Name: Samuel Allen Mattix
Rank/Branch: Civilian
Unit: Missionary, Christian Missions of Many Lands
Date of Birth: ca 1953 (Fairbanks AK)
Home City of Record: Centralia WA
Date of Loss: 27 October 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162600N 1061200E (WD215175)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 1941
Other Personnel in Incident: Evelyn Anderson; Beatrice Kosin (assassinated);
Lloyd Oppel (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: In the late hours of Saturday, October 27, 1972, a small group of
North Vietnamese soldiers invaded the southern Laotian town of Kengkock, about
thirty-five miles from Savannakhet. They took prisoners, including Evelyn
Anderson, Beatrice Kosin, Lloyd Oppel and Samuel Mattix, all missionaries
working for Christian Missions of Many Lands. Several other Americans managed
to escape and radioed for help.
At 9:04 on Sunday morning following the capture, an American helicopter
arrived and evacuated nine Filipinos, five Lao and the Americans who had
radioed for help. Less than an hour later, Sgt. Gerry Wilson returned by
helicopter to try and locate the two American women. Lt.Colonel Norman Vaught
immediately set rescue plans into motion.
The American Embassy in Vientiane heard of the rescue plan and ordered from
the highest level that no attempt be made to rescue the women. The peace
negotiations were ongoing and it was feared that a rescue attempt would
compromise the sustained level of progress at the talks.
On November 2, 1972, a radio message was intercepted which ordered that the
two women be executed. A captured North Vietnamese soldier later told U.S.
military intelligence that the women were captured, tied back to back and
their wrists wired around a house pillar. The women remained in this position
for five days. After receiving orders to execute the two, the Communists
simply set fire to the house where they were being held and burned the women
alive. A later search of the smoldering ruins revealed the corpse of Miss
Anderson. Her wrist was severed, indicating the struggle she made to free
Oppel and Mattix, the men who were captured with Anderson and Kosin, were held
captive and released in 1973. It is speculated that the women would have been
too much trouble to care for on the long trip to Hanoi, and were killed
instead. They were held in Hanoi from December 6, 1972 until January 16, 1973
at which time they were removed to a small country prison and interrogated for
three weeks. They were then moved back to Hanoi and released on March 28.
Contrary to some statements, the two were not released by the Pathet Lao, but
by the Vietnamese.
Anderson and Kosin were not in Laos to kill, but to help. Their deaths must be
blamed not only on the Communists who set the fire that killed them, but also
on the faceless, nameless Americans who decided they were expendable.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
Civilian - Christian Missionary and Medic
Captured: October 28, 1972
Released: March 28, 1973
Twenty-year-old Samuel Allen Mattix was born in Fairbanks, Alaska; his home is
now in Centralia, Washington. In 1970 he graduated from Centralia High School.
From there he went to London, England, graduating in 1972 from the Missionary
School of Medicine.
"I went to Laos from London in July 1972. From July to October I studied the
Lao language intensively in preparation for spiritual and medical service to
the Lao people. On October 28, 1972 Lloyd D. Oppel, my co-worker (a Canadian)
and myself were captured in Kengkok, Laos, near our home, when North
Vietnamese Regular Army troops overran the region in a sudden and unopposed
thrust. We  marched from there to Hanoi, riding in trucks part of the way.
While in Laos our guards usually knew quite a lot of the Lao language. We were
able to win their friendship and receive better treatment through this means
of communication. We sang and told about the life, death and resurrection of
Jesus when we had contact with Lao villagers, seeking to show them the way to
eternal life. Our soldier-guards largely overcame their suspicion of us and
seemed to accept the fact that we were Christian missionaries, non-combatants
and non-military, as they saw our consistent manner of life.
Lloyd Oppel and I found that when we had lost all in a material sense and our
personal security was no longer subject to our control, that the care of God
became especially apparent. Our lives were repeatedly threatened by hostile
soldiers and civilians and by disease. At such times we fully realized our own
helplessness. Instead of driving us to despair, we were able to rest in God,
knowing that God would deliver us; but if it was His will for us to die, we
could know that we would go to be with Him, which is far better. At times when
the situation we were in troubled us most, as when people were menacing us
with sticks, stones, scythes and fists, we found that we were never injured
from blows, even though the guards were not protecting us adequately.
We stayed at the Hanoi Hilton from December 6, 1972 to January 16, 1973. Then
we spent three weeks in a small unidentified prison in the country, during
which time we were separated and in solitary. We were interrogated during this
On February 4, I learned that the Paris Treaty had been signed. On February
6 Lloyd and I moved back into the Hilton until our release on March 28, 1973.