In Memory

Kurt LaPlant

Kurt LaPlant

 

This article was from The Salina Journal
Friday, November 7, 2008

Remains found in Vietnam identified

The Pentagon says remains found in South Vietnam have been identified as
those of a Kansas Marine and three others whose helicopter was shot down
in 1968.

The Defense Department said Wednesday that Lance Cpl. Kurt La Plant,
of Lenexa, was aboard a CH-46A helicopter that was downed by enemy
ground fire on June 6, 1968.  The helicopter was in the mountains southwest
of Khe Sahn in an attempt to remove members of a Marine unit under attack.
In all, 12 of the 23 on board were killed.  All but four of the men who died
were recovered and identified.

A joint U.S. and Vietnamese team investigated from 1993-2005, interviewing
witnesses and surveying the crash site.  La Plant's identification tags were found
there in 2006.  Additional remains were found during an expedition in 2007.

DNA test and dental samples identified La Plant and Lance Cpl. Luis Palacios,
of Los Angeles.  Remains that could not be individually identified are
included in a group that will be buried in the spring in Arlington
National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

                                                       

 

Provided by Karen Lyerla



 
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04/02/16 12:17 PM #1    

Karen Lyerla

 

 

                  4th Marines                                    LCPL – E3 – United States Marine Co                 3rd Marine Division
D Company, 1st Battalion



0341 - Infantry Mortar Man
19 Years Old
Lenexa, Kansas
December 11, 1948 – June 6, 1968

 

Vonda Wiedmer remembers Kurt...

It is Memorial Day, 2010.  I remember you again.  With a smile,
with a tear.  I will not forget you.  Your classmate, Vonda.

 

SGT Joshua Kyle Mason honors his uncle...

I recently received a phone call from my brother Steve.  He told me that our
uncle was found and was coming home.  So naturally I Googled his name
and sure enough it took me to your site.

I've completed two tours in Iraq, came close many times to not coming home.
After seeing your site and learning more about the family I never really knew,
it gives me a great feeling knowing that people like you care enough for soldiers
to do something like this.  So on that note, once again I would like to say
thank you, from those who served in the past, the present, and the future.
What you do is and always will be noticed.

 

Liberty Greenwood honors Kurt...

I have been wearing Kurt's MIA bracelet since 1988.  40 years after he went 
missing he has been found according to the evening news here in the Kansas
City area.  He will be buried in Arlington.

 

This article was from The Salina Journal
Friday, November 7, 2008

Remains found in Vietnam identified

The Pentagon says remains found in South Vietnam have been identified as
those of a Kansas Marine and three others whose helicopter was shot down
in 1968.

The Defense Department said Wednesday that Lance Cpl. Kurt La Plant,
of Lenexa, was aboard a CH-46A helicopter that was downed by enemy
ground fire on June 6, 1968.  The helicopter was in the mountains southwest
of Khe Sahn in an attempt to remove members of a Marine unit under attack.
In all, 12 of the 23 on board were killed.  All but four of the men who died
were recovered and identified.

A joint U.S. and Vietnamese team investigated from 1993-2005, interviewing
witnesses and surveying the crash site.  La Plant's identification tags were found
there in 2006.  Additional remains were found during an expedition in 2007.

DNA test and dental samples identified La Plant and Lance Cpl. Luis Palacios,
of Los Angeles.  Remains that could not be individually identified are
included in a group that will be buried in the spring in Arlington
National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

 

Larry Bear remembers Kurt...

I was a 0331 with Delta, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.  As a machine gunner I was assigned
to the 3rd Platoon.  I ran killer patrols and ambushes along with the other platoons on
occasion from August 1967-September 1968.  I knew Kurt, although not well, as a solid
Marine and a dedicated individual who believed in his country and I will never forget Kurt
and the others that did not make it home.  I was one of the lucky Marines that made it
off that damn mountain top called LZ Loon.  I remember those brave Marines and the
sacrifices they made for me and every other Marine that left that LZ alive on that hot, humid
fateful day in June 1968.  I REMEMBER KURT AND I WILL NEVER FORGET!
Wherever you are, REST IN PEACE!

 

A description of what happened to Kurt La Plant
from 
www.taskforceomegainc.org ...

On 6 June 1968, PFC Paul E. Burgard, Cpl. William R. Elbert, LCpl. Felix F. Flores,
LCpl. William E. Hannings, LCpl. Ralph L. Harper, LCpl. Kurt La Plant, PFC
Catarino Morelos, Jr., LCpl. Luis F. Palacios, LCpl. Lawrence E. Porter, PFC Jose
R. Sanchez, PFC Donald S. Satter, Jonathan L. Stoops and PFC Eugene Wilson
comprised a Marine Corps patrol operating in the rugged jungle covered mountains
southwest of Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.  Their mission was to
block NVA troops and supplies from infiltrating toward Khe Sanh.  The Marines
engaged a communist force of unknown size in heavy combat.  As the fierce
firefight raged around them, the Marines, who were out numbered and rapidly
running low on ammunition, requested an emergency extraction.

