DANIELSON, MARK GILES
Remains Identified 10/21/94 One of three men individually identified -- nine others identified as "group remains"
Name: Mark Giles Danielson Rank/Branch: O3/USAF Unit: 16th Special Operations Squadron (PAF), Ubon, Thailand Date of Birth: 29 April 1943 Home City of Record: Rangely CO Date of Loss: 18 June 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 161500N 1071200E (YC343978) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC130A
Other Personnel in Incident: Jacob Mercer; Richard Nyhof; Robert Wilson; Leon A. Hunt; Larry J. Newman; Gerald F. Ayres; Stanley Lehrke; Robert Harrison; Donald H. Klinke; Richard M. Cole; Gerald F. Ayres (all 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 2002.
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.
1LT Paul F. Gilbert was the pilot of an AC130A gunship assigned a mission near the A Shau Valley in the Republic of Vietnam on June 18, 1972. The crew, totaling 15 men included MAJ Gerald F. Ayres, MAJ Robert H. Harrison, CAPT Robert A. Wilson, CAPT Mark G. Danielson, TSGT Richard M. Cole Jr., SSGT Donald H. Klinke, SSGT Richard E. Nyhof, SSGT Larry J. Newman, SGT Leon A. Hunt, and SGT Stanley L. "Larry" Lehrke.
During the mission, the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) and went down near the border of Laos and Vietnam. In fact, the first location coordinates given to the families were indeed Laos, but were quickly changed to reflect a loss just inside South Vietnam.
Three survivors of the crash were rescued the next day. After several years of effort, some of the family members of the other crewmembers were able to review part of their debriefings, which revealed that a bail-out order was given, and that at least one unexplained parachute was observed, indicating that at least one other airman may have safely escaped the crippled aircraft.
In early 1985, resistance forces surfaced information which indicated that SGT Mercer had survived the crash and was currently held prisoner. Parents of another crew member, Mark G. Danielson, discovered a photograph of an unidentified POW printed about 6 months after the crash, in their local newspaper whom they were CONVINCED was Mark. It was several years, however, before the U.S. Government allowed the Danielsons to view the film from which the photo was taken. When they viewed the film, their certainty diminished.
The hope that some of the twelve missing from the AC130A gunship has not diminished, however. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, including over 1,000 first-hand live sighting reports.
Families who might be able to lay their anguish and uncertainty to rest are taunted by these reports, wondering if their loved one is still alive, abandoned and alone. Since a large portion of the information is classified, it is impossible for the families to come to their own conclusions as to the accuracy of the reports.
The fate of the twelve missing men from the gunship lost on June 18, 1972 is unknown. What is certain is that the governments of Southeast Asia possess far more knowledge than they have admitted to date. A large percentage of the nearly 2500 missing Americans CAN be accounted for. There can be no question that if even one American remains alive in captivity today, we have a moral and legal obligation to do everything possible to bring him home.
[up1021.94 10/22/94] UPn 10/21 U.S. MIA remains identified in Vietnam
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Air Force officials announced Friday they have identified the remains of 13 servicemen killed during the Vietnam War, including 12 who were on the same aircraft when it was shot down over Vietnam's A Shau Valley in 1972.
Tech. Sgt. Patrick McKenna, an Air Force spokesman, said the remains of the crew were repatriated in 1993 and then identified by military pathologists.
The remains of Cmdr. Robert Hessom, a Navy pilot from Bloomsburg, Pa. , were found earlier this year. The Air Force said Hessom was flying his A-1H aircraft over the Ha Tinh Province in March 1966 when he was shot down by ground fire.
Hessom's wingman witnessed the crash and reported there was no sign of a parachute. However, because of heavy ground fighting in the area, Hessom's remains were not immediately recovered.
The discovery of the remains of the crew of an AC-130A aircraft brought back the ironies of war.
The aircraft was on an armed reconnaissance mission in the war's final days when its No. 3 engine suffered a direct hit by a surface-to- air missle. A second explosion rocked the plane moments later, throwing three crewmen free of the craft as it plummeted to the earth.
