|"In war, the first casualty is truth"
Aeschylus (c. 523-456B.C.)
|AM1 Thomas Edward Knebel
|Name: Knebel, Thomas Edward
Unit: 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron, Ubon Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Midway, Arkansas
Date of Loss: 22 May 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162000N 1063000E (XC843858)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from US Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. Network in 1998.
Other personnel in incident: Jerry L. Chambers; Calvin C. Glover; John Q. Adam; William H. Mason; William T. McPhail; Thomas B. Mitchell; Gary Pate; Melvin D. Rash (all missing)
Remarks: CONTACT LOST- NFI
Synopsis: The Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft was a multi-purpose propellor driven aircraft, and was used as transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance craft, electronic reconnaissance platform; search, rescue, recovery craft.
In the hands of the "trash haulers", as the crew of Tactical Air Command transports styled themselves, the C130 proved the most valuable airlift instrument in the Southeast Asia Conflict, so valuable General William Momyer, 7th Air Force commander, refused for a time to let them land at Khe Sanh where the airstrip was under fire from NVA troops surrounding that base.
Just following the Marine Corps operation Pegasus/Lam Son 207 in mid-April 1968, to relieve the seige in Khe Sanh, Operation Scotland II began in the Khe Sanh area, more or less as a continuation of this support effort. The C130 was critical in resupplying this area, when the C130 couldn't land, dropped its payloads by means of parachute drop.
One of the bases from which the C130 flew was Ubon, located in Northeast Thailand. C130 crews from this base crossed Laos to their objective location. One such crew was compromised of LtCol. William H. Mason and Capt. Thomas B. Mitchell, pilots; Capt. William T. McPhail, Maj. Jerry L. Chambers, SA Gary Pate, SSgt. Calvin C. Glover, AM1 Thomas E. Knebel, AM1 John Q. Adams, crew members.
On May 22, 1968, this crew departed Ubon on an operational mission in a C130A carrying one passenger - AM1 Thomas E. Knebel. Radio contact was lost while the aircraft was over Savannakhet Province, Laos near the city of Muong Nong, (suggesting that its target area may have been near the DMZ-Khe Sanh). When the aircraft did not return to friendly control, the crew was declared Missing In Action from the time of estimated fuel exhaustion. There was no further word of the aircraft or its crew.
The nine members of the crew are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many are known to have been alive on the ground following their shoot downs. Although the Pathet Lao publicly stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos has ever been released. Laos did not participate in the Paris Peace accords ending American involvment in the war in 1973, and no treaty has ever been signed that would free the Americans held in Laos, and not one of them has ever returned home.