PAXTON, DONALD ELMER
Remains Identified 09/08/00
|Name: Donald Elmer Paxton
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 03 November 1928
Home City of Record: Cedar Rapids IA
Date of Loss: 22 February 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163200N 1061600E (XD351297)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles Macko (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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 2018.
SYNOPSIS: In mid-February, 1969, U.S. Defense policy for response on U.S.
operations in Laos was, "The preferable response to questions about air
operations in Laos is 'no comment'." We "weren't" in Laos.
The B57 Canberra was one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb
the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Canberra first came to the Vietnam theater at the
time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. It proved too vulnerable and
difficult to repair for working targets over North Vietnam, but proved
effective in the armed reconnaissance Trail operations of Operation Steel
Tiger. The Canberra was sometimes used in conjunction with other, more
sophisticated aircraft, such as the C130, and was especially effective on
LtCol. Donald E. Paxton and Maj. Charles Macko were in Laos. Paxton was the
pilot and Macko the co-pilot of a B57 bomber sent on a mission over
Savannakhet Province, Laos, on February 22, 1969. During the mission, the
aircraft was shot down and both men were declared Missing In Action.
Macko and Paxton are two of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos
during the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held
"tens of tens" of American prisoners, they stated that those captured in
Laos would be released in Laos, hoping to gain a seat at the negotiating
table in Paris where the U.S. and Vietnam were negotiating an end to the
The U.S. did not include Laos in the Paris Peace Accords, and no Americans
held in Laos were released. In America's haste to leave Southeast Asia, it
abandoned its finest men. Since the end of the war, the U.S. has received
thousands of reports convincing many that hundreds of Americans are still
held captive today.
In seeming disreguard for the Americans either held or having been murdered
by the Pathet Lao, by 1989, the U.S. and the Lao devised a working plan to
provide Laos with humanitarian and economic aid leading toward ultimate full
diplomatic and trade relations while Laos allows the excavation of military
crash sites at sporadic intervals. In America's haste to return to Southeast
Asia, we are again abandoning our men.
Charles Macko and Donald E. Paxton were both promoted to the rank of Colonel
during the period they were maintained missing.
National League of Families
UPDATE LINE: September 8, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This
message is being recorded on Friday, September 8th. The number of Americans
missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is now 2,005.
Today, the Department of Defense released the names of eight of nine US
personnel now accounted for, six previously missing in Laos and three in
Vietnam. These Americans include CDR Leonard M. Lee of VA and LCDR Roger B.
Innes of IL, both US Navy, missing in North Vietnam since December 27, 1967.
The Defense Department did not publicly release CDR Lee's name at the
request of his next-of-kin; however, members of Commander Lee's family were
quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch September 4th edition regarding his
identification. Others include Lt Col Donald E. Paxton of IA and Maj
Charles Macko of NY, both US Air Force, missing in Laos since February 2,
1969; Capt Stephen P. Hanson of CA, 1st Lt Jon G. Gardner of NC and Sgt
Timothy R. Bodden of IL, USMC, and Army GySgt Billy R. Laney of FL, all
missing in Laos since June 3, 1967; and Army CWO1 William A. Smith, Jr., of
MI, missing in South Vietnam since September 2, 1968.
The accounting for these nine Americans brings the number still missing and
unaccounted for from the Vietnam War to 2,005, 1511 in Vietnam, 421 in Laos,
65 in Cambodia and 8 in the territorial waters of the PRC. Nearly 85% of
all Americans lost in Laos and Cambodia were in areas then under wartime
Vietnamese control; therefore, it is to Vietnam that we look for archival
records and witnesses to assist in accounting for them....
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