Remains Identified 10/21/94
One of three men individually identified -- nine others identified as "group
Name: Mark Giles Danielson
Rank/Branch: O3/USAF
Unit: 16th Special Operations Squadron (PAF), Ubon, Thailand
Date of Birth: 29 April 1943
Home City of Record: Rangely CO
Date of Loss: 18 June 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 161500N 1071200E (YC343978)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC130A
Other Personnel in Incident: Jacob Mercer; Richard Nyhof; Robert Wilson;
Leon A. Hunt; Larry J. Newman; Gerald F. Ayres; Stanley Lehrke; Robert
Harrison; Donald H. Klinke; Richard M. Cole; Gerald F. Ayres (all missing)
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.
SYNOPSIS: Lockheed's versatile C130 aircraft filled many roles in Vietnam,
including transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield
command and control center, weather reconnaissance, electronic
reconnaissance, and search, rescue and recovery.
The AC130, outfitted as a gunship, was the most spectacular of the modified
C130's. These ships pierced the darkness using searchlights, flares, night
observation devices that intensified natural light, and a variety of
electronic sensors such as radar, infared equipment and even low-level
television. On some models, a computer automatically translated sensor data
into instructions for the pilot, who kept his fixed, side-firing guns
trained on target by adjusting the angle of bank as he circled. The crew of
these planes were, therefore, highly trained and capable. They were highly
desirable "captures" for the enemy because of their technical knowledge.
1LT Paul F. Gilbert was the pilot of an AC130A gunship assigned a mission
near the A Shau Valley in the Republic of Vietnam on June 18, 1972. The
crew, totaling 15 men included MAJ Gerald F. Ayres, MAJ Robert H. Harrison,
CAPT Robert A. Wilson, CAPT Mark G. Danielson, TSGT Richard M. Cole Jr.,
SSGT Donald H. Klinke, SSGT Richard E. Nyhof, SSGT Larry J. Newman, SGT Leon
A. Hunt, and SGT Stanley L. "Larry" Lehrke.
During the mission, the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM)
and went down near the border of Laos and Vietnam. In fact, the first
location coordinates given to the families were indeed Laos, but were
quickly changed to reflect a loss just inside South Vietnam.
Three survivors of the crash were rescued the next day. After several years
of effort, some of the family members of the other crewmembers were able to
review part of their debriefings, which revealed that a bail-out order was
given, and that at least one unexplained parachute was observed, indicating
that at least one other airman may have safely escaped the crippled
In early 1985, resistance forces surfaced information which indicated that
SGT Mercer had survived the crash and was currently held prisoner. Parents
of another crew member, Mark G. Danielson, discovered a photograph of an
unidentified POW printed about 6 months after the crash, in their local
newspaper whom they were CONVINCED was Mark. It was several years, however,
before the U.S. Government allowed the Danielsons to view the film from
which the photo was taken. When they viewed the film, their certainty
The hope that some of the twelve missing from the AC130A gunship has not
diminished, however. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to
Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been
received by the U.S. Government, including over 1,000 first-hand live
sighting reports.
Families who might be able to lay their anguish and uncertainty to rest are
taunted by these reports, wondering if their loved one is still alive,
abandoned and alone. Since a large portion of the information is classified,
it is impossible for the families to come to their own conclusions as to the
accuracy of the reports.
The fate of the twelve missing men from the gunship lost on June 18, 1972 is
unknown. What is certain is that the governments of Southeast Asia possess
far more knowledge than they have admitted to date. A large percentage of
the nearly 2500 missing Americans CAN be accounted for. There can be no
question that if even one American remains alive in captivity today, we have
a moral and legal obligation to do everything possible to bring him home.
                                                        [up1021.94 10/22/94]
                 U.S. MIA remains identified in Vietnam
   TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Air Force officials
announced Friday they have identified the remains of 13 servicemen
killed during the Vietnam War, including 12 who were on the same
aircraft when it was shot down over Vietnam's A Shau Valley in 1972.
