BOOTH, LAWRENCE RANDOLPH
Name: Lawrence Randolph Booth
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: 131st Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 11 November 1944
Home City of Record: Stoney Creek VA
Date of Loss: 16 October 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 184227N 1032748E (UF380690)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Dennis M. Rattin (missing)
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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Lawrence R. Booth was the pilot and SP4 Dennis M. Rattin the
observer aboard an OV1 Mohawk aircraft assigned a surveillance mission over
hostile territory on October 16, 1969. (NOTE: records vary as to the model
OV1 Booth and Rattin were on. Defense and JCRC records record the C model,
and U.S. Army records the B model. Both were equipped for night surveillance
- the B using side-looking radar, and the C using infrared detection
The aircraft departed its base in late evening on October 16, and was to
return later that night. The mission was tracked on radar to its mission
area, but at about 1015 hours, the pilot radioed that he was returning to
base. That was the last contact received from the aircraft.
The 131st Aviation Company was known as "Nighthawks", and was a surveillance
aircraft company. The 131st 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. When the
131st/212th was under the authority of the 16th Group, it also provided
fixed wing support for the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) in I Corps.
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 location of the mission Rattin and Booth were assigned to is classified,
as are their complete files relating to the loss incident. The coordinates
given for Booth locate the loss in Borikhane Province, Laos near the Nam
Nhiep River, and about 70 miles northeast of the capitol city of Vientane.
His coordinates are fairly specific. Rattin's coordinates are generalized,
but also place the loss in the same 70 miles radius of Vientiane, only north
northeast, and in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos.
Rattin's coordinates place the loss only about 30 miles south of the Plain
of Jars, a region heavily infiltrated by communist troops. It is plausible
that their mission was over this highly contested and "hot" area. There are
many possibilities as to the reason this plane was in south central Laos.
This is NOT the normal area of operations for the 131st, and while many of
its aircraft were lost in Laos, most were lost along the eastern edge of the
country. Their primary arena of operations were in I Corps (the northernmost
5 Provinces of South Vietnam).
Full scale searches were conducted the next day for Booth and Rattin and
their aircraft, but with no results. The two were classified missing in
Booth and Rattin are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. The
Pathet Lao continually stated that they held American prisoners, but
insisted that they would be released only from Laos. The U.S. Government
refused to negotiate with the Pathet Lao, a "government" they did not
recognized, and as a consequence, no American held in Laos was ever
released. Further, no negotiations for these men have occurred since the war
ended, even though the U.S. and communist Lao exchange diplomats on a
As thousands of reports continue to flow in regarding the men missing in
Southeast Asia, one must wonder if Booth and Rattin are among the hundreds
thought to be still alive. Doubtless their qualification for such a
classified mission prepared them for the danger. They were prepared to be
wounded or to die. They understood that they could be captured. But the
thought that they would be abandoned by their country probably never crossed
[note: The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assoc. Oct. '94 lists the incident as
"Official description: Died while missing not as a result of hostile action
from vehicular accident while serving as pilot in a fixed wing aircraft,