BABCOCK, RONALD LESTER Name: Ronald Lester Babcock Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: Troop B, 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 223rd Aviation Battalion Date of Birth: 08 October 1945 (Lincoln NE) Home City of Record: Tucson, AZ Date of Loss: 27 February 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 162753N 1063121E (XD625208) Status (In 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Other Personnel In Incident: Fred Mooney (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Lam Son 719 was a large-scale offensive against enemy communications lines which was conducted in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese would provide and command ground forces, while U.S. forces would furnish airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the U.S. from Vandegrift base camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, while U.S. Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones. During one of these maneuvers, on February 27, 1971, the Bravo Dutchmasters were airborne over Laos, their pink teams doing low-level scouting in the area of operations of the ARVN 1st Infantry Division. Capt. Ronald L. Babcock was flying one of the OH6A Loaches (serial #67-16256) and his door-gunner/observer, SFC Fred Mooney was the scout platoon sergeant. A man in his forties, Mooney was not required to fly, but he volunteered to show the young draftees that old lifers could be as tough as they were. After ten minutes in the area, the formation began receiving 51 caliber ground fire. Skimming low over the trees, the Loach was hit by NVA fire, and Babcock made several radio transmissions, saying that his observer was hit and that he didn't have any control over the aircraft. He radioed that they were going down. The Command and Control ship chased after the descending ship and observed the Loach crash on its skids on a dirt road. The last transmission heard from Babcock was either "sit still" or "don't move." The rotor, which had lost one blade, continued to turn. The aircraft was still intact, and the tail boom and windshield bubble had not been damaged extensively. It looked as if someone had thrown a smoke grenade, as there was smoke in the crash site area. However, the aircraft had not burned. A crew chief on one of the airborne helicopters thought he saw Mooney and Babcock jump out and run across a grassy clearing, whereupon they were cut down by North Vietnamese in the treeline. The C & C ship commander dropped to a twenty-foot hover and called on the radio that, from their appearance, the two were dead. Babcock and Mooney were seen lying face up a few feet in front of the helicopter. Neither man was moving, and their faces were pale, with eyes wide open. Both appeared to be bleeding from head and body wounds. The blood around them had already started to dry, and neither man appeared to be alive. The chase helicopter then began to receive small arms fire, and had to leave the site. Another UH1H sent to the crash site was also able to hover a few feet above the downed helicopter, but was unable to land. This crew also reported that two bodies were lying face up in a crumpled position. It appeared that the crew had been hit with ground fire after leaving the aircraft. Enemy positions in this area were extremely well-fortified and continued firing, even after receiving numerous air strikes. Friendly ground troops were unable to get to the crash site because of enemy activity. Curiously, the Army did not immediately declare Mooney and Babcock dead, but waited nearly a year before a status change was made. At the time, the Babcock family felt that the change was made without tangible evidence of death. Apparently their impression was that observers were unsure whether the two men were dead, and the delay in the status change seems to support this view. Army accounts, however, prepared at the time of the status change, do not leave room for doubt. It is interesting to note that in many cases the precise evidence used to support continuation in Missing in Action status is later used, evaluated in a different manner, as "proof" that an individual must be dead. It is a small wonder that so many POW/MIA family members have grown to distrust what the government has to tell them about their missing man. Fred Mooney's tour was to be over in May and his plans were to return to Killeen, Texas and continue his life with his wife and four children. Ron Babcock graduated from college with a degree in forestry and was anxious to get home and get on with his career. Proof of the deaths of Mooney and Babcock was never found. No remains came home; neither was released from prison camp. They were not blown up, nor did they sink to the bottom of the ocean. Someone knows what happened to them. Were it not for thousands of reports relating to Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia today, the families of the OH6A helicopter crew might be able to believe their men died with their aircraft. But until proof exists that they died, or they are brought home alive, they will wonder and wait. How long must they wait before we bring our men home? BATES, PAUL JENNINGS, JR. Name: Paul Jennings Bates, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: 220th Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Division Date of Birth: 20 February 1943 (Phoenix AZ) Home City of Record: Mesa AZ Date of Loss: 10 August 1971 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 165158N 1064301E (XD829654) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G Other Personnel in Incident: Thomas A. Dolan (missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: On August 10, 1971, Capt. Paul J. Bates, pilot and SP5 Thomas A Dolan, observer, were flying an O1G (serial #51-2267) conducting a visual reconnaissance mission in Quang Tri, South Vietnam when their aircraft crashed and burned. At 1455 hours that day, Capt. Bates was trying to show the pilot of an accompanying aircraft a target in the area. A few minutes later, his aircraft appeared to fly into the trees and disappear. The accompanying aicraft flew to the crash site and observed the wreckage located on a slope. There were no signs of anyone moving about the area or any bodies near the wreckage. Shortly after the crash, the aircraft began to burn. Several aircraft conducted search operations for survivors with no success. Those witnessing the crash and those conducting the search operations believed that it was extremely unlikely that Capt. Bates or SP5 Dolan could have survived the crash or escaped the fire. The cabin section, half of the wings, and part of the tail were completely destroyed by the crash and fire. Because of the difficult terrain and lack of visual indication of survivors, no ground search was made. In spite of the grave outlook of the fates of Bates and Dolan, the Army did not declare them killed, but as Missing In Action. Reasons for this determination are not known. Bates and Dolan are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain prisoner, missing or unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to secure their freedom. In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home? BROWN, DONALD ALAN Name: Donald Alan Brown Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn AB TH Date of Birth: 19 July 1939 Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 30 July 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 151300N 1064900E (XB987810) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Other Personnel in Incident: Gary A. Chavez (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around. Capt. Gary A. Chavez and Capt. Donald A. Brown were pilots assigned to the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On July 30, 1970, Chavez and Brown were assigned an operational mission over Laos. Chavez served as pilot in their RF4C while Brown was the navigator. Chavez and Brown did not return to friendly control when expected. Their last known location was just east of the ridge which marks the Plateau des Bolovens in Attopeu Province, Laos. Both men were declared Missing in Action. The war continued about three more years, and the families of the men missing in action and prisoner of war waited for the war to end. The Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners. Only a handful were known by name or photographed in captivity. No letters came home from the men in Laos. In early 1973, Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's chief negotiator with the Vietnamese, informed the families that agreements would soon be signed. When queried about the men lost in Laos, Cambodia and China, Kissinger replied, "What do you think took so long?" In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from communist prisoner of war camps. No Americans held in Laos were released. The U.S. had failed to negotiate with Laos, Cambodia and China. Nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos had been abandoned--even those who were known to be alive. Donald A. Brown was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was maintained missing. He was continued in MIA status until October 1973, at which time he was declared dead based on no specific information to the contrary. CASSELL, ROBIN BERN Name: Robin Bern Cassell Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 152, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) Date of Birth: 06 December 1941 (Little Rock AR) Home City of Record: Ft. Huachuca AZ Date of Loss: 15 July 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 195300N 1060857E (XG203988) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The USS ORISKANY was a World War II-era carrier on duty in Vietnam as early as 1964. The ORISKANY at one time carried the RF8A (number 144608) flown by Maj. John H. Glenn, the famous Marine astronaut (and later Senator) flew in his 1957 transcontinental flight. In October, 1966 the ORISKANY endured a tragic fire which killed 44 men onboard, but was soon back on station. In 1972, the ORISKANY had an at-sea accident which