GILLEN, THOMAS ELDON
Name: Thomas Eldon Gillen
Unit: 435th TFS 8thTFW
Date of Birth: 08 May 1933
Home City of Record: Kingman KS
Date of Loss: 18 February 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 192900N 1040300E (VG008547)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Robert S. Dotson (rescued)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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 2020
SYNOPSIS: Thomas Gillen was one of 9 children in a poor Kansas ranch family.
He worked hard for every goal he attained and appreciated the blessings he
had in life because he knew what it was like "to be without." His ideals
were high and his love for his country ran strong and deep.
Tom Gillen's sense of duty to his country and love of flying brought him to
Vietnam. In leaving, he reminded his family of all the blessings they
enjoyed, more than most, and asked them not to be bitter if he failed to
On February 18, 1970, Gillen was on a strike mission against Route 7 over
Eastern Laos when his F4D was lost. Although his bombardier/navigator was
rescued, no parachute was seen for Tom. There has been no word of his fate.
Gillen is one of nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos, and one of nearly 2500
in Southeast Asia who never returned. Mounting evidence indicates that some
of them are alive, held prisoner. The United States has never negotiated the
freedom of the prisoners of war held by Laos. Not one prisoner held in Laos
Americans like Gillen went to Vietnam prepared to die, even prepared to be
wounded or taken prisoner. They did not go prepared to be abandoned. They
must be brought home.
Thomas E. Gillen was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he
was maintained missing in action.