First SOG insertion in Laos information
for 219 VNAF SQDN

From date 651018 to 651023

219 VNAF SQDN was a Vietnamese Army unit
SOG was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Incident reference: 65101805.KIA This information is available on CD-ROM.
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Kham Duc
Description: The first American-led recon team, RT Iowa, to be inserted into Laos as part of SHINING BRASS had trained with four other SOG teams at Kham Duc. The one-zero, team leader, was MSG Petry and the one-one, assistant team leader, SFC Card. There were seven Nungs and one ARVN LT on the team. Their mission was to recon part of Target D-1, about 20 miles NW of Kham Duc where Laotian Highway 165 almost reaches Vietnam. The USAF COVEY FAC, was USAF MAJ Pyles with a SOG air liaison officer, USMC CPT Sessions. Three KINGBEE CH-34s from the 219th VNAF Squadron were escorted by at least two Huey gunships (thought to be USMC). The weather was marginal, with clouds below the mountaintops and increasing ground fog. At 1800H, the helicopters left Kham Duc and inserted RT Iowa into a slash-and-burn area selected as the LZ. After the insert, CPT Thorne, the solo passenger of the third KINGBEE, sent the other helicopters back to Kham Duc and stayed until the RT radioed they were safe. Cowboy and Mustachio (the American names for the two VNAF pilots who would become SOG legends) in the other CH-34s returned to Kham Duc. They reported the weather was so bad they had to climb to 8,500 feet to get over the clouds. CPT Thorne radioed that they were returning. However, the KINGBEE crashed killing CPT Thorne and the VNAF crew of two pilots and one door gunner. After the COVEY FAC left Kham Duc for Da Nang, they too went down. In its first day, SHINING BRASS generated three US and three VNAF MIAs. On page 55 of Saal’s SOG Vol 3 we read: ‘When rescue personnel went to the site, they recovered the remains of the three Vietnamese crew, but found no signs of CPT Thorne.’ However, this account does not agree with the Joint Task Force - Full Accounting Case 0174-0 report dated 28 Sep 1994 obtained by VHPA member Seppo Hurme. It reads: ‘During the mission, the crew encountered bad weather and indicated they were experiencing low visibility because of dense clouds. The last radio contract with the crew occurred in the vicinity of YC895105, approximately 12Ks west of Kham Duc. Search and rescue efforts were initiated with negative results. On 6 and 7 May 1993, a joint team traveled to Kham Duc to investigate Case 0174. The team interviewed Mr. Ho Van Roi who reported he found a crash site in 1988. The team visited the crash site at YC92210 and found aircraft wreckage and a data plate. The data plate was later correlated to an F-100 aircraft. The team found no remains at the site. Mr. Roi said he has traveled throughout these mountains during his life and this is the only crash site in the area.’ Concerning the COVEY FAC, on page 55 of Saal states that MAJ Piles and his passenger / observer died when they crashed near Da Nang and that their remains were later recovered from the aircraft wreckage site. However, The Wall lists USAF Harley B. PYLES and USMC Winfield W. Sisson as BNR (body not recovered). Plaster’s account in SOG on page 37 states, correctly, that all three Americans are still in BNR status.
Comments: MAJ Norton, Charlie; FOB Kham Duc CO; ; CPT THORNE LARRY ALAN; SOG OPNS; KIA; MSG Petry, Charles; RT Iowa 1-0; ; SFC Card, Willie; RT Iowa 1-1; ; MAJ Pyles, Harley; SOG COVEY FAC; KIA; CPT Sisson, Winfield; SOG air liaision; KIA; *** Cowboy; VNAF pilot; ; *** Mustachio; VNAF pilot; ;

The source for this information was SOG P:34+; SOG V III P:55+

Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address:

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023