KNUTSEN, DONALD PAUL
Name: Donald Paul Knutsen
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: 176th Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group,
23rd Infantry Division (Americal)
Date of Birth: 25 September 1949
Home City of Record: Buffalo NY
Date of Loss: 22 March 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163623N 1063343E (XD666365)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
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. NETWORK in 2020.
Other Personnel In Incident: Reginald D. Cleve; Walter R. Hall; John G.
Traver (all missing)
REMARKS: CRASH - N EXITS OBS - NO SEARCH -J
SYNOPSIS: The families of the men aboard the UH1H aircraft lost on March 22,
1971 were given the following account: On March 22, 1971, W1 Reginald Cleve,
aircraft commander; W1 John G. Traver, pilot; SP4 Donald P. Knutsen, crew
chief; and Walter R. Hall, door gunner, comprised the crew of a UH1H
helicopter in a flight of five helicopters conducting an emergency resupply
mission when the helicopter burst into flames and crashed.
The aircraft was flying at an altitude of about 5000 feet above sea level in
Savannakhet Province, Laos, when it was fired upon by a hostile ground force
and an explosion occurred in the cargo compartment. The helicopter impacted
essentially in one piece and again exploded and continued to burn. No one
was observed to exit the aircraft, and it was the opinion of the
investigating committee that no one could have survived. No rescue attempts
were made due to the heavy concentration of enemy troops and the aircraft
fire in the area.
A family member of one of the crew states, "one reason for our feeling that
he may still be alive is that his craft was hit, and he radioed to the
leader of the mission that he would be forced to land. The remainder of the
aircraft went on to deliver their cargoes, and as they returned to their
base, they reportedly passed over this site. They saw (the downed
helicopter) on the ground, but there was NOT any fire, nor did they see any
of the men around it."
Because thousands of reports have been received that Americans are still
alive in Indochina, and because distorted stories were given many family
members, particularly relatives of those men missing in Laos (where we were
"not at war"), it is understandable that many family members have lost faith
in what they are told about the fates of their men.
Experts believe that hundreds of Americans may be alive today in Southeast
Asia as captives. The crew aboard the UH1H lost that day in May 1971 could
be among them. Surely they expected that they might be injured or killed.
The thought that they might be abandoned probably never crossed their minds.
What are we doing to bring these men home?