LUCAS, LARRY FRANCIS Remains Returned 09/20/99 ID 04/26/2002
Name: Larry Francis Lucas Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group Date of Birth: 29 April 1940 (Ashland KY) Home City of Record: Marmet WV Loss Date: 20 December 1966 Country of Loss: Laos (officially listed in S.Vietnam) Loss Coordinates: 164139N 1061451E (XD330460) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1A Refno: 0553 Other Personnel In Incident: Capt. Joseph L. Kulmayer (rescued)
Source: Compiled 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 in 2002.
SYNOPSIS: On December 20, 1966, Capt. Larry F. Lucas, pilot; and Capt. Joseph L. Kulmayer, co-pilot, flew an OV1A Mohawk (serial #63-13123) out of Hue's Phu Bai airbase on a reconnaissance mission over Laos in an operations region known as "Foxtrot". Their plane was hit by enemy fire, caught fire, pitched into a ninety degree dive and crashed. Capt. Kulmayer ejected and was later rescued. No sign of any other parachute was seen.
Although Lucas' parachute was not seen, Capt. Kulmayer stated that at the time of his own ejection, he saw Capt. Lucas' hand on the overhead canopy release handle.
The last known location of the plane was near Sepone, Laos, about 25 miles from the border of South Vietnam. Defense department records list Lucas as missing in South Vietnam, although the loss coordinates are clearly in Laos. Why Lucas is not listed missing in Laos is unknown.
The OV1A was outfitted with photo equipment for aerial photo reconnaissance. The planes obtained aerial views of small targets - hill masses, road junctions, or hamlets - in the kind of detail needed by ground commanders. The planes were generally unarmed. The OV1's were especially useful in reconnoitering the Ho Chi Minh trail.
NOTE: The 20th Aviation Detachment existed until December 1966, at which time it was reassigned as the 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion (Combat Support). The 131st Aviation Company had been assigned to I Corps Aviation Battalion since June 1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was reassigned to the 212th Aviation Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon it transferred out of Vietnam.
There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus E. Williams and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn D. McElroy (March 15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6, 1966); Robert G. Nopp and Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher and Robert E. Pittman (September 28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L. Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F. Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W. Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971). Missing OV1 aircraft crew from the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on OV1 aircraft during the war.
U.S. Army records list both Nopp and Kipina as part of the "131st Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion", yet according to "Order of Battle" by Shelby Stanton, a widely recognized military source, this company was never assigned to the 14th Aviation Battalion. The 131st was known as "Nighthawks", and was a surveillance aircraft company.
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 541-02 (703)697-5131(media) IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 22, 2002 (703)428-0711(public/industry)
REMAINS OF MIA FROM VIETNAM IDENTIFIED
The remains of Army Capt. Larry F. Lucas of Marmet, W.Va., a U.S. soldier previously unaccounted-for from the war in Vietnam, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with military honors.
Lucas and another crewman were flying a reconnaissance mission in their OV-1 Mohawk aircraft over Savannakhet Province, Laos, when they were hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. As the crew of another OV-1 watched, the aircraft entered a steep dive, crashed and exploded. The other crewmember ejected from the aircraft before the crash and was rescued.
Other aircraft searched the area for a survivor, but with negative results. No parachute was seen and no radio transmissions were heard from Lucas.
Between January 1990 and September 1999, four joint U.S.-Lao on-site investigations were led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting. During two of these investigations, excavations recovered aircraft debris, pilot-related artifacts and human remains. Forensic scientists from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii identified the remains.
There are currently more than 1,900 Americans unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia.
================ Charleston Gazette Wednesday, October 30, 2002
HEADLINE: Pilot killed in Vietnam to be buried Chartered bus taking friends, family to Arlington on Friday
Jessie Lucas waited until she knew for sure her son was dead before giving up herself.
The 87-year-old former Marmet resident died Sept. 5 in Escondido, Calif., three weeks after learning the military had positively identified the remains of her son, shot down over Laos in 1966......