Notes from The Virtual Wall
There is a common misconception that the U. S. Government simply "wrote off" hundreds of MIA personnel with the swipe of a pen. Mr. Mizejewski's comment reflects that misconception.
"On May 22, 1978, CW3 Link and several hundred other MIA's were
declared by the US Government to be "dead, body not recovered".
In fact, Presumptive Findings of Death were issued on 22 May 1978 for three (3) MIA personnel:
CW2 Robert Link and SP4 James Creamer from this incident, and WO Floyd Strange of the 48th AHC (lost 2 Dec 1967). In all of May 1978, 34 PFODs were approved - 12 Army, 3 Navy, and 19 Air Force personnel.
The service branches each had standing review boards which examined the records of MIA personnel and made recommendations with respect to continuing them as MIA or issuing a declaration of death. Not surprisingly, the review boards generally considered everyone involved in a particular incident at the same time, so that recommendations for those personnel would be forwarded at the same time.
The first PFOD was issued on 15 Jul 1963 (SSgt R. F. Parks, Army, lost 14 Jul 1962); the last in 1983 (Col W. W. Sisson, USMC, lost 18 Oct 1965). There was no "rush to judgement".
On 21 April 1968, six men of the 17th Assault Helicopter Company departed Phu Bai in a UH-1H (hull number 66-16209, piloted by Captain Floyd W. Olsen) for a recovery mission at Landing Zone Veghel. The last communication with Captain Olsen advised that the recovery mission had been canceled due to bad weather and the tactical situation around LZ Veghel. Olsen failed to return to Phu Bai, attempts to raise the aircraft by radio failed, and the aircraft could not located at other fields in the area.
Olsen's last known location was over extremely rugged, double-canopy jungle covered mountains approximately 4 miles northeast of the A Shau Valley. On 22 April, an extensive visual and electronic search was conducted from dawn until 1830 hours. Search and rescue (SAR) operations continued throughout the next week without success. At termination of the formal search the six men were placed in MIA status.
On 8 May, ARVN troops found SP5 Johnson's dog tags in a non-US 3/4-ton truck. On 25 May, a UH-1C gunship from the 101st Airborne Division sighted the tail boom of a crashed helicopter and on 26 May the downed aircraft was positively identified by its tail number. On 27 May troops from A/1/327th Inf were inserted to locate the helicopter and, if possible, recover the crew. The troops did locate the main rotor blades in a river bed 200 meters west of the tail boom, but before the cabin section could be located the troops came under enemy fire and were forced to depart the area. However, they were able to determine the helicopter was downed by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire.
LZ Sally web site
gives this account:
"A UH-1H helicopter belonging to the 17th Assault Helicopter Company crashed on to LZ Veghel on April 20th. On April 21st one of the ground commanders on LZ Veghel requested the removal of this aircraft as well as a downed Marine gunship. He believed that the downed aircraft would hamper ground operations on the LZ. A UH-1H from the 17th AHC with six men aboard was sent to Veghel to rig the downed Huey for extraction. The Marines would have to okay the extraction of their aircraft. The weather around Veghel was overcast with fog and low clouds. While the one Huey was over the vicinity of Veghel the remainder of the 17th AHC was flying a combat assault in the area. At about 1500 hours the maintenance aircraft was told that the extraction mission was cancelled, and this radio transmission was acknowledged . That was the last contact that anyone would have with the lone Huey. Parts of the missing aircraft would later be seen scattered over an area located about 5 kilometers from LZ Veghel. It had apparently exploded in mid-air after being hit by enemy anti-aircraft artillery. Neither the remains of the crew nor any of their personal effects have ever been found.
The missing men were
The Secretary of the Army eventually approved Presumptive Findings of Death for all six men on the dates shown above. The remains of the six men have not been repatriated.
- CWO Robert C. Link, Washington, DC, pilot (05/22/1978)
- CPT Floyd W. Olsen, Wheaton, IL, copilot (05/01/1978)
- SP5 Larry C. Jamerson, Rosman, NC, gunner (08/13/1974)
- SP4 Frankie B. Johnson, Fountain Inn, SC, crew chief (07/24/1978)
- SSG Lyle E. MacKedanz, Hutchinson, MN, passenger/technician (08/28/1974)
- SP4 James E. Creamer, North Branford, CT, passenger/technician (05/22/1978)
More information is available on the
Task Force Omega
Note: Most accounts contain two errors:
- The spelling of LZ Veghel (later Fire Support Base Veghel) is incorrectly shown as "Zeghel".
- The flight's point of departure is given as Phu Cat rather than Phu Bai.