SMITH, HERBERT EUGENE Remains Returned March 1988 Name: Herbert Eugene Smith Rank/Branch: E6/US Air Force Unit: 388th Combat Support Group, Udorn Airbase, Thailand Date of Birth: 01 March 1936 Home City of Record: Appalachicola FL (family in Cocoa Beach FL) Date of Loss: 29 July 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204300N 10454953E (VH998943) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RC47D Refno: 0407 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: Robert Hoskinson; Robert DiTommaso; Galileo F. Bossio (still missing) Bernard Conklin; John Mamiya; Vincent Chiarello; James S. Hall (remains returned) REMARKS: DEAD/FIR 317-09130 74 SYNOPSIS: On July 19, 1966, an RC47D aircraft departed Udorn Airfield in Thailand en route to Sam Neua, Laos. The crew abord the aircraft included Capt. Robert E. Hoskinson, pilot; Maj. Galileo F. Bossio, 1Lt. Vincent A. Chiarello, Capt. Bernard Conklin, 1Lt. Robert J. Di Tommaso, SSgt. James S. Hall, TSgt. John M. Mamiya and TSgt. Herbert E. Smith, crewmen. The aircraft was an unarmed RC47D Command and Control airship (Dogpatch 2). When the aircraft was 10-20 miles south of Sam Neua, it was attacked by enemy fighters. Radio contact was lost and the families were initially told there was no further word of the plane or crew - that they had all been lost on an operational mission in North Vietnam. It was later learned, however, that at least one, possibly two parachutes were observed in the air from persons on the ground, and the loss had occurred not in North Vietnam, but at 201200N 1041700E, which is in Laos. Primary objective of the C-47 in Laos at that point in the war was visual reconnaissance. American forces worked closely with CAS (CIA) primarily to weaken the communist supply link to South Vietnam via the "Ho Chi Minh Trail". This particular plane, however, was working in support of the CIA's secret indigenous army which was attempting to prevent a communist takeover in Laos. The crewmembers on these missions were normally highly trained in electronic surveillance techniques as well as versed in codes and languages. Accordingly, and as "there was no war in Laos", certain details of the mission, such as the precise location of loss, were originally distorted. Later reports indicate that some of the crew survived the attack on July 29, 1966. According to a March, 1974 list published by the National League of Families of POW/MIAs, Bossio survived the incident and was missing in Laos. One 1971 report states that as many as 5 of the crew were captured. Chiarello and Di Tommaso were identified as survivors by Capt. Adair of Project Dogpatch. U.S. Air Force records still reflect the loss as having occurred in North Vietnam. In 1988, the remains of Conklin, Chiarello, Hall, Mamiya and Smith were returned to U.S. control. They were positively identified and returned to their families for burial. The Di Tommaso family was also notified, and Mafalda Di Tommaso rushed to Hawaii to sadly welcome her son home. She was shocked to learn that no body had returned - only information which added nothing to the mystery surrounding her son's loss. The families of Bossio, Hoskinson and Di Tommaso have the right to know what happened on July 29, 1966. The communist governments of Southeast Asia can account for the large majority of the nearly 2500 Americans still missing there. The weight of the evidence shows that some of them are still being held captive. It's time the veil of secrecy was lifted on these men and the others. It's time they came home.