe the remains
of soldiers actually are, they have to set about getting permission to excavate the land.
There can be 30 excavations going at any one time.
The remains of the four men were found during an excavation of the site where they crashed in 2011.
However the process to get those remains back to U.S. was cumbersome, requiring the efforts of
agency analysts, historians, linguists and researchers, both domestically and abroad,
Air Force Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan told Oregon Live.
Morgan added that services like the one held Wednesday were bittersweet occasions.
‘You don’t appreciate having a place to pay your respects to your loved one until you don’t have
one,’ Morgan said.
Ken Cluck, the younger brother of one of the soldiers, Warren Newton, said this week’s service was
an important moment – and one that has been a long-time coming – for his family.
But sadly his mother did not get to witness it, having died just one month ago.
‘I’m sorry that my mom did not live to see the actual service, but she did live long enough to know
that it’s going to be done,’ Cluck told Oregon Live. ‘So she did get some final answers.’
Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Accounted For (Phipps)
15-041 | June 08, 2015
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the
remains of three U.S. servicemen, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will
be buried with full military honors.
Army Chief Warrant Officers 3 James L. Phipps, 24, of Mattoon, Ill., and Rainer S. Ramos, 20, of
Wiesbaden, Germany, were the pilots of a UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter gunship that was shot
down in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. Also aboard the aircraft were door gunners Staff Sgt.
Warren Newton, 18, of Eugene, Ore., and Spc. Fred J. Secrist, 19, of Eugene, Ore. The crew was
assigned to Troop C, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 14th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation
Brigade. The crew will be buried, as a group, on June 17, at Arlington National Cemetery
near Washington, D.C.
On Jan. 9, 1968, the crew was on a mission over Quang Tin Province (now part of Quang Nam
Province), South Vietnam, when the Huey was struck by ground fire, causing it to crash and explode
in a North Vietnamese bunker and trench system. The crew was declared missing in action.
On Jan. 20, 1968, a U.S. led team recovered the body of Secrist and he was returned to his family
Between August 1993 and August 2011, U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams surveyed
and/or excavated the site three times. From Aug. 6-21, 2011, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team recovered
human remains and personal effects.
In the identification of the recovered remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA
Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification
tools, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched Secrist’s sister and brother. Remains not
individually identified represent the entire crew and will be buried as a group.
Today, 1,627 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The U.S. government
continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover
Americans lost during the Vietnam War.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans, who
went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or
call (703) 699-1420.
Remarks by Jack Burden
(You may use this as you see fit, but always in an honest and respectful manner.)
BLUE GHOST VISITATION REMARKS – 16 June 2015
by Jack Burden
We have gathered here this week to honor four young men who made the ultimate
sacrifice for their country:
CW3 James L. (Larry) Phipps
CW3 Ranier S. (Ray) Ramos
SSG Warren E. Newton
SSG Fred J. Secrist
On 9 January 1968, these four young soldiers gave their lives in service to their
country. Many of those you see here lived and worked with them first at Fort Knox
in 1967 as we trained to deploy to Viet Nam and then in combat at Chu Lai, South
Viet Nam in 1968. The bonds of friendship and respect were formed in the rigors of
combat and the shared danger inherent in our mission.
Just as the memory of these four fallen comrades has endured for these 47 years,
the memories we share and cherish here, will also endure. We will carry these
memories with us the rest of our lives.
We, along with the family members, honor these brave dedicated soldiers who
fought and died in the highest ideals of service and patriotism. As much as we try to
bring some closure and understanding to the grief we all share, we are still pained
by the loss of such good young men.
May God Bless them and all who have come to honor them in this final military
tribute in Arlington Cemetery, where they will rest with the many heroes who made
the ultimate sacrifice.
God Bless you and thank you all for being here.
LUNCHEON REMARKS – 17 January 2015
by Jack Burden
Background – 1968 Tet Offensive
The Tet offensive was so named because it coincided with the Viet Nam holiday of that name. The
NVA regular forces had been attacking all positions in the border area for some time.
The 2nd NVA Division was pushing toward DaNang and Chu Lai following a New Year’s truce.
Our mission was to locate the enemy forward troops so the American forces could react with
January 1968 Blue Ghost Actions (from my notes at the time)
1 Jan – We found a lot of enemy activity but we could not attack because of the New Year truce.
2 Jan – Sp4 Eid hit in the foot and evacuated.
3 Jan – Six aircraft (4 guns & 2 scouts) to Que Son area, all ships took heavy fire; Lt Handley’s gun
ship took rounds in a rocket pod and Sp4 Newton was knocked out when the pod exploded as he
kicked it off the aircraft.