resulted in the loss of one of its aircraft elevators, and later lost a screw that put the carrier into drydock in Yokosuka, Japan for major repairs, thus delaying its involvement until the late months of the war. Lieutenant Junior Grade Robin B. Cassell was a Navy pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 152 onboard the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY. On July 15, 1967 he launched in his A1H Skyraider aircraft as the fight leader of a section of A1H's on a daytime armed coastal reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. During the mission, Cassell's aircraft was seen to be hit by automatic weapons fire during an attack on water craft near Cua Dai, North Vietnam. (This is in the approximate region of the city of Thanh Hoa.) Cassell radioed, "I'm hit" and shortly thereafter crashed into the sea and exploded on impact. No parachute was seen, and search and rescue efforts turned up negative results. LTJG Robin B. Cassell was listed Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. He is listed with honor among the missing because his remains were never found to be returned home. Over 3000 Americans remained prisoner, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for at the end of the Vietnam war. The numbers have been reduced since that time with the release of prisoners, and the return of remain until it has reached just over 2300 in early 1990. Since the war ended nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy. Mounting evidence indicates that some Americans are still alive being held prisoner of war in Southeast Asia. In the peace accords signed in 1973, the Vietnamese pledged to return all prisoners of war and provide the fullest possible accounting of the missing. They have not done either. The United States government pledged that the POW/MIA issue is of "highest national priority" but has not achieved results indicative of a priority. The Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia deserve our best efforts to bring them home, not our empty words. Robin B. Cassell graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1964. CROOK, ELLIOTT Name: Eliott Crook Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: Company A, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Date of Birth: 12 June 1948 (Sacaton AZ) Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 16 May 1971 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 161527N 1072019E (YC499987) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Other Personnel in Incident: Craig L. Farlow; Timothy J. Jacobsen; Joseph P. Nolan (all missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: On May 16, 1971, Lt. Joseph P. Nolan, pilot; W1 Craig L. Farlow, aircraft commander; SP4 Elliott Crook, crew chief; SP4 Timothy J. Jacobsen, door gunner; comprised the crew of a UH1H helicopter conducting a combat assault insertion of ARVN Marines into a landing zone (LZ) in the vicinity of Hue, Thua Thin Province, South Vietnam. Lt. Nolan's helicopter was the seventh to land on the LZ. On departing the LZ, pilots of the fifts and sixth helicopters stated that they were taking enemy fire. Lt. Nolan radioed after touchdown that he was taking heavy ground fire, that his crew chief was wounded. Lt. Nolan immediately took off and at 250 feet, witnesses saw his aircraft rapidly lose rotor RPM and crash into the tree tops, bursting into flames. No survivors were seen to exit the aircraft. On May 24, a search and recovery team made a ground search and found 2 partial skulls and one partial right foot, all badly burned. It was also noted that there were four more possible remains that were trapped under the heavy wreckage. The partial skulls were later determined to be Vietnamese. The other remains were not recovered because of hostile fire. The crew of the UH1H was presumed to be dead, and their bodies were never recovered. They are listed with honor among the nearly 2500 Americans still missing in Southeast Asia until such time as their remains can be returned home for an honorable burial. Others missing in Southeast Asia do not have such certain fates. Many were alive and well the last they were seen. Some described their imminent capture over radio to would-be rescuers. Still others were known to be captives, but disappeared from the prison system and were not released. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to secure their freedom. In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears that we abandoned some of our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign their death warrants, or will we do what is necessary to bring them home? DALE, CHARLES ALVA Name: Charles Alva Dale Rank/Branch: 02/US Army Unit: 73rd Aviation Company, 765th Transportation Battalion Date of Birth: 05 May 1937 (Churchill TN) Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 09 June 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 093514N 1062201E (XR035296) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C Other Personnel In Incident: David S. Demmon (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project. REMARKS: DISAPPEARED OVER VINH BIHN SYNOPSIS: At 0317 hours on June 9, 1965, 1Lt. Charles A. Dale, pilot; and SP4 David S. Demmon, electronic sensor operator, departed Vung Tau in an OV1C (serial #61-2687) on a mission. The nature of the mission is not included in public record, but was undoubtedly a standard battlefield surveillance mission, or, as the 765th Transportation Battalion was primarily aircraft maintenance and support, it might have been a test of equipment onboard the aircraft. The OV1C maintained surveillance using infrared detection equipment and a forward-aimed camera (which proved especially useful since the Viet Cong relied heavily on darkness to conceal their activities). Standard proceedure for the OV1C was to periodically fly over a known location to update the navigation computer. One such update, about 87 minutes after takeoff placed Dale and Demmon over Vung Tau. At this time, he was headed to a second mission area in Vinh Binh Province, South Vietnam. Somewhere over the U Minh forest, the aircraft was shot down. Search and rescue forces sighted two men wading out of the water and the Viet Cong capturing them, but positive identification was prevented by weather. However, Demmon and Dale were the only two Americans shot down that dayu. Dale was declared Missing in Action, while Demmon was classified Prisoner of War. It was felt that the enemy knew the fates of both men, alive or dead. Reports relating to Dale and Demmon were received as late as 1970, both together and separately. Both men were seen alive by intelligence sources in the hands of the Viet Cong. One defector provided the phoenetic name "Phyan De Mann", which translates to "Family name of De Manh" (possibly meaning "Demmon"). In 1971, Demmon was seen alive in captivity. A Viet Cong guard, who stated that he had guarded American POWs from September to December 1965, stated he saw two men he believed to be Demmon and Dale in his camp. The families of both men believed they were captured, and eagerly awaited their release at the end of the war. When the war ended, however, and 591 Americans were released from communist prisons in Souteast Aisa, Dale and Demmon were not among them. The Vietnamese never acknowledged their existence, nor did their names appear on lists provided by the Vietnamese of prisoners who had died in captivity. In 1987, evidence of a large number of Americans being held in China began to surface in the private sector. It was said that these Americans were the "property" of a number of pro-China Vietnamese officials who had fled Vietnam in the wake of a stronger national sympathy to the Soviet Union. Charles Alva Dale, it was said, was serving as a houseboy to one of these officials. The reports could not be verified. Dale and Demmon's families still wonder where they are. They don't know whether to hope they died that day in June 1965, or to hope they survived, and are alive still. If they survived, what must they have gone through? And what must they think of the country they so proudly served? Charles A. Dale was promoted to the rank of Major and Demmon to the rank of Staff Sergeant during the period they were maintained Missing and Prisoner. ECKLUND, ARTHUR GENE Name: Arthur Gene Ecklund Rank/Branch: O2/US Army Unit: 183rd Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade Date of Birth: 05 May 1943 (Galesburg IL) Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 03 April 1969 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 115111N 1085848E (BP750005) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G Other Personnel in Incident: Perry H. Jefferson (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Arthur Gene Ecklund was born in Galesburg, Illinois and lived there until he was ten years old when his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from Central High School there and attended Phoenix College and Arizona State University. Artie entered the Army in September 1966 and took his basic training at Ft. Bliss, Texas. He was chosen for Officers Candidate School and was commissioned at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He took helicopter training, then attended fixed wing pilot training, and was deployed to Vietnam shortly after. On April 3, 1969, U.S. Army 1Lt. Arthur G. Ecklund and his U.S. Air Force observer, Capt. Perry H. Jefferson, were flying a visual reconnaissance mission out of Phan Rang airbase. They left the base at 0700 hours in an O1G aircraft (serial #51-12078) and reported in by radio at 0730 hours giving their location, destination and information concerning a convoy they were going to check out. No further communication was heard, except for a signal "beeper". Extensive search efforts began at 0950 hours with all available aircraft, and continued for three days without success. The aircraft is believed to have occurred in an area occupied by enemy forces, thus preventing a ground search. On April 15, 1969, a Vietnamese source