Those three men survived and were rescused the following day.
Three members of the crew were identified individually. They were Maj. Gerald F. Ayers, Newcastle, Del.; Capt. Mark Danielson, Aurora, Colo.; and Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer, Jacksonville, Fla.
Among the nine other members of the crew who were identified only as a group were two Northern California men -- Tech. Sgt. Donald Klinke, West Sacramento, Calif., and Tech. Sgt. Richard Nyhof, Fremont, Calif. A third, Staff Sgt. Stanley Lehrke, was from San Diego.
The others were: Tech. Sgt. Richard Cole, Uniondale, N.Y.; Capt. Paul Gilbert, Plainview, Tex.; Maj. Robert Harrison, Massapequa Park, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Leon Hunt, Pleasure Ridge Park, Ky.; Tech. Sgt. Larry J. Newman, North Platte, Neb.; and Capt. Robert A. Wilson, Detriot.
All the servicemen had previously been unaccounted for in Indochina. Their remains will be returned to their families in ceremonies later this month.
[Distributed through The P.O.W. Network]
U.S. Veterans Dispatch November 25, 1994
A Group Burial of Co-Mingled Remains
On October 27, the U.S. Air Force announced they had identified the remains of 13 servicemen killed during the Vietnam War. including 12 who were on an AC-130 A shot down over the A Shau Valley on June 18, 1972.
According to a news release from Travis Air Force Base, three of the 12 members of the AC-130 crew (Maj. Gerald F. Ayers, Capt. Mark Danielson and Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer) had been individually identified and the nine other crew members (TSGT Richard Cole, Capt. Paul Gilbert Maj. Robert Harrison, SSGT Leon Hunt, TSGT Donald Klinke. S/SGT Stanley Lehrke, TSGT Larry Newman, TSGT Richard Nyhof and Capt. Robert Wilson) had been ''identified'' as a group.
On November 17, a group burial of the co-mingled remains of the AC- 130 crew was held at Arlington National Cemetery. The following is a letter that Ruth Danielson the mother of Mark Danielson, sent to Secretary of Defense William Perry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James Wold and U.S. Senators Hank Brown and Ben Campbell prior to the burial.
Editor's Note: Mrs Danielson, who asks that Americans continue to wear Mark's POW/MIA bracelet and help her fight for an honorable accounting of his fate, has suffered two heart attacks since the U.S. Government began its effort to "bury" her son with inconclusive evidence that he is dead In a related case, although the family of Jacob Mercer accepted the identification of a back molar as Mercer's tooth, members of the Mercer family have asked the Last Firebase to continue to distribute his POW/MIA bracelet "just in case he walks through the door someday."
Ruth C. Danielson 6230 Tuckennan Lane North Colorado Springs, CO 80918 Nov. 12,1991
I write concerning my son, AF Capt. Mark Giles Danielson, missing since June 18, 1972.
I understand that as part if the Srnith POW/MIA amendment to Clinton's 1995 Defense Authorization Bill, the Secretary of Defense is to submit a comprehensive list of POW/MIAs to the Congress. Do include Mark's case.
I do believe there is much information that Vietnam and Laos, possibly Russia. the eastern bloc nations, China and Cuba could add to what my family has been able to learn of Mark's case. You surely are aware that the bodies of some returned POWs showed clear evidence of medical work, (skull surgery), that could only have been done in east European hospitals, not in SEA battlefield hospitals. As a citizen, I hold our government responsible for a full accounting of all POW/MIAs and the safe, long overdue return of the living. As a nation, we cannot afford to bury a handful of unidentified bone chips and five teeth and think this is the best we could do for the twelve men from Mark's incident - an their families - who offered their lives to the service of this once-great nation It would be a sin and a shame.
As you should be fully aware, Mark was an electronic warfare officer on a C-130 that was hit over the Laos/Vietnam border. The first coordinated we were given put the crash in Laos, but that was quickly "corrected" to put the crash in Viet Nam.
