Name: Olen Burke McLaughlin
Rank/Branch: E7/US Air Force
Unit: 2nd Bombardment Squadron
Date of Birth: 24 December 1927
Home City of Record: Tampa FL
Date of Loss: 07 July 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 094357N 1065858E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D

Other Personnel in Incident: George E. Jones; Charles H. Blankenship. On second
B52: Paul A. Avolese; William J. Crumm; David F. Bittenbender  (all missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 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.  2020


SYNOPSIS: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's most
important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable aircraft
continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and played an
important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.

On July 7, 1967, two B52 aircraft were enroute to a combat mission when they
collided in mid-air over the South China Sea. The aircraft were approximately
20 miles offshore at the point of Vinh Binh Province when the accident occurred.
Seven crewmembers from the aircraft were rescued, but Avolese, Crumm,
Bittenbender, Blankenship, Jones, and McLaughlin were not.

All the missing crewmen onboard the two B52 downed that day were believed to be
dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains were not
recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because their remains
cannot be buried with honor at home.

Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were in
radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.

Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those who
claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several million
documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to agree
whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be far too
politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the
U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.

Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still alive
in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still classified.
If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so
many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?

Major General William J. Crumm is the highest-ranking man missing.





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On July 7, 1967, a B-52D Stratofortress (tail number 56-595, call sign "Kilo Red 1") with six crew members took off from Guam as one of three aircraft on a bombing mission against enemy targets east of Bien Hoa, South Vietnam. When the flight was over the South China Sea, "Kilo Red 1" collided with one of the other aircraft in the flight as they attempted to change position as directed by ground radar. The collision resulted in a giant fireball followed by the breakup of both aircraft. No parachutes were observed, but several rescue beeper signals were received and search and rescue efforts recovered three survivors from "Kilo Red 1." The remaining three crew members were lost during the incident, though the remains of two of these men were recovered and identified following the war.

Master Sergeant Olen Burke McLaughlin entered the U.S. Air Force from Florida and served in the 736th Bombardment Squadron. He was the gunner aboard "Kilo Red 1" at the time of the collision, and was lost along with the aircraft. Further attempts to locate and identify his remains were unsuccessful. Today, Master Sergeant McLaughlin is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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