CROWLEY, JOHN EDWARD Remains Identified 06/05/00
Name: John Edward Crowley Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: Troop D, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) Date of Birth: 25 September 1949 (Sodus NY) Home City of Record: Williamson NY Date of Loss: 10 August 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 152149N 1073055E (YC700000) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Refno: 1655
Other Personnel in Incident: CW2 William E. Boyle; WO Gary B. Smith; SP4 Jesus O. Alvarez (all rescued); passengers from MACV-SOG team (unnamed - rescued)
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.
SYNOPSIS: WO Gary B. Smith, pilot; William E. Boyle, aircraft commander; SP4 John E. Crowley, crew chief, SP4 Jesus O. Alvarez, door gunner; and an unspecified number of passengers were in a UH1H helicopter (tail #68-16520) on a classified "Prairie Fire" operation in the lower panhandle area of Laos.
"Prairie Fire" teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were also called, depending on the time fram, "Shining Brass" missions. The missions operated under MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group).
MACV-SOGG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG.
When the helicopter was about 25 feet above the ground, it suddenly lost power and crashed. No reason for the crash could be determined. Crowley and one passenger were trapped inside the aircraft.
A medic from another helicopter entered the wreckage and managed to free the passenger, but noticed that Crowley was firmly wedged between the aircraft and the ground. After two or three minutes of effort, the medic gave up trying to free him. The medic determined that Crowley was dead, as there was no pulse, and he could get no response from him.
All personnel were extracted and another rescue team was inserted just before dark, but was unable to get back to the wrecked aircraft because of enemy activity. The second team was extracted the next day, and no further efforts were made to go back to the crash site.
Crowley was flying in support of an exceedingly dangerous mission. For every insertion like the one of August 10, 1970 that was detected and stopped, dozens of other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
Crowley was listed Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. He is listed with honor among nearly 600 Americans missing in Laos. Although, unlike Crowley, many of these men were known to be alive, and some were known prisoners, the U.S. refused to negotiate with the Pathet Lao - a government they did not recognize officially. The 600 Americans lost in Laos were, therefore, never negotiated for, and no American prisoner held in Laos was ever released.
---------------------------- National League of Families UPDATE LINE: June 5, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This message is being recorded on Monday, June 5th. The number of Americans still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is 2,021.
As the President announced during his Memorial Day Address, Specialist 4th Class John E. Crowley, from Williamson, NY, missing in Laos since August 10, 1970, is now accounted for. In 1998, some remains were turned in to members of a joint field team in Vietnam. Later, a US-Lao team jointly recovered remains, concluding the US effort. The accounting for Spec. Crowley brings the number now accounted for in Laos to 144, with 427 still missing, nearly 85% of them in areas under Vietnamese wartime control....