GAULEY, JAMES PAUL
Name: James Paul Gauley
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 288th Tactical Fighter Wing
Date of Birth: 22 March 1939
Home City of Record: Ringwood OK
Date of Loss: 10 January 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 190858N 1034058E (UG608182)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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: In violation of, yet somewhat protected by, the neutrality of Laos
accorded at Geneva in a 14-nation protocol conference July 23, 1962, the
North Vietnamese and supporting communist insurgent group, the Pathet Lao,
lost no time in building strategic strongholds of defense in Northern Laos
and establishing a steady flow of manpower and material to their
revolutionary forces in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail on the
eastern border of the Laotian panhandle.
As a result, the Royal Lao sought help from the U.S. in stopping both
initiatives. It was strategically important to do so, although every
initiative had to be cleared through the U.S. Ambassador at Vientiane, so
that the delicate balance of "look-the-other-way-neutrality" engaged in by
the nations involved (including China) could be preserved.
Defense of non-communist activity in Laos generally fell into three
categories: 1) U.S. Army and CIA's bolstering of the Meo (Hmong) army led by
General Vang Pao; 2) Strategic U.S. Air Force bombing initiatives on the Ho
Chi Minh Trail (Operations Commando Hunt, Steel Tiger, etc.); 3) U.S. Air
Force bombing ini- tiatives in northern Laos (Operation Barrell Roll, etc.)
both against communist strongholds there, and in support of the Royal Lao
and Gen. Vang Pao's army.
It was over Northern Laos that Capt. Paul Gauley flew on January 10, 1967 as
pilot of a F105D Thunderchief. When he was in the region of the Plaines des
Jarres, his aircraft was shot down and he was presumed to be dead. He is
among nearly 2500 Americans lost in Indochina, and one of nearly 600 lost in
Twenty-two years after Paul Gauley was shot down, the U.S., through private
agencies, completed plans for a medical clinic in Laos to encourage Lao
assistance in excavating crash sites of U.S. aircraft downed in Laos.
Critics say that the U.S. has not addressed the issue of live American
prisoners held in Laos and in building clinics is further destroying the
possibility that they will ever be released alive. Indeed, of the nearly 600
downed in Laos, many were known to have been alive on the ground, and the
Pathet Lao stated publicly they held "tens of tens" of Americans - yet not a
single American held in Laos was ever released...or negotiated for.