| Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs:
Smith 324 Compelling Cases - Laos
Senator SMITH's 324 Compelling Cases
Eugene H. Debruin
On September 5, 1963, an Air America C-47 transport on which Mr. Debruin was a "kicker" was shot down by hostile ground fire over Savannakhet Province. It crashed approximately twenty two kilometers northeast of Muang Phine. Eugene Debruin and four non- U.S. crewmen parachuted out and were captured. According to the Pathet Lao, the remaining two American civilian crewmen who were not reported to have bailed out died in the crash. On May 31, 1966, the Pathet Lao spokesman in Vientiane, Soth Phetrasy, confirmed that Mr. Debruin was alive and in captivity.
Information from an American escapee and a Thai captured with Mr. Debruin recounted Mr. Debruin's capture and prison chronology through July 3, 1966, the last time they knew Mr. Debruin to be alive with them in Khammouane Province. Accounts of the prison escape include information that four of the seven prison guards were killed during the escape attempt. One Thai who escaped and was recaptured was not killed after recapture.
A photograph of Mr. Debruin was later obtained by Air America in May 1969 and showed Mr. Debruin in captivity circa 1965. A credit card and other information concerning the dead pilot was later obtained through private sources.
On September 25, 1982, Pathet Lao Colonel Khamla Keuphithoune told a visiting National League of Families delegation that Eugene Debruin was killed attempting to escape from captivity.
Information has surfaced from American POW hunters throughout the last half of the 1980s and into 1991, as well as from Lao and Thai residents of Thailand, which asserts that Mr. Debruin is still alive in Laos and living freely with a Lao wife and children in Khammouane Province. The Debruin case is well known in the private POW/MIA community due to extensive efforts and informational leaflets distributed by Mr. Debruin's brother who for many years has attempted to recover his brother. The Joint Task Force Full Accounting has received information regarding Mr. Debruin's grave site and is currently planning to excavate it.
David L. Hrdlicka
On May 18, 1965, Captain Hrdlicka was piloting the lead aircraft in a flight of four F-105D on an interdiction/bombing mission in Houa Phan Province, Laos, previously known as Sam Neua Province. His aircraft was hit by hostile fire and he was seen to bail out, land safely and was later reported by villagers living near his landing point in the custody of Pathet Lao communist forces. A May 24 Pathet Lao radio broadcast announced his capture. A July 26 broadcast by Pathet Lao radio broadcast a post-capture tape recording made by Captain Hrdlicka.
Captain Hrdlicka was listed by the Department of Defense as a POW at the time of the Paris Peace Accords but was later declared to have died in captivity, body not recovered. Wartime reports from Pathet Lao defectors placed Captain Hrdlicka in a cave in the Vieng Xai area of Sam Neua Province through at least 1966.
On September 25, 1982, National League of POW/MIA Families visitors were told by a Lao security official, Colonel Khamla, that Captain Hrdlicka had died in 1968 of natural causes exacerbated by malnutrition and while imprisoned in a cave in Sam Neua. Colonel Khamla stated he was buried nearby but his grave was destroyed by U.S. bombing. Photocopied personal documents belonging to Captain Hrdlicka were passed to the U.S. by the Lao in February 1988. A private citizen visiting Laos in September 1989 was provided the photocopy of a document which apparently also belonged to Captain Hrdlicka. A photograph of Captain Hrdlicka after capture is in the Lao museum.
Captain Hrdlicka's purported grave site was investigated by the Joint Task Force Full Accounting in April 1992. Witnesses were interviewed who described Captain Hrdlicka's burial there in 1968. No remains were located. Efforts continue to locate Captain Hrdlicka's remains.
Charles E. Shelton
On April 29, 1965, Captain Shelton was the leader in a flight of two reconnaissance aircraft over Laos. Due to bad weather in their primary target area, Captain Shelton turned to the next target near Sam Neua City, Sam Neua Province. His aircraft was hit by hostile fire while at 3000 feet and lining up on his target. He ejected with a good chute and the other aircraft overhead was in contact with him by radio. Inclement weather delayed any possible recovery attempt until May 1. Search and rescue efforts on 2-3 May were negative. A U.S. controlled team was inserted into the area on May 3 and learned from local villagers that Captain Shelton was last seen hanging in a tree. Similar teams continued to search for him through February 1966 but with negative results.
After his shoot down, Pathet Lao ralliers reported hearing about the capture of an American correlating to the capture of Captain Shelton. He reportedly died in a cave in Vieng Xai, east of Sam Neua town, and near another POW, Captain Hrdlicka.
In September 1982 a Pathet Lao security official, Colonel Khamla, stated that Captain Shelton died in captivity in 1968 and was buried near his place of imprisonment. His grave was described as obliterated by a U.S. air strike.
The Joint Task Force investigated the purported grave site in April 1992 and was unable to locate any remains.
Colonel Shelton is still carried in a POW status.
Arthur D. Baker
On April 7, 1965, Baker and James were crewmen on a B-57B, one in a flight of four aircraft on an interdiction mission launched from Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam and with its target in Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. The crew was last seen descending through thin overcast toward the target area and it never reappeared. Extensive search and rescue efforts through April 12th failed to locate either the aircraft or its crew.
On April 14, 1965, the New China News Agency reported the shoot down of a B-57 approximately three miles north-northeast of the town of Khang Khay. This was described as the first B-57 shoot down of an aircraft launched from South Vietnam.
Both crewmen were initially reported missing in action in South Vietnam while on a classified mission. Their loss location was later changed to Laos. There was limited wartime reporting about U.S. aircraft losses in the general area the crewmen were last reported but they could not be correlated to this specific incident. U.S. intelligence continues to receive information which may correlate to this shoot down but provides no positive information on the fate of the crewmen.
In January 1974 Major Baker's next-of-kin requested his case review go forward and he was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in January 1974. Lewis was declared dead/body not recovered, in April 1982. Returning POWs were unable to provide any information on the fate of these two servicemen.
Russell P. Hunter, Jr.
On February 10, 1966, Captains Hunter and Kiefel were the crew of a B-57B escorting a C-130 flareship on a night strike mission over Laos. While in the target area eight miles east southeast of Tchepone, Captain Hunter radioed he was hit and would eject after his canopy went. No ejection was seen. Three minutes later the C- 130 pilot reported a white glare on the ground and later a ten second beeper in the area of the aircraft impact point. Another beeper was heard later but it could not be correlated to a member of this downed crew. Search and rescue aircraft located the aircraft wreckage but found no sign of the crew.
Both initially were reported missing and declared killed in action, body not recovered, in January 1979. Neither individual was ever seen in the northern Vietnamese prison system and their remains have not been repatriated.
On February 15, 1966, Major Mauterer was the pilot of an A1E in a flight of aircraft providing cover for an 01E aircraft operating south of the Mu Gia Pass over Khammouane Province, Laos. During strikes on the target, Major Mauterer radioed he was on fire and bailing out. A good chute was seen and there was voice contact with him on the ground. Forward air controllers drew heavy ground fire while flying over his position. Search and rescue aircraft were unable to see him an hour later when they arrived to effect his rescue and there were signals other than his beeper on the emergency communications channel.
A U.S. controlled ground team inserted into the area reported on February 20th having heard from villagers that an American, correlated to Major Mauterer, was captured by elements of the People's Army of Vietnam. Another wartime report indicated Lao villagers had carried him from the area on orders of the Vietnam People's Army.
Major Mauterer was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been repatriated. He was initially declared missing and was declared killed in action, body not recovered in December 1977.
Don C. Wood
On January 16, 1966, Captain Wood was one of a flight of five F-105 aircraft on a mission over Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. Captain wood was the pilot of an F-105D on a photo reconnaissance mission. While over the target and with flight members receiving 37mm antiaircraft fire on their passes over the target, Captain Wood's flight leader determined Captain Wood was not present with the remainder of the flight. The flight members searched a thirty mile radius from their target and were unable to locate either him or his crash site. Searches for him continued for the next three months and were unsuccessful. He was initially declared missing in action.
On January 18, 1966, Radio Beijing announced that a U.S. aircraft was shot down over Laos on January 16, 1966. A Pathet Lao radio broadcast also mentioned the shoot down of an aircraft and reported an airmen was seen parachuting down.
A Pathet Lao source interrogated in Laos in 1974 described the recovery of a U.S. airman who fell from an aircraft hit by antiaircraft fire from the area from the area of the Pathet Lao Regional Headquarters at Phou Kout. The airman reportedly died shortly after capture. This incident was placed in Captain Wood's file as possibly correlating to him due to the loss location. A Lao propaganda film obtained in January 1977 showed the identity card of Captain Wood together with blood chits, revolvers, helmets and other items which appeared undamaged.
In March 1980, Captain Wood was declared dead/body not recovered. His remains have not been repatriated. He was never reported by returning U.S. POWs to be alive in the Lao or Vietnamese prison system.
David H. Holmes
On March 15, 1966, Captain Holmes was the pilot of an 01E flying from Khe Sanh, South Vietnam on a forward air control mission over Highway 9 in Savannakhet Province, Laos. He radioed he was hit by hostile ground fire and made what appeared to be a controlled landing not far from Tchepone and within one mile of a hostile antiaircraft battery. Another forward air controller flying overhead reported seeing Captain Holmes' body motionless in the cockpit for 30 minutes after the crash and reported the aircraft completely intact. Search and rescue arriving on the scene after the departure of the FAC reported finding an aircraft which had been totally destroyed to the extent that it could not be identified as to aircraft type. U.S. air strikes later destroyed the antiaircraft battery near Captain Holmes crash site.
A ground search of the crash site on March 16 located his aircraft but no evidence of Captain Holmes. Emergency radio signals were heard on March 20-21 coming from the type of radio used by Captain Holmes but the absence of proper radio procedures suggested his radio had been captured and was being used by his captors. One hearsay report received in 1974 and indicating a pilot was captured during the war might have referred to Captain Holmes.
Captain Holmes was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been repatriated. He was initially declared missing and was declared killed in action, body not recovered in November 1978.
James W. Gates
On April 6, 1966, Captains Gates and Lafayette departed Phu Bai, South Vietnam in an OV1 in a flight of two aircraft for a reconnaissance mission over Laos. A "Mayday" was heard from both OV1 aircraft, and wreckage was found 30 kilometers inside Laos near Route 922 in Saravan Province. A forward air controller reported seeing all four alive on the ground and both aircrews reported they were all right. The FAC described the area of their shoot down as containing track vehicle marks, trucks and engineer equipment.
Radio contact was lost with Captains Gates and Lafayette after they reported Vietnamese communist forces closing in on them. The other crew was rescued.
Captains Gates and Lafayette were not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and their remains have not been repatriated. They were initially declared missing and declared killed in action, body not recovered in October 1977.
William F. Mullen
On April 29, 1966, an A-4E attack bomber piloted by Captain Mullen was one in a flight of three aircraft over Khammouane Province on a mission in the Steel Tiger mission area.
His aircraft was observed by his flight leader and another flight airman being hit by a burst of anti-aircraft fire while in an area of dense high cyclic rate of anti-aircraft fire which struck his aircraft in the aft of center line. A forward air controller last observed him 4-5 miles north of the target area flying into cloud cover in the area of Route 9128 while continuing on a northern heading and emitting smoke.
During one of the 26 search and rescue sorties, a search aircraft received a strong beeper signal five nautical miles northeast of the target area. There was no reply from search aircraft attempts to have the source of the beeper signal respond. The signal was then lost but one hour later started again at five minute intervals. When the SAR force approached the ground area of the signals, they were hit by hostile ground fire on each pass over the area from which the signal was emanating. There were no signals in the area on April 29th. The loss location was initially reported as classified and in September 1973 was recorded as Laos.
Mullen was initially reported as missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on his precise fate. In May 1976 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Lavern G. Reilly
On May 15, 1966, Major Lavern Reilly was an observer on an AC-47D aircraft, one of eight crewmen on an armed/visual reconnaissance mission in the Steel Tiger operational area of Savannakhet Province, Laos. It failed to return from its mission. A search and rescue on May 16, 1966, was negative.
On June 7, 1966, a Pathet Lao radio broadcast described U.S. aircraft shot down over Central or South Laos and included in its list a reference to a C-47 which had been shot down on May 15 with eight Americans killed.
