KOONCE, TERRY TRELOAR Name: Terry Treloar Koonce Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 13 September 1938 Home City of Record: San Antonio TX Date of Loss: 25 December 1967 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 172000N 1054400E (WD782822) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: T28 Refno: 0950 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 15 March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The North American T28 Nomad was used throughout Southeast Asia for counterinsurgency missions. The T28's normally flew in two-plane formations for day strikes against previously selected targets or for armed escort of A26 or helicopter operations. During daylight the Nomad usually attacked in a shallow dive, releasing its bombs and recovering at 2,000 feet to avoid small arms fire, for shock effect on the enemy, as well as to lighten the aircraft and increase its maneuverability. Night operations usually consisted of armed reconnaissance by single T28's. At night pilots could dive below 2,000 feet using darkness for concealment as enemy gunners in South Vietnam and Laos did not employ radar. Long after the T28 had proved too vulnerable to survive the enemy's increasingly accurate antiaircraft fire, T28s served as the principal attack plane of the Royal Lao Air Force and were sometimes flown by Thai volunteers as well. Few T28 losses resulted in missing American personnel. On December 25, 1967, Capt. Terry T. Koonce was the pilot of a T28 on a mission in Laos. Koonce was a relatively experienced pilot, having graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1961 and gone into flight training following graduation. The Christmas Day mission took Koonce over Khammouane Province, Laos near the Ban Karai pass. The Ban Karai Pass was one of several passageways through the mountainous border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from Thailand to missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and many aircraft were lost. On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail", a road heavily travelled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of neutral Laos. The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that of those men lost in more populous areas, even though both were shot down by the same enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to the extremely rugged terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery. Koonce was at the city of Ban Som Peng when his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Whether Koonce was able to bail out of the aircraft is unclear, but he was declared Missing in Action. He is one of nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos during the Vietnam war. In the early 1970's the Pathet Lao stated on a number of occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners and that those captured in Laos would also be released from Laos. Unfortunately, that release never occurred, because the U.S. did not include Laos in the negotiations which brought American involvement in the war to an end. The country of Laos was bombed by U.S. forces for several months following the Peace Accords in January 1973, and Laos steadfastly refused to talk about releasing our POWs until we discontinued bombing in their country. Consequently, no American held in Laos was ever returned. By 1989, these "tens of tens" apparently have been forgotten. The U.S. has negotiated with the same government entity which declared it held American POWs and has agreed to build clinics and help improve relations with Laos. If, as thousands of reports indicate, Americans are still alive in Indochina as captives, then the U.S. is collaborating in signing their death warrants. Terry T. Koonce graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1961.