PAXTON, DONALD ELMER Remains Identified 09/08/00
Name: Donald Elmer Paxton Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 03 November 1928 Home City of Record: Cedar Rapids IA Date of Loss: 22 February 1969 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 163200N 1061600E (XD351297) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B57B Refno: 1392
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles Macko (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: In mid-February, 1969, U.S. Defense policy for response on U.S. operations in Laos was, "The preferable response to questions about air operations in Laos is 'no comment'." We "weren't" in Laos.
The B57 Canberra was one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Canberra first came to the Vietnam theater at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. It proved too vulnerable and difficult to repair for working targets over North Vietnam, but proved effective in the armed reconnaissance Trail operations of Operation Steel Tiger. The Canberra was sometimes used in conjunction with other, more sophisticated aircraft, such as the C130, and was especially effective on night missions.
LtCol. Donald E. Paxton and Maj. Charles Macko were in Laos. Paxton was the pilot and Macko the co-pilot of a B57 bomber sent on a mission over Savannakhet Province, Laos, on February 22, 1969. During the mission, the aircraft was shot down and both men were declared Missing In Action.
Macko and Paxton are two of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos during the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, they stated that those captured in Laos would be released in Laos, hoping to gain a seat at the negotiating table in Paris where the U.S. and Vietnam were negotiating an end to the war.
The U.S. did not include Laos in the Paris Peace Accords, and no Americans held in Laos were released. In America's haste to leave Southeast Asia, it abandoned its finest men. Since the end of the war, the U.S. has received thousands of reports convincing many that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today.
In seeming disreguard for the Americans either held or having been murdered by the Pathet Lao, by 1989, the U.S. and the Lao devised a working plan to provide Laos with humanitarian and economic aid leading toward ultimate full diplomatic and trade relations while Laos allows the excavation of military crash sites at sporadic intervals. In America's haste to return to Southeast Asia, we are again abandoning our men.
Charles Macko and Donald E. Paxton were both promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period they were maintained missing.
---------------------- National League of Families UPDATE LINE: September 8, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This message is being recorded on Friday, September 8th. The number of Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is now 2,005.
Today, the Department of Defense released the names of eight of nine US personnel now accounted for, six previously missing in Laos and three in Vietnam. These Americans include CDR Leonard M. Lee of VA and LCDR Roger B. Innes of IL, both US Navy, missing in North Vietnam since December 27, 1967. The Defense Department did not publicly release CDR Lee's name at the request of his next-of-kin; however, members of Commander Lee's family were quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch September 4th edition regarding his identification. Others include Lt Col Donald E. Paxton of IA and Maj Charles Macko of NY, both US Air Force, missing in Laos since February 2, 1969; Capt Stephen P. Hanson of CA, 1st Lt Jon G. Gardner of NC and Sgt Timothy R. Bodden of IL, USMC, and Army GySgt Billy R. Laney of FL, all missing in Laos since June 3, 1967; and Army CWO1 William A. Smith, Jr., of MI, missing in South Vietnam since September 2, 1968.
The accounting for these nine Americans brings the number still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War to 2,005, 1511 in Vietnam, 421 in Laos, 65 in Cambodia and 8 in the territorial waters of the PRC. Nearly 85% of all Americans lost in Laos and Cambodia were in areas then under wartime Vietnamese control; therefore, it is to Vietnam that we look for archival records and witnesses to assist in accounting for them....