FINN, WILLIAM ROBERT
Name: William Robert Finn
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 16 August 1947
Home City of Record: Metairie LA
Date of Loss: 24 December 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 144200N 1064700E (YB477233)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Timothy M. Tucker (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of Task Force
Omega from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency
sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews: 01 January 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.
SYNOPSIS: The OV10 Bronco was among the aircraft most feared by the Viet
Cong and NVA forces, because whenever the Bronco appeared overhead, an air
strike seemed certain to follow. Although the glassed-in cabin could become
uncomfortably warm, it provided splendid visibility. The two-man crew had
armor protection and could use machine guns and bombs to attack, as well as
rockets to mark targets for fighter bombers. This versatility enabled the
plane to fly armed reconnaissance missions, in addition to serving as
vehicle for forward air controllers.
1Lt. Timothy M. Tucker was the pilot and 1Lt. William R. Finn the co-pilot
of an OV10 Bronco assigned a mission over Laos on Christmas Eve, 1971. Their
mission took them over Attopeu Province, the extreme southeast province of
At a point about 12 miles south of the city of Attopeu, the Bronco was lost,
and Tucker and Finn became Missing in Action. Upon subsequent evaluation of
their cases, it was thought doubtful that the enemy knew either of their
In 1973, the prisoners of war held in Vietnam were released. Laos was not
part of the Paris agreement which ended American involvement in Indochina.
No prisoners held by the Lao were ever released. Nearly 600 Americans were
left behind, forgotten.
In 1975, refugees fled Southeast Asia and brought with them stories of
Americans still held prisoner. The reports continued to flow in as the years
passed. By 1990, nearly 10,000 reports had been received. Some sources have
passed multiple polygraph tests, but the U.S. Government still insists that
proof is not available, yet maintains most of the reports in classified
status. One such report describes William R. Finn's capture, and names him
by name. This report has never been confirmed, as far as public scrutiny can
Meanwhile, the Lao voice dismay about the large numbers of their people that
were killed and the fact that much of their once beautiful homeland now is
cratered like the moon from bombs dropped by American planes. They seem to
want acknowledgement that, in bombing enemy sanctuaries in Laos, we also did
great harm to the Lao people.
We are haunted by the secret war we conducted in Laos through the lives of
the Americans we left behind. Some of them may still be alive. What must
they be thinking of us?