BURNHAM, MASON IRWIN Remains identified 11/03/99
Name: Mason Irwin Burnham Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 19 September 1943 Home City of Record: Portland OR Date of Loss: 20 April 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 152900N 1073100E (YC699138) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC130 Refno: 1831 Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas H. Amos (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 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 2010.
SYNOPSIS: Lockheed's versatile C130 aircraft filled many roles in Vietnam, including transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance, electronic reconnaissance, and search, rescue and recovery.
The AC130, outfitted as a gunship, was the most spectacular of the modified C130's. These ships pierced the darkness using searchlights, flares, night observation devices that intensified natural light, and a variety of electronic sensors such as radar, infared equipment and even low-level television. On some models, a computer automatically translated sensor data into instructions for the pilot, who kept his fixed, side-firing guns trained on target by adjusting the angle of bank as he circled. The crew of these planes were, therefore, highly trained and capable. They were highly desirable "captures" for the enemy because of their technical knowledge.
Captains Thomas H. Amos and Mason I. Burnham were pilot and co-pilot of an AC130 on a mission near the border of South Vietnam and Laos on April 20, 1973 when their plane was shot down by enemy fire. Because there existed the possibility that the two safely ejected the aircraft, they were declared missing in action. The fate of the rest of the crew (some 8-12 men) is not indicated in public records. The aircraft went down in Quang Tin Province, about halfway between Ben Giang, South Vietnam and Chavane, Laos.
[NOTE: 1999 update: Some records, and Burnham's widow indicate that Amos and Burnham were the crew of an F-4 (#0602) on support mission for the C-130, not in the C-130 itself.]
The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded Amos' and Burnham's classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2 indicates "suspect knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been involved in loss incidents with individuals reported in Category 1 (confirmed knowledge), or who were lost in areas or under conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected with an incident which was discussed but not identified by names in enemy news media; or identified (by elimination, but not 100% positively) through analysis of all-source intelligence.
When the war in Vietnam ended, and 591 American Prisoners of War were released, Amos and Burnham were not among them. As time passed, reports amassed, to a current number of over 10,000. Many authorities who have reviewed this largely-classified information have concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today.
The United States Government seems unable to decide whether or not men are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, preferring the less controversial (and less liable) position of operating "under the assumption that one or more" are alive.
Whether Thomas Amos and Mason Burnham survived the crash of their aircraft to be captured has never been determined. Whether they are among those thought to be still alive is uncertain. What is clear, however, is that if there is even one American being held against his will in Southeast Asia, we have a legal and moral responsibility to do everything possible to bring him home.
------------------------------ From - Tue Nov 09 12:29:49 1999 From: "Rusty" <email@example.com> Subject: re: Thomas H. Amos
I have information of a MIA, whose bracelet I have been wearing, and now returned. Maj (capt) Thomas. H. Amos's remains have been located, and his funeral was held in Springfield Missouri, Nov 6, 1999 with full military honors. I returned my bracelet to his daughter and she was glad to have it back and know that someone had not forgotten about him. She also informed me that the synopsis of his shoot down were inaccurate. He way flying a F-4D Phantom II with his back seater, Mason I. Burnham and crashed into the side of a mountain while escorting a AC-130A gunship on a mission over the Laos/SVN boarder.
Maj. Amos's daughter told me that the dog tags and a leg bone were ID's as her fathers, and the remaining remains will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC next spring.
----------------------- Defense POW/MIA Weekly Update November 9, 1999
MISSING IN ACTION SERVICEMEN IDENTIFIED
The remains of seven American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.
They are identified as Major Thomas H. Amos, USAF, of Springfield, Mo.; Captain Mason I. Burnham, USAF, of Portland, Ore; Sergeant First Class William S. Stinson, US Army, of Georgiana, Ala.; and four other servicemen. Their names are not being released at the request of their families.
On April 20, 1972, Amos and Burnham were flying escort to an AC-130 on a night mission over Quang Nam Province near the Vietnam-Laos border. As another aircrew marked a target, Amos radioed that he was lining up his F-4D Phantom aircraft for the ordnance run. Shortly thereafter, the crew of the AC-130 reported seeing a large fireball on the ground. Subsequent attempts to contact Amos and Burnham were unsuccessful. Search efforts were continued for three days but proved unsuccessful.
In May 1993, a joint US/Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) team traveled to Quang Nam-Da Nang Province and interviewed two local villagers who claimed to have possession of remains collected from the crash site of a jet aircraft. At that time, the men also produced material evidence, including identification tags for both Amos and Burnham.
Two months later, a second team reinterviewed the two villagers who added that the remains in their possession had been turned over to the Vietnamese government the previous May. In January 1994, a third joint team took possession of those remains.
Other teams traveled to the supposed aircraft crash site in 1994, 1995, and 1998 to obtain additional evidence to support identification. Additional remains were recovered as were numerous crew-related items and aircraft wreckage. On June 1998, the site was closed to further excavation because of the presence of large amounts of unexploded ordnance.
===================== From - Fri Apr 21 18:03:47 2000
Daughter of MIA will finally lay him to rest
Friday, April 21, 2000 The Seattle Post Intelligencer THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The daughter of an Air Force navigator listed as missing in action after his jet crashed in Laos 28 years ago plans to finally lay her father to rest with a full military funeral service next month at Arlington National Cemetery....
==================== Monday, June 12, 2000 Seattle Post Intelligencer THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
EUGENE, Ore. -- A pilot who died during the Vietnam War 28 years ago will be laid to rest in Salem this week.
It will be the second funeral for U.S. Air Force Capt. Mason Burnham. His unidentifiable remains were buried during a May 25 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C......
Missing 3 decades, POW/MIA bracelet found again
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Missing 3 decades, POW/MIA bracelet found again
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader
About 33 years after the owner lost it, a POW/MIA bracelet is going to the daughter of the US Air Force captain whose name was inscribed