RATTIN, DENNIS MICHAEL Name: Dennis Michael Rattin Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: 131st Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group Date of Birth: 15 July 1950 (Kankakee IL) Home City of Record: Bradley IL Date of Loss: 16 October 1969 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 190000N 1033000E (UF380690) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C Refno: 1502 Source: Compiled 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 in 1998. Other Personnel in Incident: Lawrence R. Booth (missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Capt. Lawrence R. Booth was the pilot and SP4 Dennis M. Rattin the observer aboard an OV1 Mohawk aircraft assigned a surveillance mission over hostile territory on October 16, 1969. (NOTE: records vary as to the model OV1 Booth and Rattin were on. Defense and JCRC records record the C model, and U.S. Army records the B model. Both were equipped for night surveillance - the B using side-looking radar, and the C using infrared detection equipment). The aircraft departed its base in late evening on October 16, and was to return later that night. The mission was tracked on radar to its mission area, but at about 1015 hours, the pilot radioed that he was returning to base. That was the last contact received from the aircraft. The 131st Aviation Company was known as "Nighthawks", and was a surveillance aircraft company. The 131st had been assigned to I Corps Aviation Battalion since June 1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was reassigned to the 212th Aviation Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon it transferred out of Vietnam. When the 131st/212th was under the authority of the 16th Group, it also provided fixed wing support for the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) in I Corps. There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus E. Williams and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn D. McElroy (March 15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6, 1966); Robert G. Nopp and Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher and Robert E. Pittman (September 28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L. Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F. Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W. Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971). Missing OV1 aircraft crew from the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on OV1 aircraft during the war. The location of the mission Rattin and Booth were assigned to is classified, as are their complete files relating to the loss incident. The coordinates given for Booth locate the loss in Borikhane Province, Laos near the Nam Nhiep River, and about 70 miles northeast of the capitol city of Vientane. His coordinates are fairly specific. Rattin's coordinates are generalized, but also place the loss in the same 70 miles radius of Vientiane, only north northeast, and in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos. Rattin's coordinates place the loss only about 30 miles south of the Plain of Jars, a region heavily infiltrated by communist troops. It is plausible that their mission was over this highly contested and "hot" area. There are many possibilities as to the reason this plane was in south central Laos. This is NOT the normal area of operations for the 131st, and while many of its aircraft were lost in Laos, most were lost along the eastern edge of the country. Their primary arena of operations were in I Corps (the northernmost 5 Provinces of South Vietnam). Full scale searches were conducted the next day for Booth and Rattin and their aircraft, but with no results. The two were classified missing in action. Booth and Rattin are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. The Pathet Lao continually stated that they held American prisoners, but insisted that they would be released only from Laos. The U.S. Government refused to negotiate with the Pathet Lao, a "government" they did not recognized, and as a consequence, no American held in Laos was ever released. Further, no negotiations for these men have occurred since the war ended, even though the U.S. and communist Lao exchange diplomats on a charge' level. As thousands of reports continue to flow in regarding the men missing in Southeast Asia, one must wonder if Booth and Rattin are among the hundreds thought to be still alive. Doubtless their qualification for such a classified mission prepared them for the danger. They were prepared to be wounded or to die. They understood that they could be captured. But the thought that they would be abandoned by their country probably never crossed their minds.