None of those on the aircraft were ever reported in the northern Vietnamese or Pathet Lao prison system. All were initially declared mission and after the end of the war were declared dead/body not recovered. None of their remains have been repatriated.
Ralph C. Balcom
On May 15, 1966, Captain Balcom was the pilot of an F-105D, one in a flight of three aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. The flight was unable to strike their primary target due to cloud cover and they dropped their ordnance on Route 1A. Captain Balcom radioed after dropping his ordnance that he was heading for home and was last seen climbing through cloud cover and heading west in the direction of Laos. He was never seen again. Captain Balcom was reported missing in action.
A search of the area failed to produce any evidence of either him or his aircraft. One flight member reported hearing a beeper for a short time but search and rescue aircraft did not hear it.
Pathet Lao radio reported downing an F-105 on May 15, 1966. Captain Balcom's aircraft was the only F-105 loss on that date and the Pathet Lao report was tentatively correlated to him.
Captain Balcom was initially reported lost over North Vietnam. Returning POWs had no information on his precise fate. After Operation Homecoming, a Joint Casualty Resolution Center review of Captain Balcom's flight led to a correction in his country of loss to be Laos. Part of the basis for this conclusion was due to the Pathet Lao broadcast. In December 1977 Captain Balcom was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Theodore E. Kryszak
On June 19, 1968, an AC-47 aircraft departed Ubon Air Base, Thailand, on an armed reconnaissance mission over South Laos. At 2125 hours the crew reported their aircraft was on fire and a fire could be seen in the right wing root. Fire soon engulfed the entire right side of the aircraft and burning pieces began to fall away from it. The order was given to bail out and that was the last transmission from the aircraft's crew.
The aircraft, still on fire, continued in a straight level flight for approximately 5-10 seconds before turning nose over and crashing in a high angle dive, impacting 30 miles northeast of Tchepone. There was no hostile ground fire observed at the time. There were no parachutes observed and no emergency beepers. An airborne search and rescue force located the tail assembly of the aircraft but no evidence of the crew or that any survived. The crew was declared missing in action.
On September 13, 1968, the Pathet Lao news service reporting that Harding Eugene Smith was shot down on June 3, 1968 when his aircraft was bombing a Pathet Lao controller area of Laos.
The crew was not accounted for by the Pathet Lao during Operation Homecoming and returning U.S. POWs has no knowledge of their eventual fate. The crew members were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death on separate dates between June 1974 and January 1979.
Warren P. Smith
On June 22, 1966, Captain Smith was the pilot of an 01F when his aircraft was hit by heavy automatic weapons fire. He radioed his wingman, another 01F, that his aircraft was on fire. His wingman observed him land in what appeared to be a controlled landing at a point 45 kilometers northwest of Tchepone and south of Route 911 in Savannakhet Province, Laos. His wingman overflew the crash site and later recounted he saw Captain Smith slumped in the cockpit. Captain Smith did not respond to repeated calls on the radio. One hour later search and rescue forces arrived and determined that Captain Smith was no longer in the aircraft. The SAR mission was discontinued due to heavy enemy small arms fire from the area.
Captain Smith was initially declared missing. He was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been repatriated. In January 1974 he was declared dead/body not recovered.
Allan D. Pittmann
On November 16, 1966, Airman Second Class Allan Pittmann was a passenger on an A1G aircraft flight from Nha Trang, South Vietnam, to Ubon Air Base, Thailand. The aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire, its engine lost power and the aircraft crashed in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The pilot and copilot both bailed out and were rescued 90 minutes later. During their post-recovery debrief they reported that Airman Pittmann had also bailed out and they last observed him alive on the ground.
Royal Lao Army and U.S. led irregular forces mounted a sweep on the area on November 17 and again on November 18 in a directed effort to recover Airman Pittmann. They located an enemy dispensary in the general area of his disappearance. A villager just escaped from Lao communist captivity contacted friendly forces on November 22 and stated that he was told by a Pathet Lao battalion commander than an individual correlating to Pittmann was captured on the 17th and was shot to death by the "VC."
Airman Pittmann was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not yet been repatriated. He was initially reported missing in action. He was declared dead/body not recovered, in April 1978.
Roy R. Kubley
On January 31, 1967, a UC-123B with a crew of five was engaged in a defoliation mission over Laos, the lead in a flight of three C- 123 escorted by two A-1E aircraft. The C-123 was hit by hostile groundfire, flipped inverted and crashed approximately 13 kilometers south of the town of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province. There was no evidence of any survivors after the crash. In February 1967 the UC-123B crew was declared killed in action, body not recovered.
In August 26, 1992, a joint U.S./Lao team surveyed the aircraft's reported crash site. Witnesses and wreckage appeared to correlate the site to this loss incident but there were no remains or personal effects discovered. One witness reported having seen burned bone fragments on the scene but none were found during the joint team's visit.
Ralph L. Carlock
On March 4, 1967, Major Carlock departed Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in an F-105D on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. While attacking a truck, the flight leader saw Major Carlock's aircraft hit by enemy fire in the lower center of the fuselage and began to burn. The flight leader radioed Major Carlock to bail out but did not receive a response. The aircraft crashed in the area of Nong Het, Xieng Khouang Province, just inside Laos from Nghe An Province, North Vietnam, and with no evidence Major Carlock had parachuted from the aircraft prior to the crash. Forty minutes later there was a weak beeper from the vicinity of the crash site but it was believed to be a result of fire at the crash site and was not pilot activated. Major Carlock was declared missing in action.
On March 5, 1967, the pro-communist Patriotic Neutralist radio station news service reported its forces in Long Met District, Vientiane Province, had shot down a U.S. F-105 aircraft and captured the pilot. U.S. intelligence concluded at the time that this report may have been partially derived from the loss of Major Carlock's aircraft which crashed in Xieng Khouang Province and not in Vientiane Province and the report was not believed to represent a truthful statement that the pilot had been captured.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the precise fate of Major Carlock. After Operation Homecoming Major Carlock was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In June 1986, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received information from a source who described the crash of an aircraft similar to an F-105 in Xieng Khouang Province which had occurred in either 1971 of 1972. Two airmen reportedly died in the crash. In September 1988, JCRC received another report from another source describing a wartime F-105 crash near Nong Het. The pilot reportedly bailed out at low altitude and died when he hit the ground. The body was buried by local villagers accompanied by Vietnamese advisory personnel. These reports were placed in Major Carlock's file due to the correlation to his loss location and the possibility they may have correlated to his loss incident.
In October 1990, JCRC received another report from another source describing the October 1967 shoot down of a U.S. aircraft near Nong Het. The pilot bailed out and the source was told the pilot was captured by North Vietnamese Army forces. Due to a number of U.S. aircraft losses in the area of this reported shoot down, some of which involved unaccounted for airmen, no specific correlation could be made to a particular missing airman and the report was placed in the files of airmen unaccounted for in the None Het area.
Leo E. Seymour
On July 3, 1967, Staff Sergeant Seymour was team leader of Team Texas, a joint U.S./Vietnamese patrol on a covert cross border mission into Attopeu Province, Laos, opposite Kontum Province, South Vietnam. They were discovered and engaged by a People's Army of Vietnam force. The team split up but when it was reassembled, SSG Seymour could not be found. U.S. search and rescue aircraft supporting the recovery of the team's survivors reported seeing one man who was to the rear of the team, was wearing green fatigue clothing and raised his weapon at them. He was shot and killed by the rescue aircraft who concluded he was a North Vietnamese.
In April 1970 a North Vietnamese Army prisoner reported having seen a U.S. POW at way station 20 in Quang Binh Province. The American was a fluent Vietnamese linguist. U.S. intelligence files contain this report as conceivably correlating to SSG Seymour; however, this correlates with the time when former U.S. Marine Corps Private Robert Garwood, fluent in Vietnamese, could have traversed the area after being taken from South Vietnam to North Vietnam.
SSG Seymour was initially declared missing. He was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been repatriated. In April 1976 he was declared dead/body not recovered.
John W. Armstrong
On November 9, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong and Lieutenant Lance P. Sijan were the crew on board a camouflaged F-4C, one in a flight of two aircraft on a combat operation over Khammouane Province. On their second pass over the target area, a ford in the area of Ban Laboy, their aircraft went through an estimated 60 rounds of 37mm antiaircraft barrage fire. Their aircraft burst into flames, climbed to approximately 9000 feet and then began to descend on a 15-20 second controlled flight before it crashed approximately one kilometer from Route 912. There was burning throughout the night from the wreckage which landed in a sparsely populated karst area. There were no chute or beepers seen but something appeared to fall from the aircraft.
On November 11, 1967, SAR forces established contact with Lieutenant Sijan who was alive on the ground, had a broken leg, and had not had any contact with Colonel Armstrong. Lieutenant Sijan was never rescued but successfully evaded for 46 days before being captured by People's Army of Vietnam forces. He was taken to Hanoi where he died in captivity on January 22, 1968. While in captivity he related his belief that one of their bombs and exploded immediately upon release and this was the reason for their crash. Also, he believed Colonel Armstrong was killed prior to ejection from the explosion of his aircraft's bomb. Lieutenant Sijan was listed as having died in captivity and his remains were repatriated in March 1974.
Colonel Armstrong was not accounted for during Operation Homecoming and returning U.S. POWs had no information on his precise fate. In June 1974 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In February 1978, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center in Thailand received a report from a refugee in Thailand about four U.S. POWs captured in Sam Neua, Laos, and last seen alive in 1977. The source supplied Colonel Armstrong's name and stated he was one of the POWs. The individual was removed from the refugee camp by Thai authorities and JCRC was unable to reestablish contact with the source.
In October 1983, a U.S. citizen reported he had obtained personal effects of Lieutenant Sijan from a former Lao Army colonel operating with a self-claimed Lao resistance force from the area of Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. In November 1984 another U.S. citizen and POW/MIA hunter provided the U.S. government with information about case 0833 and the recovery of a personal ring which was allegedly passed to the National Security Council officer responsible for the POW/MIA issue. In November 1991, U.S. investigators in Vietnam obtained access to an 84 page listing of U.S. aircraft losses in People's Army Military Region 4. Page 48 contained an aircraft shoot down correlating to this incident.
Richard D. Applehans
Clarke and Applehans were reported lost in an RF4C while on a reconnaissance mission which was planned for the area of the Demilitarized Zone separating Vinh Linh Special Zone, North Vietnam and Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. They checked in prior to receiving clearance to attack their assigned target. This was the last contact with the crew which never returned from its mission and was reported lost over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The aircraft's wreckage was not located and there was no beeper. In May 1975 it was determined that the aircraft had crashed in Laos.
In 1968 Clarke's status was changed to POW based on information from a U.S. POW repatriated on February 16, 1968 which indicated Clarke was alive and in captivity. During Operation Homecoming it was determined that this report was erroneous and hearsay information which was a misidentification. Clarke was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in November 1973. Applehans was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in April 1978.
Other than the one misidentification, there is no evidence that either individual was seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and their remains have not yet been repatriated.
Gary H. Fors
On December 22, 1967, Captain Fors and First Lieutenant Guy K. Lashlee were the crewmen on an F-4B in a flight of two aircraft over Laos. Just having released their bombs during a second pass over the target, their aircraft was hit by hostile 37mm antiaircraft fire and crashed east of Route 99, eight miles inside Saravan Province.
The crew of the second aircraft reported Captain Fors and Lieutenant Lashlee had ejected safely but no one had any radio contact with him. Lieutenant Lashlee was rescued but Captain Fors could not be located by search and rescue aircraft driven off by extremely heavy ground fire. Lieutenant Lashlee reported he did not see Captain Fors chute deploy and had no contact with him. He landed fifty meters from his aircraft's point of impact. He believed Captain Fors had died in the aircraft's fireball.
During the war the next of kin of Captain Fors identified him in a North Vietnamese photograph. After Operation Homecoming it was determined this had been a misidentification.
Captain Fors was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been repatriated. He was declared missing at the time of his loss and in August 1980 was declared killed in action, body not recovered.