reported that he had been in contact with a communist Montagnard who claimed the Viet Cong had shot down an aircraft with two Americans in it, and the Americans had been wounded, but were alive, and being held in captivity. He said the aircraft was shot down between Phan Rang and Cam Ranh City. A later report indicated that two men fitting the description of Ecklund and Jefferson were seen on a trail being guarded by Viet Cong, and that they appeared to be in good health. The U.S. Defense Department list Jefferson's loss coordinates near the coastline of Vietnam, about 20 miles south of Cam Ranh, while Ecklund's loss coordinates are listed about 10 miles southwest of Cam Ranh and about 15 miles northwest of those of Jefferson. Both men are listed as lost in Ninh Thuan Province, South Vietnam. The presence of the reports of captivity and the emergency radio "beeper" lends weight to the fact that the two men were captured. There can be no question that the Vietnamese know the fate of two men. As reports concerning Americans still alive in Southeast Asia continue to flow in, it becomes increasingly more important to find out what happened to the men we left behind. FENTER, CHARLES FREDERICK Remains Recovered in Crash Site Excavation - Positive ID Accepted Name: Charles Frederick Fenter Rank/Branch: E3/US Air Force Unit: 16th Special Operations Squadron, Ubon AB, Thailand Date of Birth: 01 November 1953 Home City of Record: Tucson AZ Date of Loss: 21 December 1972 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 152712N 1060048E (XC087086) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC130A gunship Other Personnel In Incident: Rollie Reaid; George D. MacDonald; John Winningham; Francis Walsh; James R. Fuller; Robert T. Elliott; Robert L. Liles; Harry Lagerwall; Paul Meder; Thomas T. Hart; Stanley Kroboth; Delma E. Dickens (all missing/remains returned --see text); Joel R. Birch (remains returned); Richard Williams, Carl E. Stevens (rescued). Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: I.R. #22370432 73 - DEAD SYNOPSIS: An AC130A gunship, "Spectre 17", flown by Capt. Harry R. Lagerwall, departed Ubon Airbase, Thailand on an interdiction mission to interrupt enemy cargo movements along the Ho Chi Minh Trail on December 21, 1972. The crew onboard numbered 16. During the flight to the target, the aircraft was hit by ground fire and after 10 minutes of level flight, the fuel exploded. Two of the crew, Richard Williams and Carl E. Stevens, bailed out safely and were subsequently rescued hours later. The partial body of Joel Birch (an arm) was later recovered some distance away from the crash site. Heat-sensitive equipment which would pinpoint the location of human beings in the jungles was used to search for the rest of the crew with no success. It was assumed that the missing crewmen were either dead or were no longer in the area. According to intelligence reports, several piles of bloody bandages and 5 deployed parachutes were seen and photographed at the crash site. Also, later requests through the Freedom of Information Act revealed a photo of what appeared to be the initials "TH" stomped in the tall elephant grass near the crash site. A number of reports have been received which indicate Tom Hart, if not others, was still alive as late as 1988. In the early 1980's a delegation comprised in part of several POW/MIA family members visited the site of the aircraft crash in Laos. Mrs. Anne Hart found material on the ground in the area which she believed to be bone fragment. She photographed the material and turned it over to the U.S. Government. In February, 1985, a joint excavation of the crash site was done by the U.S. and Laos from which a large number of small bone fragments were found. Analysis by the U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) in Hawaii reported the positive identification of all 13 missing crewmembers. Some critics dubbed this identificatin "Voodoo Forensics." Mrs. Hart was immediately skeptical. She was concerned that the positive identification of all 13 missing men onboard the aircraft had seemed too convenient. She was further concerned that among the remains said to be those of her husband, she found the bone fragment which she had herself found at the crash site location several years before. She believed this was too much of a coincidence. Anne Hart had an independent analysis of the seven tiny fragments of bone which the government said constituted the remains of her husband. Dr. Michael Charney of Colorado State University, an internationally respected Board Certified Forensic Anthropologist with nearly 50 years of experience in anthropology, conducted the study. "It is impossible," Charney wrote in his report, "to determine whether these fragments are from LTC Hart or any other individual, whether they are from one individual or several, or whether they are even from any of the crew members of the aircraft in study." Mrs. Hart refused to accept the remains and sued the government, challenging its identification procedures. Her challenge produced additional criticism of CIL and the techniques it uses in identifying remains. Some scientists, including Charney, charged that CIL deliberately misinterpreted evidence in order to identify remains. They said the Army consistently drew unwarranted conclusions about height, weight, sex and age from tiny bone fragments. Eleven of the "positive" identifications made on the AC130 crew were determined to be scientifically impossible. "These are conclusions just totally beyond the means of normal identification, our normal limits and even our abnormal limits," said Dr. William Maples, curator of physical anthropology at Florida State Museum. Among the egregious errors cited by Charney was a piece of pelvic bone that the laboratory mistakenly said was a part of a skull bone and was used to identify Chief Master Sgt. James R. Fuller. The Reaid ID had been made based on bits of upper arm and leg bones and a mangled POW bracelet said to be like one Reaid wore. The MacDonald ID had been made based on the dental records for a single tooth. Mrs. Hart won her suit against the government. Her husband's identification, as well as that of George MacDonald, was rescinded. The Government no longer claimed that the identifications were positive. However, these two men were listed as "accounted for." Mrs. Hart's suit on behalf of her husband made it U.S. Government policy for a family to be given the opportunity to seek outside confirmation of any identification of remains said to be their loved ones. Mrs. Hart also believed that the suit was successful in keeping her husband's file open. Reports were still being received related to him. In 1988, the Air Force forwarded a live sighting report of Tom Hart to Mrs. Hart. The Air Force had concluded the report was false or irrelevant because Tom Hart was "accounted for." Mrs. Hart again went to court to try and ensure that her husband was not abandoned if, indeed, he is still alive. She wanted him put back on the "unaccounted for" list. In early March, 1990, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court decision that had ruled the U.S. Government erred in identifying bone fragments as being the remains of Thomas Hart. The appellate court ruled that the government is free to use "its discretion" in handling the identification of victims of war and that courts should not second-guess government decisions on when to stop searching for soldiers believed to be killed in action. The court also denied Mrs. Hart's request to have her husband returned to the "unaccounted for" list. "The government must make a practical decision at some point regarding when to discontinue the search for personnel," the court said in its ruling. Most Americans would make the practical decision to serve their country in war, if asked to do so. Even though there is evidence that some of this crew did not die in the crash of the aircraft, the U.S. Government has made the "practical decision," and obtained the support of the Justice system, to quit looking for them. How can we allow our government to close the books on men who have not been proven dead whose biggest crime is serving their country? If one or more of them are among the hundreds many believe are still alive in captivity, what must they be thinking of us? Knowing one could be so callously abandoned, how many will serve when next asked to do so? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOPPER, EARL PEARSON JR. Name: Earl Pearson Hopper, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB TH Date of Birth: 21 July 1943 Home City of Record: Glendale AZ Date of Loss: 10 January 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 202559N 1044659E (VH774777) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Other Personnel In Incident: Keith N. Hall (released POW) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 October 1990 from information provided by Col. Earl P. Hopper, Sr. (USA, ret.) and Patty Skelly of Task Force Omega, Inc., as well as information from a December, 1984 article by Larry J. O'Daniel. Other information from one more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: EJECTION PROBS/DWN/CRASH SYNOPSIS: Capt. Keith N. Hall and 1Lt. Earl P. Hopper, Jr. were pilots assigned to the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On January 10, 1968 the two flew their first mission together on an "aircap" mission over Hanoi. Hall was the pilot, and Hopper flew as Bombardier/Navigator on the flight. During the mission, the aircraft was damaged by a SAM missile exploding 100 feet below and to the right of the aircraft, knocking out the hydraulic system. Neither Hall nor Hopper was injured by the blast. After some initial ejection problems, Capt. Hall, was able to bail out. [Note: Normal ejection sequence calls for the backseater to bail out first, followed a few seconds later by the pilot.] Other pilots in the flight marked Hall's position, then continued with Hopper as he headed for Laos. Hopper was about 15 miles north of Muong Min in Hoa Binh