The onsite Forward Air Controller, call sign "Fingerprint 22," directing all air operations
in the region including air support for ground troops, made a radio call requesting any
helicopter in the Khe Sanh area to come up on guard channel, the emergency radio
frequency.  The aircrew that responded to the FAC's transmission was a Marine Corps
CH46A Sea Knight (serial #151940), call sign "Chicken Man 22."  Its aircrew was
assigned to HMM-165, a Marine helicopter squadron that was part of a flight that had
been providing air support for other ground troops.

Chicken Man 22 descended under fire to the Marine's position near LZ Loon.  Rapidly
some 13 Marines scrambled on board and the Sea Knight lifted off.  As it gained altitude,
the helicopter was immediately struck by intense and accurate enemy ground fire
causing it to enter into a nose-low attitude and crash onto an east/west mountain
ridgeline, roll down to the bottom of the hill and burst into flames.

Within an hour and a half, a search and recovery team was inserted into the crash
site.  The team members pulled the charred bodies of the aircrew and passengers from
what was left of the burned out helicopter and placed them in body bags.  In addition
to recovering the remains of the aircrew, the SAR team was able to find and extract
eight of the other Marines.

Without specialized equipment, the recovery team was unable to extract the bodies
of five of the passengers before they withdrew the site.  At the time the recovery
operation was terminated, LCpl. Kurt La Plant and four others were reported as
Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

 

Rhonda honors Kurt...

I was able to view the portable wall in DeSoto not to long ago.  I saw Kurt's name
while looking for other names.  It was on W 59.  I wish I had known Kurt.  I only
knew little about him from Lee.  Many were lost but will never be forgotten.
It's really nice you did this.  Best wishes to all.

 

                                                                                        Provided by Karen Lyerla

 

 

 

         

11/08/17 09:59 PM #2    

Jim Walsh

Submitted by Karen Lyerla

Veterans Day has bittersweet meaning for a Northeast kansas family this year. Their loved one, Marine Lance Corporal Kurt LaPlant, is finally coming home, 40 years after being shot down over Vietnam.

LaPlant grew up in Clay Center, Kansas, one of eight siblings. When the Milford Dam went in, the LaPlant family moved to Lenexa. A year later, Kurt enlisted in the Marines.

His mother, Marie, says Kurt came home on leave once after basic training for about a week, and it was the last time they saw him. Longtime friend Cathy Haney of Clay Center recalls Kurt walking out of her flower shop for the last time, saying, "See ya. Take care of yourself."

Eight months later, Kurt was killed in Vietnam. 

"I spent my 28th birthday planning his memorial service," Cathy said.

On June 6th, 1968, Kurt was in a helicopter that came under enemy fire. It crashed, rolled down a hill and burst into flames. An evac chopper rescued eleven survivors, and recovered eight bodies before it became too dangerous. Four victims, including Kurt, were left among the wreckage. Two weeks later, they were declared dead. Still, without a body, Marie says, "you just know that he's not home yet."

With no remains recovered, Kurt was officially listed as missing in action. His name turned up on POW/MIA bracelets that were popular in the late 70s. Vietnam veteran Max Smith of Clay Center bought one in 1977 that happened to have Kurt LaPlant's name, never realizing their hometown connection. Max says he chose it simply because it was a Marine from Kansas.

For decades, Max wore that bracelet, and, for the LaPlant family, life went on. Then, in August 2007, Kurt's sister, Tina Coddington, and one of her brothers went to a briefing for families in Kansas City. She says it was a briefing for all families from all wars, and they went out of curiousity. What happened next shocked them.

"That's when they told us they had his dog tags and that remains had been recovered but not identified," Tina said.

Turns out, the military revisited the crash site in 1993, went back again in 2000 and 2005, and, in 2006 and 2007, did excavations that yielded the dog tags and remains. In September 2008, Kurt LaPlant was positively identified thru DNA.

Marie admits it's difficult to go through it a second time, but at least they have closure.

As word traveled on Clay Center's radio station, Max Smith realized this was the Marine he'd kept so close for three decades. He says he became emotional, realizing Kurt and his fellow Marines were finally coming home.

The LaPlant family has decided that home will be Arlington National Cemetery. Kurt and the others will be laid to rest together, just as they've been for forty years.

"It's an honor to have him there," Marie said. "He earned it."

The Laplant's are planning the services at Arlington for this spring.

Tina says Kurt's story illustrates that the military will never leave one of their own behind. She says she realizes it takes millions of dollars just to find one man, but, she says, it's important.


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