<BGSOUND SRC="wsp.mid">
Rank/Branch: Chief Master Sergeant/US Air Force (He was promoted to Cheif after his MIA status, so that's the rank I honor him at, he certainly earned it!)
Unit: 4th Air Commando Squadron
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 03 March 1932
Home of Record: Idaho Falls, ID
Date of Loss: 24 December 1965
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 154800N 1064400E (XC856474)
Status in 1973: Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AC47D "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Spooky"
Other Personnel In Incident:
Arden K. Hassenger;
W. Kevin Colwell;
Joseph Christiano;
Dennis L. Eilers

CMSgt. Larry "C" Thornton

"Lost But Not Forgotten"

I AM THRILLED TO BRING YOU THIS UPDATE: The second weekend in August, 2001, I decided to go to http://whitepages.com & just type in "Thornton" for Idaho Falls. Nine names came up, so I decided to compose a letter & send it to all nine names! One gentleman was kind enough to Email me to say he wasn't related to Larry & the next correspondence I got was FROM HIS MOTHER!!

She is 96 years old & has lived the last 36 years of her life not knowing the status of her son! She told me that Larry has three sons & that he was a "very good father, husband & son!"

Larry's mother is suffering from M.D. & says it's "hard on an old mother" but that she knows she's not alone! She said she still has all his medals which include his "Purple Heart, Air medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, his wings, & two more." She also said that he was "honored at Castle AFB & has a recreation building at Hill AFB in Utah!"

I didn't use any names because I want to protect their identities, but I just wanted to share this with everyone who sees CMSgt. Thornton's site! Lets help bring our men & women home!

SYNOPSIS: The Douglas AC47D, nicknamed Puff the Magic Dragon or Spooky, was a nocturnal savior to American and South Vietnamese troops at besieged outposts deep in Viet Cong and Pathet Lao-held territory. The AC47D had a row of 7.62mm miniguns mounted along the left side of its fuselage and could fly overhead in a pylon turn, bringing torrents of gunfire raining down on the enemy.

When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

On 24 December 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced a weeklong bombing halt over North Vietnam in honor of the Christmas holiday. At 0728 hours the same day, an AC47D gunship, call sign "Spooky 21," departed DaNang Airfield, South Vietnam on an armed reconnaissance/strike mission over the panhandle of Laos. They were to monitor enemy activity moving through this region known to contain several arteries of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. The crew was comprised of Lt. Col. Derrell B. Jeffords, pilot; Capt. Dennis L. Eilers, co-pilot; Maj. Joseph Christiano, navigator; then TSgt. W. Kevin Colwell, flight engineer; MSgt. Larry C. Thornton and SSgt. Arden "A. K." Hassenger both aerial gunners. The planned flight path was from DaNang to the target and back to DaNang. Further, the gunship was due to return to base at roughly 1330 hours.

Weather conditions in the target area included scattered clouds at 500 feet with variable heights to the top of the clouds; 10,000-foot high-scattered patches of ground fog, and stratus clouds that descended into the jungle covered valleys. To the west of the target area, the ceiling of cloud cover was only 1,500 feet high.

Spooky 21 was directed by the airborne command and control aircraft to its primary target that was located approximately 32 miles northeast of Saravane City. As the gunship made its way westward, it was diverted to a second location 18 miles east-northeast of Saravane. Shortly before contact was lost with the gunship at 1050 hours, one of the crew broadcast, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Spooky 21" over the UHF emergency frequency. The aircrews of two separate aircraft who were also operating in this sector heard the gunship's final radio transmission.

At 1448 hours, an extensive search and rescue (SAR) operation was initiated. During the entire search effort, SAR aircraft were subjected to intense enemy ground fire emanating from the jungle below. The search was terminated at 1500 hours on 26 December when no trace of the aircraft or crew was found. At the conclusion of the search, military personnel determined the aircraft was downed by enemy action and weather conditions played no part in its loss. At 1530 hours on Christmas Eve 1965, Kevin Colwell, Joseph Christiano, A. K. Hassenger, Dennis Eilers, Larry Thornton and Derrell Jeffords were declared Missing in Action.

