SALE, HAROLD REEVES JR.
Name: Harold Reeves Sale, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: Udorn, Thailand Date of Birth: 26 August 1942 Home City of Record: Lexington SC Date of Loss: 07 June 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 192000N 1033300E (YG479381) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Refno: 0725
Other Personnel in Incident: Joy L. Owens (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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 2007.
REMARKS: RADIO CONTACT LOST
SYNOPSIS: In violation of, yet somewhat protected by, the neutrality of Laos accorded at Geneva in a 14-nation protocol conference July 23, 1962, the North Vietnamese and supporting communist insurgent group, the Pathet Lao, lost no time in building strategic strongholds of defense in Northern Laos and establishing a steady flow of manpower and material to their revolutionary forces in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail on the eastern border of the Laotian panhandle.
As a result, the Royal Lao sought help from the U.S. in stopping both initiatives. It was strategically important to do so, although every initiative had to be cleared through the U.S. Ambassador at Vientiane, so that the delicate balance of "look-the-other-way-neutrality" engaged in by the nations involved (including China) could be preserved.
Defense of non-communist activity in Laos generally fell into three categories: 1) U.S. Army and CIA's bolstering of the Meo (Hmong) army led by General Vang Pao; 2) Strategic U.S. Air Force bombing initiatives on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (Operations Commando Hunt, Steel Tiger, etc.); 3) U.S. Air Force bombing initiatives in northern Laos (Operation Barrel Roll, etc.) both against communist strongholds there (i.e. the Plain of Jars region), and in support of the Royal Lao and Gen. Vang Pao's army.
On June 7, 1967, Maj. Joy L. Owens was the pilot of an F4 Phantom fighter/bomber assigned a reconnaissance mission over the Plain of Jars region of Laos. His bombardier/navigator on the mission was 1Lt. Harold R. Sale, Jr. When the aircraft was about 10 miles east of the city of Xiangkhoang, it was shot down,[[ SEE NOTE BELOW ]] and Owens and Sale were not heard from again.
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.
Joy L. Owens was born in Wisconsin and moved to Seattle at age 13. There, he graduated high school in 1947 and worked three years before enrolling in Air Force Officers Training School in San Angelo, Texas. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1951 and went on to bomber training in Texas. He was assigned to Okinawa, where he flew B-29s for several months over Korea. Owens was then stationed at Walker AFB, New Mexico. In 1962, he served three years in England, returning to finish university education at Oklahoma State University. He was stationed at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho before being sent to Udorn, Thailand in 1967. He was on his 34th reconnaissance mission when he was shot down. Owens was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was Missing in Action.
Harold R. Sale, Jr. was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was maintained Missing in Action.
Subject: Refno 0725 Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 09:10:57 -0600
I read your information on REFNO 0725, an account of the loss of my uncle, Harold R. Sale, Jr. A few things you might want to correct.
According to AF records, this was a "scope loss". I.E. they disappeared of the radar scope and were not heard from again. There is no evidence I know of that they were shot down. The JTF in Laos is still searching with no positive results.
Hal was promoted to Major during the time he was listed as MIA. He grew up in Lexington, SC and attended Wofford College (spelling?) in Spartanburg, SC. He was married with no children. Surviving are his wife and sister and a niece and nephew. He was commissioned in 1965, graduated pilot training in 1966 and was stationed at Shaw AFB before going to Udorn. He was on his 97th combat mission when lost, 3 short of returning home.
Thank you for continuing the vigil of our MIAs.
Scott Cromer Jacksonville, Arkansas
From: "Scott Cromer" To: email@example.com Subject: Update on Harold R. Sale, Jr Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2002 9:11:10 -0500
A recent update on my uncle, Harold R. Sale, Jr. My family received a letter from the JTFFA regarding their latest trip to SEA. They ran down several leads concerning 0725, including interviewing several witnesses to a crash in the supposed loss area. The information from the witnesses however proved to be too vague to pinpoint a potential search area. JTFFA believes the crash site is somewhere near the border of Vietnam and Laos and are pursuing leads from both countries. At last report, they had still not gotten access to the suspected loss area in Laos. Please pray and continue to communicate with your Congressional delegations that this area of Laos will open up and prove fruitful.
===================Subject: Reference REFNO 0725
Could you please update my uncle’s bio. His name is Harold R. Sale, Jr. I would appreciate if you could add a statement asking anyone with my uncle’s bracelet to continue to keep/wear them until he is accounted for. We get several requests a year from wonderful people asking if we would like them to send us the bracelet with Hal’s name on it. While we appreciate their concern, our desire is that they continue to keep the bracelet until he is accounted for as a way to remind them to continue to pray for that day. My current email is:
Thank you for all you do,