4 Jan – Sp4 Huggins got hit by flying metal when two rounds came through the front right pilot door.
6 Jan – Lt Chambers ship got hit in the wind shield and he and Sp4 Newton were hit by pieces of
8 Jan – An OH-23 helicopter from another unit went down and our troop recovered the crew and
covered the effort to lift the OH-23 out.
9 Jan – in the morning, Sp4 Newton got hit when 2 rounds came up through the floor and one tore
through his pants leg and grazed his leg, drawing a small amount of blood.
9 Jan – in the afternoon was when we lost the ship with the four comrades we honor today.
The above are only a few of the actions in 1 through 9 January but give you some idea of what it was
like leading up the action where we lost this crew.
The afternoon of 9 January 2015
After 9 January, the Americal Division CG restricted us from going out into that area. We had
accomplished our mission in warning where the 2nd NVA Division was and our ground forces moved
against the enemy.
0n 20 January, we were notified that the crash location was taken by US forces and I went to the
crash site with the recovery team.
On 30 January, the enemy initiated the Tet Offensive in the northern part of South Viet Nam (where
we were stationed), but the 2nd NVA Division was not able to completely accomplish its mission
in the coastal cities.
This was followed by attacks by the NVA on the rest of the country early on 31 January.
From Ron Sprinkle (Sprink)
In all we had over 55 of their “Blue Ghost”, wing-mates, classmates, friends along with
approximately 35 family members attend the Arlington Services for Larry Phipps, Ray Ramos,
Warren Newton and Fred Secrist. Emotional memories were shared by their families, wing-mates
and friends to help bring closure during this well deserved tribute to our fallen comrades.
Michael Smith, spoke from the heart during the Old Post Chapel service, he deeply touched all in
attendance with his emotional sermon. The presence and performance of the West Point Alumni
Glee Club singing in the Old Post Chapel was so very special. A “special thanks” to
Terry Ryan and the West Point Alumni Glee Club for their awesome contribution.
The precision of the honor guard, the horse drawn caisson, “Black Hawk”
helicopter fly-over, 21 gun salute, army band at grave site, the reverence of honor guard during the
flag fold-ding ceremony was all so diligently executed. The co-ordination and professional team
work, by Michael Mee and his staff, made the fly-over and this special tribute flawless.
We feel that our four wing-mates were hovering high and smiling down for their well deserved
tribute and closure!
Afterwards, the “Blue Ghost” luncheon, hosted by Jean and Jack Burden at the Officer’s Club was the
perfect place to bring together the wing-mates, friends and family members to share memories,
details of Vietnam operations and answer questions from the families. Jack was spot on as to being
able to answer a lot of the unanswered questions for the family members. Greg Ross delivered the
“Missing Man” toast and as always manged to blend in several war stories, some of them
“almost believable” stories.
The two attached links were sent to me by John Shepardson.
Adapted by Rick Guttery from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Distributed by Dan Buckley
Kansas City Blue Crew RE-U, September, 2011
He who served as a Blueghost that first year and sees old age — he’ll remember, with advantages,
what feats he did that year. For he who risked his blood as a Blueghost shall be my brother. And
we, as Blueghosts, shall be remembered – we few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers.
Blue Ghost family,
“Thank You” is two small words but it is used with a lot of heartfelt meaning. I am so
thankful for the Blue Ghost family. You are all loving, caring individuals that went to
Arlington to honor your military brothers. Forty seven years and you have not forgotten
them. Larry was so privileged to be a part of your unit. From the stories I heard at the
visitation and luncheon, you found ways to have fun even though you knew the
conditions around you were bad and you didn’t know from one hour to the next what
could happen. Something else that came through was every one of you were there to
cover each others’ back…no matter the risk.
June 17, 2015 was an amazing day…one our family will never forget. My only regret is
not having more time to visit with each of you. I’m sure there are many of you that I
didn’t get to speak to, for that I am sorry.
It was heartwarming seeing all of you at the services honoring your fallen comrades. I
pray that each of you will find some closure in knowing four of your military brothers
have been laid to rest in the sacred grounds of Arlington Cemetery…with the honors they
God bless you all – In God We Trust
Gail (Phipps) Moore & Family