SAMPSON, LESLIE VERNE
REMAINS IDENTIFIED 21 NOV 91
Name: Leslie Verne Sampson
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Unit: 314th Air Division - Osan Airbase, Korea
Date of Birth: 09 April 1936
Home City of Record: Richey MT
Loss Date: 23 March 1961
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 192855N 1031014E (UG081550)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: C47
Refno: 0004
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 1998.
Other Personnel in Incident: Lawrence Bailey (released 1962); Alfons A.
Bankowski; Frederick T. Garside; Ralph W. Magee; Glenn Matteson; Edgar W.
Weitkamp; Oscar B. Weston; (all missing);
REMARKS: KIA - RES SHTDN/CRSH
SYNOPSIS: Henry Kissinger once predicted that an "unfortunate" by-product of
"limited political engagements" would be personnel who could not be
recovered. On March 23, 1961, one of the first group of Americans to fall
into that "unfortunate" category were shot from the sky by Pathet Lao
antiaircraft guns. Most Americans at that time did not even know that the
United States had military personnel in Southeast Asia. In fact, most
Americans had not even heard of the name "Laos". The Geneva Agreements had
yet to be signed; air rescue teams had yet to arrive in Southeast Asia.
The C47 aircraft crew consisted of 1Lt. Ralph W. Magee, pilot; 1Lt. Oscar B.
Weston, co-pilot; 2Lt. Glenn Matteson, navigator; SSgt. Alfons A. Bankowski,
flight engineer; SSgt. Frederick T. Garside, assistant flight engineer;
SSgt. Leslie V. Sampson, radio operator; and passengers Maj. Lawrence R.
Bailey and WO1 Edgar W. Weitkamp. Bailey and Weitkamp were assigned to the
Army Attache Office at Vientiane, Laos. The aircraft crew were all Air Force
personnel flying from the 315th Air Division, Osan Airbase, Korea.
This C47 was a specially modified intelligence-gathering SC-47 which took
off from Vientiane for Saigon. The passengers and crew were bound for "R &
R" in the "Paris of the Orient". Before heading for Saigon, the pilot turned
north toward Xieng Khouangville, a Pathet Lao stronghold on the eastern edge
of the Plain of Jars. The crew, experienced in intelligence collection,
planned to use their radio-direction finding equipment to determine the
frequencies being used by Soviet pilots to locate the Xieng Khouangville
airfield through the dense fog that often blanketed the region. Pathet Lao
anti-aircraft guns downed the plane, shearing off a wing and sending the
aircraft plummeting toward the jungle.
Maj. Bailey, who always wore a parachute when he flew, jumped from the
falling aircraft and was captured by the Pathet Lao. Bailey spent seventeen
months as a prisoner in Sam Neua, the Pathet Lao headquarters near the North
Vietnamese border, before being repatriated after the signing of the Geneva
Agreements on Laos in 1962. The caves at Sam Neua were said to have held
scores of American prisoners during and after the war.
The seven men lost on March 23, 1961 were the first of many hundreds of
American personnel shot from the sky only to disappear in the jungles of
Laos. Four Lao sources stated that 7 of the 8 personnel on board died in the
crash of the aircraft, and were buried in the vicinity.
Sixteen years later, in February 1977, several Pathet Lao films were
obtained by a friendly foreign government showing an identification card
with a photo of SSgt. Garside, and an open passport bearing 1Lt. Magee's ID
number. The fact that these items were recovered in good condition is
evidence that further information is available on the crew, due to the fact
that the plane was not completely destroyed, and the Pathet Lao were present
at the site of the crash.
Clearly, someone knows what happened to the crew of the C47. Because Laos
was not included in the Paris agreements ending American involvement in
Southeast Asia, and because no agreement has been reached since regarding
Lao-held American POWs, hundreds of Americans remain missing, including the
crew of the C47. Many Americans were known to have survived, and hundreds of
reports point to their survival today.
