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 Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Refno: 1787 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: Peter C. Forame (missing) REMARKS: 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, Cambodia. 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 comrades.