GISH, HENRY GERALD
Name: Henry Gerald Gish
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 18 December 1946
Home City of Record: Lancaster PA
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (YH680600)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Clarence Blanton; James Calfee; James Davis;
Willis Hall; Melvin Holland; Herbert Kirk; David Price; Patrick Shannon;
Donald Springsteadah; Don Worley (all missing from Lima 85); Donald
Westbrook (missing from SAR 13 March)
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: When Henry Gish volunteered for a sensitive assignment called
Project Heavy Green, his wife had to sign a secrecy agreement too. Gish, an
Air Force man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian job
with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be running Lima Site 85, a radar base in
Laos, whose neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence. No one was to
Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on
a 5860-foot mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by
sheer cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA.
Unarmed US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin
Delta to Hanoi.
For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received
which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on
Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area
to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that
William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the
men in place. When the attack came March 11, some were rescued by
helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in
the bombing of North Vietnam.
Donald Westbrook was flying one of 4 A1E's orbiting on stand-by to search
for survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down
March 13. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force
destroyed Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of
In mid-March, Doris Jean Gish was notified that Lima 85 had been overrun by
enemy forces, and that her husband and the others who had not escaped had
been killed. Many years later, she learned that was not the whole truth.
Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did
not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and
another indicates that 6 were captured. Information has been hard to get.
The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was only declassified in 1983, and
finally the wives could be believed when they said their husbands were
missing in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown to their families for
the first time in 1985.
Doris Jean Gish and the other wives have talked and compared notes. They
still feel there is a lot of information to be had. They think someone
survived the attack on Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if
their country will bring those men home.