In Memoriam : Gustave “Gus” Herrmann (Jan 7, 1943 – Sep 3, 1968)

After publishing our story about the Sea King, we were contacted by many friends and family of Gus Herrmann who had died in the helicopter crash on that fateful September day in 1968.

Tyler, Lora, and I spent yesterday on the Marissa visiting the site of the Sea King helicopter crash with a special group of people:

  • The pilot of the Sea King, Don Sanborn and his son Blake.
  • Gus’s widow Janet Herrmann-Dunne and her husband Peter Dunne
  • Gus’s squadron mate and friend Ken Burns with his wife Helen
  • Gus’s two surviving sisters Ann Joy and Claire
  • Gus’s nieces Elizabeth and Lynn

Janet and Gus were high school sweethearts and met when she was 15 and Gus was 18. They waited to marry until Janet had finished nursing school and Gus had returned from his first deployment after flight school. They were married on May 25th, 1968 and she lost Gus a short 102 days later. Janet was pregnant at the time. Janet recently emailed me and about that tragic day:

We were very young and never gave a single thought to the danger of what he did everyday.  He managed to survive without a scratch in Vietnam and we simply did not ever believe anything would happen to alter the life we planned.  That day changed me and my life forever.  For many years I waited for the other shoe to drop.  I was very fortunate compared to so many other young women who were loosing their loved ones overseas.  I had great parents and friends who helped so much.   What I never could understand was that he was never found. 

Email with Janet Dunne

Janet was finally able to say goodbye and to honor Gus yesterday as we placed flowers and stones at the site of the helicopter crash.

Front Row: Gus’s sisters Claire and Ann Joy, Janet Herrmann-Dunne, Don Sanborn / Back Row: Captain Lora with Gus’s nieces along with Ken Burns in the background on the right

We were honored to spend time with his family and friends aboard the Marissa as they paid respects to their fallen family member and friend, Gustave Herrmann.

5 thoughts on “In Memoriam : Gustave “Gus” Herrmann (Jan 7, 1943 – Sep 3, 1968)

  1. Brett, thank you so much for all the time and effort you,Tyler and Lora put into to finding the wreckage of SH-3A BuNo 152114. Helen and I are in awe of the effort the 3 of you put into tracking down Don and starting all of us on the road to confirming the wreck was, indeed, that of the helo Gus was flying in when he was killed. It was an honor to meet you. HS-6 alums are building a new reunions website ( and we’ll post a link to your blog. In addition you, Tyler and Lora are now honorary members of our HS-6 reunion group where we honor all who have served in HS-6, from its establishment on 1 June 1956 to its transition to HSC-6 on 8 July 2011, and also those who have had a meaningful impact on our members. Ken

    1. Ken…thanks so much for forwarding the account of finding Gus and Don’s bird. Reading the entire story was so very meaningful to me!!

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