Dennis C. Hamilton
On January 5, 1968, a UH-1D with a four man crew from the 176th Aviation Co., 14th Aviation Bn., Americal Division, and one member of the 5th Special Forces Command and Control Detachment was west of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, providing support to the insertion of U.S. led cross-border forces into the Prairie Fire operational area of Laos. While approaching a landing zone in Savannakhet Province, the helicopter was hit by 37mm anti-aircraft fire. It began a nose low vertical dive from an altitude of 4000 feet and no one was seen to eject before it impacted on the ground and burst into fire with flames reaching a height of 20 feet. There were no radio transmissions or beepers from the crew or passenger after impact and the five men on board the helicopter were declared missing in action. Intense groundfire precluded any entry into the crash site until four days when a ground team was successfully inserted. The team was unable to locate any evidence of the crew and no evidence anyone had survived.
In December 1971 the CIA forwarded a report to DIA about the sighting of American POWs in Laos. One report described four Americans said to have been captured in South Vietnam as passing through a way-station on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in mid-1970, Commo- Liaison Station 12, approximately 25 kilometers southwest of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province. The source pointed out a photograph of Williamson as resembling one of the four Americans. Another report described two captured pilots at Commo-Liaison Station 12 early in 1969 approximately 15 kilometers northwest of Muong Phine. These reports were placed in the file of those associated with this loss incident.
Williamson was considered by other returnees as a "no show" in the northern Vietnamese prison system and U.S. POWs returned during Operation Homecoming had no information that anyone had survived into captivity. However, one returnee reported having seen a statement with the name Williamson on it. After Operation Homecoming the five men in this incident were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In 1974, a report was received about the sighting of aircraft wreckage in Laos. The report was placed in the files of this and one other incident in the same general area. In another report, a Vietnamese refugee stated that two bodies were burned up in the crash of a Cobra helicopter and that report was also placed in the files of those associated with the two loss incidents in this general area.
James D. Cohron
On January 12, 1968, Staff Sergeant Cohron was a member of Team Indiana, a U.S. led covert cross border reconnaissance team on a mission inside Laos at a point along the border between Savannakhet and Saravan Provinces. The team was ambushed. After the engagement SSG Cohron and two Vietnamese team members could not be located and were declared missing. One of the two Vietnamese was later located and rescued alive but he could not shed any light on the fate of SSG Cohron. A ground search of the area by Team Santa Fe on January 15, 1968, located the area where SSG Cohron was last seen but there was no sign of him.
SSG Cohron was initially reported missing at a classified location, later acknowledged as Laos. He was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not yet been repatriated. SSG Cohron was declared dead/body not recovered, in July 1978.
The Defense Intelligence Agency has determined that the ambush of Team Indiana appears to correlate to a combat action of the People's Army of Vietnam Dong Nai Regiment. The Regiment captured an American who was interrogated by an interpreter from the People's Army of Vietnam 304th Infantry Division. DIA has concluded that this information indicates SSG Cohron was probably captured alive. No further information has been obtained concerning SSG Cohron's fate.
John F. Hartzheim
On February 27, 1968, Commander Milius was the pilot of an OP-2E aircraft on an armed reconnaissance flight over the Steel Tiger operational area in the vicinity of the Ban Karai Pass leading from North Vietnam into Khammouane Province, Laos. The aircraft was hit by an exploding projectile. Five crewmen exited the rear of the aircraft. Surviving crew members reported Commander Milius, although wounded, was last seen flying the aircraft and with the nose section in flames, but they believe he was able to bail out. Another crew member, Petty Officer John F. Hartzheim, was reported by survivors as either dying or dead at the time the aircraft crashed in Khammouane Province. A search effort on February 29th, Operation Texas Crest, failed to locate Commander Milius.
In August 1968 a People's Army of Vietnam defector in South Vietnam reported that during infiltration his unit captured a U.S. colonel with a survival radio. The approximately time of the capture was March 1968 but the precise location was not pinpointed. This report exists in Commander Milius' file as possibly correlating to him.
Neither individual was ever reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and neither of their remains has been repatriated. Both have been declared dead/body not recovered.
In January 1985 a Lao refugee turned over a human bone and other material from an aircraft crash site in Laos which may have related to the crash site of Commander Milius' aircraft. The remains were determined to be human but no further identification was possible. In December 1986 another Lao refugee offered remains and a dog tag allegedly belonging to Petty Officer Hartzheim.
Peter D. Hesford
On March 21, 1968, First Lieutenant Hesford and First Lieutenant Stowers were the crewmen in an F-4D, one of a flight of two aircraft on a night strike mission over Laos. A forward air controller illuminated three trucks on a road and a second forward air controller made passes in the target area, drawing heavy automatic weapons fire.
The crew radioed they were "rolling in" and that was their last transmission. Other aircraft observed 37mm anti-aircraft fire and then a large explosion and fireball. A search of the area failed to locate any survivors. There were no chutes and no beepers. Both airmen were initially declared missing.
On September 17, 1968, the Pathet Lao spokesman in Vientiane, Laos, Soth Phetrasy, stated that Lieutenant Hesford had been captured.
Lieutenant Hesford was declared dead/body not recovered, in June 1978. Lieutenant Stowers was declared dead/body not recovered, in October 1979. Neither individual was identified alive in the Lao or Vietnamese prison system.
In April 1989, U.S. intelligence received a report of the recovery of remains with dog tag information associated with Lieutenant Stowers. No remains were actually provided.
Charles G. Huston
On March 28, 1968, Sergeants Huston, Brown and Boyer were leading Team Asp, a covert cross border reconnaissance patrol operating from Forward Base (FOB) 4, an element of the 5th Special Forces Group Command and Control Detachment based in South Vietnam. They were on a mission in an area twenty kilometers northeast of the town of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province, Laos, when they came under heavy enemy fire and called for an extraction. The helicopter withdrew under heavy fire and was unable to recover Sergeants Brown and Huston. Sergeant Boyer was the last recovered and while holding onto a rope ladder and it together with its mount broke away from the recovery helicopter and he fell to the ground.
A ground search of the area on April 1, 1968, failed to show any sign of the three missing patrol members. They were declared missing at a classified location which was later acknowledged to be Laos. None of these individuals was reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and none of their remains has been repatriated. All three were initially reported missing and later declared dead/body not recovered.
In August 1984 a Lao refugee reported three Americans were killed in a People's Army of Vietnam ambush in the area of Team Asp's engagement. The bodies were reportedly buried in the area.
John Q. Adam
On May 22, 1968, a camouflaged C-130 departed Ubon with a crew of eight and one passenger from Nakhon Phanom Air Base on a routine night flare mission over Saravan Province. The last contact with the aircraft was a 2055. Fifteen minutes later another aircraft's crew observed a large fire on the ground in a mountainous area with heavy jungle foliage but were driven off by hostile anti-aircraft fire. Airborne search aircraft and night photography could not confirm the fire to be associated with an aircraft crash site but were of the view the circular fire resembled that of a crashed aircraft. The crew was declared missing. There was no evidence of any parachutes or beepers and no mayday calls.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information about the eventual fate of the crew. After Operation Homecoming they were declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In June 1989, a source turned in the drawing of an identity card and restricted area access card with the name of Gary Pate. In August 1989, a Vietnamese source provided dog tag information from a member of an ethnic minority residing in South Laos together with a photograph reportedly showing human remains at an unknown location. In May 1991 a source in Thailand reported dog tag information associated with Pate. The source stated he had received the information from a central Vietnamese who located the dog tag while looking for incense wood near Hue City, South Vietnam, and had instructed the source to provide the information to the U.S. government upon his arrival in Bangkok. In October 1991, U.S. investigators in Vietnam were provided dog tag information and a bone fragment reportedly of Gary Pate. The Vietnam resident turning over the material to U.S. investigators stated he was an intermediary acting for others.
Leighton L. Paul
On September 17, 1968, Paul and Davis were the crew in an RF-4C which took off from Ubon Air Base, Thailand on a single aircraft reconnaissance mission over Laos. Their aircraft was hit by hostile anti-aircraft fire in an area southeast of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province. Their aircraft began to break up and Paul, the pilot, ordered Davis to eject, then ejecting himself. The type of ejection system employed on the aircraft automatically ejected the navigator after the pilot's ejection.
Paul, the aircraft's pilot, ejected safely. He made contact with SAR forces and was rescued. There was no contact with Captain Davis and he was declared missing in action. A second electronic beeper heard at the time could not be pinpointed due to the overriding beeper signal from the pilot.
Returning U.S. POWs has no information on Captain Davis's fate. In March 1979 he was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In December 1984, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center staff in Thailand interviewed a Lao source who had been incarcerated at the Tchepone reeducation camp after 1975. The source reported wreckage of a U.S. jet aircraft in the area which was said to have been shot down in 1967. There were two crewmen who bailed out from the aircraft and one was rescued. People's Army of Vietnam forces killed the other airman whose body was buried in the area by local civilians. JCRC concluded this report possibly correlated to this loss incident.
Russell D. Galbraith
On December 11, 1968, Captains Galbraith and Harlan J. Drewry were the crew of an RF-4C on a reconnaissance mission over Savannakhet Province. Captain Galbraith later described feeling a thump and losing control of the aircraft. Captain Drewry ejected safely and was rescued but reported he did not see Captain Galbraith exit the aircraft. The aircraft crashed into an area approximately 65 kilometers northwest of Tchepone.
Captain Drewry was declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on his precise fate. In August 1978 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Francis J. McGouldrick
On December 13, 1968, a C-123K (Case 1340) collided in mid-air with a B-57E (Case 1341). The aircraft wreckage crashed into an area approximately 47 kilometers northwest of the town of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province, three kilometers east of Route 411 and in the area of Ban Kok Nak. The C-123 pilot, First Lieutenant Thomas H. Turner, exited through the cockpit window after finding the co- pilot's seat empty and fire coming into the cockpit from the fuselage. He later reported that there had been an explosion in the aft section of the aircraft and the C-123K had gone out of control. After parachuting from the cockpit window, Lieutenant Turner noted that there was another parachute below his and he believed it might have belonged to a member of the two-man B-57E crew. Lieutenant Turner was rescued on December 13th and all other crewmen from the two aircrews were declared missing.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the fate of the two aircrews. After Operation Homecoming they were eventually declared killed, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
From 1968 through 1971, the next of kin of Lieutenant Donahue tried unsuccessfully to obtain information about him from Lao communist officials. Reward notices were circulated in Thailand in the late 1970s which promised money and resettlement into the U.S. for information about Lieutenant Donahue. During 1980, information attributed to former Royal Lao Army Region II Commander, General Vang Pao, asserted that U.S. POWs had been moved from North Vietnam to Sam Neua, Laos, and then to the area of Kham Keut, Khammouane Province. These and other reports in a similar vein, eventually leading to assertions that Morgan Jefferson Donahue was still alive and simultaneously a prisoner in either Khammouane Province or Houa Phan Province, Laos and Binh Tri Thien Province, Vietnam, were determined by DIA to be fabrications.
In 1980 the DIA Director, Lieutenant General Eugene Tighe, initiated an effort which prevented the release of all POW/MIA intelligence reports received at that agency after August 1979. While due in part to a concern that the release of such reports might hazard any U.S. POWs still alive in Southeast, this policy coincided with efforts by some next of kin to have POW/MIA reports released so they could be entered into military service casualty board case reviews underway, including that of Captain Donahue. The Defense Department agreed to permit DIA to act as both initial and appellate review authority over such reports, effectively denying their release. Lieutenant Donahue was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in February 1981.
However, these earliest accounts led by 1981 to either funding by the U.S. Army's Intelligence and Security Command and National League of Families senior officials for, or involvement by senior Defense Department officials in, covert cross border forays by elements of the so-called Lao resistance operating from Thailand into Laos and may also have involved the so-called Vietnamese resistance. Such reports of live Americans in Khammouane and elsewhere were determined by DIA by 1987 to have been the result of an active measures disinformation program by the state security apparatus of Laos and Vietnam which achieved various objectives, including manipulation of the POW/MIA issue. Such hostile intelligence efforts had directly targeted the Lao neutralist faction as a conduit for the disinformation. DIA determined it was the neutralist groups and others in Thailand who had been, and still continue to be, conduits for hostile intelligence managed disinformation which eventually reaches private POW/MIA hunters and next of kin.