It was well known throughout our military forces in June 1972 that the war was drawing to a close, and that the North Vietnamese had offered huge bonuses to anti-aircraft gunners who could shoot down American planes, the more intact he better, and capture American military personnel. Live prisoners were the goal!
The three crewmen rescued from this incident all report that well discipline NVA forces were their targets, and those well disciplined troops were then the ones coming to find them after the shoot down. They knew they were worth more alive than dead to the enemy, as well as to us! Their testimony speaks of several parachutes, beepers, which could allow for and certainly does not DENY the possibility of other survivors --- otherwise, the other twelve men would have been declared dead, not missing, from the time of the incident.
Years after the incident, former NSA analyst Jerry Mooney told us, as he has since testified to Congress, that he had tracked Mark, by name and rank electronically (radio intercepts?) for at least 48 hours after the shoot down. He was moved from place to place. Mark certainly had the training to be among the hundreds of prisoners that Mooney tracked as "Moscow-bound". Mooney told us which North Vietnamese commander had responsibility for that area and would have full intelligence reports about the shoot down and probable capture of Mark and others. We want to know what the NVA records tell of this incident. Has this man been debriefed. or are those records available to us?
Was a Bright Light team sent in to search the site? What were its findings?
When Mr. Huey of mortuary affairs showed us photos of the crash site excavation last May, we asked, "How could "Mark's" teeth be found at the crash site (no identifiable bones, only teeth), if he had been captured and moved to another location? Was he executed elsewhere and the remains "salted back" at the crash site?" Having heard the testimony before the Senate back in 197? by the North Vietnamese mortician of his preparation of over 400 sets of remains warehoused on a shelf in Hanoi, you can understand why I think it plausible that the North Vietnamese continue "selling" remains to their advantage.
After meeting with Mr. Huey, our family began asking our Congressmen last spring to look into the original, raw data concerning the incident at NSA, CIA, DIA, etc. including asking Mossad, to either corroborate or deny Jerry Mooney's information. The same public laws that forbid individuals selling or giving military secrets to other countries, also ALLOW Senators and Representatives to examine classified raw data not available to ordinary citizens. When we had no response from Senator Hank Brown, my daughter, Judy Willey. at a Retired Officers' luncheon here in Colorado Springs, hand-delivered him a copy of the letter she had mailed earlier, asking him to investigate the Mooney information and to get DNA testing of the bone chips. Brown's response did not even address the issue of Mooney's information. Hundreds of men, particularly those shot down over Laos, are, like Mark, affected by our failure to follow up on this.
If the 300 plus bone chips that were being used to "identify" the twelve missing men were tested for DNA, perhaps some of the twelve families would indeed know the fate of their loved one. When we first asked Mr. Huey about DNA testing, we were told it was not possible because the DNA would have to be checked against the maternal line. I laughed, with a mother, two sisters and daughter facing him, our family at least would have no trouble meeting that criteria. Then we were told, no, it would destroy the chips and there would be nothing to bury. Is it supposed to be a comfort to bury unknown chips, and still not know what happened to our sons, brothers, fathers?! If there aren't enough bone chips to test, how can you rationally pretend there is EVIDENCE of death, for one, let alone twelve? As to the teeth, many of us are missing molars and pre-molars. Our dentist, among others, can verify that we get along with replacements in our living mouths.
You in the Senate and the Department of Defense have had far more information about live prisoners in South east Asia long after 1973 than we family members have had access to. If it were your son, brother, father, friend missing, would you accept as little proof as we have had and call your loved one dead? We know over 600 men were known alive in 1973 and not returned to us. Who will accomplish their return? When? Is our nation so greedy for trade that we will sell these men out? We families yearn for our men, but the greater sorrow, the greater loss, is not our personal one. It is the shame and loss our nation will bear if it turns its back on these men, these warriors it asked to serve. Who will be willing to serve such a shameful nation in the future?