   Tech. Sgt. Patrick McKenna, an Air Force spokesman, said the remains
of the crew were repatriated in 1993 and then identified by military
   The remains of Cmdr. Robert Hessom, a Navy pilot from Bloomsburg, Pa.
, were found earlier this year. The Air Force said Hessom was flying his
A-1H aircraft over the Ha Tinh Province in March 1966 when he was shot
down by ground fire.
   Hessom's wingman witnessed the crash and reported there was no sign
of a parachute. However, because of heavy ground fighting in the area,
Hessom's remains were not immediately recovered.
   The discovery of the remains of the crew of an AC-130A aircraft
brought back the ironies of war.
   The aircraft was on an armed reconnaissance mission in the war's
final days when its No. 3 engine suffered a direct hit by a surface-to-
air missle. A second explosion rocked the plane moments later, throwing
three crewmen free of the craft as it plummeted to the earth.
   Those three men survived and were rescused the following day.
   Three members of the crew were identified individually. They were
Maj. Gerald F. Ayers, Newcastle, Del.; Capt. Mark Danielson, Aurora,
Colo.; and Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer, Jacksonville, Fla.
   Among the nine other members of the crew who were identified only as
a group were two Northern California men -- Tech. Sgt. Donald Klinke,
West Sacramento, Calif., and Tech. Sgt. Richard Nyhof, Fremont, Calif. A
third, Staff Sgt. Stanley Lehrke, was from San Diego.
   The others were: Tech. Sgt. Richard Cole, Uniondale, N.Y.; Capt. Paul
Gilbert, Plainview, Tex.; Maj. Robert Harrison, Massapequa Park, N.Y.;
Staff Sgt. Leon Hunt, Pleasure Ridge Park, Ky.; Tech. Sgt. Larry J.
Newman, North Platte, Neb.; and Capt. Robert A. Wilson, Detriot.
   All the servicemen had previously been unaccounted for in Indochina.
Their remains will be returned to their families in ceremonies later
this month.
[Distributed through The P.O.W. Network]
                                                [usvd11a.94 11/29/94]
U.S. Veterans Dispatch
November 25, 1994
A Group Burial of Co-Mingled Remains
On October 27, the U.S. Air Force announced they had identified the remains
of 13 servicemen killed during the Vietnam War. including 12 who were on an
AC-130 A shot down over the A Shau Valley on June 18, 1972.
According to a news release from Travis Air Force Base, three of the 12
members of the AC-130 crew (Maj. Gerald F. Ayers, Capt. Mark Danielson and
Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer) had been individually identified and the
nine other crew members (TSGT Richard Cole, Capt. Paul Gilbert Maj. Robert
Harrison, SSGT Leon Hunt, TSGT Donald Klinke. S/SGT Stanley Lehrke, TSGT
Larry Newman, TSGT Richard Nyhof and Capt. Robert Wilson) had been
''identified'' as a group.
On November 17, a group burial of the co-mingled remains of the AC- 130 crew
was held at Arlington National Cemetery. The following is a letter that Ruth
Danielson the mother of Mark Danielson, sent to Secretary of Defense William
Perry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James Wold and U.S. Senators
Hank Brown and Ben Campbell prior to the burial.
Editor's Note: Mrs Danielson, who asks that Americans continue to wear
Mark's POW/MIA bracelet and help her fight for an honorable accounting of his
fate, has suffered two heart attacks since the U.S. Government began its
effort to "bury" her son with inconclusive evidence that he is dead In a
related case, although the family of Jacob Mercer accepted the identification
of a back molar as Mercer's tooth, members of the Mercer family have asked
the Last Firebase to continue to distribute his POW/MIA bracelet "just in
case he walks through the door someday."
Ruth C. Danielson
6230 Tuckennan Lane North
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Nov. 12,1991
I write concerning my son, AF Capt. Mark Giles Danielson, missing since June
18, 1972.
I understand that as part if the Srnith POW/MIA amendment to Clinton's 1995
Defense Authorization Bill, the Secretary of Defense is to submit a
comprehensive list of POW/MIAs to the Congress. Do include Mark's case.
