US pattern SPH-5CG flying helmet : Flying Officer W L Bowen, 9 Squadron, RAAF

Place Asia: Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province, Long Hai Hills
Accession Number REL34978
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Helmet
Location Main Bld: Vietnam Gallery: Ramp: Iroquois
Place made United States of America
Date made Unknown
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975

Olive green fibreglass flying helmet. The helmet is provided with a single polarised visor and internal black plastic earphones padded with grey vinyl. The helmet is padded on the inside with styrofoam, overlaid with a vinyl six point attachment adjustable suspension system and is secured by a nylon webbing chin strap. An adjustable boom mounted microphone is attached to the left outer side of the shell. An embossed Dymolabel stuck to the rear of the helmet reads 'WARREN BOWEN'. There is also the remains of an orange sticker with black lettering on the back of the helmet . The sticker is unreadable but according to the donor it read 'HAVE A NICE DAY'.

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History / Summary

This helmet was a non Australian issue US pattern helmet worn by the donor 224380 Flying Officer Warren Louis Bowen for the majority of his Vietnam service. The helmet was traded by Bowen for his original RAAF issued helmet as the latter was making him deaf when worn while piloting the Iroquois helicopters of 9 Squadron.

Bowen was born on 3 June 1948 and began training as a pilot on 28 June 1968 at No 1 Basic Flying Training School, RAAF Base Point Cook. He successfully completed his basic training and continued onto the Advanced Flying Training Course at RAAF Base Pearce flying CA-25 Winjeels and de Havilland Vampires. Bowen was awarded his pilot’s brevet (wings) on 28 November 1968 before proceeding to No 5 Squadron, RAAF Base Fairbairn where he flew Iroquois helicopters. Bowen remained at Fairbairn until arriving in Vietnam as a member of No 9 Squadron RAAF on 18 February 1970. On 20 June 1970, Bowen was co-piloting RAAF Iroquois helicopter A2-382 with 224152 Flying Officer Bruce Charles Townsend when the aircraft was hit by Vietcong ground fire over the Long Hai Hills of South Vietnam. The helicopter was hit twice, once in the fuel tank and once in the engine. Fuel drenched the crewman and flowed into the cabin as the helicopter made an emergency landing on a beach about two miles from the scene of the action. This resulted in further damage to the aircraft from sea water before it could be recovered the next day for parts. The Iroquois had also suffered severe structural damage with the tail-boom completely ripped away from the fuselage. The helicopter, a bushranger gunship had earlier made three passes over a Vietcong position, firing side guns, mini-guns and rockets as part of an evacuation operation involving two companies of South Vietnamese troops. A2-382 was replaced by A2-110 after the latter was modified for gunship operational flying.