The last known location of Spooky 21 was over the rugged and densely forested mountains that were laced with a well-established network of roads and trails of various sizes running in all directions. It was also located approximately 6 miles west-southwest of Ban Solou, 7 miles south of Un Tai, 18 miles east-northeast of Saravane and 36 miles west of the Lao/South Vietnam border, Saravane Province, Laos.

Very late in the 1990's, members of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) received information pertaining to a retired NVA Colonel who claimed to have visited the crash site of Spooky 21. In their on-going effort to investigate this loss incident, members of JTFFA continue to press the Vietnamese government for its assistance in locating the retired communist Colonel and setting up an interview with him.

The crewmen of Spooky 21 are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

If the crew of the gunship died in the loss of their aircraft, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if any of them were able to bail out of the crippled gunship, their fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Pilots and aircrews were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

I AM HAPPY TO ADD SOME NEW INFORMATION ON LARRY THAT I GOT AT "THE WALL" : http://www.thewall-usa.com Here, you can enter any name & see the location of the name on the actual Memorial Wall! This is a little more detailed than the above information! The only difference is, everything else has listed him as "lost" on Christmas Eve, 1965 & this says that's the date his duty began & he passed away on 22 January 1974. I am currently researching to find out all I can on which date is correct. I have also written to Presidend AND Mrs. Bush, as well as Idaho Congressmen & various others,to see why the ball was dropped on returning an American Soldier's body back to American Soil!

CMS - E9 - Air Force - Regular

41 year old Married, Caucasian, Male

Born on Mar 03, 1932


His tour of duty began on Dec 24, 1965

Casualty was on Jan 22, 1974


Hostile, died while missing



Body was not recovered


Panel 04E - - Line 38


"Operation Just Cause" homepage:www.ojc.org
"Task Force Omega's" homepage: www.taskforceomegainc.org
To adopt a POW/MIA send your request to: http://www.ojc.org/adopt
Take part in the Yellow Ribbon campaign: http://www.ojc.org/yribbon.htm
For email addresses for the elected officials: http://www.ojc.org/Webring/contact.htm
Please consider joining our Official OJC Web Ring : http://www.ojc.org/Webring
Check out some of the POW related links: http://www.ojc.org/gunny/links
A great site for helping hospitalzed Vets: http://www.kitchentablegang.org

If you would be interested in writing to our President or Congressmen to see what they're doing about finding/sending home the remains of our POW/MIA's, here are some addresses & some dummy letters from http://www.ojc.org/Webring/contact.htm that you can use! Just copy the letter of your choice (& be sure to change Sir to Madam where need be & the name of the person you're inquiring about) & paste it in to a new Email!





Example #1:
"Dear Senator, what is being done to determine the fate of Sfc Daniel R Phillips-USASF, who was last seen fighting his way through the perimeter during the seige of LangVei on 2/7/68? No remains were ever found although there was an intensive search of the area later on, and no one saw him fall. There is no evidence that he was killed and he is known to have been capable of surviving under harsh conditions. Please advise me of any action that is being taken by you or any other elected appointed official to determine his fate.

In the event there is nothing being done, please explain why not, and tell me how you personally plan to correct this and prevent it from ever happening again."

Example #2:
"Dear Sir, I am attaching the pertinent information on Col Harold Kahler, of Lincoln, Nebraska. Col Kahler has been missing in action since 1969!! We want to make you aware that his family, his friends, and myself, one among many to take up the Cause, find this an outrage, and completely unacceptable. I demand that you take a bit of time to look into this matter--to help us find the Col, and if not to return him safely to his family, then to put this issue to rest once and for all.

It is appalling to think you have given up on a human life. An American human life! One who bravely and selflessly fought for YOUR freedom.

I shall tiredlessly continue to inquire in his behalf until my questions have been satisfied."

Example #3:
"Dear Sir, What is being done to determine the fate of Col Harold Kahler, USAF, who was last seen over Sam Neua, Laos, June 14, 1969?