I do believe there is much information that Vietnam and Laos, possibly
Russia. the eastern bloc nations, China and Cuba could add to what my family
has been able to learn of Mark's case. You surely are aware that the bodies
of some returned POWs showed clear evidence of medical work, (skull
surgery), that could only have been done in east European hospitals, not in
SEA battlefield hospitals. As a citizen, I hold our government responsible
for a full accounting of all POW/MIAs and the safe, long overdue return of
the living. As a nation, we cannot afford to bury a handful of unidentified
bone chips and five teeth and think this is the best we could do for the
twelve men from Mark's incident - an their families - who offered their
lives to the service of this once-great nation It would be a sin and a
As you should be fully aware, Mark was an electronic warfare officer on a
C-130 that was hit over the Laos/Vietnam border. The first coordinated we
were given put the crash in Laos, but that was quickly "corrected" to put
the crash in Viet Nam.
It was well known throughout our military forces in June 1972 that the war
was drawing to a close, and that the North Vietnamese had offered huge
bonuses to anti-aircraft gunners who could shoot down American planes, the
more intact he better, and capture American military personnel. Live
prisoners were the goal!
The three crewmen rescued from this incident all report that well discipline
NVA forces were their targets, and those well disciplined troops were then
the ones coming to find them after the shoot down. They knew they were worth
more alive than dead to the enemy, as well as to us! Their testimony speaks
of several parachutes, beepers, which could allow for and certainly does not
DENY the possibility of other survivors --- otherwise, the other twelve men
would have been declared dead, not missing, from the time of the incident.
Years after the incident, former NSA analyst Jerry Mooney told us, as he has
since testified to Congress, that he had tracked Mark, by name and rank
electronically (radio intercepts?) for at least 48 hours after the shoot
down. He was moved from place to place. Mark certainly had the training to
be among the hundreds of prisoners that Mooney tracked as "Moscow-bound".
Mooney told us which North Vietnamese commander had responsibility for that
area and would have full intelligence reports about the shoot down and
probable capture of Mark and others. We want to know what the NVA records
tell of this incident. Has this man been debriefed. or are those records
available to us?
Was a Bright Light team sent in to search the site? What were its findings?
When Mr. Huey of mortuary affairs showed us photos of the crash site
excavation last May, we asked, "How could "Mark's" teeth be found at the
crash site (no identifiable bones, only teeth), if he had been captured and
moved to another location? Was he executed elsewhere and the remains "salted
back" at the crash site?" Having heard the testimony before the Senate back
in 197? by the North Vietnamese mortician of his preparation of over 400
sets of remains warehoused on a shelf in Hanoi, you can understand why I
think it plausible that the North Vietnamese continue "selling" remains to
their advantage.
After meeting with Mr. Huey, our family began asking our Congressmen last
spring to look into the original, raw data concerning the incident at NSA,
CIA, DIA, etc. including asking Mossad, to either corroborate or deny Jerry
Mooney's information. The same public laws that forbid individuals selling
or giving military secrets to other countries, also ALLOW Senators and
Representatives to examine classified raw data not available to ordinary
citizens. When we had no response from Senator Hank Brown, my daughter, Judy
Willey. at a Retired Officers' luncheon here in Colorado Springs,
hand-delivered him a copy of the letter she had mailed earlier, asking him
to investigate the Mooney information and to get DNA testing of the bone
chips. Brown's response did not even address the issue of Mooney's
information. Hundreds of men, particularly those shot down over Laos, are,
like Mark, affected by our failure to follow up on this.
If the 300 plus bone chips that were being used to "identify" the twelve
missing men were tested for DNA, perhaps some of the twelve families would
indeed know the fate of their loved one. When we first asked Mr. Huey about
DNA testing, we were told it was not possible because the DNA would have to
be checked against the maternal line. I laughed, with a mother, two sisters
and daughter facing him, our family at least would have no trouble meeting
that criteria. Then we were told, no, it would destroy the chips and there
would be nothing to bury. Is it supposed to be a comfort to bury unknown
chips, and still not know what happened to our sons, brothers, fathers?! If
there aren't enough bone chips to test, how can you rationally pretend there
is EVIDENCE of death, for one, let  alone twelve?  As to the teeth,
many of us are missing molars and pre-molars.  Our dentist, among others,
can verify that we get along with replacements in our living mouths.