-----------------------
           OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
                        2400 DEFENSE PENTAGON
                      WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301-2400
                      
                                                       11 DEC 1995
                                                       In reply refer to:
                                                          I-95/52966
                                                          
Dear Mr. Jim Weitkamp:
            In October 1994, the Department of Defense initiated a
comprehensive review of each case involving an American serviceman or
civilian who is unaccounted for as a result of United States involvement in
the war in Southeast Asia. Analysts of the Defense Prisoner of War and
Missing In Action Office, the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, and the
United States Army Central Identification Laboratory worked together to
examine carefully all information developed throughout the years. Our
efforts included a total review of wartime and post-war intelligence, as
well as the reports of joint investigation, oral history interviews and
archival research. The results of this diligent, case-by-case review have
enabled us to define the next steps for achieving the fullest possible
accounting.
            As a result of this review, coordinated as of July 21, 1995, we
have identified the specific next steps to take in the case of Warrant
Officer Edgar W. Weitkamp, United States Army, REFNO 0004. Subsequent
actions, if necessary, will be based upon the outcome of these endeavors.
            As you know, a joint recovery team found seven gravesites in
1991 which were believed to contain the remains of your brother and the
other individuals lost with him. The team excavated the gravesites, but
recovered identifiable remains for only four of the individuals.
Regrettably, your brother's remains were not among those found. During the
investigation, local villagers told the team that some of the remains had
been previously removed from their graves. We believe that the resolution of
this case can best be accomplished by reinvestigation in the area of the
grave sites and crash location. We hope to interview additional villagers
and local officials to determine what may have happened to your brother's
remains.
            These follow-up actions in the case of your brother are being
incorporated into our future work plans. The Army casualty office will keep
you informed of further developments. In some cases, as you may already be
aware, we may already have completed the actions described above and be in
the process of once again reviewing the case. Please know that our efforts
will continue.
            We take our obligation to pursue the cases of our brave service
members and civilians very seriously. Above all, I want to assure you that
your brother's sacrifice in service of his country will be honored forever
by all Americans.
                                  Sincerely,
                                  (signed)
                                  James W. Wold
                                  Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
                                  (POW/MIA Affairs)
                                  
11/20/95
Case Summary Information:
Refno: 0004     Name: WEITKAMP, EDGAR WILKEN
Service: A       Loss Rank:  W1         Idate: 3/23/61      Status: BB
Ctry: LA        Province: XIANGKHOUANG
OffscopeCase: N   PriorityCase: N       FateDetermined :  NA
Narrative: On 23 March 1961, at about 1130, 1Lt Weston and seven other U.S.
military personnel were aboard a USAF C47 when it was shot down by rebel
forces while making a pass over the Plain of Jars The aircraft crashed
approximately six kms northwest of Phon Savan airfield, Xiangkhoang
province. One individual is known to have safely parachuted from the
aircraft. He was immediately captured by the Pathet Lao, eventually
transferred to Sam Neua, and was released by the Pathet Lao in August 1962.
Numerous reports indicate that the other seven service members died in the
crash and were buried near the crash site The aircraft, flown by USAF pilots
assigned to the attache office in Vientiane, was to overfly the PDJ and then
turn south for a TDY assignment in Saigon. There was no expectation that
the aircraft would be taken under fire and the shoot down was not
immediately known to U.S. officials. On 29 Nov 91, the Armed Forces
Identification Review Board approved the identification of remains for four
of the personnel included in this incident. (CJMAO, 292100Z Nov 91)
 
 
U.S. Government Information:
WartimeLivesight: N        RemainsReportedPrior: Y
WartimeCrashGrave: N       SpecialReporting: N
WartimeMediaRpts: N        PostWarMediaRpts : N
DogtagRpts: Y              SignifUsginfo:   Y
UncorrelatedRpts: N
Narrative:
SUMMARY: This loss occurred when a U.S. Air Force plane, attempting to gain
intelligence on rebel activities overflew Neutralist/Pathet  Lao positions
located on the Plain of Jars. The aircraft was hit by AAA fire and multiple
reports indicate that only one of the eight men on board survived the
resulting crash. The survivor was captured by Pathet Lao forces, moved to
Sam Neua and, after seventeen months of captivity, was returned to U. S.
