On This Day 16-MAR 1969, We Honor a Fallen Hero

Douglas Drew Gaylord was born 19-OCT 1946 and lived in St. Peters, Missouri.  Douglas attended St Charles High School. His parents were Justin Frisby Gaylord and Loraine “Nellie” Shelton Gaylord.  He has a daughter name Lisa.  He enlisted in the Army and served during the Vietnam War.  He served in the 9th Infantry Division, 9th Division Artillery, Headquarters Battery.  His occupational, specialty was Field Artillery Unit Commander.  Doug attained the rank of Captain.

On 16-MAR 1969 Warrant Officer (WO) Selvwyn R. Taylor from Midland Texas was assigned as a fixed wing pilot with the 184th Aviation Company, 210th Aviation Battalion, 12th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. He was the pilot of a O-1 Birddog (Cessna L-19) flying a reconnaissance and spotter mission. His passenger on that night was Captain Douglas D. Gaylord. 

They were flying the Eagle Watch Mission (midnight – 0400 AM) looking for mortar flashes around Dong Tam in the Mekong Delta. At about 4:00 AM, perimeter guards reported seeing their aircraft go down. WO Taylor and Captain Gaylord were killed in action during the artillery spotting mission near Dong Tam in the Mekong Delta. 

From Terry who served as part of the ground crew and knew Captain Gaylord:   I served with Capt. Gaylord at Dong Tam, in the Mekong delta, as part of ground crew for O1 birddogs. I was TDY (temporary duty) with the 184th reconnaissance while he was an aerial observer with the 9th Division Artillery. They referred to him as the “Blue Baron” due to his professionalism. The night he died, he was flying the eagle watch mission watching for mortar flashes. Dong tam was a frequent candidate for nighttime mortar attacks.

From an article on Together We Served, He’s called the “Flying Ace” and the “Blue Baron.”  In artillery fire direction centers throughout the Mekong Delta, he has quite the reputation.  The mention of his call sign brings an avalanche of comments.  He is praised for his cool manner while in action.  Gaylord rates as his hardest task, the adjusting of fire in the middle of a black night for a unit in contact.  Gaylord went on to say, “It’s really scary because I know if I mess up, I’m going to kill many of the wrong people.  But it’s really a great feeling of satisfaction being able to help those people on the ground when all the rounds are on target.”  Although his aircraft is above the fighting, Gaylord is certainly not out of the action.  Once, his chopper took a round through the engine and was forced to land out in the open.  Another time, his “Bird Dog” crash-landed while returning to Dong Tam.  “I guess I’ve taken about 200 hits” said the war veteran.  

Douglas Drue Gaylord is buried at Fairview Cemetery, Shantytown, Maries County, Missouri.

Douglas is honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. His name is inscribed at VVM Wall, Panel 29w, Line 53. 

Douglas Drew Gaylords commendations include:  The Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (the latter three with “V” for Valor) and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart. 

Douglas Drew Gaylord is honored and remembered at the St. Charles County Veterans Museum.  

If anyone has additional information about our veteran including pictures, please contact us.  

From his daughter, Lisa Gaylord Wilhite

I am your daughter and I named my 1st born son after you. You would be so proud of your grandsons. The oldest looks a lot like you and they both have your tender heart and patience. A wonderful trait you have passed on thru us unknowingly. Grandma (your mom) has been a wonderful teacher of life’s lessons. She is truly missed as well. Someday we will all be together again. Until then, please continue to be our angel, guide us and watch over us. We thank-you

I would like to hear from anyone who knew my dad and has stories to tell or information about my dad or pictures of him. You guys that served with him are the only link that I have left to knowing my father. My mother won’t talk about him and his mother who raised me, passed away 5 years ago. She talked to me often about him and I have a few letters that she had received from correspondence with a service man that was supposed to take a trip w/ my father to Australia. I never knew he wanted to go there until after she passed away and I read the letters. I have ALWAYS wanted to go there but never could understand the urge to go until the pieces came together after I read the letters. If you are that friend of my fathers or know anything about his trip he was planning to Australia before he died, would you please write me and tell me what he had in mind and what you knew of him. I still have alot of unanswered questions as you might imagine. I promise it’s nothing too hard.

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.