Frank David Bazell, Van Nuys, California, was one of the lucky 48 who survived the ditching of Flying Tiger 923 that dreadful night of September 23, 1962. He made it out of the destroyed airplane, battled the frigid gale-driven waves of the North Atlantic, rode the upside-down and overcrowded life raft for nearly six hours, and was finally able to leave the rescue ship Celerina when it docked in Antwerp four days later. He then proceeded to serve his duty as a combat paratrooper in Germany.
Bazell stayed in the Army as a Green Beret, most likely taking his special forces training at Bad Tolz, Germany. Less than five years after the crash of Flying Tiger 923, he died in service to his country in Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam, a victim of enemy small arms fire. That was on March 1, 1967. He was by then Sgt. Frank Bazell.
We learned of his sad and heroic fate only very recently, on June 2 of our 50th anniversary year. Mr. Peter Birrow, past president of the 35th Infantry Regiment Association, provided us with information via email. His letter does the best job of letting us know most of the information we have:
“Greetings Fred . . . Our searching for the final resting place of our brother in arms, Frank David Bazell, has led us to your amazing site that tells quite a tale. After surviving this crash, Frank eventually wound up in Vietnam; he served and died with the 1st Bn 35th Infantry Regiment (25th ID). We would like to locate his grave and visit to pay our final repects. If you know anything or anyone who could tell us or give us a clue it would be appreciated. Below is our plea that could be posted on your site:
“The 35th Infantry Regiment Association has hope that you can help us find one of our brothers who gave his life in Vietnam. Frank David Bazell was killed in action on 03/01/67 while serving with the 1/35th Infantry Regiment.
“In 1999 we formed an association and have had reunions every year to include a memorial service for all of our fallen brothers. We also have a Memorial Page for each of our brothers-in-arms on our web site — http://www.cacti35th.org — where we attempt to preserve the memory of each of these heroes.
“In addition to the Memorial Page we strive to learn where each of our Brothers are buried so that we can provide this information to any of our members who may want to visit their grave site in the future.
“Our regiment suffered 642 KIA’s (killed in action) in Vietnam and to date we have located the graves of 641 of these men. Frank is the only one of our heroes for which we have not yet located his resting place. My question then is do you have any knowledge of where Frank David Bazell is buried? We do know that his mother, Gladys G. Straud, was a resident of 1025 Stearns Drive in Los Angeles at the time of Frank’s demise. Perhaps he is interred in his mother’s family plot.
“Many of our members have made the commitment of honoring our Brothers by visiting their grave sites. Personally, I have visited over 50 of these graves and another dedicated brother has visited over 100 sites. We would love the opportunity in the future to visit and pay our respects to Frank.
“Thank you for any assistance you can give us.”
Before this web blog could issue an appeal for help, the Association located the last of the 642 grave sites through the efforts of its dedicated members. Here is information Mr. Birrow provided in follow up:
“The burial site of Frank David Bazell has finally been identified. Bazell was the only 35th Infantry Regiment KIA whose internment location was not known. Through an eight day joint effort of Dick Arnold, his brother Dave, Doc Hall, and myself, we can now record that he is buried in Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, 6001 W Centinela Ave., Culver City, CA 90230.
“Buried beside him is Arnold Archibald Bazell, DoD 10/18/1958. If anyone visits, please let us know if there is a birth date so we can determine if it is his father or a sibling.”
The 35th Regiment Association has a web site including a memorial on all of its fallen. We are reproducing that memorial below so it will be a permanent part of our history and our 50th anniversary memorial:
SGT Frank David Bazell – “In memory of our fallen brother” – HHC Company 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, Vietnam War – “Not For Fame or Reward, Not For Place or For Rank But In Simple Obedience To Duty as They Understood It”
”The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SGT Frank David Bazell, who died in the service of his country on March 1st, 1967 in Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Frank was 24 years of age. He was from Los Angeles, California. Frank is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 15E, Line 124.
“The decorations earned by SGT Frank David Bazell include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachute Badge, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
“Previously, Frank survived a crash into the North Atlantic Ocean. It was a military charter flight that was bringing him to his next assignment in Germany. The crash occurred on September 23, 1962 off the coast of Ireland. Twenty-eight people perished at sea.”
The following is a link to the 35th regiment web site and Frank Bazell’s memorial.