control. The other seven men were likely buried near the crash site. There
is also considerable reporting which seems to confirm that Pathet Lao
officials and/or local villagers took possession of identification media
found on the bodies. This has resulted in numerous dog tag reporting, some
of it associated with purported remains. Clearly, this incident is well
known to those living in the area of the crash site and Pathet Lao officials
who were operating in the area at the time of the loss. Film evidence shows
that the Pathet Lao, and later the LPDR, used documents recovered from this
loss for propaganda purposes. (See Joint Investigations for further
information)
U.S. GOVERNMENT INFORMATION: On 23 Mar 1961, a friendly military unit
reported that a C47 had been shot down by AAA fire over the Plain of Jars.
The unit reported that two people parachuted prior to the aircraft crashing
and burning. Hmong forces were directed to seek information and, if possible
recover any of the personnel and or their equipment. On 25 Mar the same unit
reported that a major (Major Bailey) with a broken shoulder had been taken
prisoner and was in the Phon Savan hospital. Informants said the aircraft
was extensively burned and there were seven bodies. (No further information
on bodies). Additional reporting on 28 Mar stated that Viet Minh forces had
captured the major. (Board Proceedings, ARMA, Vientiane, 29 Apr 61).
In 1977 the U.S. government obtained a Pathet Lao propaganda film which
showed an l.D. card, passport, and card associated with this incident
(Garside, Magee, and Weitkamp). (DIA PW/MIA, 241040Z APR 90) On 24 Jan 1979,
JCRC interviewed a Lao refugee who stated that in Mar 1962 he had observed
the shoot down of a C46 over the Plain of Jars. He identified the crash site
as being located at UG080550 and said that at about 1500, after the fire had
subsided, two members of his group entered the aircraft and removed six
bodies. The bodies were burned, but intact. They were described as four
Americans (large noses) and two Thais (Asian features). Shortly after the
bodies were removed, local communist officials loaded the bodies onto a
Chinese 4x4 truck He did not know where the bodies were taken, but presumed
they were buried nearby. He said that the communist officials placed a
jungle fence around the aircraft wreckage and told the local people to stay
away from the area. (JCRC Bangkok, Report #0003-79).
In Jan 1986, JCRC interviewed a source who had provided to the U.S.
Consulate in Udorn film which, when developed, had photographs of possible
U.S.  remains and aircraft wreckage. The source also turned over a dog tag
rubbing associated with this incident (Bankowski). According to the source,
a Lao pilot had discovered the grave sites and removed the remains to a
storage area. (JCRC Bangkok, 270849Z Jan 86)
In Feb 1986, JCRC reported that a Lao source had passed along dog tag
reporting which correlated to this incident (Bankowski) and stated that
associated remains (including three broken skulls) were being held in a
private residence in Seno, Laos. When USG policy was explained, source was
unhelpful in providing the names of people in possession of these purported
remains. (JCRC Bangkok, 110900Z Feb 86)
In Apr 1986, a Lao source provided dog tag reporting associated with this
incident (Bankowski) and limited information regarding seven burial sites
located on the Plain of Jars. (JCRC Bangkok, 231217Z Apr 86)
Dec 1987, a Thai source reported dog tag reporting associated with this
incident (Bankowski) and stated that his Lao contacts would be able to
deliver three sets of remains associated with this incident for 8 000 USD.
(JCRC Bangkok, 220113Z Dec 87)
On 17 Mar 1988, a source (unknown if Thai or Lao citizen) turned over a
tooth (molar) and claimed that he was in contact with Lao resistance forces
who had possession of American remains. On 16 Apr 1988, a JCRC investigator
contacted the source by telephone and was told that without compensation the
resistance forces would not be interested in any further contact.
