Name: Lloyd D. Oppel
Rank/Branch: Civilian
Unit: Missionary, Christian Missions of Many Lands
Date of Birth: ca 1952
Home City of Record: Port Albert, British Columbia, Canada
Date of Loss: 27 October 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162600N 1061200E (WD215175)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: Evelyn Anderson; Beatrice Kosin (assassinated);
Samuel Mattix (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.
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 herself.
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
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.
Lloyd Oppel, Canadian, POW VN was with the Lulu group in Hanoi when released
on March 28,  1973. He and his wife Darlene have a "Vocational School" in
Vang Vieng in  Laos.  His children are in school in Thailand.