Province and nearly to the border of Laos when he ejected. Hall had ejected about 20 miles to the east. The accompanying pilots observed the canopy of the aircraft and Hopper's ejection seat leave the aircraft as the aircraft was about to enter a 5,000 foot overcast. The pilots also picked up two emergency radio signals, one very strong and the other rather weak, indicating that both men reached the ground. Hall was captured about 40 minutes after he bailed out. Hopper's radio signal was tracked for three consecutive days in the rugged, mountainous area where the aircraft went down. On the second or third day, a pilot monitoring the beeper gave Hopper's recognition code and said, "Lt. Hopper, if that's you, give me 15-second intervals (in his radio signal)." The pilot received six 15-second intervals in a positive response. This information was released to the family in a February 8, 1968 communique. On about the third day, a ground search team was inserted into the area, and recovered Hopper's radio, but no trace of Hopper was found. Hall was captured by the North Vietnamese and released in 1973. Hall was closely interrogated regarding personal information about Hopper, but knew little. The Vietnamese guard was noncommittal when Hall asked if Hopper was also a prisoner. On July 14, 1982, "due to the length of time missing and with no information to prove he is alive," Hopper's official status, Missing In Action, was changed to Presumed Killed In Action. Only two months later, a three-man judiciary committee from the U.S. Justice Department, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, found officially that Hopper should have been classified Prisoner of War, not Missing In Action. During the first few months of 1984, the Hopper family learned that CIA had always listed Hopper as a POW. Further, CIA files revealed that the agency had tracked Hopper as he headed for a "safe" area in Laos, that there were heavy concentrations of NVA and Pathet Lao troops in the area searching for the downed pilot, and that the CIA sent a free Lao team to extract him. When Hopper knew he was in imminent danger of being captured, he locked the transmission key on his radio in the "on" position, extended the antenna, and hid it, thus marking his location of capture for the search team. From 1981 to 1984, Major Mark A. Smith (a returned POW from Vietnam) and SFC Melvin McIntyre, both attached to Special Forces Detachment, Korea (SFDK) were pursuing DIA instructions to gather intelligence on American POWs who remained in captivity in Southeast Asia. Smith and McIntyre, who did not believe Americans were held, obtained specific information which convinced them that Americans were still alive at that time, held captive. Among other evidence presented to the U.S. was a list of some 26 Americans by name and captivity location. Earl Hopper's name was on the list. In 1984, Maj. Smith received word that on 11 May three U.S. POWs would be brought to a given location on the Lao/Thai border. The only prerequisite was that the POWs be received by an American. Smith's request to stand on the border and wait for delivery was refused, and he and his team were commanded to remain in Korea. If the three Americans were brought to the border, no one was there to receive them. Smith and McIntyre believed Hopper to be one of the three men. The information obtained by Smith and McIntyre was provided under oath to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on January 28, 1986, and included in a lawsuit the two initiated against the U.S. Government for its failure to protect the rights of live American POWs in Southeast Asia. Parents Earl and Betty Hopper have diligently sought information on their son and others who disappeared in Southeast Asia. They believe there is actionable evidence that some are still alive in captivity. Until that evidence is acted upon, and proof is obtained to the contrary, they will not give up hope that their son is alive. 1Lt. Earl Hopper graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1965 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing. JEFFORDS, DERRELL BLACKBURN Name: Derrell Blackburn Jeffords Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 10 August 1925 Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 24 December 1965 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 154800N 1064400E (XC856474) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC47D Other Personnel In Incident: Arden K. Hassenger; W. Kevin Colwell; Dennis L. Eilers; Larry C. Thornton; Joseph Christiano (all missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 15 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project. REMARKS: MAYDAY HEARD - SEARCH NEG - J SYNOPSIS: On December 24, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced a week-long bombing halt on North Vietnam. That same day, an AC47D "Spooky" gunship was shot down during an armed reconnaissance flight just south of the city of Ban Bac in Saravane Province, Laos. Planes in the area of the loss of the plane heard mayday signals, but were unable to establish contact with the crew. The Spooky had evolved from the famed "Puff the Magic Dragon" versions of the Douglas C47. Puff introduced a new principle to air attack in Vietnam. Troubled by difficulties in conducting nighttime defense, Capt. Ronald Terry of the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Division remembered reading about flying missionaries in Latin America who lowered baskets of supplies on a rope from a tightly circling airplane. Throughout the series of pylon turns, the basket remained suspended over a selected point on the ground. Could this principle be applied to fire from automatic weapons? Tests proved it could, and could be extremely successful. Puff's "flare kicker" illuminated the target, then the pilot used a mark on the window to his left as a gun sight and circled slowly as three multibarrel 7-62mm machine guns fired 18,000 rounds per minute from the door and two windows in the port side of the passenger compartment. The aircraft was called "Puff" after a popular song of the day, and because it resembled a dragon overhead with flames billowing from its guns. Men on the ground welcomed the presence of Puff and the later Spooky version, which was essentially the same as the Puff, because of its ability to concentrate a heavy dose of defensive fire in a surgically determined area. These aircraft were very successful defending positions in South Vietnam, but proved unable to survive against the anti-aircraft defenses in Laos. The Spooky lost in Laos on December 24, 1965 was flown by Col. Derrel B. Jeffords and Capt. Dennis L. Eilers. The crew aboard the aircraft was Maj. Joseph Christiano, MSgt. Larry C. Thornton, TSgt. W. Kevin Colwell, and SSgt. Arden K. Hassenger. When 591 Americans were released from Vietnam in 1973, the Spooky crew was not among them. As a matter of fact, no American held in Laos was (or has been) released. The Lao were not included in negotiations ending American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia. In June 1989, Arden Hassenger's wife was informed that a report had been received saying her husband had been sighted alive in Laos. This report is one of nearly 10,000 relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia received by the U.S. Government since the war ended. Mrs. Hassenger was unable to sleep to sleep at night wondering and worrying, yet Arden Hassenger is still missing. According to a National League of POW/MIA families list, Christiano also survived the incident. A September 13, 1968 statement by Soth Pethrasi was monitored from Puerto Rico in which Christiano and Jeffords were mentioned. The report stated that "Smith, Christiano, Jeffords, and Mauterer" were part of "several dozen captured Airmen" whom the Pathet Lao were "treating correctly and who were still in Laos. Another name, Norman Morgan, captured January 9, 1968, was mentioned but is not on lists of missing. This is believed to correlate to Norman Green, lost on January 9, 1968 in Laos. Christiano and Jeffords were never classified Prisoner of War. Few lost in Laos ever were. Like Christiano and Jeffords, many were suspected to be alive on the ground and in radio contact with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated, Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been held in Laos. Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia, the Christiano and Jeffords families might be able to close this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are alive, being held captive, Joseph Christiano and Derrell Jeffords could be among them. It's time we brought these men home. During the period he was maintained missing, Joseph Christiano was promoted to the rank of Colonel. LUKENBACH, MAX DUANE Name: Max Duane Lukenbach Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: RVAH 13 Date of Birth: 15 August 1932 Home City of Record: Tucson AZ Date of Loss: 22 December 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205858N 1062400E (XJ455207) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA5C Other Personnel in Incident: Glenn H. Daigle (released POW) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK March 1997. REMARKS: DEAD/BURIED ID 1516028970 SYNOPSIS: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with her not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component of warplanes and the newest technology. Her air wing (CAG 9) consisted of more than ninety aircraft. Among her attack squadrons were VA 36, VA 93, VA 76 and VA 94. She launched her opening combat strike against targets in North Vietnam on December 17, and by the end of her first week of combat operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in a single day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first combat cruise, her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not been achieved without cost. On December 22, the ENTERPRISE teamed with the carriers KITTY HAWK and TICONDEROGA in one of the war's biggest strikes to date, with one