W.O. Rocky D. Armstead

MONAHANS, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Every day is Memorial Day. This week we honor Warrant Officer Rocky D. Armstead who was born in Waco, McLennan County, Texas on March 30, 1946 and lived there until his early teens, when his family moved to Monahans, Texas. He was a 1964 graduate of Monahans High School.

In 1968 (during the conflict in Vietnam), Rocky joined the Army. Entered the service via Reserve Military. He began his tour on July 3, 1969. At this time, Armstead had earned the rank of Warrant Officer and his military occupation or specialty was Helicopter Pilot. W.O. Armstead was attached to 101st Airborne Division, 326th Medical Detachment.

On October 5, 1969 he was on the crew as the pilot of the medevac helicopter that was sent to pick up two injured American soldiers. Poor weather hampered their flight and they tried three times to make the trip.

On the final attempt they elected to fly at very low altitude in an effort to operate below the clouds. Their aircraft apparently rolled inverted and crashed, possibly as a result of weather-induced vertigo. All four men on the crew died in the crash. They included: Steven E Arnold (Combat Medic),Orval A Baldwin (Helicopter Pilot), Hubert D Sutton (Helicopter Repairman).

Rocky D Armstead is buried or memorialized at Monahans Memorial Cemetery, Monahans, Ward County, Texas as well as on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. Name inscribed at VVM Wall, Panel 17w, Line 39.

His Commendations include:

★ Bronze Star

★ Air Medal

★ Parachutist Badge

★ United States Aviator Badge

★ National Defense Service Medal

★ Vietnam Campaign Medal

★ Vietnam Service Medal

★ Army Presidential Unit Citation

★ Vietnam Gallantry Cross

★ Army Good Conduct Medal