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Name: Dennis Gerrard Pugh
Rank/Branch: 02/US Air Force
Unit: 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon Thailand
Date of Birth: 10 February 1944
Home City of Record: Salina KS
Date of Loss: 19 March 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 173100N 1054400E (WE800400)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1573
Other Personnel In Incident: (pilot rescued)

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.


SYNOPSIS: Dennis Gerard Pugh was born on February 10, 1944 in Hutchison,
Kansas. He attended grade school at New Cambria and high school in Salina,
where he graduated in 1962. He attended Boy's State in Wichita and went to
the University of Kansas for one year before being appointed to the Air
Force Academy at Colorado Springs. Two of his classmates at the Academy who
were also shot down and remain missing - Mike Bosiljevac and Samuel Larry
James - were wearing POW bracelets bearing the name of Dennis Pugh at the
time they were shot down.

Dennis graduated from the Academy in 1967 and attended UCLA where he
completed his master's degree in qualitative analysis-mathematical methods.
From UCLA, Dennis went to Mather AFB in Sacramento where he took navigator's
training. He attended Combat Crew Training and Survival schools before he
went overseas.

On September 15, 1969, Dennis was sent to Ubon, Thailand, to fly F4s,
something he had always dreamed of doing. While flying as weapons/systems
officer on a Forward Air Controller mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in
Laos March 19, 1970, Pugh's aircraft was shot down. He and his pilot ejected
safely from the aircraft. Contact was made with both crew members on the
ground, and Pugh reported that the pilot was injured, but that he was in
good shape. Search efforts were terminated due to darkness and intense enemy
activity in the area.

When rescue efforts resumed at first light, Pugh reported being surrounded
by enemy. Numerous rescue attempts were repulsed by enemy fire. Eventually,
radio contact with Pugh was lost. After March 21, the pilot of the aircraft
was rescued, but Pugh could not be located.

There has been no further word of Dennis Pugh. His family has worked to
obtain more information on Dennis since he went missing. As the evidence
increasing that Americans ARE alive in Southeast Asia, Pugh's family wonders
if he is still alive. The question remains, "Where is Dennis Pugh?" There is
every reason to believe that the communist governments of Southeast Asia
know the answer.

                                                [ssrep7.txt 02/09/93]

                   SMITH 324 COMPELLING CASES

Laos                     Dennis G. Pugh

On March 19, 1970, Captain Richard A. Rash and First Lieutenant
Pugh were the crew in an F-4D on a combat mission over Khammouane
Province.  They were hit by hostile ground fire and ejected from
their aircraft in an area approximately 15 kilometers south of the
Mu Gia Pass.  Airborne search and rescue forces established contact
with both of them on the ground but were unable to recover them due
to darkness.  The next day SAR forces reestablished contact with
Lieutenant Pugh who reported that hostile forces were within ten
meters of his position.  He requested the SAR forces place ordnance
on his position and he then held down the transmit key on his
radio.  Then, excited Asian voices were heard followed by 15 to 20
shots being fired, followed by silence.  Ordnance was placed on his
position as he requested and there was no further contact with him.

Captain Rash was rescued on March 21st and reported hearing the
sound of small arms fire from Lieutenant Rash's location after
which he lost radio contact with him.  Further efforts to locate
Lieutenant Pugh were unsuccessful and he was declared missing in

Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the eventual fate of
Lieutenant Pugh.  He was later declared killed in action, body not
recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.

In 1984, U.S. intelligence received information from a source
describing the shoot down of an aircraft in which one pilot was
rescued and one was taken prisoner.  This report was believed to
possibly correlate to this loss incident although Captain Rash and
the SAR pilots believed Lieutenant Pugh had died.





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On March 19, 1970, an F-4D Phantom II (tail number 66-8698) with two crew members conducted a forward air control mission over Laos. Near Ban Phanop, Laos, the aircraft was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and burst into flames. The pilot ejected both himself and the navigator and both were able to parachute to the ground before the Phantom crashed, and both made radio contact with search and rescue aircraft that reached the area. However, search efforts were hampered by heavy enemy presence in the area, and the two crew members had to evade enemy troops on the ground. The pilot was successfully rescued two days later on March 21, but the navigator was not recovered.  

First Lieutenant Dennis Gerard Pugh, who entered the U.S. Air Force from Kansas, served with the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was the navigator aboard this Phantom when it crashed on March 19, 1970. He parachuted from the aircraft prior to the crash, and at the time of the final radio contact with 1st Lt Pugh, he reported that enemy troops were nearing his position and requested that any aircraft with ordnance on board strike his position. Excited voices and gunfire were heard over the radio, and the on-site commander directed ordnance be dropped on the position. There was no further contact with 1st Lt Pugh. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action, the U.S. Air Force promoted 1st Lt Pugh to the rank of Major (Maj). He remains unaccounted-for. Today, Major Pugh 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.

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