hundred aircraft hitting the thermal power plant at Uong Bi located fifteen miles north-northeast of the city of Haiphong. This was the first industrial target authorized by the Johnson administration. The ENTERPRISE's aircraft approached from the north and the KITTY HAWK/TICONDEROGA force from the south, leaving the plant in shambles. The day's casualties were two A4Cs from the ENTERPRISE, an RA5C Vigilante, and an A6A Intruder -- six Americans shot down. One of the A4s was flown by LTJG Wendell R. Alcorn, a pilot from Attack Squadron 94 onboard the ENTERPRISE. Alcorn's aircraft was shot down about 15 miles north-northeast of Haiphong and he was captured by the North Vietnamese. For the next 7 years, Alcorn was a "guest" in the Hanoi prison system. He was ultimately released in Operation Homecoming on Valentine's Day, 1973. The second A4C shot down on December 22, 1965 was flown from the ENTERPRISE by LT John D. Prudhomme. Prudhomme's aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed near Alcorn's position. Prudhomme was not as lucky as Alcorn; he was deemed to have been killed in the crash of his aircraft. He is listed among the missing because his remains were not recovered. The RA5C reconnaissance aircraft was shot down about 5 miles east of Hai Duong in Hai Hung Province, about 30 miles from Alcorn and Prudhomme. Its crew consisted of the pilot, LCDR Max D. Lukenbach and his rear-seater, LTJG Glenn H. Daigle. LTJG Daigle was captured by the Vietnamese and held in Hanoi until his release on February 12, 1973. Lukenbach, according to intelligence received, died in the crash of the plane and was buried near the crash site. The fates of the crew of the fourth aircraft to be shot down is uncertain. Pilot CDR Billie J. Cartwright and his rear-seater LT Edward F. Gold were declared missing in action after their A6A Intruder went down about 30 miles northeast of Haiphong. On December 23, twenty-four hours before President Johnson's thirty-seven-day bombing halt would take effect, another large flight launched from the ENTERPRISE for strikes in North Vietnam. LTJG William L. Shankel describes the flight: "About twenty planes were going after a bridge over the Red River, halfway between Hanoi and Haiphong and I was in the second section. My A4 was a real dog, and I had to cut corners to keep everybody else from running off and leaving me. I reached the target by myself, pulled up, and rolled in to dive-bomb the bridge. The plane was hit as soon as the bombs left, at the bottom of the dive... When I went out, the plane was inverted and almost supersonic, and the ejection really thrashed my right knee." Shankel, Alcorn and Daigle were all held in what has come to be known as the Hanoi prison system -- The Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton), Heartbreak Hotel, the Zoo, Alcatraz, Briarpatch and others. Although their captivity was distinctly unpleasant, both from the standpoint of torture and deprivation and from the mental torture of wondering year after year, if they would ever come home, these three are among the more lucky ones. They came home alive. At the end of the war, 591 Americans were released from the Hanoi prison system. Military authorities at the time were shocked that hundreds more known or suspected to be prisoners were not released. Since that time, nearly 10,000 intelligence reports have been received relating to Americans who were prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Some officials, having reviewed this largely-classified information, have reluctantly concluded that large numbers of Americans are still alive in captivity today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is in jeopardy as long as even one man remains unjustly held. William L. Shankel, Glenn H. Daigle and Wendell R. Alcorn were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during the period they were Prisoners of War. Billie J. Cartwright was promoted to the rank of Captain and Edward F. Gold to the rank of Commander during the period they were maintained missing. William L. Shankel, MD is a surgeon and resides in Laughlin, Nevada. MILLER, MICHAEL ANDREW Name: Michael Andrew Miller Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 12 March 1945 Home City of Record: Tucson AZ Date of Loss: 28 March 1969 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 165223N 1064635E (XD892663) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Other Personnel in Incident: Robert A. Belcher (missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around. Maj. Robert A. Belcher and 1Lt. Michael A. Miller probably felt fortunate to fly the F4. The two were assigned a combat mission on March 28, 1969 in their F4D. When the aircraft was near the city of Bo Ho Su, in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, about 5 miles from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), it was shot down, and both Belcher and Miller were thought to have been killed. Belcher and Miller are listed among the missing because their bodies were not recovered to bury in America. Families of those classified Killed/Body Not Recovered, Missing in Action and Prisoner of War consider all the men missing to be prisoners of war - dead or alive. They understand that even the most apparent "death" could have meant survival. They write no American soldier off until there is proof they are dead and their bodies returned. Sadly, there are many who, like Belcher and Miller, appear to have died the day they were lost. Even more tragic are the cases of hundreds who were last known to be alive, or known to be a prisoner of war, or who simply disappeared with no trace. Nearly 10,000 reports have been received by the U.S. Government concerning these Americans who are still missing, including over 1000 eye-witness reports of captive Americans. Many authorities believe that there could be hundreds of Americans still alive in enemy hands today. As long as even one American remains in enemy hands, there can be no honor in the deaths of Belcher and Miller, nor in the deaths of the nearly 60,000 young Americans who died in Vietnam. If Belcher and Miller, by some chance survived, what would they think of their country? It's time we brought our men home. (1Lt. Michael A. Miller graduated from the University of Arizona.) PIKE, DENNIS STANLEY Name: Dennis Stanley Pike Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 192, USS KITTY HAWK Date of Birth: 02 July 1940 Home City of Record: Bagdad AZ Date of Loss: 23 March 1972 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 152200N 1073400E (YC755030) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A7E Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The USS KITTY HAWK was on duty in Vietnam as early as 1964 and had 131 combat sorties to its credit by the end of 1965, and many more through the remaining years of the Vietnam war. The KITTY HAWK was one of the Forrestal-class "super" carriers, and could operate up to ninety aircraft from her angled deck. One of the aircraft launched from the deck of the KITTY HAWK was the Vaught A7E Corsair II, a single-seat attack jet utilized by both the Navy and Air Force in Vietnam. The aircraft was designed to meet the Navy's need for a subsonic attack plane able to carry a greater load of non-nuclear weapons that the A4 Skyhawk. The aircraft's unique design completely freed the wingspace for bomb loading; the Pratt and Whitney jet engine was beneath the fuselage of the aircraft. The Corsair was used primarily for close air support and interdiction, although it was also used for reconnaissance. A Corsair is credited with flying the last official combat mission in the war - bombing a target in Cambodia on 15 August 1973. LT Dennis S. Pike was an Corsair assigned to Attack Squadron 192 onboard the KITTY HAWK in the spring of 1972. On 23 March, Pike and other aircraft from the squadron were assigned a mission near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Vietnam. Pike did not return from the mission. CDR Robert Taylor was the commanding officer of the KITTY HAWK based Attack Squadron 192 and recalls the March 23 mission: "We were on a mission just south of the DMZ," remembers Taylor. Government forces were being overrun by the Viet Cong, and a T-28 with an American pilot and Vietnamese observer also went down. We were on target about forty minutes and finally had to leave. I watched Pike disappear on the way out, and that scene, those ten or fifteen seconds, are embedded in my mind, lived over and over. I was about a mile-and-a-half behind him, saw the smoke come out of his tailpipe and called him up asking if there were any problems. He replied, 'Yeah, I've got some oil pressure problems.' We were only about twenty miles inside of Laos, and I told him to take a heading toward Da Nang. He rolled out and made the turn from southwest all the way around to the east at five thousand feet. I told him, 'If you pass three thousand feet and don't have anything left, then [get] out.' He replied, 'Roger that,' followed by an 'Uh oh, there goes the engine. Well, see you guys later.'" Pike indicated that he had to eject. Taylor saw the canopy shatter and a black object came out. Taylor and his wingman saw the ejection, but lost visual contact. Taylor is certain that something left the airplane. Four days prior to Denny Pike's aircraft failing, another A7 had failed, but just after it had launched from the carrier. The pilot was recovered. There were questions at that time as to whether to ground the aircraft, but it was kept in the air. After Pike's aircraft failed, the A7 was grounded. But the North Vietnamese were staging an invasion on the south, and to ground the A7 meant to essentially ground the entire strike force, and there was uncertainty as to the exact cause of the two A7 accidents. It was finally concluded that the engine problems had been caused by foreign object damage and the A7 was airborne once more. Of 600 American servicemen lost in Laos during our military involvement in Southeast Asia, not one was released when the war ended. The Pathet