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Nov-06-2007 12:21TweetFollow @OregonNews
Vietnam War Pilot Brought Home After 35 YearsTim King Salem-News.com
Between 1996 and 2007, joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams conducted several interviews concerning the incident.
(COLORADO SPRINGS) - The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Major John L. Carroll, U.S. Air Force, of Decatur, Ga. He will be buried on November 13th at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The DoD says that on Nov. 7th 1972, Major Carroll was flying a Forward Air Controller mission over Xiangkhoang Province, Laos, when his O-1G Bird Dog aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire and forced to land.
Once on the ground, he radioed the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) helicopters on his intent to stay in the aircraft.
Two SAR helicopters attempted a recovery, but intense enemy fire forced them to depart the area. A second pickup attempt was made later, but the pilot of that helicopter saw that Carroll had been fatally wounded.
The recovery attempt was unsuccessful due to nearby enemy forces that opened fire on the helicopter.
In 1993, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident and surveyed the crash site. During the site survey, the team found small fragments of aircraft wreckage.
Between 1996 and 2007, joint U.S./L.P.D.R./Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams, led by JPAC, conducted several interviews concerning the incident. One witness provided the team with identification media which belonged to Carroll.
In another interview, a former People's Army of North Vietnam officer turned over some of Carroll's personal effects and told the team that local residents had buried Carroll. Another witness later led a team to the burial site.
In 2007, a joint team excavated the burial site and found his remains.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC also used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.
Major John Carroll is one of nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Even though the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos was ever released or negotiated for.
Paul Gregoire, an Air America pilot between 1970-72. He sent these thoughts on John Carroll to the Website: John Carroll Biography
"His aircraft was hit somewhere on the eastern PDJ which caused some engine damage. At the time he was hit I was in an Air America S-58T enroute from LS-32, located to the north of the PDJ, to LS-20A, the CIA base at Long Tieng. We were taking a circuitous route back to LS-20A because of the massive enemy presence on the PDJ, especially at the southwestern edge.
While we were enroute, approximately halfway through our flight, we heard Major Carroll's radio calls on Guard channel relating to his circumstances.
He advised that his aircraft had been hit and that he was heading for LS-20A. That began a series of transmissions between Major Carroll and several Air America helicopters operating out of LS-20A. Major Carroll began reporting that he was losing oil pressure and that the oil and cylinder head temperatures were rising rapidly, all indications of an impending engine failure. These conversations went on for a period of at least 15-20 minutes while Major Carroll continued to fly toward LS-20A. Just prior to our own arrival at Long Tieng to refuel, we heard Major Carroll announce that his temperatures were pegged in the red and that his oil pressure was zero. The AAM helicopters then told Major Carroll to turn north from his present position and land out on the PDJ away from any roads while he still had power.
A few minutes later one of the AAM Hueys radioed that he was down on the PDJ - right next to a road.
A few minutes later we landed at Long Tieng to refuel. At the time I felt that we would probably not be involved in the rescue because there were already at least two helicopters in the area who would conduct the rescue of Major Carroll. A short time later, after refueling, we were told to proceed to the PDJ and assist in the rescue. We were airborne very quickly and proceeded to the southwestern edge of the PDJ. Upon arrival we were greeted by the sight of two AAM Hueys flying toward us, one spewing a huge purple cloud of jet fuel behind him, caused by numerous hits to the fuel tanks.
Shortly after they passed us the damaged helicopter went down but the crew was rescued by his wingman.
We continued on to the location where Major Carroll went down. I recall that there was a Raven in the air as well as two AAM Hueys along with our S-58T. There had been no contact with Major Carroll but we could plainly see his O-1 on the ground.
Being the last on the scene we tried to get an idea of the situation. Apparently one pickup attempt had already been made which resulted in the shot up Huey we had passed. The Raven was trying to get some fixed wing support for us prior to making another attempt. The area was known to be at the forward edge of the enemy's lines and was swarming with large enemy units.
Because of the extremely high threat of antiaircraft fire in the immediate area one of the AAM Hueys decided that he would make a low level dash from the north to effect the rescue. He proceeded north a few miles, spiraled down to a few feet above the ground and rushed south to the downed aircraft. The copilot of that Huey later told me that as they came over a gentle rise they spotted the O-1 alongside the road. Up to that point they had received no fire. As they slowed and came to a hover in preparation for landing he saw that the pilot of the O-1, Major Carroll was hanging out of the open door of the aircraft and that he had what was obviously a severe injury to the back of his head.
He made no movement as the helicopter hovered only a few feet away. We apparently had not been able to see Major Carroll's body because it was under the high wing of the O-1. The Huey crew later said that at that point literally hundreds of enemy troops stood up in the tall grass all around them, some as close as 50 feet. Knowing that it was senseless to try to recover the body in those impossible conditions, they spun around and egressed to the north.
Although they received very heavy small arms fire on the way out they safely departed the area. The SAR effort was canceled shortly after that and we returned to base.
I am convinced that Major Carroll was killed almost immediately after landing his aircraft in the midst of a very large enemy force. A valiant attempt was made to rescue him or to recover his body. Any further attempts to do so would have undoubtedly resulted in many more deaths. He was not abandoned to his fate."
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