Dennis Gerard Pugh

United States Air Force
10 February 1944 - 28 January 1982
Salina, Kansas
Panel 12W Line 022

Silver Star

USAF Navigator

Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal (multiple awards), National Defense, Vietnam Campaign, Vietnam Service
Dennis G. Pugh

The database page for Dennis Gerard Pugh

15 May 2001

Dennis and I were high school classmates at Salina High in Salina, Kansas. We had been friends for years and were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts together. We both attended the University of Kansas until Dennis went to the Air Force Academy.

The Class of 1962 has a great website that has a beautiful memorial to Dennis. Go to

There is a tribute to Dennis from the pilot he was flying with when he was shot down. Enough said!!

From a high school classmate,
Michael Munson

02 Apr 2006

Dennis was my father's best friend and my mother's prom date. I've read on another site that Dennis was the second-to-last man whose status was changed from MIA to (presumptive) KIA; part of the reason for that was my father.

My father, John Strahan, was and is an attorney. When he returned from Viet-Nam, he was enlisted by Cloyd Pugh, Dennis' father, to help keep the courts from declaring Dennis KIA; Cloyd wanted them to keep looking for his son. Over a series of months, Dad and Cloyd went before the district courts in Texas arguing to keep Dennis on the MIA lists; their continued arguing was enough to push Dennis to the very end of the list for having his status switched from MIA to KIA by the Nixon administration.

Although Cloyd has passed on, I know that my father and Dennis' family still hope some day to bring him home, or, barring that, to at least have a definitive answer to what happened to him, although we all realize we may never know.

I've seen on this site that the service men and women who died paid more than enough for the website; I entirely agree, but think that also the families who have lost their loved ones or who have lived with a lifetime of not knowing have also paid an enormous price, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

From a friend of the family,
Mary K. Strahan
E-mail address is not available.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

      Although Major Pugh was close to the last serviceman whose status was changed from "Missing in Action" or "Captured" to "Presumed Dead", he wasn't next-to-last - there were eight others with later PFOD dates. In seven cases suits had been filed; in the eighth instance, the government deliberately maintained Col Charles E. Shelton, USAF in POW status until 14 Sep 1994 as a symbolic gesture.
      In fairness to the Nixon administration, the majority of missing servicemen were shifted from MIA to Presumed Dead during the Ford administration, while the last ones - including Major Pugh - were declared dead during the Carter administration:
      Nixon years 1968-1974: 303
      Ford years 1975-1979: 868
      Carter years 1980-1984: 13

A Note from The Virtual Wall

USAF F-4D On March 19, 1970, Captain Richard A. Rash and First Lieutenant Pugh were assigned a FAC mission along the Laotian-North Vietnamese border (Khammouane Province). When their F-4D was hit by hostile ground fire they ejected in an area approximately 15 kilometers south of the Mu Gia Pass. Airborne SAR forces established contact with both men but were unable to recover them due to darkness. The next day, SAR forces reestablished contact with 1LT Pugh, who reported that hostile forces were within ten meters of his position. He requested the SAR forces place ordnance on his position and he then held down the transmit key on his radio. Then, excited Asian voices were heard followed by 15 to 20 shots being fired, followed by silence. Ordnance was placed on his position as he requested and there was no further contact with him.

Captain Rash was rescued on March 21st and reported hearing the sound of small arms fire from Lieutenant Pugh's location after which he lost radio contact with him. Further efforts to locate Lieutenant Pugh were unsuccessful and he was declared missing in action.

Two other aircraft were lost during the SAR efforts. On 20 March 1stLt D. P. Townsend of the 602nd SOS was shot down in A-1E tail number 52-135154; he was picked by by a JOLLY GREEN HH-53 from the 40th ARRS. On 21 March Major E. M. Hudgens, also of the 602nd, was shot down in A-1J 52-142065 shortly before Captain Rash was picked up. Major Hudgens did not escape his aircraft before impact and was killed in the crash. His remains were recovered on 07 Apr 1995 with positive identification announced on 06 Feb 1996.

As of 09 Apr 2006 1LT Dennis Pugh's remains have not been recovered. The Virtual Wall's PM-SEA records have current information.

Colonel Richard Rash's recollections and tribute to
Major Dennis Pugh are located at

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009