Remains Returned 06/20/95, ID 04/28/03
Name: Ervin Warren
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Unit: 4th Air Commando Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 06 September 1936
Home City of Record: Philadelphia PA
Date of Loss: 03 June 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170400N 1055900E (XD054858)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AC47
Refno: 0354
Other Personnel in Incident: Russell D. Martin; Harold E. Mullins; Luther L.
Rose; Harding E. Smith; Theodore E. Kryszak (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance
of 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 2003.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Theodore E. Kryszak was the pilot of an AC47 gunship
assigned to the 4th Air Commando Squadron at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. The
aircraft, dubbed "Puff the Magic Dragon" had evolved from earlier versions
of the Douglas C47.
Puff introduced a new principle to air attack in Vietnam. Troubled by
difficulties in conducting nighttime defense, Capt. Ronald Terry of the U.S.
Air Force Aeronautical Systems Division remembered reading about flying
missionaries in Latin America who lowered baskets of supplies on a rope from
a tightly circling airplane. Throughout the series of pylon turns, the
basket remained suspended over a selected point on the ground. Could this
principle be applied to fire from automatic weapons? Tests proved it could,
and could be extremely successful.
Puff's "flare kicker" illuminated the target, then the pilot used a mark on
the window to his left as a gun sight and circled slowly as three
multibarrel 7-62mm machine guns fired 18,000 rounds per minute from the door
and two windows in the port side of the passenger compartment. The aircraft
was called "Puff" after a popular song of the day, and because it resembled
a dragon overhead with flames billowing from its guns. Men on the ground
welcomed the presence of Puff and the later Spooky version, which was
essentially the same as the Puff, because of its ability to concentrate a
heavy dose of defensive fire in a surgically determined area.
Capt. Kryszak's Puff was assigned a mission which took it over Khammouane
Province, Laos on June 3, 1966. His crew that day included 1Lt. Russell D.
Martin; Col. Harding E. Smith; TSgt. Harold E. Mullins; TSgt. Luther L.
Rose; and SSgt. Ervin Warren. On such a crew, it was common for the officers
to be the flight crew, while the sergeants acted as aerial gunners. On this
crew, Mullins was the flight engineer.
At a point about 10 miles east of Ban Pha Philang near the borders of
Savannakhet and Khammouane Provinces, Capt. Kryszak's aircraft was shot
down. The Puff was seen to crash by another aircraft in the area. No
parachutes were seen and no emergency radio beeper signals were heard, yet
at least one of the men onboard the aircraft was known to have survived.
(Col. Harding E. Smith, according to a list compiled by the National League
of Families of POW/MIA in Southeast Asia survived this incident.)
According to the Air Force, subsequent searches for the aircraft revealed
the wreckage of the aircraft, but the crew could not be located. All
personnel aboard were declared Missing in Action.
The crew of the Puff lost on June 3, 1966 are among nearly 600 Americans
lost in Laos during the Vietnam War. Even though the Pathet Lao stated
publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one
American held in Laos was ever released -- or negotiated for.
Since American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia ended, nearly 10,000
reports have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans
missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities have reluctantly concluded that
there are hundreds left alive in captivity today.
When the United States left Southeast Asia, what was termed "peace with
honor" was in reality an abandonment -- of the freedom-loving peoples of
Vietnam and Laos, and of America's best men. It's time we brought our men