WALKER, SAMUEL FRANKLIN JR.
Name: Samuel Franklin Walker, Jr. Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force Unit: 606th Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand Date of Birth: 10 July 1942 Home City of Record: Philadelphia PA Date of Loss: 13 December 1968 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 170100N 1055900E (XD055824) Status (In 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: C123K Refno: 1340
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: On C123K: Douglas Dailey; Morgan Donahue; Joseph Fanning; John Albright; Fred L. Clarke (all missing); On B57B: Thomas W. Dugan; Francis J. McGouldrick (all missing)
REMARKS: MID AIR COL-1 PARA OBS
SYNOPSIS: On December 13, 1968, the crew of a C123K was dispatched from Nakhon Phanom Airfield located in northern Thailand near the border of Laos on an operational mission over Laos. The C123 was assigned night patrol missions along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Flying low at 2000-3000 feet, the job of the seven man crew was to spot enemy truck convoys on the trail and to light up the trails for accompanying B57 bombers which were flying overhead.
The crew on this particular mission included the pilot (name unknown); 1Lt. Joseph P. Fanning, co-pilot; 1Lt. John S. Albright, navigator; 1Lt. Morgan J. Donahue, navigator; SSgt. Samuel F. Walker, SSgt. Douglas V. Dailey, TSgt. Fred L. Clarke, crewmembers. At 0330 hours, as the aircraft was flying about 30 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass in Laos, the crew of the C123 were jolted by a blow on the top of their plane in the after section. An overhead B57 that had been called in for an air strike had collided with the control plane. The C123 lost power and went out of control. The pilot, stunned by a blow to the head, lost consciousness.
The plane did not fall straight to the ground, but drifted lazily to the ground in a flat spin which lasted several minutes. When the pilot regained consciousness, he noted that the co-pilot (Fanning) and navigator (Donahue) were gone. Donahue's station was in the underbelly of the plane where, lying on his stomach, he directed an infared detection device through an open hatch. The pilot parachuted out, landed in a treetop where he remained until rescued at dawn. On the way down, he saw another chute below him, but, because of the dark, was unable to determine who the crew member was.
Intelligence reports after the incident indicate that Donahue, at least, safely reached the ground near Tchepone, but suffered a broken leg. A refugee who escaped captivity in Laos in 1974 reported having observed an American prisoner broughy to the caves near Tchepone, where he was held, in the period between 1968 and 1970. This American was later moved to another locatation unknown to the refugee.
Several reports referring to "Moe-gan" and others describing Donahue as the American called the "animal doctor" were received over the years since war's end. In June and August, 1987, the Donahue family was given intelligence reports tracking Morgan's movements from a POW camp in Kham Kuet, Khammouane Province, Laos in the spring of 1987 to another camp in the Boualapha District of the same province in August 1987. These reports were mere WEEKS old, yet the U.S. marked them "routine". One of them gave Morgan's aircraft type and serial number, which turned out to be, instead of the serial number of the aircraft, Morgan's father's ZIP CODE. Morgan's family believes this is clearly a signal to them from Morgan.
The crew of the C123K are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were alive on the ground. The Lao admitted holding American prisoners but these men were never negotiated for. Where are they? Are they alive? Imagine the torture the Donahue family endures knowing Morgan is alive, yet helpless to do anything to help him. What are we doing to help bring them home?
John S. Albright II and Morgan J. Donahue graduated in 1967 from the United States Air Force Academy.
SMITH 324 COMPELLING CASES
Laos Francis J. McGouldrick Thomas W. Dugan (1341)
John S. Albright, II Joseph P. Fanning Fred L. Clarke Morgan J. Donahue Samuel F. Walker, Jr. (1340)
On December 13, 1968, a C-123K (Case 1340) collided in mid-air with a B-57E (Case 1341). The aircraft wreckage crashed into an area approximately 47 kilometers northwest of the town of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province, three kilometers east of Route 411 and in the area of Ban Kok Nak. The C-123 pilot, First Lieutenant Thomas H. Turner, exited through the cockpit window after finding the co- pilot's seat empty and fire coming into the cockpit from the fuselage. He later reported that there had been an explosion in the aft section of the aircraft and the C-123K had gone out of control. After parachuting from the cockpit window, Lieutenant Turner noted that there was another parachute below his and he believed it might have belonged to a member of the two-man B-57E crew. Lieutenant Turner was rescued on December 13th and all other crewmen from the two aircrews were declared missing.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on the fate of the two aircrews. After Operation Homecoming they were eventually declared killed, body not recovered, based on a presumptive finding of death.
From 1968 through 1971, the next of kin of Lieutenant Donahue tried unsuccessfully to obtain information about him from Lao communist officials. Reward notices were circulated in Thailand in the late 1970s which promised money and resettlement into the U.S. for information about Lieutenant Donahue. During 1980, information attributed to former Royal Lao Army Region II Commander, General Vang Pao, asserted that U.S. POWs had been moved from North Vietnam to Sam Neua, Laos, and then to the area of Kham Keut, Khammouane Province. These and other reports in a similar vein, eventually leading to assertions that Morgan Jefferson Donahue was still alive and simultaneously a prisoner in either Khammouane Province or Houa Phan Province, Laos and Binh Tri Thien Province, Vietnam, were determined by DIA to be fabrications.
In 1980 the DIA Director, Lieutenant General Eugene Tighe, initiated an effort which prevented the release of all POW/MIA intelligence reports received at that agency after August 1979. While due in part to a concern that the release of such reports might hazzard any U.S. POWs still alive in Southeast, this policy coincided with efforts by some next of kin to have POW/MIA reports released so they could be entered into military service casualty board case reviews underway, including that of Captain Donahue. The Defense Department agreed to permit DIA to act as both initial and appellate review authority over such reports, effectively denying their release. Lieutenant Donahue was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in February 1981.
However, these earliest accounts led by 1981 to either funding by the U.S. Army's Intelligence and Security Command and National League of Families senior officials for, or involvement by senior Defense Department officials in, covert cross border forays by elements of the so-called Lao resistance operating from Thailand into Laos and may also have involved the so-called Vietnamese resistance. Such reports of live Americans in Khammouane and elsewhere were determined by DIA by 1987 to have been the result of an active measures disinformation program by the state security apparatus of Laos and Vietnam which achieved various objectives, including manipulation of the POW/MIA issue. Such hostile intelligence efforts had directly targeted the Lao neutralist faction as a conduit for the disinformation. DIA determined it was the neutralist groups and others in Thailand who had been, and still continue to be, conduits for hostile intelligence managed disinformation which eventually reaches private POW/MIA hunters and next of kin.
In 1982, a source reported information about a wartime crash of a C-130 in the area of this loss incident. Human remains were reportedly recovered and buried during the war. In 1986 the wreckage was located and the tail number determined to be that of the C-123K (Case 1340). In March 1990, Lao officials reported that civilians had recovered human remains from a B-57/C-123 crash site located on a karst in the area of this loss incident.