ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our Navy VX-1 shipmates for LT. Richard (Rick) A. Creighton,  LT. Walter S. Howdyshell (those who knew him, he went by his middle name Steve), and AW-2 Robert (Bob) M. Embry.   They all perished in a Kaman SH-2F Seasprite Helicopter aircraft number 149765 in a accident on June 24th, 1977 at Patuxent River, MD.

It's now been over 40 years since this tragic day, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  I have been thinking about this day a lot lately, so I checked online to see if there was any mention of it. After finding nothing, I contacted our squadron VX-1 and sadly it was a day that was nobody was even aware of.  I then contacted the Pax River Base Museum and again nothing. This made me mad.  How can three men’s lives, who served and died for our country, be forgotten by the very squadron they served and died in?  

This now became a mission for me.  I pledged that as long as I am alive they will not be forgotten.  I became obsessed with finding out as much information as I could get on every little detail of the crash. I spent countless hours researching every place I could think of to get me this far into my investigation. I then came across a picture of the actual SH-2F helicopter that they flew in. Finding this picture was a big help in my investigation as it had the aircraft number on the side that verified it was the aircraft that crashed.  I was then able to pin it down to the exact date of the crash.  I then contacted Kaman, the aircraft manufacturer, and at least 10 other organizations, all the way up to the Naval Aviation Safety Board each giving me a piece of information. Finally I found an article that Rick Creighton`s wife Carol wrote as a tribute to Rick for their High School Reunion online.

And from there I was able to start to piece this puzzle together. The Naval Aviation Safety Board was kind enough to help me finish my quest. Even so, I will continue to research this and would like your help to find some more information, pictures or stories of the times you best remember with them.

The picture I do have is of Rick Creighton, I believe is from his graduation day to becoming an officer. 

If you have any additional information, I would love it if you shared it with us. Let’s not forget Rick, Steve and Bob!

Visit our Facebook site: Memorial of VX-1 SHIPMATES 

These 3 Navy men sacrificed there lives for us while serving with VX-1 and those who came after them. This is to remind us of the sacrifice our fellow shipmates made on that sunny day on June 24th, 1977

Thank you.

AD2 Jim Johnson VX-1 (1976 -1979)

Posted by Jennifer Bullard on February 10, 2021
I just found this tribute and want to offer thanks for it and those who have shared a tribute. Steve Howdyshell was my cousin - his mother and my father were siblings. My grandmother suffered so much loss that year, beginning with Steve’s death. He is / was the oldest of her grandchildren, of which there are 40. That’s right! 40 of us with Steve leading the pack. My grandparents had 9 kids and those 9 had us 40. Steve was lost in June, then our Uncle John in November. John is the brother of Steve’s mother and my father. He, too, died in a plane crash. Very shocking. In December, my Grandmother’s brother was lost in a fire. Three closed caskets for her that year: her grandson, her son, and her brother. The family has always been loyal servants to the United States of America. Steve’s and my great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the American Revolution. Steve’s mother (my aunt) was the only girl with 8 brothers. Among those 8 boys, the oldest was first in marine on those islands in the South Pacific during WWII. Next Brother was a paratroop instructor during the Korean conflict. Next brother served on the European front during the Korean conflict and youngest brother served on the USS Roosevelt during Vietnam. Three different wars and all four boys came home. Among us cousins are several vets, including my brother who went through nuke school in the navy and served on the USS Archerfish. Thanks to ALL the vets and thanks to those who remember them well. My son is a pilot and has asked what happened with Steve’s helo and I could never give him the info. I’ll be sharing this page with him.
Posted by Robert Van Ness on February 25, 2020
I was in VX-1 Power Plants division from 1973 to 1977. I had the honor and priveledge of serving with these three men. I deployed with Mr. Howdyshell on the frigate, USS Donald B. Beary just a few months before this crash. AW2 Emery, did not go on this deployment. There was another pilot from our squadron, Lt. Sandy Clark, whom I have reconnected with on Facebook who was out there with us during that deployment.

The aircrewman that did was also part of the recovery team that night of the crash. I remember him telling us that he signed his page 13 after that night to stop his status as an aircrewman. I was slated to be discharged from the Navy the week after this crash occured. It was a hard time for the entire squadron. As I recall what caused the crash was a faulty hinge on the transmission covering. It failed and cause the door to go up thru the spinning rotor, which started the chain of events that caused the crash.

Thank you for not forgetting these men and their service to their country. I was AD2 Van Ness back then when I was in the squadron. I worked nights in the Power Plant division. Rest in peace gentlemen.
Posted by Manuel Torres on June 11, 2019
Good men all. Missed and never forgotten. AMSAN / Crudcrew/Line
Posted by Bill Clark on June 2, 2018
I remember the event but more importantly all of the men lost that night. I was Aircrew on P-3 aircraft and had a direct connection at one time or another with all 3. Lt. Howdyshell was my first Division Officer after I arrived at VX-1 in the 1st Lt Division. At the same time, Lt Creighton was the Aircrew Shop Division Officer. I spent my first 6 months with Lt Howdyshell performing hangar maintenance and driver duties, while at the same time flying every chance I got under the command of Lt Creighton. A unique situation for sure.
I didn’t have much contact with Bob until I became a full time member of the Aircrew Division.
I remember Lt Howdyshell as a fair and disciplined leader. He did not put up with much nonsense from myself or the other junior enlisted guys and ladies in our office, but I liked him. He did have a good sense of humor though, and I did respect him immensely. I never did get to fly with him.
Lt Creighton was a great leader and was respected and loved by all of my fellow Aircrew. He was fun loving and supportive of the men and families under his wing, (no women Aircrew at the time). A very funny guy too. He could be firm, when the situation called for it, but let the Chiefs in our shop do their jobs, showing them the respect they deserved. It was a sad day for us when he died.
Bob was a strange cat as I recall. He knew his job, and he was in a small group within the shop. Not many H-2 crewmembers. He had a different sense of humor, pretty serious most of the time, but was welcoming to me when I came to the Aircrew Shop full-time. I didn’t see him much outside of work. He and his wife lived off base so I never really had a chance to know them well.
I think about this day myself once in a while and on days like Memorial Day. The event made me reset my attitude and truly understand that our jobs were dangerous. A loss like this within a Squadron affects many people in different ways. In some, as in my case, I think it made me a better Aircrewman and made me take things more serious at work, upping my game, while at the same time using my time off to enjoy life to the best of my ability.
AW2 Bill Clark
Posted by Jim Johnson on June 1, 2018
To my friends, my shipmates of VX-1, who I dedicated this site to you guys who will be in my thoughts forever. I cannot believe it's been 40 years since that treacherous day where I lost people close to me. God bless you and your families.

