OPPEL, LLOYD D.
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 Category: 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. NETWORK 2007.
REMARKS: 730328 RELSD BY PATHET LAO
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 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.
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.