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 Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Refno: 1733 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 1998. 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?