Association with this incident is based on the purported area where the
remains were recovered. (Muang Pek, UG2466) (JCRC Bangkok, 191037Z May 88)
CILHI later determined that the tooth had Caucasoid features (CDR JCRC
251802Z Jan 90)
In Jun 1988 a Lao source reported that he had served  as an intelligence
officer with the Lao Neutralist army at Khang Khay in 1961 at the time of
this incident. Source stated that he went to the crash site and spoke with
the surviving U.S. aviator. (USDAO BANGKOK, 080438Z JUN 88,11R 6 024
0390-88).
In Sep 1989, a Thai source reported that he was in contact with Lao soldiers
who had five sets of remains associated with this incident. As proof, a dog
tag rubbing associated with this incident was provided (Matteson). However,
the Lao refused to provide any further information unless they were paid.
(JCRC Bangkok, 260810Z Sep 89)
In Oct 1994, a Thai reported that he had contact with a Lao source who had
the remains of two men associated with this incident. As proof, he presented
dog tag information which can be associated with two men involved in this
loss (Matteson and Magee). According to the source, the remains are located
in Savannakhet province. (USDAO Bangkok, 111128Z Oct 94)
Several other Lao refugees have reported information which correlates to the
known circumstances of this incident. There are slight discrepancies in the
number of bodies and limited information on grave sites and remains. (DIA
PW/MIA 241040Z APR 90)
Joint Investigations Information:
Numberoflvnvestig: 1.00         JTFWitness:     Y
FoundCrashsite: Y               SignifinfoJointinvest:  Y
PotentialLocations:  Y
Narrative: From 7-10 July 1991, a Joint team conducted a survey and grave
site recoveries near a crash site located at UG080586. Before arriving at
the site, the senior Lao team member told the U.S. team leader that there
were seven graves located at the crash site, but he believed some of the
remains had been removed. The team was taken to the crash and burial site
where evidence of a burned aircraft was found. Within ten meters of the
crash site seven linear depressions were easily recognized. The Joint team
interviewed local villagers and was told that in the past few years remains
were removed from the graves. During a surface search of the crash area an
identification tag was found; the name correlates to this incident. The team
excavated the seven graves to sterile soil, to include seven test pits.
Remains, consisting of teeth, were recovered from five of the graves. Some
personal effects were also recovered. (CDR JCRC, 192045Z Jul 91) On 29 Nov
91, the Armed Forces Identification Review Board approved the identification
of remains for four of the personnel included in this incident. (CJMAO,
292100Z Nov 91)
On 22 Jul 93, during JFA 93-6L, a Lao male approached a member of the JTF-FA
at the Mittaphap Hotel and presented a bone fragment and dog tag information
associated with three men involved in this incident (Matteson Garside, and
Magee). The man asked about the possibility of rewards in exchange for
information and explained that his brother Long has the remains of three
servicemen. He stated that the remains were recovered from a crash site
located north of Phon Savan. (His information accurately correlated to the
area of the grave sites associated with this incident). He further stated
that he had learned that the Americans were in town from a friend who worked
at the local French hotel. He refused to provide further information without
compensation. He was asked to return and discuss the matter with Lao team
members. He did not return. On 23 Jul, Mr. Sousat a Lao businessman
approached the Joint team at the Mittaphap hotel and inquired about rewards
for remains information When advised of the USG policy he declined to assist
any further. He did not present any information associated with this
incident. (CDR JTF-FA 2610003Z Aug 93 and 261953Z Aug 93). On 17 Aug 1994, a
Joint team interviewed Mr. Sousat Petrasi (son of PL spokesman Soth Petrasi)
at his home in Phon Savan. Mr. Sousat was unable to provide any fur her
information  and claimed not to know the names of any of his sources of
information. He said that he had simply been collecting information as a
potential means of profit and, when  told of the USG policy on rewards, was
no longer interested. Following the interview, the U.S. team was told that
Lao officials would not permit any further interview of Mr. Sousat.
