GILLEN, THOMAS ELDON Name: Thomas Eldon Gillen Rank/Branch: O4/USAF 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 Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D 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 REMARKS: 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 return. 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 has returned. 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.