MARTIN, RUSSELL DEAN
Remains Identified 11/02/04
Name: Russell Dean Martin
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 4th Air Commando Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 22 June 1937
Home City of Record: Bloomfield IA
Date of Loss: 03 June 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170400N 1055900E (XD054858)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Theodore E. Kryszak; Harold E. Mullins; Luther
L. Rose; Harding E. Smith; Ervin Warren (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance
of 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.
REMARKS: WRECKAGE SITED - NO TRACE OF CREW
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Theodore E. Kryszak was the pilot of an AC47 gunship
assigned to the 4th Air Commando Squadron at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. The
aircraft, dubbed "Puff the Magic Dragon" had evolved from earlier versions
of the Douglas C47.
Puff introduced a new principle to air attack in Vietnam. Troubled by
difficulties in conducting nighttime defense, Capt. Ronald Terry of the U.S.
Air Force Aeronautical Systems Division remembered reading about flying
missionaries in Latin America who lowered baskets of supplies on a rope from
a tightly circling airplane. Throughout the series of pylon turns, the
basket remained suspended over a selected point on the ground. Could this
principle be applied to fire from automatic weapons? Tests proved it could,
and could be extremely successful.
Puff's "flare kicker" illuminated the target, then the pilot used a mark on
the window to his left as a gun sight and circled slowly as three
multibarrel 7-62mm machine guns fired 18,000 rounds per minute from the door
and two windows in the port side of the passenger compartment. The aircraft
was called "Puff" after a popular song of the day, and because it resembled
a dragon overhead with flames billowing from its guns. Men on the ground
welcomed the presence of Puff and the later Spooky version, which was
essentially the same as the Puff, because of its ability to concentrate a
heavy dose of defensive fire in a surgically determined area.
Capt. Kryszak's Puff was assigned a mission which took it over Khammouane
Province, Laos on June 3, 1966. His crew that day included 1Lt. Russell D.
Martin; Col. Harding E. Smith; TSgt. Harold E. Mullins; TSgt. Luther L.
Rose; and SSgt. Ervin Warren. On such a crew, it was common for the officers
to be the flight crew, while the sergeants acted as aerial gunners. On this
crew, Mullins was the flight engineer.
At a point about 10 miles east of Ban Pha Philang near the borders of
Savannakhet and Khammouane Provinces, Capt. Kryszak's aircraft was shot
down. The Puff was seen to crash by another aircraft in the area. No
parachutes were seen and no emergency radio beeper signals were heard, yet
at least one of the men onboard the aircraft was known to have survived.
(Col. Harding E. Smith, according to a list compiled by the National League
of Families of POW/MIA in Southeast Asia survived this incident.)
According to the Air Force, subsequent searches for the aircraft revealed
the wreckage of the aircraft, but the crew could not be located. All
personnel aboard were declared Missing in Action.
The crew of the Puff lost on June 3, 1966 are among nearly 600 Americans
lost in Laos during the Vietnam War. Even though the Pathet Lao stated
publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one
American held in Laos was ever released -- or negotiated for.
Since American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia ended, nearly 10,000
reports have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans
missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities have reluctantly concluded that
there are hundreds left alive in captivity today.
When the United States left Southeast Asia, what was termed "peace with
honor" was in reality an abandonment -- of the freedom-loving peoples of
Vietnam and Laos, and of America's best men. It's time we brought our men
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
Nov 02, 2004
Media Contact: (703)697-5131
Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
MIAs Identified from The Vietnam War
Six servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified
and are being buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery Friday with
full military honors.
They are Air Force Col. Theodore E. Kryszak of Buffalo, NY; Air Force Col.
Harding E. Smith of Los Gatos, Calif.; Air Force Lt. Col. Russell D. Martin
of Bloomfield, Iowa; Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luther L. Rose of Howe,
Texas, and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ervin Warren, of Philadelphia.
On June 23, 1966, the crew was aboard an AC-47 "Spooky" gunship flying a
nighttime armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos. At about 9:25
p.m., the aircraft radioed, "we have a hot fire," and another radio
transmission was heard to order "bail out." Witnesses reported the aircraft
was on fire, then crashed into a heavily wooded area 30 miles northeast of
Tchepone, in Khannouan Province, Laos. No parachutes from the crew were
observed and no emergency beepers were heard. An aerial search of the site
found no evidence of survivors.
In cooperation with the Lao government, a joint team of U.S. and Lao
specialists traveled to a suspected crash site in Khammouan Province in
October 1994 where a villager took them to an area where personal effects,
aircraft wreckage, crew-related materials and a crew member's identification
tag were found.
In May-June 1995, a joint U.S.-Lao team excavated the site where they
recovered human remains as well as identification media of other aircrew
members. The U.S. recovery team members were from the Central Identification
Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI). CILHI scientists applied a wide array of
forensic techniques to the recovered remains, including comparisons of
dental charts and x-rays, as well as the use of mitochondrial DNA
The DNA sequencing was done by the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory, whose results aided the CILHI scientists in identifying the
remains. More than 88,000 Americans are missing in action from all
conflicts. Of these, 1,849 are from the Vietnam War. The CILHI is now part
of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.