Information about two OV-10 flyers who were lost in Laos in 1971, and still haven’t been found.

By OBA Members

In September 1999, the OBA was approached to provide assistance in identifying a part found at a crash site in Laos to help determine if it was from an OV-10. We were able to confirm that the part – a trigger lock latch – was used by Rockwell on OV-10s. Other circumstantial evidence pointed to the site being likely to be in the vicinity of where OV-10A Number 67-14634 was lost on July 6, 1971. However, in early January 2001 we received confirmation from the Air Force that other recovered parts had been positively identified to have come from an AH-1 Cobra helicopter, with the latch turning out to be a generic and widely-used part. However, despite the initial mis-identification we are still very glad that our MIA teams were able to bring two more missing soldiers home and bring peace to their loved ones.
Therefore, the original story of “finding” the Thmas/Carr site has been removed from this site. However, since they are still missing, we’ll leave this piece of the puzzle online. We hope they are found soon.© Darrel Whitcomb, All Rights Reserved.

Here is a write up on the loss of Thomas/Carr in a Bronco in July, 1971.

Darrel Whitcomb

Name: Daniel Wayne Thomas
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 23rd Tactical Aerial Support Squadron (Nails)
Date of Birth: 04 September 1946
Home City of Record: Danbury IA
Date of Loss: 06 July 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 144700N 1071700E (YB460352)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OV10A
Refno: 1758

Source: Compiled 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 in 1998.

Other Personnel In Incident: Donald G. Carr (missing)


SYNOPSIS: In 1971, MACV-SOG’s Command and Control North, Central and South were redesignated as Task Force Advisory Elements 1, 2 and 3, respectively. These titular changes had little initial impact on actual activities. Their missions were still quite sensitive and highly classified. Each task force was composed of 244 Special Forces and 780 indigenous commandos, and their reconnaissance teams remained actively engaged in cross-border intelligence collection and interdiction operations. The USARV TAG (Training Advisory Group) supported the USARV Special Missions Advisory Group and was composed of U.S. Army Special Forces and MACV advisors. SMAG formed at Nha Trang from former personnel from B-53, the MACV Rcondo School cadre, CCN and CCS to train the South Vietnamese Special Missions Force teams drawn from LLDB and Ranger units.

On July 6, 1971, U.S. Army Capt. Donald G. “Butch” Carr was aboard an Air Force OV-10A Bronco aircraft flown by U.S. Air Force Lt. Daniel W. Thomas when the aircraft disappeared 15 miles inside Laos west of Ben Het.

The aircraft had been on a visual reconnaissance mission over central Laos when it was lost. Thomas’ plane was detailed out of the 23rd Tactical Aerial Surveillance Squadron and bore the tail number of 67-14634.

The Bronco was among the aircraft most feared by the Viet Cong and NVA forces, because whenever the Bronco appeared overhead, an air strike seemed certain to follow. Although the glassed-in cabin could become uncomfortably warm, it provided splendid visibility. The two-man crew had armor protection and could use machine guns and bombs to attack, as well as rockets to mark targets for fighter bombers. This versatility enabled the plane to fly armed reconnaissance missions, in addition to serving as vehicle for forward air controllers.

At 1530 hours, Thomas radioed to the Army support facility that he was in his target area, but that he was unable to observe because of weather conditions. This was his last known radio contact. Thomas and Carr were due to depart the area at 1700 hours, and should have radioed then. Search efforts were conducted through July 10, with no results.

A ground reconnaissance team later reported hearing an impact or explosion at 1600 hours on July 6 in their vicinity, but they did not report seeing the aircraft.

A source reported that in early July 1971, he had seen an American POW in that area. The source learned from a guard that the POW was a pilot of an OV10 that had been downed a week prior. This information was thought to possibly correlate to either Carr or Thomas.

Carr and Thomas became two of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos during the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held “tens of tens” of American prisoners, no American held in Laos was ever released. In America’s haste to leave Southeast Asia, it abandoned some of its finest men. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received indicating that hundreds of Americans are still held captive.