In 1982, a source reported information about a wartime crash of a C-130 in the area of this loss incident. Human remains were reportedly recovered and buried during the war. In 1986 the wreckage was located and the tail number determined to be that of the C-123K (Case 1340). In March 1990, Lao officials reported that civilians had recovered human remains from a B-57/C-123 crash site located on a karst in the area of this loss incident.
On December 19, 1968, Lieutenant Commander Bouchard and Lieutenant Robert W. Colyar were the crew in an A-6A launched from the U.S.S. Constellation for a night visual bombing run in Laos and under the control of a forward air controller. Their aircraft received a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire while flying at an altitude of 7000 feet. An explosion and flash of fire swept the cockpit area and the aircraft crashed, several small explosions occurring on board prior to its impact in an area approximately 600 meters west of Route 92 and 55 kilometers southeast of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province.
Flares dropped in the area disclosed one good parachute and beepers were heard. However, Lieutenant Colyar's beeper signal overrode the second probable beeper signal. The last information from Commander Bouchard was that he was injured and had second degree burns. Contact was established with Lieutenant Colyar who was all right on the ground and was later rescued but did not know if Commander Bouchard had ejected.
The suspected crash site was surveyed in May 1990 and personal artifacts and aircraft parts were located. A witness described having seen skeletal remains at the sight some years ago. In September 1990 the aircraft parts were confirmed to have come from an A-6. A July 1991 crash site survey failed to locate any remains. However witnesses were located who described the crash, the aircraft braking in half with half of it falling into a river. One body was found at the time and reportedly buried. Although the survey led to a conclusion that they had located the wreckage of an A-6, it was not possible to determine if the crash site pertained to this incident or that of another aircraft lost in this same area.
During Operation Homecoming, a returnee, CW2 Miller, reported having learned through POW notes that Michael Boucher was a Navy Lieutenant at Hoa Lo Prison as late as March 1, 1973. This was the only such report with this name and there was no U.S. POW or MIA by that name. However, a U.S. Air Force analysis in 1978 asserted this correlated to Michael Bouchard being alive in Hoa Lo Prison on that date. A DIA review of the Air Force report concluded the Air Force incorrectly correlated the name Michael Boucher to Michael Bouchard when it correctly correlated to Lieutenant Jack M. Butcher who was at Hoa Prison from December 1972 until released in March 1973.
Charles D. King
On December 24, 1968, Major Brownlee was the pilot of an F-105D, one in a flight of four on a strike mission near the Mu Gia Pass between Khammouane Province and North Vietnam. His aircraft was hit by hostile fire during a strike on a truck and Major Brownlee reported "fire and smoke in cockpit...bad..." followed by a garbled transmission. The SAR force described seeing "junk in the air" when Major Brownlee's aircraft apparently suffered an explosion at about the time he ejected from his aircraft. His parachute landed in trees within 200 meters of his aircraft's crash site in double canopy dense jungle and aircraft on the scene began receiving hostile ground fire. There was no radio contact with or beeper from Major Brownlee after his ejection.
On the morning of December 25th, rotor wash from a SAR helicopter attempting to recover Major Brownlee from the trees caused his parachute to dislodge and fall 70 feet to the ground. Paramedic Airman First Class King was lowered from a SAR helicopter and he reported back he'd found the pilot inert in the parachute. Airman King cut the pilot loose from his parachute harness and hooked his body to a cable which was intended to drag him through brush and under a fallen tree for a distance of over 20 feet to reach an open area from which to lift Major Brownlee's body from the crash site. With the body of Major Brownlee ready to be hoisted from the ground, Airman King reported receiving enemy fire, then radioed he had been hit by hostile fire and directed the SAR helicopter to pull up with enemy forces within 30 feet of him. While being hoisted up, the penetrator cable and hoist broke loose and Airman King and Major Brownlee fell ten feet to the ground below as the SAR aircraft was receiving hostile automatic weapons fire from the ground below. There was a two second emergency beeper ten minutes later but its precise location could not be fixed. Further efforts to locate both individuals were not successful.
On December 24th a Vietnam People's Army unit radioed it had shot down an aircraft and the pilot had bailed out. Ground forces later reported seeing the pilot bailing out of a reconnaissance aircraft.
In another report, a People's Army unit described a rescue attempt on December 25th in which a helicopter with someone on a ladder was also shot down and there was a report that an attempt would be made to capture the pilot with no indication if he'd been captured. These reports, associated with Khammouane Province, were placed in the MIAs files.
Both individuals were declared missing. Returning U.S. POWs were not aware of their precise fate. Several years after Operation Homecoming both were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Robert F. Coady
Mid-morning on January 18, 1967, Captain Coady was the pilot of an A-1H, the number two aircraft in a flight of four on a combat support mission approximately five miles south-southeast of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province. His aircraft made a shallow dive on a target, was hit by hostile fire during the dive, and crashed with wings level into a wooded hillside within ten meters of the source of the ground fire, exploding on impact. He was not observed to parachute from the aircraft and no beeper was heard. A SAR effort located no evidence of him.
In 1971, Captain Coady's sister viewed a film depicting U.S. POWs in North Vietnam during Christmas 1969. She also believed she'd seen his picture in a photo album the U.S. Navy had provided her. DIA has determined that all those in the 1969 film have been positively identified and Captain Coady is not in either the film or photos prepared of individuals depicted in the movie.
Upon his early release from prison in 1969, one U.S. POW reported having heard of a POW named either Bill Cody or Cote but never saw an individual with that name and could provide no other information about the individual. In 1978 the U.S. Air Force correlated this to Robert T. Coady but there is no basis for such a correlation and no other returnee from North Vietnam ever provided such a name. In July 1974 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In July 1992 Captain Coady's crash site was investigated by a joint U.S./Vietnamese team and the team interviewed witnesses concerning the circumstances of the crash. One source described having recovered Coady's dog tag and other personal artifacts in 1990 while scavenging for metal at the crash site. During July 1992 personal artifacts and surface wreckage recovered permitted a tentative correlation of the site to Captain Coady's aircraft crash site. The recovered material also suggested Captain Coady did not exit his aircraft before it crashed.
Russell K. Utley
On January 26, 1969, Major Utley and First Lieutenant Singleton were the crew in an F-4E, the lead aircraft in a flight of four on a strike mission over Savannakhet Province. At 0017 hours,there was an explosion on the ground during a strike on ground targets and it was evident that Major Utley's aircraft had crashed. There were no parachutes or beepers, and efforts to contact the crew by radio were unsuccessful. Both airmen were declared missing.
Shortly after the crash, a People's Army of Vietnam unit reported that an aircraft had been shot down on January 26th and a pilot captured. Later, a People's Army unit became more specific when it reported that it one of its elements had hit an F-4 on the night of the 25th. They found the pilot's collar (sic), the pilot was dead, and the aircraft had burned completely. Major Utley's loss incident was the only incident on January 26th and both People's Army of Vietnam reports appeared to describe the same incident. Returning U.S> POWs did not report the missing airmen in captivity.
After Operation Homecoming, they were declared dead/body not recovered.
Larry J. Stevens
On February 14, 1969, Lieutenant JG Stevens was the pilot of an A- 4C on a night strike mission over Laos. His aircraft was hit by hostile anti-aircraft fire at an altitude of 10,000 feet. His wingman's aircraft was also damaged but he managed to fly his aircraft out over the coast, eject, and was rescued.
U.S. aircrews reported two explosions at the time Lieutenant Steven's aircraft was hit and a forwarded air controller observed his aircraft impact with no parachute observed and no beeper.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on the eventual fate of Lieutenant Stevens who was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In 1991, information was provided to next of kin through private POW/MIA activist channels asserting that Lieutenant Stevens was alive and in Cambodia. A photograph allegedly showing Lieutenant Stevens with two other American MIAs, Lundy and Robertson, was produced together with opinions of a pathologist and next of kin that the three in the photograph were indeed the missing American servicemen. The photograph was later determined by DIA to be a hoax.
Cristos C. Bogiages, Jr.
On March 2, 1969, Major Bogiages was the pilot of an F-105D, one in a flight of two on a strike mission over Laos. Enroute to the target area he was diverted to work with a forward air controller on another target. After dropping his bombs on storage buildings and wooden crates outside them in Xieng Khouang Province, Major Bogiages made strafing passes on the same target. Major Bogiages made a normal recovery from his second strafing pass but then entered into a steep right hand turn and crashed on a small ridge approximately one kilometers south of the target. The burning wreckage was widely spread over a 500 meter area and the aircraft's drag chute was located 600 feet from the wreckage. Those on the scene did not believe the pilot had survived the crash. Major Bogiages was not seen to eject prior to the crash and there was no beeper. The forward air controller was hit by hostile ground fire while flying over the area.
On October 27, 1969, a ground search party entered the site and recovered a piece of material and left boot but no remains or survival gear. The material showed evidence of being subjected to high temperature based on fused portions of nylon which was also cut in several places. The boot was cut in the back, all laces were gone and the boot tongue was cut full length by a sharp object. It was believed the items were removed from a badly injured aviator. The material was initially believed to be a portion of the pilot's G-suit but was later found to be a portion of a deployment bag.
Major Bogiages name was passed to North Vietnamese officials late 1970 and U.S. officials were told through a private activist group, COLIAFAM, that Major Bogiages had never been detained in Vietnam. He was initially listed as missing in action. After Operation Homecoming he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In November 1982 a hearsay report was received about a F-105 crash near Phone Savan in which the pilot was killed and buried nearby. In April 1986 another report was received about a June 1969 crash of an F-105. The Pathet Lao ordered local villagers to bury the badly burned body of an American who fell out of the aircraft before it crashed. In August 1988, a report was received about a May 1969 crash of an F-105, one of two bombing a target. The aircraft crashed while pulling off the target. One badly burned body was seen in the wreckage. In January 1989, additional hearsay information about a wartime crash in which two crewmen reportedly died. These reports might have pertained to one of several incidents and were placed in the files of each loss. In April 1991 a U.S. citizen faxed a list of MIA to JCRC which had been originated by a resident of Thailand. Major Bogiages name was on the list but the meaning of the list was unclear.
Carter P. Luna
On March 10, 1969, Lieutenant Colonel Luna and Captain Aldis P. Rutyna were in one of a flight of two F-4D aircraft on a combat mission over Laos. Their aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire while over the Route 9112/9116 road junction. The JCRC currently carries them as lost over Savannakhet Province and the Defense Intelligence Agency carries them as lost over Khammouane Province.
Both crewmen ejected and landed safely. Both were in voice contact with search and rescue aircraft and reporting enemy ground fire close to their position. Communications was lost with Lieutenant Colonel Luna one hour later. The two crewmen landed on top of enemy forces and for the next two hours, Captain Rutyna served as a forward air controller calling in airstrikes on surrounding hostile forces. Captain Rutyna was rescued at that point, three hours after his shoot down.
Lieutenant Colonel Luna was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. He was initially declared missing and in August 1975 was declared dead/body not recovered.
On March 17, 1969, First Lieutenant Dinan was the pilot of an F- 105, one of two aircraft in a flight on a strike mission over Xieng Khouang Province in northern Laos. On his second staffing run over the target, Lieutenant Dinan radioed he believed he was hit and his cockpit was filling with smoke. He was able to eject from his aircraft and the crewman of another aircraft on the scene reported Lieutenant Dinan had waved to him from his parachute. A forward air controller observed his parachute enter the jungle and heard a beeper but was unable to establish either voice contact or a visual sighting of him once he had landed.
Approximately one hour later his parachute was located in tall trees. A pararescue specialist was lowered and reported Lieutenant Dinan was killed;the parachute had shredded when it went into the tall trees on a hillside slope and the pilot's body had been dismembered. Lieutenant Dinan's body could not be recovered due to darkness and the hazardous location of his landing area. In March 1969 Lieutenant Dinan was declared dead/body not recovered.
In May 1983, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received a report about the 1969 crash of a U.S. aircraft in the area where Lieutenant Dinan was lost. The pilot was reportedly captured after landing. This report was placed in Lieutenant Dinan's file due to the coincidence of time and location in the report.
Frederick W. Hess
On March 29, 1969, First Lieutenant Hess and Captain William J. Popendorf were the crew in an F-4D on an herbicidal spray mission in the Ban Laboy area of Khammouane Province. At an altitude of 200 feet and at a possible air speed of 500 knots there was an explosion in the left rear of the aircraft. Their aircraft went into a shallow climb and at 500-600 feet it began to roll to the left and then crashed in the area of Route 915. There were no chute or beepers. However, Captain Popendorf then radioed that he was alive on the ground with a broken arm and right leg. He was subsequently rescued.
