Remains ID 11/13/2006

Name: John Theodore Gallagher
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Command & Control North, MACV-SOG, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 17 June 1943 (Summit NJ)
Home City of Record: Hamden CT
Date of Loss: 05 January 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161907N 1063445E (XD701021)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D
Refno: 0967

Other Personnel In Incident: James Williamson; Dennis C. Hamilton; Ernest F.
Briggs; Sheldon D. Schultz (all missing); (indigenous team members, names,
numbers, fates unknown)

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: On January 5, 1968, WO Dennis C. Hamilton, aircraft commander; WO
Sheldon D. Schultz, pilot; SP5 Ernest F. Briggs, Jr., crew chief; SP4 James
P. Williamson, crewman, and SSgt. John T. Gallagher, passenger; were aboard
a UH1D helicopter (tail # 66-1172) on a mission to infiltrate an indigenous
reconnaissance patrol into Laos.

The reconnaissance patrol and SSgt. Gallagher were operating under orders to
Command & Control North, MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG 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. The teams performed deep penetration missions of
strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on
the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

As the aircraft approached the landing zone about 20 miles inside Laos south
of Lao Bao, it came under heavy 37mm anti-aircraft fire while at an altitude
of about 300 feet above ground level. The aircraft immediately entered a
nose-low vertical dive and crashed.

Upon impact with the ground, the aircraft burst into flames which were 10 to
20 feet high. No radio transmissions were heard during the helicopter's
descent, nor were radio or beeper signals heard after impact. Four attempts
to get into the area of the downed helicopter failed due to intense ground

During the next two days more attempts to get to the wreckage failed. The
pilot of one search helicopter maneuvered to within 75 feet of the crash
site before being forced out by enemy fire. The pilot who saw the wreckage
stated that the crashed helicopter was a mass of burned metal and that there
was no part of the aircraft that could be recognized. No signs of life were
seen in the crash area.

Weather delayed further search attempts for a couple of days. After the
weather improved, the successful insertion of a ground team was made east of
the crash site to avoid enemy fire. The team was extracted after the second
day, finding nothing. The crash site was located near the city of Muong Nong
in Savannakhet Province, Laos.

Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos. The Pathet Lao insisted that the
"tens of tens" of Americans they held would only be released from Laos, but
the U.S. did not officially recognize the communist faction in Laos and did
not negotiate for American prisoners being held by them. Not one American
held by the Lao was ever released.

Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as
prisoners in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs"
from other wars, most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in
Southeast Asia can be accounted for. Perhaps the crew of the helicopter did
not survive the crash, but until there is positive proof of their deaths, we
cannot forget them. If even one was left behind at the end of the war,
alive, (and many authorities estimate the numbers to be in the hundreds), we
have failed as a nation until and unless we do everything possible to secure
his freedom and bring him home.

National League of Families
POW/MIA Update:  June 2, 2007

AMERICANs ANNOUNCED AS ACCOUNTED FOR:  There are now 1,784 US personnel
listed by the Department of Defense as missing and unaccounted for from the
Vietnam War.  The identification of the remains of two American previously
listed as MIA in Laos was recently announced.  Those identified are Major
Donald E. Westbrook, USAF, from Texas, listed MIA March 13, 1968, remains
repatriated September 3, 1998 and identified February 14, 2007.  The second
person was Sergeant First Class John T. Gallagher, USA, from Connecticut,
listed MIA January 5, 1968, remains repatriated March 15, 2002 and
identified November 13, 2006.  The accounting for these two Americans brings
to 799 the number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam
War in 1975.  Over 90% of the 1,784 still listed as missing were lost in
Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam's wartime control.

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

August 06, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711

Soldiers Mia From Vietnam War Are Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced
today that group remains of five U.S. servicemen, missing in action from
the Vietnam War, will be returned to their families soon for burial with
full military honors.

They are Chief Warrant Officer Dennis C. Hamilton, of Barnes City, Iowa;
Chief Warrant Officer Sheldon D. Schultz, of Altoona, Pa.; Sgt. 1st Class
Ernest F. Briggs Jr., of San Antonio, Texas; Sgt. 1st Class John T.
Gallagher, of Hamden, Conn.; and Sgt. 1st Class James D. Williamson, of
Olympia, Wash.; all U.S. Army. The group remains of this crew will be buried
on Aug. 14 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. Gallagher's
remains were individually identified, and his burial date is being set by
his family.

Representatives from the Army met with the next-of-kin of these men to
explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment
with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

On Jan. 5, 1968, these men crewed a UH-1D helicopter that was inserting a
patrol into Savannakhet Province, Laos.As the aircraft approached the
landing zone, it was struck by enemy ground fire, causing it to nose over
and crash. There were no survivors.All attempts to reach the site over the
next several days were repulsed by enemy fire.

Between 1995 and 2006, numerous U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic
/Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams, all led by the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted more than five investigations,
including interviews with Vietnamese citizens who said they witnessed the
crash. Between 2002 and 2006, JPAC led three excavations of the site,
recovering remains and other material evidence including identification
tags for Schultz, Hamilton and Briggs.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
scientists from JPAC also used dental comparisons in the identification of
the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account
for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://
or call (703) 699-1169.

Longest Goodbye Draws To An End
Tooth Confirms Death Of U.S. Soldier In Laos

Courant Staff Writer

August 8, 2007

The Gallagher family has been saying goodbye to John T. Gallagher for more
years than he was alive....

Bracelet honoring war vet surfaces with his return home for burial

By News Channel 8's Jamie Muro
Posted June 18, 2008
10:30 PM

Hamden (WTNH) _ More emotion surrounds the burial of a war veteran who was listed as missing for decades. A symbol in his honor, was given to a child years ago. That child is now a man and he's looking to bring even more closure to the family.....