Fort McCoy, WI Guard Helicopter Crash, June 1981


Fort McCoy -- Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard will attend personal memorial services today for three guardsmen killed in a helicopter crash here Wednesday.
It is still not known why the four-person helicopter, on a routine training maneuver, crashed. Three members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade of the Wisconsin National Guard were killed and another was critically injured.
An Army team was sent Thursday from Fort Rucker, Ala., to investigate.
The three men killed were:
Chief Warrant Officer ROBERT ERTL, 59, Appleton, an inspector with the state, one of the pilots.
Chief Warrant Officer DAVID IMPOLA, 39, Menominee, Mich., a test pilot with an aircraft corporation, the other pilot.
First Sgt. ALLEN W. WILSON, 46, Antigo, a foreman on a potato-farming operation, a passenger.
Capt. JOHN R. LEONHARD, 33, Mosinee, another passenger, was hospitalized at La Crosse in stable condition with two broken legs and a fractured left arm.
The OH-58 observation helicopter was on a reconnaissance training flight. The helicopter was flying above an infantry unit to observe a road march.
Both pilots were experienced, Fort McCoy officials said.
All three men killed were married and had children. ERTL was planning to retire from the Guard after this summer's two week training session, according to officials.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today in Chapel 2 on the base, and another service will be held at 1 p.m. in Chapel 4.
An official memorial service will be held at the base next Wednesday.
The 32nd Brigade is the only full brigade in the state. It has an authorized strength of 4,164 and as of May 26th had 4,013 members.
ERTL and IMPOLA were members of the brigade's aviation unit and LEONHARD and WILSON were part of an armor battalion. The brigade also has engineering, cavalry, signal, field artillery and support units, as well as two infantry battalions.
Don Erickson, public affairs officer for the National Guard, said he and other staff could not recall other fatalities in recent history involving Army Guardsmen in training.
However, in March 1975, Wisconsin Air National Guard Major ROGER W. KOBY, 40, Madison, was killed when the Cessna 02A observation plane he was flying crashed into a wooded hillside near Lodi. KOBY was stationed at Truax Field, Madison
Though the crash took place about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the wreck was not found until 12:43 a.m. Thursday.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1981-06-19


Roger Koby

Roger Koby was my father. I was several months away from being born when his plane crashed.