Captain Popendorf reported that he heard Lieutenant Hess eject prior to his own ejection from the aircraft. Captain Popendorf's parachute was not fully deployed when he landed but had been snagged in a tree. Lieutenant Hess was declared missing in action.
In 1972 the Defense Attaché Office in Vientiane, Laos, forwarded the results of the Exploitation Team (Project 5310-03-E) interrogation of a People's Army of Vietnam soldier describing the April or May 1970 shoot down of an F-4H aircraft over the Binh Tram 31 area of operation. There was a parachute and seat and in the aircraft's wreckage. This report was placed in Lieutenant Hess' file due to the similarity in loss location.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Lieutenant Hess' precise fate. In May 1979 he was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In February 1984, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center in Thailand reported information from a private U.S. citizen in Thailand. The source asserted that the Lao "resistance" had recovered artifacts from Seno District, Savannakhet Province, including a skull and ring and associated this material with Lieutenant Hess.
Fred A. Gassman
On October 5, 1970, a joint U.S./Vietnamese reconnaissance team designated Team Fer-de-Lance from the 5th Special Forces Group Command and Control North group engaged hostile forces in the Phu Dung operational area in Saravan Province. The Assistant Team Leader, Sergeant Gassman, radioed to an aircraft overhead that the Team Leader had been hit by hostile fire and fallen off a cliff, the team was receiving hostile ground fire from three sides, and they were low on ammunition. The Assistant Team Leader then radioed "I've been hit - and in the worst way." Several groans were heard over the circuit and then the radio went silent.
Two other team members later described how Staff Sergeant Davidson was hit by a long burst of enemy fire after which Sergeant Gassman was talking on the radio when he too was shot. Sergeant Gassman groaned and fell to the ground with a large hole in his back. One Vietnamese team member with Sergeant Gassman when he was shot believed he had died.
After the incident the Sergeants Gassman and Davidson were declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on their precise fate. After Operation Homecoming they were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
William J. Brashear
On May 8, 1969, Major Brashear and Lieutenant Mundt departed Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, in one of a flight of four F4C aircraft on a mission over Laos. Their aircraft was hit by hostile fire while over the target area near Chavane Airfield, Saravane Province. One parachute was seen to have deployed and a second floated. A search and rescue helicopter reported voice contact with one survivor but could not identify him. The survivor reported he was badly burned and had an injured leg. One member of the SAR flight identified the voice as that of Major Brashear.
Neither individual was identified alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and neither of their remains have been repatriated. Both individuals were initially declared missing. Lieutenant Mundt was declared dead/body not recovered, in February 1979. Major Brashear was also declared dead/body not recovered.
In 1972 a People's Army of Vietnam defector reported observing a U.S. POW at the site where Major Brashear's aircraft was lost. He also reported he heard the POW was an F-105 pilot and a major.
Virgil G. Stewart
On May 17, 1969, First Lieutenant Stewart was the pilot of an F-4D in the area of the Mu Gia Pass, Khammouane Province, Laos, when his aircraft sustained battle damage. He ejected from his aircraft and reported to rescuers that he was on the ground with a broken arm and leg. Rescue forces had a visual sighting of him and short beepers. A hostile gun position was located south of his position and it was attacked by SAR forces. A pararescue specialist later landed in the area and found him dead. Hostile groundfire prevented recovery of his body. He was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in May 1969.
In 1978, the Defense Intelligence Agency reevaluated a December 1972 report from the Defense Attaché Office, Vientiane, prepared by the Air Force member (Project 5800-09-05) of the Attache's Exploitation Team. One of the items reported by the source of the report was that an F-4H had crashed circa May 1969 and it was assumed the pilot had been rescued. This report was reevaluated to be a possible correlation to one of several losses in the area of the crash, one of which was Lieutenant Steward's loss incident.
James W. Grace
On June 14, 1969, Captain Grace and First Lieutenant Wayne J. Karas were the crew in an F-4D on a bomb damage assessment mission over Savannakhet Province. Their aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire while assessing damage to a bridge and was able to fly 85 kilometers east-northeast before both crewmen were forced to eject.
They parachuted safely from their aircraft and search personnel were in contact with them. The two crewmen landed approximately 100 meters apart and were soon recovered by SAR forces.
However, during their recovery, the rotor blade on the helicopter recovering Captain Grace hit a tree and this caused Captain Grace to fall from the jungle penetrator on which he was seated. He fell 300-500 feet to the ground and efforts to locate him there were unsuccessful. Friendly units searched the area during August 1969- June 1970 but found no evidence of him. Lieutenant Karas was recovered safely.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Captain Grace's precise fate. In June 1976, Captain Grace was declared killed in action, body not recovered.
Patrick M. Fallon
On July 4, 1969, Colonel Fallon was the pilot of an A-1H, lead in a flight of two aircraft which departed Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand, late in the morning for an armed reconnaissance mission over Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. His aircraft was hit in the wing during his second pass over the target and Colonel Fallon bailed out. Aircrews overhead saw Colonel Fallon's parachute being dragged in and initially "guessed" Colonel Fallon was on the ground and a prisoner approximately 20 miles southeast of Muong Suoi. However, Colonel Fallon was able to report he had landed safely and was in good condition but receiving fire from nearby hostile forces. Aircraft in the area laid down air strikes within one hundred feet of his position and received hostile ground fire. They reported friendly forces were two and a half miles southwest of his location and advised him to move in that direction but Colonel Fallon was observed surrounded by hostile forces.
After being in communications with aircraft overhead for approximately thirty minutes, Colonel Fallon radioed "Put it in around me. They have zapped me. I've had it." However, radio communications continued with Colonel Fallon for approximately 15 more minutes with no evidence he'd been wounded.
Colonel Fallon's wingman observed hostile infantry on the ridge top around his position. U.S. aircraft delivered ordnance on Colonel Fallon's position. Colonel Fallon was declared missing in action.
In August 1969 the area Colonel Fallon was last seen was searched by ground forces but with negative results. On September 16, 1969, an unconfirmed report was received that a U.S. pilot had been killed by grenades while defending himself with a pistol. An attempt was being made to locate villagers who might know of the grave site.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Colonel Fallon's precise fate. In August 1979 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Peter X. Pike
On July 12, 1969, Major Bannon and First Lieutenant Pike were the crew in an F-4D which departed Ubon Air Base, Thailand, on a visual reconnaissance mission over Laos. While over Khammouane Province, Lieutenant Pike radioed that he was trying to find a hole in the clouds because their target area was unworkable due to poor weather conditions and he was going to move to another area. Their radio transmission suddenly stopped in mid-sentence at the same time their radar signal disappeared. The area in which the crew was flying at the time was mountainous terrain with mountain tops to 4500 feet and peaks in the area to 5830 feet. A limited aerial search of the area failed to locate any evidence of the missing crew.
In December 1970, the Swedish Government provided U.S. officials with a list of 207 names of American POWs and MIAs. Major Bannon's name was annotated that he was never captured in North Vietnam.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the eventual fate of the crew. Lieutenant Pike and Major Bannon were declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death, in May 1974 and January 1979 respectively.
In late 1979, JCRC received information from an ethnic Lao resident in Thailand involved in self described Lao resistance activities. He reported that his element had captured a Pathet Lao guard from a cave prison in Khammouane Province to which 18 U.S. POWs had been transferred from Xieng Khouang Province in March 1979. The senior prisoner was described as Colonel Paul who was said to have been the pilot of a Porter aircraft shot down over the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang Province in 1971. In a separate letter to another individual, the source identified the senior POW as Paul W. Mercland. CIA was reportedly unable to corroborate the report, believed associated with the claimed presence of U.S. POWs in the area of Nhommarath in 1981. In June 1981, this incident was briefed by the DIA Director and his staff to the House Sub- Committee on Asian and Pacific Affairs which time the DIA said that the Nhommarath report had developed into "a complex and sensitive matter."
In April 1986, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received information about aircraft wreckage on the ground in the area of this loss incident. Other crash reports were deceived during December 1988-August 1989 which might correlate to this loss incident.
Roger D. Helwig
On September 11, 1969, Helwig and fellow F-4D crewman Roger H. Stearns departed Da Nang, South Vietnam, on a visual reconnaissance flight over Savannakhet Province, Laos. After pulling low off their target, fuel was observed to be streaming from the top and bottom of their aircraft's wings. A small flash occurred on the left wing, and their aircraft rolled to the right and was almost completely inverted when it crashed into the ground in a stream bed several hundred feet beyond the target, exploding into a fireball on impact. The time from pull out to crash was estimated to be approximately five seconds, the canopy was seen still in place on the aircraft when it crashed, and no parachutes deployed. The two crewmen were declared missing.
Reports from others on the scene described part of a parachute in a tree beside the wreckage, an apparently deflated life raft to the west of the stream bed, and other badly torn parachute parts 75 meters north of the wreckage. There was no sign of any survivors. There were intermittent beepers in the area for the next two hours, but in no apparent order to the signals, and there was no voice transmission.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the two missing airmen and after the start of Operation Homecoming they were declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In October 1984, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received crash site information from a refugee in Thailand who provided the tail number of an F-4 aircraft which correlated to the F-4D's tail number involved in this incident. In March 1989 the site was surveyed by a joint team in May 1990 a data plate from the aircraft was recovered together with an identity card and human remains of Roger H. Stearns. Roger Helwig remains unaccounted for.
Gray D. Warren
On October 25, 1969, First Lieutenant Bynum and Captain Warren were the crew in an F-4D on a forward air control mission over Khammouane Province. A bulldozer was sighted in the target area and they made two passes over the bulldozer. While on their third pass, a low angle pass on the dozer, they hit the bulldozer with a pod of high explosive rockets and then their aircraft was observed to impact on the ground and approximately 100 meters north of the bulldozer, exploding into a large fireball. The wreckage of their aircraft was spread over a 400 meter area. The area of impact was in the area of Ban San and Route 912, approximately nine kilometers from the Laos/North Vietnam border. There were no known survivors and both airmen were declared missing in action. SAR forces encountered hostile weapons fire during a two hour visual reconnaissance of their crash site.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on their precise fate. They were declared dead/body not recovered, on separate dates in 1973 and 1976.
Benjamin F. Danielson
On December 5, 1969, Captain Danielson was flying an F4C from Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, on an interdiction mission over Laos. His aircraft was hit by hostile groundfire while in a high angle bomb delivery into an area of up through 75mm anti-aircraft fire in a heavily defended area near the North Vietnamese border. He and his co-pilot ejected and landed close together in Khammouane Province, Laos. Captain Danielson and his co-pilot were separated by a stream but were in contact with one another until December 6. On that date the co-pilot heard the sound of excited voices from a hostile search party scouring the area where Captain Danielson was located. The co-pilot then heard weapons firing, a scream from the area where Captain Danielson was hiding and then silence. There was no further radio transmission from Captain Danielson. The co- pilot was rescued the following day.
Captain Danielson was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. He was initially declared missing and was declared dead/body not recovered in June 1976.
Bruce C. Fryar
On January 2, 1970, Captains Fryar and Nicholas G. Brooks were the crew of an A-6A from the U.S.S. Ranger, one in a flight of two on a late afternoon strike mission over the Mu Gia Pas in Khammouane Province. A forward air controller saw an orange flash followed by a fire on the right side of their aircraft. The forward air controller and flight leader saw two deployed parachutes and ejection seats. Two beepers were heard on guard frequency and there was a weak voice transmission which was unintelligible.
A pararescue specialist was lowered to the site of one parachute and found a lifeless body he identified later through a photograph as that of Captain Fryar. While attempting to hook his body onto a cable to remove it, the pararescue specialist reported Captain Fryar's body was limp, his head had turned 360 degrees as if his neck was broken, and his legs were bent up behind his head. Hostile ground fire forced the SAR force to withdraw and the effort was temporarily suspended. The SAR force returned on June 3, 1970 and Captain Fryar and his parachute were gone. There was an electronic beeper that morning but no pattern to its transmission. The SAR effort was continued until suspended January 7th. On January 19, 1970, a People's Army of Vietnam unit in Laos radioed it had captured one injured pilot but was unable to get the second. The pilot was "very sick" but had been killed by ethnic minorities. The second pilot was eventually captured but later escaped.