(AMEMBASSY Vientiane, 020917Z Sep 94)
Unilateral Information:
Unilnfo: Y                      CtryProvidedFilm: VN
Ctryofinfo: VN                  CtryProvidedRemains: NA
Valueoflnfo: C                  SigniflnfoUniAction: N
                           
Narrative:
In Aug 1994, JTF-FA reported that an archival research team working at the
Central Armed Forces Museum in Hanoi photographed a number of personal
documents associated with personnel involved in this incident. (CDR JTF-FA,
040702Z Aug 94)
In Sep 1994, JTF-FA reported that an archival research team working at the
Vietnam News Agency (VNA) in Hanoi had obtained duplicates of VNA photographs
which appeared to correlate to this incident. The photographs show the
wreckage of a USAF C47, Pathet Lao soldiers, and a number of unidentifiable
bodies. (CDR JTF-FA 291112Z Sep 94).
Knowledgeability Information:
SeaCtryKnowLoss: Y
WhichCtryKnew : LA,VN  
Morelnfo: P
Narrative: In Jun 1988 a Lao source reported that he had served as an
intelligence officer with the Lao Neutralist army at Khang Khay in 1961 at
the time of this incident. Source stated that he went to the crash site and
spoke with the surviving U.S. aviator. (USDAO BANGKOK, 080438Z JUN 88,11R 6
024 0390-88). In 1977 the U.S. government obtained a Pathet Lao propaganda
film which showed an l.D. card, passport, and card associated with this
incident (Garside, Magee, and Weitkamp). (DIA PW/MIA, 241040Z APR 90)
In Aug 1994, JTF-FA reported that an archival research team working at the
Central Armed Forces Museum in Hanoi photographed a number of personal
documents associated with personnel involved in this incident. (CDR JTF-FA,
040702Z Aug 94) In Sep 1994, JTF-FA reported that an archival research team
working at the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) in Hanoi had obtained duplicates of
VNA photographs which appeared to correlate to this incident. The
photographs show the wreckage of a USAF C-47, Pathet Lao soldiers. and a
number of unidentifiable bodies. (CDR JTF-FA 291112Z Sep 94).
The area of the crash site and probable burial sites was under Pathet Lao
control throughout the war and, after the LPDR took power, the area remained
under tight communist governance. The shootdown was a seminal event at the
time and the burial sites well known to local villagers and officials. The
paucity of remains recovered by the Joint team in 1991 suggests that prior
to 1991 the graves were either professionally excavated or thoroughly
scavenged. In either case, this activity would have been known to local Lao
villagers and, likely, local officials.
Future Pursuit Information:
FurtherPursuitJust: Y           CtryForUnilatPursuit: NA
PursueWho: J                    HowToUnilat: N
CtryForJointPursuit: LA         TypeOfUnilatLeads: S
HowToJoint:    JE               KindOfUSPursuit: O
Narrative: The JTF-FA should return to the area of the grave sites/crash
location. CILHI personnel should undertake further work in the grave sites
and, if possible, make a determination   as to whether or not the graves
showed evidence of pre-1991 exhumation. (This action should require
examination of the report submitted by the 1991 Joint recovery team). Local
villagers and officials should be contacted and asked for any information
regarding pre-1991 exhumations and/or scavenging of the grave sites. In
1991, the Lao team leader told the JCRC team that remains had been removed.
Dog tag reporting strongly suggests that l.D. media was removed from
personnel associated with this loss. Additionally, in some cases remains
have been associated with these dog tag reports. It is highly possible that
some of these l.D. items and remains may be in the hands of local villagers
or officials. JTF-FA should seek interviews with local Lao villagers and
officials, particularly those who were present from 1961-1991.
If this effort is unsuccessful, recommend special research.
Future Pursuit Deferred Information:
WhyDeferPursuit: NA
HowWhereOffScope: NA
Narrative:
No Future Pursuit Information:
WhyNoFurther: NA
PrevAttemptRecov: NA
Narrative:
INITIALCOORD:          A-JOINT INVESTIGATE;JTF TO FIND OUT WHO
                       EXCAVATED GRAVES;COORD 2
RECOORD1:
RECOORD2:
RECOORD3: