Name: Thomas W. Underwood
Branch/Rank: United States Marine Corps/E6
Unit: HML 167 MAG 16
Date of Birth: 07 January 1942
Home City of Record: ZANESVILLE OH
Date of Loss: 21 March 70
Country of Loss: LAOS
Loss Coordinates: 160142N 1071748E
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1E 152427
Refno: 1577
Other Personnel in Incident: Gonzales, David; pilot, Castle, Robert Edward,

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File, USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association. Updated 2020.



No further information available at this time.


USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association.

A Summary of Personnel Killed in Action in USMC Helicopters or assigned to
USMC Helicopter Squadrons during the Vietnam War

INCIDENT DATE 700321 HML-167 UH-1E 152427+

Gonzales, David SGT Crew HML-167 700321
Underwood, Thomas Wayne SSGT Crew HML-167 700321
Castle, Robert Edward 1stLT Copilot HML-167 700321

CASTLE ROBERT EDWARD : 546660214 : USMCR : 1stLT : O2 : 7563 : 23 : SANTA
ANA : CA : 19700321 : hostile, crash, land : Pilot : body recovered : Laos :
LZ : 02 : 19460408 : Cauc : Protestant / single : 12W : 028

GONZALES DAVID : 547660747 : USMCR : SGT : E5 : 6114 : 22 : VENTURA : CA :
19700321 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body NOT recovered : Laos : LZ : 03
: 19470724 : Cauc : Roman Catholic / single : 12W : 029

UNDERWOOD THOMAS WAYNE : 293340833 : USMCR : SSGT : E6 : 6018 : 28 :
ZANESVILLE : OH : 19700321 : hostile, crash, land : Crew : body NOT
recovered : Laos : LZ : 10 : 19420107 : Cauc : Protestant/married : 12W :

Comments on Incident:
Crew shot down in Laos on special mission - other pilot (Larry Parsons)
E&E'd for many days before rescue. Squadron was restricted from SAR by chain
of command.

Comments on Incident:
I noted that Sgt (E-5) David Gonzales, 547-66-0747 is listed as single. We
in the squadron understood him to be married. Further, he was the father of
a son born just prior to his death. A fact announced in Maintenance Control
following the birth.

A few years ago (between 1981 to 1984) I read (in the Washington Post -
Sunday Editorial page) about a lawyer (named Gonzales) who had become a
lawyer after her husband's death and whose Marine Corps Sgt husband was
killed in Laos while serving as a helicopter crewman in Viet Nam. She, if my
memory concerning the article serves me, lived in Kansas City. Further, her
son never saw his father. At the time I felt very confident that she was the
wife of "our" Sgt Gonzales. Submitted by Elmer Davis, HML-167 Squadron
Pilot, Quality Assurance Officer, LtCol USMC (Ret)

Comments on Incident:
In response to the above account regarding Sgt Gonzales, the following is

In a comment posted previously about Sgt. Gonzales, regarding the fact that
he was married, with a son, I believe that this relates to SSgt. Underwood,
not Sgt. Gonzales. I am that son. I was born 17-JAN-70 just short of two
months before the incident. My mother is indeed now a lawyer, who lives in
the Kansas City Metro Area (Olathe, KS). SSgt. Thomas Wayne Underwood's
status has been MIA since a few months after the incident following an
interview with one of the crew that was recovered. Submitted by Anthony J.
Underwood, son of Thomas Wayne Underwood 293340833,email: aju(at)kc(dot)rr(dot)com

Comments on Incident:
I debriefed Larry Parsons on the incident where Bob Castle (the Aircraft
Commander) and Larry (a new huey copilot) were covering insertions into Laos
and were shot down. I knew Bob from Army Flight School where we all lived
together in the "Zoo." The mission was very secret at the time because
President Nixon was denying involvement across the border; but our guys were
doing it (along with the Army and Air Force in a combined mission out of
Quang Tri).

Larry and the others were immediately declared KIA (unusual without bodies -
except in this case). A bogus story was floated that they got lost and flew
into Laos and were shot down. Larry did E&E for 19 days and during that time
he was "buried" by his family back home. Then he was rescued by an Army huey
doing the same mission and was brought to Danang for medical treatment,
debrief (me) and then evacuation to the USA.

He called his mom and announced he was actually alive. Then the heavy's
demanded a debrief ASAP so he could go home. We spent a week recounting the
incident. Then we signed a non-disclosure document and promised not to tell
the story for 5 years. After it was realized that Larry survived, the
concern was that someone else might be out there.

A team was put into the crash site (I saw the photo's and read the debrief).
They found footprints and a lot of molten metal - as if someone had dragged
pieces away. The conclusion was that the other three crewmen were killed in
the crash (Bob did a good enough autorotation to allow Larry to survive -
although Larry described a cockpit engulfed in flames). Some bone and dental
work were recovered - and I don't know whom it was associated with. I was a
cobra pilot in VMO-2, then HML-367 before I became the Wing E&E officer and
Gen. Thrash's morning Intell briefing officer - to finish my tour. Submitted
by Paul Pratt, Wing E&E Debrief Officer

USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association





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On March 21, 1970, a UH-1E Iroquois (bureau number 152427) with four crew members participated in a two-helicopter combat mission over Laos. The UH-1 was hit by small arms fire while over Saravane Province, and began leaking fuel. Crew men aboard the other helicopter in the flight then saw the UH-1 catch fire and crash in dense jungle. The UH-1 exploded on impact, and initial aerial reconnaissance indicated there were no survivors. Two weeks later, however, the co-pilot was rescued, and the remains of the pilot were recovered. Although an extensive ground search was conducted, the remains of the crew chief and gunner could not be found.

Staff Sergeant Thomas Wayne Underwood, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps from Ohio, served with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 167, Marine Air Group 16, 1st Marine Air Wing. He was the gunner aboard the UH-1 when it crashed, and his remains were not recovered. Today, Staff Sergeant Underwood is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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