Both crewmen were initially declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to describe their precise fate and after Operation Homecoming both were declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In April 1982 Captain Brooks remains were repatriated and identified.
In February 1986 the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received information that remains had been recovered from this crash site and repatriated in May 1985 but no remains correlated to Captain Fryar were identified at the Central Identification Laboratory. In May 1991, a joint U.S./Lao investigation of the crash site led to the interview of witnesses who stated the bodies of two crewmen were recovered after the incident and buried in an adjacent bomb crater. The joint team did recover remnants of two survival tests, one flight suit and other artifacts but no remains. This site excavated was believed that of this loss incident.
Dennis G. Pugh
On March 19, 1970, Captain Richard A. Rash and First Lieutenant Pugh were the crew in an F-4D on a combat mission over Khammouane Province. They were hit by hostile ground fire and ejected from their aircraft in an area approximately 15 kilometers south of the Mu Gia Pass. Airborne search and rescue forces established contact with both of them on the ground but were unable to recover them due to darkness. The next day SAR forces reestablished contact with Lieutenant Pugh who reported that hostile forces were within ten meters of his position. He requested the SAR forces place ordnance on his position and he then held down the transmit key on his radio. Then, excited Asian voices were heard followed by 15 to 20 shots being fired, followed by silence. Ordnance was placed on his position as he requested and there was no further contact with him.
Captain Rash was rescued on March 21st and reported hearing the sound of small arms fire from Lieutenant Rash's location after which he lost radio contact with him. Further efforts to locate Lieutenant Pugh were unsuccessful and he was declared missing in action.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the eventual fate of Lieutenant Pugh. He was later declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In 1984, U.S. intelligence received information from a source describing the shoot down of an aircraft in which one pilot was rescued and one was taken prisoner. This report was believed to possibly correlate to this loss incident although Captain Rash and the SAR pilots believed Lieutenant Pugh had died.
Richard L. Ayers
On April 16, 1970, an RF-4C with a two man crew of Major Ayers and Captain Rausch departed Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon to conduct reconnaissance along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam as well as the adjacent area of Savannakhet Province, Laos. They refueled in flight and advised their controller that they were heading north to another target area. The new target area was known to be a high threat area with 37mm and other anti- aircraft weapons. They were last reported over Savannakhet Province but did not return from their mission and were declared missing in action. There were no chutes or beepers located.
Subsequent to their disappearance, Radio Hanoi's domestic service reported its forces had shot down an RF-4C in the Vinh Linh Special Zone, the North Vietnamese side of the DMZ, on the afternoon of April 16, 1970. This report was correlated to the loss of Major Ayers' aircraft.
On April 17, 1970, a People's Army of Vietnam unit radioed a report concerning four recent U.S. aircraft shoot downs. Three of the aircraft were F-4 and the completely burned remains of one crewman were found in one F-4 crash site wreckage. The pilot of the fourth aircraft, an RF-4C, was also killed. The portion of this radio message dealing with the RF-4C was believed associated with Major Ayers' shoot down even though People's Army forces only reported (one) pilot killed.
Charles S. Rowley
On April 22, 1970, Lieutenant Colonel Rowley was the navigator on an AC-130 on an armed reconnaissance mission over Saravane Province, Laos. It was hit by 37mm antiaircraft fire and crashed. One crewman was rescued alive and ten others, including LTC Rowley, were reported missing in action. No chutes or beepers were reported for the ten mission. Lieutenant Colonel Rowley's photograph was identified by returnees.
During the mid-1980s private U.S. and Lao POW hunters produced a photograph of a Caucasian reported to be LTC Rowley alive in Laos. In May 1991 U.S. intelligence received information of the recovery of identification media containing the name and social security account number of LTC Charlie B. Davis, the aircraft's navigator.
Donald B. Bloodworth
On the evening of July 24, 1970, Captain Reed and First Lieutenant Bloodworth departed Udorn Air Base, Thailand, in an F-4D, one in a flight of three aircraft on a night escort mission over Laos. They refueled in flight and preceded to the Plain of Jars area of Xieng Khouang Province to provide escort to an AC-119 gunship. The gunship located a truck on Route 7 and fired on in. After expending its ammunition, Captain Reed's aircraft also attacked the truck. They were unsuccessful on their first pass and were approved for a second pass over the target but there were no further communications with the crew. Shortly thereafter, there was a large explosion on the ground near the target. There were no chutes or beepers and a ground search was not possible to extremely heavy hostile activity in the crash site area.
On July 25, 1970, a hostile unit in Laos radioed that its forces had shot down one F-4 on July 25th with anti-aircraft fire and the pilots had been captured. This report was initially believed correlated to this loss incident but was later determined to probably correlate with another incident in South Laos, which occurred on July 25th, and not this incident, which occurred in North Laos on July 24th.
Both crewmen were declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the precise fate of the two missing crewmen. After Operation Homecoming they were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In July 1973, the Defense Attaché Office Exploitation Team (Project 5310-03-E) forwarded information from a prisoner who described the crash of one of three jets bombing on the eastern rim of the Plain of Jars circa April 1968. One aircraft reportedly dove on a ground target but didn't recover from its dive and crashed. The next day the source heard from a Pathet Lao medical technician that two crewmen were killed in the crash.
DIA believed this report might be associated with this loss incident. In 1973 the Exploitation Team forwarded information from a former Pathet Lao describing an aircraft crash said to have occurred in 1969 near Nong Tang cave. While it was initially suspected it might pertain to this loss incident, DIA reevaluated it after Operation Homecoming and concluded it might pertain to the loss incident of a returnee, Charles Reiss.
In 1986 the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received a report about a crash site in the vicinity of this loss incident. In January 1990, a joint JCRC/Lao team visited the area of this loss incident and was told a Lao national had remains to turn over. The source could not be located at that time. In July 1971 a joint team investigated the site and in December 1991 another joint team visited the site, locating F-4 wreckage and a portion of parachute harness.
Joseph L. Chestnut
On October 13, 1970, Major Chestnut was the pilot of a T-28 propeller aircraft on an orientation flight which originated from Luang Prabang, the royal capital of Laos. The flight leader saw smoking coming from Major Chestnut's T-28 wings but there were no flames. His T-28 began a shallow straight ahead climb and then went over the crest of a hill and exploded on the other side of the crest. Major Chestnut was not seen to parachute from the aircraft and there was no beeper. He was declared missing.
On October 14, 1970, a ground search team entered the area of Major Chestnut's crash. They located the aircraft's wreckage and Major Chestnut's seat but there was no evidence of Major Chestnut. They searched the area again on October 23rd and located more wreckage, but there was still no evidence of Major Chestnut.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information concerning Major Chestnut. In July 1978 he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In July 1990, a source provided information on a T-28 crash near Luang Prabang in 1971. The aircraft was said to have been shot down and the pilot buried. Another initially claimed he had witnessed the incident, later acknowledged his information came from what he'd learned as a member of the ground search party, and later introduced a source with hearsay information about the crash.
Owen G. Skinner
On December 12, 1970, Skinner and Duckett departed Thailand in an 0-2 to provide forward air control support to a B-57 aircraft engaged in an air strike on trucks in an area nine kilometers southeast of Tchepone in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The aircraft did not return from its mission and its wreckage was located in the target area and approximately 500 meters south of Route 9. Both airmen were declared missing.
The crew of the B-57G was also downed during this mission but the crewmen were rescued. The crew of the B-57G reported it had sustained a mid-air collision with an 0-2. An Air Force inquiry found case 1683 to have been a hostile loss due to it being a high threat area and nothing substantive in the B-57G crew statements to confirm that a mid-air collision had occurred even though the B-57G crash side was near the O-2 crash site.
A search and rescue aircraft located the O-2 wreckage on December 13 and observed a parachute hanging from a tree near the crash site. An emergency beeper was also heard in the area on December 14. The area was characterized as full of hostile ground forces. The rescue aircraft made radio contact with someone but was unable to determine who or where.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to confirm the crew survived into captivity. After Operation Homecoming, they were declared dead/body not recovered.
In September 1989 the area of the 0-2 crash site was surveyed by the Joint Casualty Resolution Center and there was no evidence of the wreckage of the aircraft. The area was described as a well established farming community.
Albro L. Lundy, Jr.
On December 24, 1970, Major Lundy was the lead A-1E aircraft in a flight of two escorting a flight of three medical evacuation helicopters. The medevac Air America helicopters had made a pick up from the Ban Ban Valley in eastern Xieng Khouang Province. During the flight over Xieng Khouang Province, Major Lundy reported his engine was running rough, then reported his engine backfiring and he was ejecting. His seat rocket was seen to fire and there was an apparently normal parachute deployment. One Air America pilot reported someone was in the parachute when it first opened but that could not be confirmed by others. However, at an altitude of 1000 feet the parachute harness was found to be empty and the leg straps dangling with no one in the harness. A helicopter followed the parachute to the ground and confirmed it to be empty.
Major Lundy's aircraft exploded on impact and burned with its ordnance detonating. There was no radio, beeper, or beacon from him. Ground forces attempted to enter the crash site that day but were driven off by hostile fire in the area. Major Lundy was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in December 1970.
Over the past two years there have been over 20 reports asserting Major Lundy was alive and held at various locations in different countries to include Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and with no location specified. No hard evidence has surfaced that Major Lundy survived his downing and was alive after that point. A photograph allegedly depicting Major Lundy with two other purported POWs alive in Cambodia in 1990 was determined by DIA to be a hoax.
Park G. Bunker
On December 30, 1970, Captain Bunker was the pilot of an O-1 aircraft on a visual reconnaissance mission over Xieng Khouang Province. His aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire and crashed.
Captain Bunker contacted his forward air controller and advised he was on the ground approximately five kilometers west of a lake and did not know the location of his observer. His last radio transmission was "I'm hit at least five times, for all practical purposes I am dead." Beeper signals continued for approximately three minutes after his last transmission before going silent.
Airborne search and rescue forces arrived and located a body face down approximately 10 meters from Captain Bunker's aircraft. It appeared to be the body of Captain Bunker and had suffered a head wound with the body riddled with wounds from the waist up. Heavy hostile ground fire drove off the SAR force. In December 1970 Captain Bunker was declared killed in action, body not recovered.
In 1972, the Army Attaché Office's Exploitation Team (Project 5310- 03-E) reported information from a source about a December 1971 crash site in Xieng Khouang Province. The source reported a charred body and arm were at the crash site. This report was placed in Captain Bunker's file due to the proximity of his crash site to the crash site reported by the source. In 1975, the Exploitation Team forwarded information from a source describing wreckage and two skeletons in this same area. Another source described having been told by the Pathet Lao that one American and one Thai were killed. The remains were still lying on the ground in July 1974.
In 1982, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center forward information from sources about the crash of U.S. aircraft in Xieng Khouang Province during either 1968 or 1969. These reports were also placed in Captain Bunker's file due to the coincidence in crash site. The last report received in 1988 offered hearsay information about a shoot down in 1968 or 1969 in which an American and a Hmong had died and were buried nearby.
Randolph J. Ard
On March 7, 1971, Warrant Officer Ard and Lieutenant Colonel Burnett were with two other U.S. soldiers on an H-58 ostensively on a transport mission over South Vietnam. The aircraft was hit by hostile machine gun fire while at an altitude of 250-300 feet and crashed three kilometers from Ban Houay San Airfield, Savannakhet Province, Laos. After action reports indicate the aircraft was attempting to recover U.S. wounded in Laos when it was hit by groundfire.
The two Army crew members who escaped the crash site reported that prior to leaving the site, Warrant Officer Ard had both legs broken, several bullet wounds and possibly a crushed hip.
Lieutenant Colonel Burnett was bleeding from the head, neck, arms and was speaking incoherently. The site was taking incoming 155mm artillery fire, shrapnel from exploding rounds was hitting the aircraft after it crash landed, there was incoming rocket fire onto their position and People's Army of Vietnam forces were approaching their crashed aircraft.
