Name: Harold Kahler
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 27 January 1923
Home City of Record: Lincoln NE
Date of Loss: 14 June 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 201051N 1035449E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 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 2005 with information from his daughter, Cynthia. 2020
SYNOPSIS: Maj. Harold Kahler was the pilot of an F105D Thunderchief aircraft
sent on a mission over Laos on June 14, 1969. His aircraft was the number
two plane in a flight of two. The flight was trying to locate some 20 trucks
on a highway in northwest Laos, but were unable to do so. They located a
bridge in the target area and were given permission to release their
ordnance on the bridge. The lead aircraft rolled in on the target followed
by Kahler in the number two aircraft. As the lead F105 was coming off the
target he saw a flash of light in his rear-view mirror.
The lead aircraft immediately tried to contact Kahler by radio, but was
unsuccessful. He had enough fuel to make just one pass over cloud coverage
and monsoon weather, but did not see a parachute indicating Kahler
successfully ejected from his aircraft. The aircraft went down about 18
miles northeast of Sam Neua.
The Sam Nuea area is noted for caves in which American prisoners of war were
held during the war. After the plane went down, a team reached the site and
found the cockpit of the plane empty with no parachutes either inside or on
the ground nearby. It was thought at the time that Kahler was working his
way to a safer area where he could be rescued. The plane itself was in fair
condition, considering the violent impact. This information was given to one
of Kahler's family members during an information-seeking trip to Laos. The
relative was able to see the jungle area near the crash.
On June 14, the Pathet Lao acknowledged shooting down an F105 and stated
that the pilot was "suitably punished." The mission had been Kahler's 81st
combat mission. The aircraft went down about 18 miles northeast of Sam Neua.
Nothing has been learned of Harold Kahler's fate since that time.
Kahler is one of nearly 600 Americans who were lost in Laos. None were
successfully negotiated for at the end of the war. Many of the thousands of
reports concerning Americans still held captive come from Laos. While the
U.S. has limited diplomatic relations with the communist government of Laos,
it has failed to negotiate the freedom of those American prisoners.
Kahler was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and took pilot training in Lubbock,
Texas, where he received his wings in 1943. He trained pilots during World
War II. Following the war, he remained in the Air Force until he was sent to
Vietnam. His wife and two children lived in Tempe, Arizona in 1974. Kahler
was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained
Harold Kahler's wife Maxine passed away 01/12/1983.
His daughter, Cynthia, is Head Teacher for the Vernon, AZ School District.
She resides nearby with her pet dog, Princess.
Harold's son, Dennis, is an artist, and also resides in AZ with his wife.