Name: Thomas William Knuckey
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 12th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 02 June 1945 (Morriston NJ)
Home City of Record: Wharton NJ
Date of Loss: 27 May 1971
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 120105N 1063133E (XU661289)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH58A
Other Personnel in Incident: Phillip C. Taylor (missing)
REFNO: 1749
Source: Compiled 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. NETORK.
SYNOPSIS: On May 27, 1971, 1Lt. Thomas W. Knuckey was the pilot and Sgt.
Phillip C. Taylor the observer on board an OH58A helicopter which was part of a
force conducting battle damage assessment (BDA) in Kracheh Province, Cambodia,
where air strikes had been made in attempts to destroy an enemy machine gun
position. The location of the gun emplacement was near the border of Cambodia
and South Vietnam, about 8 miles southeast of the city of Snuol.
During Knuckey's final pass over the gun emplacement, his aircraft was hit by
enemy groundfire, and exploded while still in flight. The helicopter then
crashed and exploded a second time and burned. Witnesses reported that the crew
could not have survived. Because of heavy enemy activity in the area, a ground
search was not possible.
Knuckey and Taylor were listed as killed, bodies not recovered. They are among
nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The
cases of some, like Knuckey and Taylor, seem clear - that they perished and
cannot be recovered.
In 1988, the government of Cambodia announced to the press that it had a number
of American remains it wished to return to the U.S. (in fact, the number
announced was more than are officially listed as missing in Cambodia). Despite
the efforts of several U.S. Congressmen, these remains have never been returned
because the U.S. will not make an official response to Cambodia, a government
it does not diplomatically recognize.
It is not thought that many of the men lost in Cambodia survived, primarily
because of Pol Pot's mass genocide after American involvement in Southeast Asia
ended. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans
are still captive in Vietnam and Laos, waiting for the country they proudly
served to secure their freedom. While Knuckey and Taylor may not be among those
said to be still alive, we can honor their sacrifice by refusing to allow
political pandering to prevent the return of their bodies.
We can honor the sacrifices of all who died in Vietnam by insisting that all
living prisoners of war are returned home. There can be no other honorable end
to the war in Vietnam.