On March 18, 1971, South Vietnamese Army forces recaptured the area and were unable to locate any sign of the two U.S. officers. They reported the entire area showed clear evidence of the extremely heavy fighting which had taken place in the area which was within the Operation Lamson 719 area of tactical operations. North Vietnamese prisoners later interviewed in South Vietnam reported sightings of U.S. POWs being escorted north along the Ho Chi Minh Trail but none could be correlated to these two missing officers.
Neither officer was ever reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. Both individuals were reported missing and in May 1979 were declared dead/body not recovered.
Barton S. Creed
On March 13, 1971, Lieutenant Creed was leading a flight of A-7E aircraft on a strike mission in Tchepone District of southern Savannakhet Province, Laos, along road segment 99B. Pulling out of a strafing run on a truck his aircraft was hit in the mid- section by hostile ground fire and Lieutenant Creed ejected. A forward air controller saw a parachute deploy and soon established radio contact with Lieutenant Creed on the ground from whom he learned Creed had a broken arm, broken leg and was losing consciousness. Creed last reported that "they are here" and his radio beeper went silent twenty seconds later. The FAC, receiving small arms fire from the ground, heard no further transmission from Lieutenant Creed. Four SAR attempts were unsuccessful and SAR personnel observed someone had moved Lieutenant Creed's parachute to a new location. U.S. forces were aware this was a common practice by hostile forces attempting to lure search and rescue forces into a trap.
Lieutenant Creed was initially reported missing and later declared dead/body not recovered. He was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. One returning POW reported being shown the identity card of someone with a one syllable name which had "EE" in the name and which may have been the ID card of Lieutenant Creed.
John M. Sparks
On March 19, 1971, Chief Warrant Officer Cristman and his crew were in an armed helicopter on a mission to provide fire support during the pick up of South Vietnamese airborne troops at Fire Support Base Alpha in Savannakhet Province, Laos. Their helicopter was hit by heavy automatic weapons fire and was forced to make an emergency landing. One of the crewmen, Specialist 4th Class Langenour, was pushed out of the aircraft by Sp5 Garcia and he was able to reach a group of nearby South Vietnamese troops. He was told by one of the troops that the other crewmen had exited the aircraft and headed away from the front of it into the path of advancing North Vietnamese forces. Specialist Langenour later walked out of Laos with the South Vietnamese soldiers. U.S. aircrews flying overhead after the crash landing did not see the three missing airmen escape from the aircraft.
In September 1973 a People's Army of Vietnam defector reported his battalion engaged South Vietnamese Army forces in Laos conducting Operation Lamson 719. They captured an injured helicopter pilot who was taken to nearby field hospital B-7 where he later died. Other crewmen from the downed helicopter were found dead and buried. The defector identified a photograph of CW2 Christmas as resembling the individual captured alive by his battalion.
In March 1987 a private American POW hunter reported a live American in Laos. The background of the purported American correlates to a crewman from this incident.
None of the three crewmen from this incident were reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. All were initially reported missing in action and in October 1978 were declared dead/body not recovered.
Walter H. Sigafoos, III
On April 25, 1971, Captain Lemon and First Lieutenant Sigafoos were the crew in an F-4D on an operational mission over Saravan Province, Laos. Their escort marked a truck target for them and their aircraft went in to attack the target. Crew in another aircraft on the scene observed a large explosion of their apparent crash but due to darkness were unable to observe any parachutes. They flew over the area of the crash which was a large fire and several smaller ones with flames shooting several hundred feet into the sky and smoking reaching 8500 feet. A search of a 15 mile radius of their crash site failed to disclose any evidence of either beepers or survivors. Both airmen were declared missing in action.
After this loss incident, a North Vietnamese unit reported two aircraft may have been shot down, an OV-10 and an F-4. These shoot downs were believed to pertain to the Ban Karai Pass area in Khammouane Province which is well to the north of this loss incident. A pilot was reportedly captured. A report from an North Vietnamese Army unit on May 8, 1972, reported that 37mm anti- aircraft guns had fired on an F-4, the pilot had been shot at while coming down on a white parachute, and the pilot was dead. The F-4 portion of these two reports were placed in the intelligence files of those associated with this loss incident.
Early in 1972, a North Vietnamese Army soldier assigned to a People's Army of Vietnam logistical element in Saravan Province reported to a U.S. Army Attaché Exploitation Team in Vientiane, Laos that a U.S. jet had been shot down near the village of Ban Bac in 1971. Two pilots on board the aircraft had been reportedly killed and People's Army of Vietnam soldiers said they recovered the watches from the two bodies. This report was believed to possibly correlate to this loss incident. U.S. POWs who returned during Operation Homecoming were unable to provide any information on the precise fate of this air crew. After Operation Homecoming the two crewmen were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In December 1982, the Defense Intelligence Agency received information from an American citizen claiming to know about live U.S. POWs in Vietnam. The individual was interviewed by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The individual stated he knew of 19 American POWs alive in Vietnam. He provided the names of seven of the 19, one of whom was Captain Jeffrey C. Lemon, and described a recent visit to Vietnam. U.S. investigators noted that the seven names provided were the last seven U.S. servicemen declared dead in 1982 and believed the names he provided was taken from publicly available information for reasons which were unclear.
The source provided no other POW/MIA information.
Daniel W. Thomas
On July 6, 1971, First Lieutenant Thomas was the pilot of an OV-10 on a forward air control mission over Attopeu Province. On board with him was Captain Carr, deputy commander of the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observation Group element at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, a passenger on the OV-10 for an orientation flight. They did not make radio contact at 1700 hours, did not return from their mission, and were declared missing.
Their flight coincided with an area of ground operations of Team Hoang Loi, a Vietnamese led cross-border operations team from MACSOG's base at Kontum, South Vietnam, which had been inserted into the J-9 target area in Laos and in the vicinity of enemy Base Area 613. The team was extracted from its operating area and returned safely at approximately 1630 hours. Upon its return it reported hearing an explosion or impact northeast of their location at about 1600 hours. This coincided with the time and general area where the OV-10 was last believed to be located. A search of the area failed to disclose any evidence of the aircraft or its crew.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on either Captain Carr or Lieutenant Thomas. After Operation Homecoming they were declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
During 1991, photographs of a German national were correlated by various individuals to be Captain Donald Carr. Defense Department analysis of the information led to a conclusion that the photograph and report that Captain Carr was alive was a hoax.
Leroy J. Cornwell
On September 10, 1971, Captains Cornwell and Ivan were the crew of an F-4D which crashed in Xieng Khouang Province while on an operational mission in the Barrel Roll operating area. One parachute and probable F-4 aircraft wreckage was located in an area approximately 29 kilometers northeast of Phone Savan and four kilometers east of Route 7. Their wingman established communications with Captain Cornwell but neither crewman was recovered and both were declared missing in action.
Color photography of the crash site suggested the wreckage was burning over a widely spread area. A 37mm anti-aircraft gun position was within 300 meters of the crash site and weapons three positions fired on SAR forces.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the precise fate of the two crewmen. After Operation Homecoming both were declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Scott W. McIntire
On December 10, 1971, Lieutenant Colonel McIntire and his aircraft commander, Major Robert E. Belli, were in one of two F-105G aircraft on a mission over the Mu Gia Pass in support of a B-52 strike. They expended two AGM-45 missiles against enemy Fan Song radar which had acquired their aircraft. Their aircraft was then hit by a surface to air missile, the explosion coming to the rear of LTC McIntire and of sufficient force that it rendered Major Belli, in front of LTC McIntire, initially unconscious. Major Belli ejected both himself and LTC McIntire. Major Belli was rescued by search and rescue aircraft but LTC McIntire could not be located. Major Belli's rescue, because of the extreme difficulty in rescuing someone from this high threat area, became a feature article in the Stars & Stripes military newspaper.
On December 11, 1971, a search and rescue helicopter located LTC McIntire handing limp in his parachute in a tall tree. A flight surgeon on the aircraft stated LTC McIntire appeared lifeless and stated his professional view that the conditions of weather and the position of the body after hanging suspended for 20 hours indicated LTC McIntire would have died of hypothermia within six hours and was probably dead on December 11th. Heavy groundfire drove off the SAR aircraft before LTC McIntire could be recovered.
LTC McIntire was not reported alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system and his remains have not been recovered. He was initially declared missing and in May 1972 was declared dead/body not recovered.
Scott D. Ketchie
On the evening of April 9, 1972, First Lieutenant Ketchie was the Navigator in an A-6A which took off from the U.S.S. Coral Sea for a strike mission over lines and communications and supply points in the area of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province. After his second run against a target of five trucks, he departed the target area and was at an altitude of 12,000 feet when his aircraft was hit in its aft section by hostile anti-aircraft fire. His aircraft caught on fire and began to spin. The pilot directed Lieutenant Ketchie to eject. The pilot ejected but neither saw nor had contact with Lieutenant Ketchie from the time of the eject order and up to the time the aircraft crashed. The crash site was in the Steel Tiger east operational area east-northeast of Tchepone and near Vietnam's Demilitarized Zone.
The pilot, Major Smith, landed approximately 40 yards from the crash site of their aircraft and remained in place for four days until rescued. He never was able to establish any contact with Lieutenant Ketchie. One U.S. search aircraft overhead in contact with the surviving pilot "thought" he saw two parachutes on the ground but this was not confirmed by any other source. Maj. Smith was able to hear the sound of people in the area and coordinated air strikes on them. On one occasion, a BLU-52 canister of gas was dropped on the area by search and rescue forces and Major Smith was himself gassed. Search and rescue forces searched the area for Lieutenant Ketchie but were unable to locate any evidence of him through the time the pilot was rescued.
On April 9, 1972, a Vietnam People's Army unit reported having hit an aircraft, the pilot had parachuted out, and search teams had been sent to capture the pilot. On April 10, 1972, a unit reported it had downed an aircraft and the pilot had been killed. A second aircraft was also reported shot down and the unit said it heard an aircraft was shot down on March 30th. Another report on April 10th stated a pilot had been captured. These reports were believed to possibly be associated with Lieutenant Ketchie's loss incident and were placed in his file.
Lieutenant Ketchie was initially reported missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on his precise fate. After Operation Homecoming he was declared dead/body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
Richard W. Herold
On September 2, 1972, Captain Herold and a Lao forward observer departed Vientiane, Laos, in an O-1F to conduct visual reconnaissance and provide forward air control in support of two F- 4E aircraft striking hostile artillery positions in Xieng Khouang Province. In one of the F-4 aircraft was Captain Wood and Major Greenwood.
While in the target area, an F-4 crew lost sight of Captain Herold's aircraft but later observed a large fireball in the area where Captain Wood's aircraft was last seen and aircraft wreckage appeared to be falling to the ground in pieces. One fully deployed parachute was also seen and a second unidentified object was also observed falling at the same rate of speed. The parachute and second object were not observed all the way to the ground. Other debris was seen in the air and possibly two ejection seats associated with the F-4 crew. After the incident, there was no contact with Captain Herold. His aircraft's wreckage was located on the ground but there was no evidence of any survivors but two parachutes were located approximately one mile apart.
Those on the scene concluded that Captain Herold's aircraft had collided with the F-4. The F-4's wreckage was located approximately four kilometers from the O-1 wreckage and there were fresh trails leading to a nearby parachute. Both F-4 crewmen were declared missing. One initial report of one blond haired American alive on the ground was found to be incorrect when the "blond haired" individual turned out to be an Lao wearing a light colored hat.
On September 26, 1972, the Pathet Lao's news service reported than an F-4 had been shot down on September 1st over the Plain of Jars and it was believed by U.S. intelligence analysts that this referred to the loss of Captain Wood's aircraft.
Captain Herold was declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the three airmen involved in these two related incidents. In January 1973 Captain Herold was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death. Captain Wood was also declared killed in action, body not recovered, in August 1979.
In 1987 U.S. investigators located wreckage of the crash sites and a propeller possibly associated with Captain Herold's aircraft. Other wreckage appeared correlated to an F-4.
Roger W. Carroll
On September 21, 1972, Carroll and Cook were the crew on-board an F-4D on a combat operation over the Plain of Jars area of Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. A forward air controller operating with them observed them crash, apparently after being hit by hostile antiaircraft fire. He saw no parachutes prior to or after their aircraft impacted and heard no beepers. Both airmen were declared missing in action.
