SKILES, THOMAS WILLIAM
Name: Thomas William Skiles
Rank/Branch: W1/US Army
Unit: Air Cavalry Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry
Date of Birth: 31 August 1949 (El Paso TX)
Home City of Record: Buffaly WY
Date of Loss: 19 December 1971
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 115901N 1055633E (XU026248)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
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 2929.
Other Personnel in Incident: Peter C. Forame (missing)
SYNOPSIS: On December 19, 1971, W1 Thomas W. Skiles was the pilot and 1Lt.
Peter C. Forame the co-pilot on board an OH6A helicopter (tail #67-16347) on
a bomb damage assessment mission southeast of Bambe, Kampong Cham Province,
During the mission, the helicopter began receiving heavy 30 and 51 caliber
automatic weapons fire and in attempting to climb, the helicopter turned and
burst into flames. The aircraft passed over an open area and crashed into a
tree line, exploded on impact, and was completely destroyed by fire in a
very short time.
Two other helicopters immediately flew near the crash site to search for
survivors, but these aircraft were driven away by RPG and automatic weapons
fire. One of the helicopters suffered extensive damage.
A short time later, gunships were called in to supress the enemy fire. A
scout helicopter crew reported that the Forame/Skiles helicopter was
destroyed by fire, and that they had spotted two burned bodies near the
aircraft. The remainder of the day, air strikes were conducted, and the
following day, another attempt to recover the remains was made. This
helicopter was shot down and one of the recovery crewmen was critically
wounded. On December 22 and 23, extensive air strikes were conducted in the
general area to include B52 strikes.
In the same hot region of Cambodia, two had died, and one had been
critically wounded by enemy fire trying to bring out the bodies of comrades.
The combined military service branches did their best to see that another
American life was not taken at this location.
Skiles and Forame are listed with honor among the missing because no remains
were brought home to their families for honorable burial. They remain in the
hands of the enemy.
Many authorities, having examined thousands of sighting reports, have
concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive in the hands of the
enemy. Extraordinary measures were taken to try and retrieve Skiles and
Forame. Extraordinary measures are now needed to bring home their live