Lao insisted that Americans held in Laos would be released from Laos, but the U.S. did not include them in peace agreements reached in Paris in 1973. Since the war ended in 1973, thousands of reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. The official policy is that no conclusive proof has been obtained that is current or specific enough to act upon. Detractors of this policy say conclusive proof is in hand, but that the willingness or ability to rescue these prisoners does not exist. Men like Dennis Pike went to Southeast Asia because they were asked to do so by the country they loved and served. That country, in turn, has a legal and moral obligation to bring them home--alive. POWERS, LOWELL STEPHEN Name: Lowell Stephen Powers Rank/Branch: W1/US Army Unit: Company A, 159th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Date of Birth: 25 September 1946 (Oakland CA) Home City of Record: Scottsdale AZ Date of Loss: 02 April 1969 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 162903N 1064717E (XD908232) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: CH47 Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: At 1240 hours on April 2, 1969, WO1 Lowell Powers was the pilot of a CH47 helicopter (serial #67-18523). He landed at an LZ in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, near Khe Sanh, where about 73 members of the ARVN 9th Popular Forces Company were loaded onto his aircraft. Powers left the LZ, the aircraft lost power, settled to earth, but touched down on the side of a ravine and then rolled down to the bottom of the ravine, coming to rest on its left side. Upon landing, Maj. Butler, the aircraft commander, asked WO1 Powers if he was all right, and received a positive response. Maj. Butler later reported that WO Powers released his harness and called back through the companionway to the passenger compartment. Maj. Butler left the aircraft through the left window, but never saw WO1 Powers again. A short time later, the aircraft began to explode. The area was reached quickly by a Republic of Vietnam Popular Forces and their American/Australian advisors from Advisory Team 19. A series of searches was undertaken in the immediate area for any survivors. Later, it was determined that WO1 Powers was missing. Search efforts were made for him. The other members of the flight crew were able to reach safety. The result of the crash was one American missing in action, 23 ARVN killed in action, and 50 ARVN wounded. That night, the area was secured by an ARVN company, and the next morning an ARVN and 3rd Marine Division Graves Registration team started the recovery of the remains. The ARVN team recovered what was thought to be 17 bodies, and the Marine team recovered 3 bodies. At Quang Tri on April 4, it was found that the ARVN had taken what they recovered and divided it into 21 caskets, which were turned over to the next of kin. The ARVN believed that Americans could keep one of the bodies they had recovered and turn the other 2 over to the ARVN. The ARVN would then have accounted for all their known losses. It was later determined that all 3 of the remains recovered by the Marines were Vietnamese. Efforts were made by the U.S. Army mortuary officer to exhume the ARVN remains to determine if WO1 Powers was among those remains turned over to the Vietnamese next of kin, but his efforts were unsuccessful because of Vietnamese religious restraints. Although most observers believe that WO1 Powers died in the explosion of the aircraft following its crippled landing, no one saw him die, and no one saw his body. Iris Powers, Lowell's mother, haunted by an ever-increasing flow of reports that Americans were still in captivity after the war was over, never gave up hope that her son could be alive, or if dead, that she would finally know for sure. For years, she actively sought information on him and the nearly 3000 others missing in Southeast Asia. Most of those 3000 men are still unaccounted for, and the reports continue to flow in. It's time our men came home. RAMIREZ, ARMANDO Name: Armando Ramirez Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Unit: 155th Assault Helicopter Company, 10th Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade Date of Birth: 01 February 1949 (Benson AZ) Home City of Record: Willcox AZ Date of Loss: 23 May 1969 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 122419N 106163E (YU693870) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Other Personnel in Incident: Crew of UH1H: Richard Menzel; Jerome Green (both survived); Santiago V.E. Quintana (died of injuries/wounds); 5th Special Forces Group team: Philip W. Strout; Howard S. Hill (both died of injuries/wounds); Arthur Dolph; Mark Schneider (both survived) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: SP5 Armando Ramirez was stationed at Ban Me Thuot in South Vietnam as a member of the 155th Assault Helicopter company. He was crew chief onboard a UH1H helicopter -- the Huey -- that performed a wide variety of duties in Vietnam. When the word "Huey" was mentioned, it always meant "move." On May 23, 1969, Ramirez' helicopter crew was called on to insert a 5th Special Forces team into Cambodia for a classified mission. The chopper was hit by ground fire and crashed near Highway 13 in Kracheh Province, some 75 miles into Cambodia. Ramirez was trapped beneath the wreckage. The rest of the crew and passengers were pinned down by continuous heavy enemy fire and could not reach the wreckage to help or extract Ramirez. Quintana, Strout and Hill were mortally wounded in the fire fight that ensued. A rescue team of Vietnamese commanded by an American was inserted a short distance away from the trapped men, and arrived at the site just before dusk. there was still gunfire heard, but the men were no longer under direct fire. It was decided to evacuate the surviving crew and team members and the bodies of the dead. The helicopter could not be moved to extract Ramirez' body without heavy equipment, so the men were forced to leave him behind. Two days later, a search and recovery team arrived at the site to find that not only was there no sign of Ramirez, but also that a road had been cleared and the chopper was gone. Ramirez is one of nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from Vietnam. All the survivors of the crash on May 23, 1969 were certain Ramirez was dead, and that his body had been taken by an enemy that would have little regard for who or what he was. There can be no question, however, that the enemy could tell us what happened to Armando Ramirez. The same is true for a very high percentage of the missing. Tragically, thousands of reports have been received that indicate Americans are still being captive in Southeast Asia. While Ramirez may not be one of them, the evidence suggests that hundreds of his comrades are alive, waiting for their country to free them. One can imagine that Ramirez would be there if he could, ready to help bring them to freedom. REID, JON ERIC Name: Jon Eric Reid Rank/Branch: W1/US Army Unit: 48th Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade Date of Birth: 10 December 1948 (Washington DC) Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Loss: 20 February 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 162721N 1062748E Status (In 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1C Other Personnel In Incident: Robert J. Acalotto; Randolph L. Johnson; David M. May (all missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Lam Son 719 was a large-scale offensive against enemy communications lines which was conducted in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese would provide and command ground forces, while U.S. forces would furnish airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the U.S. from Vandegrift base camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, while U.S. Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones. During one of these maneuvers, W1 Jon E. Reid was was flying a UH1C helicopter (serial #66-700) with a crew of three - 1Lt. David M. May, co-pilot, SP5 Randall L. Johnson, crew chief, and SP4 Robert J. Acalotto, door gunner - on a mission providing gun cover for an emergency resupply mission about 20 miles southeast of Sepone, Laos. The aircraft was hit by hostile fire and crashed. When the helicopter landed, it was upright on its skids, with the tail boom broken off and the right aft burning. Witnesses stated that it was certainly a "survivable crash." Two people were seen exiting the aircraft on the right side, running towards nearby trees. Witnesses noted that the left pilot door was jettisoned and that both forward seats were empty. Several attempts were made to rescue the downed crew, but were unsuccessful because of heavy enemy fire. The 1st ARVN Division was to assist in a ground rescue attempt, but the tactical situation changed before the infantry could reach the area, and the unit had to be pulled out. No contact with the crew was ever established after the crash. According to information received by his family, John Reid was known to have been captured and was seen alive by other U.S. POWs in March of that same year, again in May and once in June. Whether the rest of the crew was captured is unknown. When the POWs were released in 1973, Reid was not among them, nor was the rest of the crew. The communist governments of Southeast Asia claim no knowledge of the fate of the crew of the UH1C that went down February 20, 1971. Proof of the deaths of May, Reid, Acalotto and Johnson was never found. No remains came home; none was released from prison camp. They were not blown up, nor did they sink to the bottom of the ocean. Someone knows what happened to them. Were it not for thousands of reports relating to Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia today, the families of the UH1C helicopter crew might be able to believe their men died with their aircraft. But until proof exists that they died, or they are brought home alive, they will wonder and wait. How long must they wait before we bring our men home? David M. May was promoted to the rank of Captain, Jon E. Reid to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, Randolph L. Johnson to the rank of Sergeant First Class, and Robert J. Acalotto to the rank of Staff Sergeant during the period they were maintained missing.
