Name: Paul Leroy Graffe
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 225th Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group,
1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 19 August 1946
Home City of Record: Shelton WA
Date of Loss: 03 October 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 145719N 1075326E (ZB109553)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C
Refno: 1496
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.
Other Personnel In Incident: Kenneth Cunningham
SYNOPSIS: The OV1C Mohawk aircraft was designed as a battlefield
reconnaissance aircraft and was used primarily by the U.S. Army. The various
models were outfitted with different detection equipment. The standard
aircraft was not armed, but some carried various weapons. The C model
featured infared detection equipment and a forward-aimed camera. Because the
North Vietnamese and Viet Cong relied so heavily upon darkness to conceal
their activities, the infared sensor proved especially valuable.
On October 3, 1969, 1Lt. Paul L. Graffe, pilot; and PFC Kenneth L.
Cunningham, observer; departed Phu Hiep, South Vietnam, during the early
evening on a surveillance mission of targets located in the northwest
portion of MR2 (Military Region 2) in the tri-border area of Cambodia, Laos
and South Vietnam.
The aircraft (serial #61-02679) failed to return at the scheduled time. The
last radio contact with Graffe and Cunningham was at 1800 hours when another
OV1 aircraft had been informed by Graffe that they were going to continue
their mission for about 30 more minutes, and then begin the return trip to
Phu Hiep. All further attempts at electronic contact with the missing OV1
were unsuccessful.
On the morning of October 5, search and rescue aircraft located the wreckage
of an aircraft atop a 7,000 foot peak in a mountain range north of the city
of Kontum. This wreckage was positively identified as that of Graffe and
Cunningham. Efforts were made to insert a ground team at the site on October
5 and 6, but inclement weather prevented the team from being inserted. On
neither occasion was either visual or electronic contact made with the
downed crew.
On the morning of October 7, another attempt was made to insert a ground SAR
team. However, the SAR pilots noticed a change in position in the aircraft
wreckage, and the SAR aircraft was receiving continuous beeper signals from
the ground. Since this continuous beeper signal was not compatible with
established emergency radio procedures, the SAR flight leader directed that
the site was probably a trap and withdrew from the area. Both crewmembers
were declared Missing In Action.
Graffe and Cunningham are among nearly 3000 Americans who were missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia at the end of the war. Unlike
the MIAs from other wars, most of these men can be accounted for.
Tragically, over 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in Southeast
Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities that
hundreds of men are still alive in captivity, yet freedom for them seems
beyond our grasp.