It is not just for Mark, or myself, but also for our nation, that I ask you to:
1. have a Senator Brown or Campbell examine the NSA, CIA, DIA and all related files concerning Mark's incident, particularly the SIGINT the two weeks following the shoot down.
2. insist on DNA testing of the bone chips.
3. obtain and examine records of the NVA unit in the area at the time.
Ruth C. Danielson
Rocky Mountain News
Waiting for a sign from God
30 years do little to dim a mother's hope her son will come home
By James B. Meadow, News Staff Writer May 27, 2002
Today, the nation pauses to honor its fallen soldiers. But for one Colorado family, today -- like the previous 29 Memorial Days -- has a hollow ring......
Contact James B. Meadow at (303) 892-2606 or meadowj@RockyMountainNews.com
Another POW/MIA Mother has found the answers.
It is my sad duty to report that Ruth Danielson, mother of Capt. Mark G. Danielson, USAF passed away today, July 15, 2002. Members of her family were with her at the time. Ruth was 88.
Mark was the electronic warfare officer aboard an AC-130A gunship that was shot down near the A Shau Valley, June 18, 1972. He was tracked for 48 hours afterward by analysts at NSA as he was being moved from location to location. In May, 1994, a crash site investigation turned up 300 bone fragments and five teeth, two of which were identified as Mark's.
Although Ruth refused to accept these remains as sufficient evidence of death, on November 17, 1994, a group burial of co-mingled remains was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Ruth insisted that we all continue to wear Mark's bracelet. Although in poor health for the last few months, she never gave up hope that her son would return. As recently as Memorial Day, she was interviewed in the Rocky Mountain News about her faith and Mark's story.
She was an adopted mother to all of us, especially here in Colorado. Ruth was an active member of Task Force Omega-Colorado and a favorite when Run For The Wall came through headed for Rolling Thunder. She was active in the pursuit for the truth about Mark and all missing men and women for over thirty years.
One of my fondest memories of her was our first meeting. Years ago, we were at a dinner honoring Eugene "Red" McDaniel and I was seated next to this sweet little lady. As I placed my hand on the table I noticed her glance at the bracelet on my wrist. She leaned and whispered in my ear, "Thanks for wearing my son's bracelet". Ironically, we had just moved to Colorado and his bracelet was the first one I ever wore.
Details for any services have not been announced at this time. I will forward this information as it becomes available.
Rod Utech 303-278-2628
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!" Patrick Henry, 1775
======================== Rocky Mountain News
Devoted mother never lost hope
By James B. Meadow, Rocky Mountain News July 23, 2002
It took Ruth Danielson 30 years to forgive God, but the U.S. government was never given the same courtesy.
Mrs. Danielson, 88, died July 15, more than 30 years after her only son, U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Danielson was reported missing in action in Vietnam......
Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2003 1:21 PM Subject: MARK DANIELSON TO BE RE-BURIED
THERE IS AN ARTICLE IN TODAYS DENVER POST ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS THAT STATES THE REMAINS OF CAPT. MARK DANIELSON MIA 18 JUNE 1972 WILL BE LAID TO REST WITH HIS MOM AND DAD AT FT. LOGAN NATIONAL CEMETARY NEXT SATURDAY HERE IN DENVER. THE FUNERAL PROCESSION WILL LEAVE FROM HORAN & MCCONATY AT 3101 S WADSWORTH BLVD AT 8:30 AM. THERE WILL BE A FLY OVER BY THE 120TH FIGHTER WING. PLEASE LET ROD UTECH KNOW OF THIS SO HE CAN GET IT ON HIS SHOW TODAY. I DO NOT HAVE HIS PHONE OR E-MAIL ADDRESS. IF YOU DO PLEASE E-MAIL ME AND I WILL GIVE HIM THE INFO.
======================== A man's death, a family's pain 31 years after airman's plane shot down in Vietnam, closure slow to come By Claire Martin Denver Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 12, 2003 - Exactly 31 years and four months after he was shot down in Vietnam, Capt. Mark Giles Danielson will be formally laid to rest Saturday in Fort Logan National Cemetery.....