SKINNER, OWEN GEORGE
Name: Owen George Skinner Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Airport, Thailand Date of Birth: 18 November 1933 Home City of Record: Lima OH Date of Loss: 12 December 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 163900N 1061900E (XD410417) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O2A Refno: 1683
Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas A. Duckett (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 2012.
Pete was in AvCad nav school with me at Harlingen '55, later flew in F101B backseat with me in 445 FIS Wurtsmith '63-'66, was my across-the-street neighbor - Pete was a nav, always a nav - that makes Thos Allan Ducket the pilot in this loss -
A S Warinner Col AF 54-80 AvCad 55-17c Pilot class 59D
SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. Thomas A. Duckett and Maj. Owen G. Skinner comprised the crew of an O2A spotter aircraft which departed NKP Airport on December 12, 1970 on a Forward Air Control (FAC) mission over Laos. (NOTE: While Defense Department records indicate that Duckett was the observer, and Skinner the pilot, U.S. Air Force records indicate that Duckett was the pilot. The military occupational specialties (MOS) of both men are classified, and it cannot be determined which was the pilot and which was the observer.)
The Cessna O2 was a stopgap replacement aircraft for the O1 until the North American OV10 arrived in Vietnam. The Air Force operated 346 of the aircraft. The A model flown by Duckett and Skinner served the function of marking targets with marking rockets. It was a small, poorly armored aircraft which normally flew unarmed.
While the aircraft was over Savannakhet Province, Laos, about 6 miles east southeast of the city of Sepone, it was shot down. After the aircraft crashed, radio contact was made with 1Lt. Duckett. The limited information available publicly does not reveal whether Skinner also survived the crash of the aircraft, nor does it indicate that any efforts were made to recover the crew. Family members report, however, that the following day, search aircraft located the aircraft intact on the ground in a small clearing. There was no sign of fire damage to the aircraft, and parachutes were seen in the area of the crash. For the following two days electronic emergency radio beepers were head, but could never be pinpointed as they were shifting frequently. Hostile ground fire and activity prevented a ground search. Both men were declared Missing in Action.
Perhaps because the war in Laos was "secret", little information was available to the families of Skinner and Duckett regarding their crash and fates. Most of the information was classified and unavailable to them. Like many POW/MIA families, they resorted to filing numerous requests of Government agencies through the Freedom of Information Act. One such classified report received by the Duckett family described an American prisoner fitting Duckett's description who was identified in Laos in February 1974.
Like Duckett and Skinner, many Americans downed in Laos were known to be alive after the crash of their aircraft, or when they were last seen on the ground. In all, there are nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Even though the Pathet Lao stated they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, they maintained that, after the war, they would be released only from Laos.
The U.S. Government, in negotiating the end of American involvement in the second Indochina War, did not negotiate with the communist Pathet Lao, a governmental faction they did not officially recognize. As a result, not one of the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos was ever released.
Intelligence and refugee reports from the region continue to mount that there are still Americans in captivity in Southeast Asia. Americans who fought for their country. Americans who should be home. If there is only ONE remaining, we owe him our very best efforts to bring him home.
Thomas A. Duckett was promoted to the rank of Major and Owen G. Skinner to the rank of Colonel during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.
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SMITH 324 COMPELLING CASES
Laos Owen G. Skinner Thomas Allen Duckett (1683)
On December 12, 1970, Skinner and Duckett departed Thailand in an 0-2 to provide forward air control support to a B-57 aircraft engaged in an air strike on trucks in an area nine kilometers southeast of Tchepone in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The aircraft did not return from its mission and its wreckage was located in the target area and approximately 500 meters south of Route 9. Both airmen were declared missing.
The crew of the B-57G was also downed during this mission but the crewmen were rescued. The crew of the B-57G reported it had sustained a mid-air collision with an 0-2. An Air Force inquiry found case 1683 to have been a hostile loss due to it being a high threat area and nothing substantive in the B-57G crew statements to confirm that a mid-air collision had occurred even though the B-57G crash side was near the O-2 crash site.
A search and rescue aircraft located the O-2 wreckage on December 13 and observed a parachute hanging from a tree near the crash site. An emergency beeper was also heard in the area on December 14. The area was characterized as full of hostile ground forces. The rescue aircraft made radio contact with someone but was unable to determine who or where.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to confirm the crew survived into captivity. After Operation Homecoming, they were declared dead/body not recovered.
In September 1989 the area of the 0-2 crash site was surveyed by the Joint Casualty Resolution Center and there was no evidence of the wreckage of the aircraft. The area was described as a well established farming community.
The Lima (Ohio) Area MIA-POW
The two principals of the Lima Area MIA-POW, Jack and Wilma Laeufer, are cousins of USAF Col. Owen G. Skinner, an American pilot missing in Laos since 1970. The Laeufer's sell POW/MIA items by mail in order to raise public awareness of the POW/MIA issue and do not solicit public donations. From 1984 to 1991, the Laeufers also have donated $107,300 to 24 other non-profit organizations who devote their efforts full-time to the return of missing American servicemen.
The Laeufers also have been involved with planting "freedom trees," building and displaying simulated POW cages, conducting candlelight vigils, participating in Christmas tree festivals and many other POW/MIA related activities. In October, 1992, the Laeufers attended the dedication of the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra, Australia at their own expense.
Couple commits to missing cousin, other Vietnam POW-MIAs
The Lima News, Ohio
Published: July 9, 2012
COLUMBUS GROVE, Ohio ó From time to time, someone asks Jack and Wilma Laeufeer if their 41-year effort with the Lima Area POW-MIA has been a waste of time, because they've never determined what happened to their cousin, Owen G. ‚ÄúPete‚ÄĚ Skinner, a Navy pilot who went missing in Laos on Dec. 12, 1970.
It's a ridiculous question, really. Through the efforts of loved ones who wouldn't let the public or U.S. government forget, 919 Vietnam veterans of the reportedly 2,583 American prisoners listed as missing or killed in action/body not recovered have been accounted for.
The Laeufers, who are both 79, have a better question to ask: Who will carry the POW-MIA flag now that they no longer can? After forming the chapter in 1973 and raising $250,000 for the cause through merchandise sales, the couple are dissolving the group this year. It's a painful decision, because they are afraid the answer is no one....