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Posted by Jennifer Bullard on February 10, 2021
I just found this tribute and want to offer thanks for it and those who have shared a tribute. Steve Howdyshell was my cousin - his mother and my father were siblings. My grandmother suffered so much loss that year, beginning with Steve’s death. He is / was the oldest of her grandchildren, of which there are 40. That’s right! 40 of us with Steve leading the pack. My grandparents had 9 kids and those 9 had us 40. Steve was lost in June, then our Uncle John in November. John is the brother of Steve’s mother and my father. He, too, died in a plane crash. Very shocking. In December, my Grandmother’s brother was lost in a fire. Three closed caskets for her that year: her grandson, her son, and her brother. The family has always been loyal servants to the United States of America. Steve’s and my great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the American Revolution. Steve’s mother (my aunt) was the only girl with 8 brothers. Among those 8 boys, the oldest was first in marine on those islands in the South Pacific during WWII. Next Brother was a paratroop instructor during the Korean conflict. Next brother served on the European front during the Korean conflict and youngest brother served on the USS Roosevelt during Vietnam. Three different wars and all four boys came home. Among us cousins are several vets, including my brother who went through nuke school in the navy and served on the USS Archerfish. Thanks to ALL the vets and thanks to those who remember them well. My son is a pilot and has asked what happened with Steve’s helo and I could never give him the info. I’ll be sharing this page with him.
Posted by Robert Van Ness on February 25, 2020
I was in VX-1 Power Plants division from 1973 to 1977. I had the honor and priveledge of serving with these three men. I deployed with Mr. Howdyshell on the frigate, USS Donald B. Beary just a few months before this crash. AW2 Emery, did not go on this deployment. There was another pilot from our squadron, Lt. Sandy Clark, whom I have reconnected with on Facebook who was out there with us during that deployment.

The aircrewman that did was also part of the recovery team that night of the crash. I remember him telling us that he signed his page 13 after that night to stop his status as an aircrewman. I was slated to be discharged from the Navy the week after this crash occured. It was a hard time for the entire squadron. As I recall what caused the crash was a faulty hinge on the transmission covering. It failed and cause the door to go up thru the spinning rotor, which started the chain of events that caused the crash.

Thank you for not forgetting these men and their service to their country. I was AD2 Van Ness back then when I was in the squadron. I worked nights in the Power Plant division. Rest in peace gentlemen.
Posted by Manuel Torres on June 11, 2019
Good men all. Missed and never forgotten. AMSAN / Crudcrew/Line
his Life

SH-2F Accident Report

I have obtained the Official Accident Report from the Dept. of the Navy Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, VA. If you`re interested in finding more about this tragic day, please feel free to contact me. A donation is required to help pay for a Memoral Monument planned to be set up in there in there honor at the NAS Patuxent River Muesum.  https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-vx1-shipmate

LT. Walter (Steve) Howdyshell (Pilot)

When Walter Steven Howdyshell was born on December 7, 1947, in Gallipolis, Ohio, his father, Walter, was 21 and his mother, Dorothy, was 19. He married Tamy L Danison on December 14, 1968, in New Lexington, Ohio. They had three children during their marriage. He died as a young father on June 24, 1977, at the age of 29, and was buried in New Lexington Cemetery, in New Lexington, Ohio.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60915078/walter-steven-howdyshell

LT. Rick A. Creighton (Copilot)

Lt. Rick A. Creighton following graduation went to Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, in the Master’s program in electrical engineering. In February 1971, Rick and Carol Addriene were married and moved to Pacific Grove. In the summer of 1971, Rick began flight school, receiving his wings in 1972. His first assignment was to HSL-33, Naval Air Station Imperial Beach, California. In 1975 Rick went to Patuxent River NAS to VX-1. In April 1977 Rick and Carol joyfully welcomed a son, Benjamin Vance Creighton, into the world and in June they lost Rick in a helicopter accident. Benjamin, Rick son was only two months old when his dad perished. Rick was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans Military National Cemetery in San Diego, CA in Section H  Site 

 https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/RICHARD_A.

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The Crash Itself

Shared by Jim Johnson on August 12, 2018
The following  information is directly from the Naval Safety Center incident report.. (xxxxx's indicate that sensitive information was removed).  

The aircraft, an SH -2F, launched at 2027 hours EST on a routine night training flight.. Onboard were the Pilot, Copilot and one crewman. At  2130 hours. "Ops normal" was transferred  from the helo to the tower. At 2230 hours after completing one touch and go the aircraft  commenced a second approach. The aircraft was 250 feet  of altitude  and had turned in to base leg of the approach when xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx sparks from the aircraft.  Shortly thereafter the helo was xxxxxxxx spinning about its vertical axis and decending. It impacted the runway inverted. No stress calls were received by the tower. The occupants were pronounced dead on the scene.

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