CLAY, EUGENE LUNSFORD
Name: Eugene Lunsford Clay Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force Unit: 37th Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron, Da Nang Date of Birth: 20 February 1939 Home City of Record: Arlington TX Date of Loss: 09 November 1967 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 161458N 1065258E (YC012973) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: HH3E Refno: 0902
Others In Incident: Joseph G. Kusick; Bruce R. Baxter; Ralph W. Brower; Larry W. Maysey (all missing); Gerald Young (rescued - awarded Congressional Medal Of Honor for action); 3 indigenous personnel with Special Forces team (rescued)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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 2001.
REMARKS: CRASH-5 DED; PILOT RECV-J
SYNOPSIS: On November 8, 1967, two Air Force "Jolly Greens" (#26 and #29) from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron were scrambled from Da Nang Air Base at 1505 hours for an emergency extraction of five surviving members of a Special Forces reconnaissance team which had suffered heavy casualties while operating deep in a denied area in Laos. The recovery effort was to be recorded by the Squadron as one of the largest and most hazardous on record.
The two Air Force helicopters were advised by forward air control to hold while three Army UH1B gunships softened the area with rockets and machine gun fire. An Air Force C130 gunship, meanwhile, provided flare support for the mission. At 1630Z, Jolly Green 29 picked up the three indigenous personnel before being driven off by hostile fire. Damaged, Jolly Green 29 left and made an emergency landing at Khe Sanh. 20 minutes later, Jolly Green 26, flown by CAPT Gerald Young, with flight crew consisting of CAPT Ralph Brower, co-pilot; SSGT Eugene Clay, flight engineer; and SGT Larry Maysey, rescue specialist; braved the ground fire to pick up Special Forces SP4 Joseph G. Kusick and MSGT Bruce R. Baxter, both wounded. The helicopter was hit by automatic weapons fire, crashed and burst into flames.
By the afternoon of November 9, a recovery team was inserted into the area and reached the crash site of the burned HH3. Because of fading light, it was impossible to inspect the wreckage at that time.
On 10 November, the wreckage was searched and 3 charred remains were found. Two of the remains had identification tags which identified them as members of the crew. The third remains had no tags, but were identified as SP4 Kusick, radio operator of the reconnaissance team, as the long antenna from his PRC-25 radio were found on his body. CAPT Young had survived and was rescued 17 hours after the crash of the aircraft.
About 34 meters downhill from the wreckage, another set of remains were found which were readily identified as MSGT Baxter from the facial features. No trace was found of the third crew member. The remains of the two crewmen and Kusick were removed from the aircraft and placed with MSGT Baxter's remains so they could be hoisted as one lift into a hovering helicopter. The identificaton tags of the crewmembers were placed with the remains. Weather conditions and enemy action would not permit helicopters to make the extraction either that day or the day following.
The remains of the crew and passengers aboard Jolly Green 26 were never recovered. Although the location of the crash is known, the bodies of the crew and recon team who died still lie on foreign soil. The five are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Not one prisoner was released from Laos, and few remains have been recovered.
While it is a great sadness to know a loved one is dead and his body is lying far from home, the greater tragedy is those known to have been prisoners of war who did not return, and those who are missing in action.
Since the war ended, "several million documents" and "over 250,000 interviews" have been reviewed relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Many officials who have reviewed this largely-classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today.
These reports increase the agony for families who want to know what happened to their sons, fathers and brothers. If, as the U.S. Government seems to believe, all the men are dead, it's time the information was declassified so that all can understand the fates of these heroes. If, as many believe, men are still alive, it's time they were brought home to bring the war in Vietnam to an honorable end.
============================== Subject: Bio Correction Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 23:00:21 EST
I wanted to point out a possible error in the bios you have listed for Capt Ralph Wayne Brower, SSgt Eugene Lunsford Clay, Sgt Larry Wayne Maysey, MSG Bruce Raymond Baxter, and SP4 Joseph George Kusick. All of these gentlemen were KIA during the shootdown of a USAF HH-3 Jolly Green helo on 9 Nov 1967.
The bios have a date of loss of 8 Nov 1967. The loss occurred in the early morning of 9 Nov 1967. Also, there is no mention of SSgt Clay's remains being found.
I've been researching this loss and have obtained a copy of a report from the commanding officer of Kusick and Baxter. In that report, he states that Clay's body was also found outside of the aircraft by the recovery team and identification was made by ID tags. I also have a copy of the mission report from "Crown 1", an HC-130 aircraft that was on station overhead that day. That mission report confirms that all five KIA, three crewmembers and two recon team members, were found and identified. Unfortunately, I can't find anything that specifically says that Clay's remains, like the rest of the HH-3 crew were placed with Baxter's. I can only assume that. The bottom line is that all KIA were accounted for, but not extracted from the crash site.
I appreciate what you do on your web site, and I'm just trying to share information I've obtained that will help you make it more accurate.
Jeff Nash (retired AF Master Sergeant) Elbert, CO