ROBINSON, WALTER T. Name: Walter T. Robinson Rank/Branch: Civilian Unit: Glomar Java Sea Date of Birth: 7 Jul 1952 Home City of Record: Prescott AZ Date of Loss: 25 October 1983 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: Status (in 1973): Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Personnel in Incident: Herman Arms; Jerald T. Battiste; Sebe M. Bracey; Patrick B. Cates; Wei Chen; Xiong Chen; Shu Guo Cheng; Jacob K. J. Chong; David P. Clifton; James F. Cusick; Thomas J. Dixon; Shao Jien Feng; Jerald J. Flanagan; Nigel Furness; Leonard E. Ganzinotti; La Juan A. Gilmore; Henry M. Gittings; James K. Gittings; Terance C. Green; Jun Tian Guan; David Higgins, Jr.; Tyronne Higgins; Hong Xi Huang; Rui Wen Huang; Yong Liang Huang; Timothy Jarvis; John W. Jennings Jr.; Thomas J. Kofahl; Fan Xiang Kong; Guo Zhen Lai; John W. Lawrence; Tong L. T. Lee; Chong Chang Li; Xuan Qiu Li; Zhan Jun Liang; Jie Feng Lin; Bing Guang Liu; Edgar S. Lim; Gary Looke; Robert M. McCurry; Jerry L. Manfrida; Raymond D. Miller; Xie Yi Mo; Tian Xue Mo; Kenneth W. Myers; Larry K. Myers; Donald J. Ouellet; John D. Pierce; Peter Popiel; Clarence Reed; Jewell J. Reynolds; E.J. Russell Reynolds; Walter T. Robinson; Kenneth B. Rogers; Lawrence M. Salzwedel; William R. Schug; Richard E. Shoff; Christopher J. Sleeman; Delmar A. Spencer; George G. Sullivan; Chong Jian Sun; Gustaf F. Swanson; Kevin C. Swanson; Guo Dong Tang; Michael W. Thomas; Jiang Wang; Yu Fang Wang; Dong Cai Wang; Guo Rong Wu; jing Sheng Xia; Xing Xing; Hui Xu; Ming Rui Xu; Mua Guang Yuan; Xing Zhen Zhang; Yi Hua Zhang; Ji Chang Zhen; Shu Rong Zhou; Yao Wu Zhou; Jie Fang Zhou; Da Huai Zhu. Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 10 December 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The 5,930-ton American drilling ship, "Glomar Java Sea" was owned by Global Marine of Houston, Texas, and leased to Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). In the fall of 1983, the vessel was on duty about 200 miles east of the Vietnamese coast. The ship was drilling for oil in the South China Sea in a joint venture of ARCO and China Naitonal Offshore Oil Corporation, a state-owned concern. The "Glomar Java Sea" is a sister ship of the "Glomar Explorer," which, under the guise of being utilized by the late Howard Hughes in a deep sea mining operation in the Paficic, was really being used by the CIA and Navy in a $350 million project to retrieve a sunken Soviet Golf-class submarine. A large part of the submarine was in fact recovered in 1974 before details of the project were publicly revealed. The Glomar Java Sea, with its crew of 81, began drilling operations on January 9, 1983 and was the first American wildcat operaton off the Chinese coast. On October 25, 1983, the vessel was sunk during Typhoon Lex. Documents removed from the ship by a crewman before the disaster indicate that the vessel was being shadowed by armed Vietnamese naval craft and that there were submarine mines beneath the "Glomar Java Sea," placed there and retrievable by its crew. Another document indicates that the ship was damaged prior ot the typhoon when a Chinese supply boat rammed into its side, causing some $320,000 damage to the vessel. The Glomar Java Sea did not leave its post for repairs. Communications between ARCO and Global Marine, as well as telegraphic and radio communications of the U.S. Western Pacific Rescue Coordination Center (WESTPAC) reveal information about the search for the crew of the Glomar Java Sea. The documents indicate that a number of survivors from the stricken vessel were floundering in the water off the coast of Vietnam for hours after the disaster. There is also indication that the men were picked up by Vietnamese coastal patrols and are held captive of the Hanoi regime. The crew of the Glomar Java Sea included 37 Americans, 35 Chinese, four British, two Singaporeans, one Filipino, one Australian, and one Canadian. From a transcript of a radio communicaton between WESTPAC and Global Marine on October 28, three days after the sinking, WESTPAC was told: "We are informed that the SOS transmission could not have been transmitted except by human operators..." There were two 64-man lifeboats aboard the drilling ship, plus smaller lifeboats. In an October 29 communicaton from WESTPAC to Global Marine, it is clearly stated that five strobe lights were sighted by rescue aircraft in the vicinity of 17-30 North 107-45 East. The aircraft were dispatched to the area because strobe lights had been previously sighted. Lifejackets from the Glomar Java Sea were equipped with strobe lights to signal rescuers. Another October 29 communication between ARCO and Global Marine states that ARCO's search aircraft had spotted survivors in the water at 17.27 North 107.54 East, and had attempted to divert surface vessels to this location. The communication expressed the urgency to rescue the men before dark. At 8:01 a.m. on October 29, ARCO had dropped a rescue raft to survivors. Pickup would be delayed for several hours, but the "Salvanquish," a Singapore-based salvage ship, was within one half-mile of the site. At 8:38 a.m search aircraft reported pinpointing the survivors' positions by dye markers released by the survivors into the water. Two survivors were confirmed with a possible third some distance away. Plans were also made to return to the downed vessell to offlift survivors. Another document shows that on nine different occasions radio transmissions were picked up from a lifeboat. They ranged from "very strong" to "weak" with most being described as "strong." Inexplicably, despite the successful search, no rescue was made of the survivors. Later that day, the Chinese Navy picked up a Vietnamese broadcast reporting that the Vietnamese had sighted a lifeboat near their coast. The location of the lifeboat was not confirmed by friendly search parties. ARCO-Global Marine determined that this sighting was in the vicinity of Hon Gio Island, located about 80 miles up the Vietnamese coast from the old U.S. base at Da Nang and about 14 miles offshore, which placed it in Vietnamese territorial waters. It appears that rescue craft were hampered in fully investigating the report due to its location and the hint of possible interference by the Vietnamese military. It is likely that survivors would have been picked up by the Vietnamese if they had in fact drifted within Vietnam's territory. In the years following the loss of the Glomar Java Sea, a number of reports, all unconfirmed by the U.S., indicate that survivors were seen in captivity in Vietnam. It is known that the Vietnamese had shown a hostile interest in the vessel, and the Glomar Java Sea had standing orders to be alert for Vietnamese vessels in the area. The Chinese Navy served as protection for the vessel and stood ready to take action should Vietnamese craft wander too close. The waters below the vessel were mined. A month after the Glomar Java Sea went down, Chinese divers went down to the wreckage and went through the ship with a video cameras. In March 1984, American divers were able to retrieve 31 bodies from the sunken vessel. Fifteen of the bodies were identified as Americans. In addition, three British and one Singaporean were identified. The bodies of another American and two Chinese were tentatively identified. Divers photographed two bodies they were unable to retrieve. They also found one of the Chinese divers that had explored the wreckage in November 1983, lashed to the deck of the ship. The American divers determined that one of the ship's large lifeboats was launched and that an attempt had been made to launch another. Their film was seen by the mother of one of the lost crewmen. She reported that the crack in the hull of the ship at one point was a hole 48 inches across, which was punctured inward, "as though the rig had been hit by something that exploded." This fueled additional speculation that the vessel had, in fact, been attacked rather that simply mortally damaged by the typhoon. The National Transportaton Safety Board officially determined in November 1984 that an "unexplained crack" in the hull of the Glomar Java Sea was responsible for its sinking during the typhoon. Apparently, the crack in the hull allowed two storage tanks to fill with water, causing the vessel to become off-balanced, making it vulnerable to the forces of the typhoon. Officials believed it was possible that survivors may have been able to abandon the ship before it sank. It was determined that the ship had been improperly prepared for the storm. During 1984, there were reports from Southeast Asia that between six and twelve survivors of the Glomar Java Sea were being held in prisoner of war camps in Vietnam. One of the survivors was identified by a Vietnamese refugee as American crewman John Pierce. Douglas F. Pierce, father of John Pierce, reported that the refugee had seen his son, five other Americans and eight Chinese when they were brought into a prison in Da Nang, where the refugee was being held. John Pierce gave the refugee his father's business card and two sticks of gum. Mr. Pierce gave the information to Defense Intelligence Agency who determined that the refugee had not been in the camp at all, but had received the business card by mail from a friend, not directly from Pierce. DIA further determined that the incident had occurred in late October 1983 (shortly after the Glomar Java Sea went down). The refugee gave Mr. Pierce the original letter, which contained the names and addresses of two mutual Vietnamese friends. No followup was conducted on the two names in the letter by DIA, and DIA discounted the information provided by the refugee. It was not until 1990 that it became apparent that the Defense Department felt no responsibility for the Americans lost on