First Lieutenant Cook's blood chit was reportedly recovered from the crash site and sent to the Joint Personnel Recovery Center on November 11, 1972 and there were human remains reportedly seen at the crash site at the time the blood chit was recovered.
American POWs returning during Operation Homecoming were unable to provide information on their precise fate. They were later declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In 1983, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) received hearsay information of a crash site in the area of this loss incident. In 1986 JCRC interviewed another source in Thailand who reported having been at a crash site in Laos at the location of this loss incident. The aircraft was scattered over a wide area. The source reported seeing bones at the site and these were left in place. JCRC received more reports in 1987 and 1988 describing a crash site with human remains and artifacts. All these reports were believed to correlate to this loss incident.
John L. Carroll
On November 7, 1972, Major Carroll was a member of Detachment 1, 56th Special Operations Wing, Udorn Air Base, Thailand, flying over Laos in an 0-1 using the call sign Raven 20. His aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire and crashed on a grass covered ridge in Xieng Khouang Province. He radioed he survived the landing, was receiving hostile small arms fire, and would stay by the aircraft. This was the last transmission from him.
An aircraft searching for him received intense hostile small arms fire from the area of his crash site. The pilot saw 6-7 enemy soldiers within 100 feet of Major Carroll. Later, a SAR aircrew came within twenty feet of the crash site and found a body under the aircraft's wing and with a massive head wound. From all appearances he was dead and the body appeared to be that of Major Carroll. Hostile forces within fifty feet of the downed O-1 opened up on the SAR aircraft and it was forced to withdraw. Based on this evidence, in November 1972, Major Carroll was declared killed in action, body not recovered.
Donald C. Breuer
On November 20, 1972, Captain Breuer and Captain Anderson were the crew on-board an F-4J, one in a flight of two aircraft on a combat operation over Savannakhet Province, Laos. Their aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed 35 kilometers southeast of Tchepone and 300 meters from Route 90. This is in an area southwest of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam. Captain Anderson parachuted safely from the aircraft, was located by search and rescue forces, and was recovered. He stated he didn't see Captain Breuer parachute from their damaged aircraft and did not hear a beeper from him. Captain Breuer was declared missing in action.
After the crash, a North Vietnamese Army unit reported on November 20th that a pilot had landed but there was no mention of the specific type of aircraft involved and the pilot's nationality was not given. The report was associated with an incident occurring in the general area of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam. An intelligence comment on this report indicated a tentative correlation of the report to this loss incident based on it being the only reported aircraft loss at this point in time.
On April 28, 1972, Pathet Lao radio news service reported three U.S. aircraft were hit in Saravane Province on November 18th and 19th. Pilots were killed in two F-4 and one T-28 air incident. This report was placed in the files of these individuals because of the country of loss and date of incident.
Returning U.S. POWs during Operation Homecoming early in 1973 had no information on Captain Breuer's fate. After Operation Homecoming Captain Breuer was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In April 1973, a North Vietnamese soldier from Binh Tram 41, 473rd Transportation Division, Group 559, reported having seen an American F-4 hit by antiaircraft fire and crash near the village of Ban Dong, Savannakhet Province, east of the border with Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam and in the area in which his division was operating. This is in an area west of the DMZ and in the general area of Highway 9. He reported seeing two parachutes. One airman landed and was rescued. Later, he observed a body of an American airman which had been stripped nude and was told the other airman had died. The area of the sighting was correlated to this loss incident.
This loss incident crash site was visited by a joint U.S./Lao team in Muong Nong District, Savannakhet Province, during 28 October-1 November 1992. The team recovered artifacts said to have belonged to the pilot who was rescued. There was no specific information on the fate of the second crewman.
Frank A. Gould
On December 20, 1972, a B-52D on a mission over North Vietnam was hit by a surface to air missile while over Hanoi. The pilot followed his exit route from the area and headed for Laos. The aircraft started losing power 25 minutes later and there were control problems with the aircraft. The crew initiated bailout procedures that night while at an altitude of 19,000 feet and over mountainous jungle terrain just over the border of North Vietnam and over Laos.
Major Gould suffered injuries to his right arm and leg from the surface to air missile explosion but had been able to apply bandages to the bleeding which had nearly stopped by the time other crewmen successfully ejected from the B-52. The aircraft's co- pilot heard Major Gould's ejection seat firing sequence but did not observe him eject from the aircraft. The aircraft crashed in Houa Phan Province approximately 40 kilometers northeast of the Ban Ban Valley in eastern Xieng Khouang Province. Search and rescue forces recovered five crewmen on December 21st but there was no parachute or beeper from Major Gould and he was declared missing in action.
On the late afternoon of December 21, SAR forces saw possible mirror flashes from an area where the five survivors were rescued but nightfall prevented identification of the source of the possible mirror flashes. The SAR effort continued the next day in the area but without locating any evidence of Major Gould.
One returning U.S. POW had knowledge of Major Gould, but what he learned about Major Gould was received prior to his own mission. He heard that Major Gould was alive on the ground and awaiting rescue but no information in such a context has ever surfaced. Major Gould's name did not appear in POW communications channels. After Operation Homecoming Major Gould was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
In February 1991, U.S. intelligence received a report with identity card information associated with Major Gould and traced to a resident of Xieng Khouang Province. In March 1991, a report came from a Lao resident in Thailand claiming that remains and artifacts had been recovered from northeast Laos near the border of North Vietnam. The report was believed possibly correlated to this incident. In December 1991, a source turned over information associated with a B-52 data plate and identity card information of Frank A. Gould. The source provided hearsay information that Major Gould was alive and living in Oudomsai Province, Laos, with a Lao wife and four children in an area approximately 6-7 kilometers east of the town of Ban Houay Sai near the border with Thailand.
Paul V. Jackson, III
On December 24, 1972, Captain Jackson was the pilot of an O-1 serving as a forward air controller for a flight of four A-7D aircraft on combat operations over the southern portion of the Plain of Jars, Xieng Khouang Province. Captain Jackson's aircraft collided with an A-7D in an area approximately four kilometers west of Route 5. The other aircraft's pilot, Captain Charles F. Reiss, parachuted from his aircraft, was captured by People's Army of Vietnam forces, and was transported to North Vietnam. The two aircraft crashed 1500 yards apart and Captain Jackson's aircraft exploded and burned on impact.
One good parachute was seen at the time and this was identified as Captain Reiss who established voice contact from the ground, reporting a leg injury. He was declared missing in action and reclassified as a POW after his name appeared on the Pathet Lao list released on February 1, 1973. He was released on March 28, 1973, during Operation Homecoming.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Captain Jackson. Captain Jackson was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in January 1973.
John R. Wallerstedt
On January 4, 1973, Captains Wallerstedt and Johnson were the crew in an F-4D on an operational mission over Savannakhet Province. Their aircraft was apparently struck by hostile groundfire and went out of control while recovering from a bombing run. The aircraft crashed approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Tchepone and five kilometers north of Route 9. Both crewmen parachuted from the aircraft and landed approximately 30 meters apart. The crewmen had radio contact with one another while coming down in the parachute. Search and rescue forces were later able to establish radio contact with Captain Wallerstedt but did not establish contact with Captain Johnson.
Captain Wallerstedt located Captain Johnson on the ground, pinned under a tree limb too heavy for him to lift. It appeared that Captain Johnson's parachute landing into trees had broken off a limb which fell on him. Captain Johnson was unconscious, bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose, and was gasping for breath.
After 15 minutes in that state Captain Wallerstedt could detect no pulse. Due to approaching hostile ground forces, Captain Wallerstedt left Captain Johnson, showing no signs of life, and evaded. He was later rescued.
Captain Johnson was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in January 1973. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on his fate.
Arthur D. Bollinger
On February 5, 1973, an EC-47Q disappeared over Saravan Province while on an electronic intelligence mission. An airborne search effort later located the wreckage of the aircraft. A ground search team located three or four charred bodies and was able to recover one of them, the remains of Robert E. Bernhardt. In providing his own analytical comments concerning the meaning of a Vietnam People's Army radio message intercepted shortly after the loss of the EC-47Q, Baron 52, an U.S. Air Force communications analyst concluded the substance of the message indicated that several of the Baron 52 had been captured alive and were being moved to North Vietnam. However, based on the condition of the crash site and the evidence found there, the commander of the unit concluded that those on the aircraft had all perished. In February 1973 the crew was declared killed in action, body not recovered based on a presumptive finding of death.
In June 1989, a private U.S. POW/MIA hunter in Thailand reported information from a self declared Lao resistance leader that six of the Baron 52 crew were alive and he believed they were being held in Saravan Province. In June 1990, a DIA field element in Thailand, the Stony Beach Team, received information from a source asserting that five of the crew were alive and living with ethnic Lao Theung in Laos (Bollinger, Brandenburg, Spitz, Primm, Cressman.) A Lao resistance group asserted it would take action. DIA concluded this was a similar to the earlier and fabricated report.
In the fall of 1992, the Senate Select Committee received sworn testimony from DIA's senior POW/MIA analyst, Robert DeStatte. Mr. DeStatte provided detailed information on what was known about the disappearance of Baron 52 and the intercepted North Vietnamese communications, noting that the report that so excited the U.S. Air Force analyst actually related to the movement of four airmen to the area of the port city of Vinh in the panhandle of North Vietnam and hundreds of kilometers from the site of Baron 52's disappearance. With such a message received only minutes after the loss of Baron 52 in South Laos, DIA concluded the report correlated to airmen other than those in Baron 52.
In October 1992 the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs forwarded his strong recommendation to the Lao Government that the planned crash site investigation of Baron 52 take place as scheduled. On November 2, 1992, a joint U.S./Lao team traveled to Sekong Province and to the crash site of Baron 52.
The team found the wreckage still there. Two witnesses were interviewed who described the crash of the aircraft and the resultant fire. One witness described visiting the site the next morning and finding a burned corpse which was recovered by SAR aircraft. Three North Vietnamese advisors arrived several days later to inspect the site.
The joint team recovered one of Joseph A. Matejov's dog tags from the site as well as personal and military artifacts, including pieces of two flight suits. The team's recovery of unopened parachute canopy releases indicated some of the missing crewmen were undoubtedly still on board the aircraft at the time of impact.
Melvin A. Holland
On March 11, 1968, a group of U.S. Air Force military technicians with personal documentation as civilian members of Lockheed Aircraft Service were based on Phou Pha Thi Mountain at Site 85 in Houa Phan Province. This was a covert operation in Laos known by the code name Project HEAVY GREEN. In the early morning predawn hours of March 11th, the site was assaulted and overrun by a force of People's Army of Vietnam Bartels sappers. Eight technicians escaped and were evacuated, one of whom died later while en route to Ubon, Thailand. Eleven others at the TACAN site were declared missing. All were later reinstated to their U.S. Air Force service status and rank.
In March 1970 the families were brought to Washington and briefed on the circumstances of loss of these servicemen. Returning U.S. POWs had no information on their precise fate. In 1982 the Secretary of the Air Force declassified the project for the first time and the 11 U.S. Air Force servicemen who became missing at Lima Site 85 on Phou Pha Thi Mountain were entered onto the Defense Department's official casualty roles as killed in action, body not recovered.
In 1972, an officer of the People's Army of Vietnam, described to the Army Attache's Exploitation Team (Project 5310-03-E) senior Interrogation Officer how his unit was preceded up the karst by a hand picked small sapper force which overcame U.S. personnel at the TACAN site. He heard some were thrown off the cliff. The People's Army forces seized sensitive equipment and documents before the TACAN site was bombed by U.S. aircraft. The officer was not aware of any American who was taken prisoner or survived the sapper assault and is the only People's Army source who assaulted Site 85 and came into U.S. hands during the war.
One report from the same Exploitation Team in 1972 from a former Pathet Lao described a male Caucasian being escorted to the Pathet Lao Headquarters early in 1968 but this sighting could not be correlated to those at Lima Site 85. In late 1990 a former Pathet Lao stated that three U.S. had indeed survived and had been taken away from Site 85. This report followed a January 1989 report from a private U.S. citizen and POW/MIA hunter offering information on 275 U.S. POWs in Southeast Asia at 17 different locations, 3 of whom correlated to names of those missing at Site 85.