You in the Senate and the Department of Defense have had far more
information about live prisoners in South east Asia long after 1973 than we
family members have had access to.  If it were your son, brother, father,
friend missing, would you accept as little proof as we have had and call
your loved one dead?  We know over 600 men were known alive in 1973 and not
returned to us.  Who will accomplish their return?  When?  Is our nation so
greedy for trade that we will sell these men out?  We families yearn for our
men, but the greater sorrow, the greater loss, is not our personal one.  It
is the shame and loss our nation will bear if it turns its back on these
men, these warriors it asked to serve.  Who will be willing to serve such a
shameful nation in the future?
It is not just for Mark, or myself, but also for our nation, that I ask you
1.  have a Senator Brown or Campbell examine the NSA, CIA, DIA and all
related files concerning Mark's incident, particularly the SIGINT the two
weeks following the shoot down.
2.  insist on DNA testing of the bone chips.
3.  obtain and examine records of the NVA unit in the area at the time.
Ruth C. Danielson
Rocky Mountain News
Waiting for a sign from God
30 years do little to dim a mother's hope her son will come home
By James B. Meadow, News Staff Writer
May 27, 2002
Today, the nation pauses to honor its fallen soldiers. But for one Colorado
family, today -- like the previous 29 Memorial Days -- has a hollow ring......
Contact James B. Meadow at (303) 892-2606 or meadowj@RockyMountainNews.com
 Another POW/MIA Mother has found the answers.
It is my sad duty to report that Ruth Danielson, mother of Capt. Mark G.
Danielson, USAF passed away today, July 15, 2002.  Members of her family
were with her at the time.  Ruth was 88.
Mark was the electronic warfare officer aboard an AC-130A gunship that was
shot down near the A Shau Valley, June 18, 1972.  He was tracked for 48
hours afterward by analysts at NSA as he was being moved from location to
location.  In May, 1994, a crash site investigation turned up 300 bone
fragments and five teeth, two of which were identified as Mark's.
Although Ruth refused to accept these remains as sufficient evidence of
death, on November 17, 1994, a group burial of co-mingled remains was held
at Arlington National Cemetery.  Ruth insisted that we all continue to wear
Mark's bracelet. Although in poor health for the last few months, she never
gave up hope that her son would return.  As recently as Memorial Day, she
was interviewed in the Rocky Mountain News about her faith and Mark's story.
She was an adopted mother to all of us, especially here in Colorado.  Ruth
was an active member of Task Force Omega-Colorado and a favorite when Run
For The Wall came through headed for Rolling Thunder.  She was active in the
pursuit for the truth about Mark and all missing men and women for over
thirty years.
One of my fondest memories of her was our first meeting.  Years ago, we were
at a dinner honoring Eugene "Red" McDaniel and I was seated next to this
sweet little lady.  As I placed my hand on the table I noticed her glance at
the bracelet on my wrist.  She leaned and whispered in my ear, "Thanks for
wearing my son's bracelet".  Ironically, we had just moved to Colorado and
his bracelet was the first one I ever wore.
 Details for any services have not been announced at this time.  I will
 forward this information as it becomes available.
 Rod Utech
 "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
 chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!"   Patrick Henry, 1775
Rocky Mountain News
Devoted mother never lost hope
By James B. Meadow, Rocky Mountain News
July 23, 2002
It took Ruth Danielson 30 years to forgive God, but the U.S. government was
never given the same courtesy.
Mrs. Danielson, 88, died July 15, more than 30 years after her only son,
U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Danielson was reported missing in action in
Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2003 1:21 PM
A man's death, a family's pain
31 years after airman's plane shot down in Vietnam, closure slow to come
By Claire Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 12, 2003 - Exactly 31 years and four months after he was
shot down in Vietnam, Capt. Mark Giles Danielson will be formally laid to
rest Saturday in Fort Logan National Cemetery.....