the Glomar Java Sea. At that time, DIA reported that the responsibility for these civilians belonged to the U.S. State Department. Mr. Pierce did not stop there. He uncovered a U.S. State Department document that revealed that Cheng Quihong, the secretary and wife of the Director of China's Visa Office, was overheard telling her companion at a Hong Kong dinner that survivors from the Glomar had been picked up and were held by the Vietnamese. Pierce also learned that a JCRC report sent to DIA dated November 6, 1984, reported that a former prisoner from Pleiku prison had been held with a Chinese man who claimed to have been off the Glomar. The man said he was one of three men who were captured, and that the other two were Americans. Pierce adds that to his knowledge, neither of these reports were followed up by U.S. officials, and Pierce has received no reply to his queries regarding them. In 1989 a Japanese monk named Yoshida was released from prison after being held for years by the Vietnamese. Yoshida was shown a photograph of John Pierce and stated that Pierce looked very familiar, and that he had either seen him or someone who looked very much like him. In November, 1990, Vietamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach traveled to the U.S. and spoke with U.S. officials on a variety of matters. At this time, he announced that there was a black American named Walter T. Robinson living illegally in Vietnam, and invited U.S. representatives to come and help find him. Thach provided a social security number and two photographs. The Pentagon told "The Washington Times" that the two photographs of Robinson provided by Thach are of a black man. However, the Pentagon has since admitted that the photos "are not very well developed" and appear to be of either a black man or a dark Asian. Photocopies of old newspaper articles concerning Robinson, obtained by Homecoming II, show a dark-haired man of relatively dark complexion. The Pentagon has not released the photographs to the press. The Defense Department determined that Walter T. Robinson had never been listed as missing in Vietnam. Thach had provided a social security number, and according to DOD, this information correlated to a white American living in the Midwest. They concluded that the Thach information, therefore, was in error. Later information indicated that a Walter T. Robinson was listed on the crew roster of the Glomar Java Sea. When queried, the Defense Department reported that they were aware of this Robinson, but that civilians were the responsibility of the State Department. It seems apparent that the U.S. is not vigorously looking for the men missing from the Glomar Java Sea, and that like the missing and prisoners who served in military and civilian capacities during the Vietnam war, they have been abandoned. CASE SYNOPSIS: SAAVEDRA, ROBERT ============================================================== Name: Robert Saavedra Rank/Branch: Commander USN Unit: Kittyhawk Date of Birth: 01 August 1934 Home City of Record: Nogales AZ Loss Date: 28 April 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 181000N 1055300E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Other Personnel In Incident: Remarks: SYNOPSIS: Commander Robert Saavedra was stationed aboard the Kittyhawk on his tour of duty in Vietnam. On April 28, 1968, he flew a mission into North Vietnam on an A4E aircraft and failed to return. His last kown location was about 50 miles southeast of the city of Vinh in Ha Tinh Province. No information has been received since that time on Robert Saavedra. Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in captivity. Whether Saavedra is alive is not known. What is certain, however, is that Vietnam and her communist allies can tell us what happened to most of our men. CASE SYNOPSIS: THOMAS, JAMES CALVEN =============================================================================== Name: James Calven Thomas Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant USMC Unit: Date of Birth: 27 October 1947 Home City of Record: Safford AZ Loss Date: 03 April 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 155400N 1081000E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground Ground Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) SYNOPSIS: The fate of James C. Thomas has always been a mystery. He was on a 45 man patrol when his fellow Marines discovered he was missing. The patrol had stopped to rest before reaching their destination. As they rested, they noted two Vietnamese boys along the road, begging. The patrol moved on, and when they reached their destination, a head count showed Thomas missing. Returning to the spot where they had rested, Thomas' helmet, pack and canteen were found, but Thomas was nowhere to be seen. No solid infomation has surfaced on him since. His last known location was in Quang Nam Province near An Hoa. When the last American troops left Southeast Asia in 1975, some 2500 Americans were unaccounted for. Reports received by the U.S. Government since that time build a strong case for belief that hundreds of these "unaccounted for" Americans are still alive and in captivity. "Unaccounted for" is a term that should apply to numbers, not men. We, as a nation owe these men our best effort to find them and bring them home. Until the fates of the men like Thomas are known, their families will wonder if they are dead or alive ... and why they were deserted. WALLING, CHARLES MILTON Name: Charles Milton Walling Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ Date of Birth: 31 December 1938 Loss Date: 08 August 1966 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 111630N 1065430E (YT082472) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Other Personnel In Incident: Aado Kommendant (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. Aado Kommendant was backseater to flight commander Capt. Charles M. Walling on an F4C Phantom jet called to provide close air support of friendly forces who were in contact with the enemy northeast of Bien Hoa airbase near Saigon. The two departed Cam Ranh Bay Airbase in South Vietnam and arrived in the target area without incident. They prepared to make bombing runs on a suspected enemy troop concentration, and shortly after the second run, the Forward Air Controller noticed an explosion about two miles southeast of the target. Both he and the flight leader proceeded to the scene as no radio replies were received from Walling's F4C. Rescue helicopters were alerted and arrived within minutes. No parachutes were seen, nor were there any emergency radio transmissions. The area of the wreckage could not be seen by air because of dense foliage, nor could ground troops gain access to the area because it was defended by enemy troops. The last known location of the aircraft was near the juncture of Binh Duong, Bien Hoa, Long Khan and Binh Long Provinces in South Vietnam, about 40 miles northeast of Saigon. Later that day, Foreign Broadcast Information Service in Okinawa monitored two radio releases from Radio Hanoi regarding the shoot-down of an F4 and the killing of two "yankees on board". Because Walling and Kommendant were aboard the only F4 lost that day in that area, it was felt that if the releases were true, they related to Walling and Kommendant. This report was discovered by the family in 1973 and had not been given to them by the Air Force or Defense Department prior to 1973. Since American military involvement in Southeast Asia ended in 1975, the U.S. Government has received thousands of sighting reports of living Americans in captivity in Southeast Asia. Because many of these reports cannot be disproven, families of men like Charles Walling wonder if their loved one could still be waiting to be rescued by the country they loved and served. Aado Kommendant and Charles M. Walling were both promoted to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained Missing in Action. WHEELER, JAMES ATLEE Name: James Atlee Wheeler Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: (unknown, per USAF) Date of Birth: 10 February 1933 Home City of Record: Tucson AZ Date of Loss: 18 April 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 1002921N 1045451E (VX906594) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1E Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: CRASH - TARGET AREA SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam. The aircraft was retired in the spring of 1968 and had flown in more than twenty model variations, probably more than any other U.S. combat aircraft. Capt. James A. Wheeler was the pilot of an A1E assigned an interdiction mission about 10 miles south of Tinh Bien in South Vietnam on April 18, 1965. The target area, very close to the Cambodian border, was in Chau Doc Province. During Wheeler's dive bombing attack, his aircraft was seen to release a fragmentation bomb which detonated immediately. The aircraft dived straight into the ground trailing fuel and smoke and exploded on impact. It was determined that Wheeler could not have survived. James A. Wheeler is listed among the missing because his remains were never recovered. Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared. Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains. Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home? Also listed as MIA but with no bios or loss reports available are: Capt Johnny Howard Godfrey - USAF - Phoenix - MIA 11JAN66 and Lt Johnnie C. Cornelius - USAF - Williams AFB - MIA 26JUN68 Thanks for helping out Al. I really appreciate it. Gunny -- George M. "Gunny" Fallon - email@example.com Thank you for caring about America's Missing Servicemen. "A Man is not dead until he is forgotten!" Please Visit http://www.Ojc.org/ The "Operation Just Cause" Switchboard for more information******** IF YOU NEED INFORMATION ON ANY MIA/POW USE THE (LINK)CLICK ON MONTH THEN DAY IT WILL BRING UP THE BIO. ON THE MIA/POW LIST. HERE IS THE (LINK)MIA/POW INFO.LINK/MIA/POW/NETWORK****IF YOU NEED MORE INFO. TRY MY MIA/POW LINKS OR EMAIL or (ICQ 265462) ME AND I WILL TRY TO HELP!