This is an American pilot who has remained on the MIA list for 28 years. Doesn't his devotion to his country award him the priviledge and honor of being buried in his own homeland soil if he is in fact deceased? Should, by any miracle, Kahler remain alive, should he be left behind in a foreign country knowing his country abandoned him? Do his family and loved ones not deserve to know the fate of their son, brother, friend and loved one nor be allowed to put a closure to this after so many years?

Please advise me of any action that is being taken by you or any other elected or appointed official to determine his fate. In the event there is nothing being done, please explain why not, and tell me how you personally plan to correct this and prevent it from ever happening again."

Thank you SO MUCH for visiting my site for CMSgt. Thornton! I hope it inspires you to speak out & join the cause! ~~Stay safe & God Bless~~

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Washington, DC 19 August 2001

Quote from Vice President. Dick Cheney

Appropriate for today, the 226th birthday of the US Army. A tribute to ALL men and women who are serving and have served. Commentary From Vice President Dick Cheney:

"On my way to work last week, I stopped behind a purple Geo Metro with my least favorite bumper sticker ever plastered across the back. It read: "It'll be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber."

At that moment, I realized who the most undervalued and under-appreciated segment of society is. And it isn't teachers. Teachers, I believe, rank second on that list. Heading the list are the men and women of the armed forces, who, throughout history, have protected our country from the Hitlers and Stalins - they who would have had our white children marching to the school bus in jackboots and our minority children locked up in laboratories and labor camps. The U.S. military-the most powerful and influential group of people in the world, hands-down-gets an awfully bad rap these days. Many Americans seem to think that simply because the communist Soviet Union no longer exists, the world is as safe as Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood.

This, of course, ignores three facts:

1) Dozens of countries have nuclear weapons that could take out millions of people with the turn of a key.

2) Leaders of several countries (e.g. North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lebanon and perhaps China and Russia) would love to see the U.S. and its people blown to pieces and, most importantly;

3) The U.S. has the greatest collection of human, economic, natural and technological resources anywhere on Earth, making it the greatest natural target for military aggression.

Though some would like to fashion the U.S. of the 21st Century as a flowery feel-good fantasy where war and violence are mere after thoughts of a time gone by, that can never be the case. As bad as our crime and drug problems are, we're still considered the jewel of the planet by the half of the world that has yet to make its first phone call.

In ancient Greece, the people of Athens were unparalleled world leaders in art, philosophy and technology. Their rivals in Sparta were not. Instead, the Spartans built massive, well-trained armies. When the two countries fought, who won? Sparta. And guess who lost their entire civilization because they didn't think it was important to build an appropriate army? Athens!

Right now, the U.S. has the best of Athens and Sparta: we are the most cultured and most well-defended country in the world. As we continue to lower our defenses by devaluing the military, we open ourselves wider and wider to a takeover.

A takeover of the U.S.? Ridiculous, one might say. But why does it seem so unlikely? Because the power and protection of the U.S. military has been so overwhelming in the last century that Americans have been free to enjoy a comfort level unlike any in the world.

We all take it for granted that we will never be invaded by another country, but few other countries can afford to be so sure of themselves.

It's not only Americans who can go to bed feeling safe. Children everywhere from Israel to England, from Brazil to Japan know that, if their country is attacked, the U.S. will be there to help.

On TV, the military is often represented by stiff, buttoned-down generals or the occasional drill sergeant. In reality, things are much different.

The men and women of the armed forces are, in most ways, just like everyone else: they are mechanics, pilots, cooks, photographers, engineers, secretaries and X-ray technicians. They work from 8 to 5 and then come home to their families.

The one difference comes when the U.S. or any of its allies is threatened by a foreign power. In that case, military people pack up and ship out, off to fight -- and many times die-so the rest of the country, including teachers, can continue their lives without interruption.

Teachers mold young minds into intelligent, independent people, and they should be admired for the job they do; however, I don't know any teachers who are required to catch bullets and swallow shrapnel if so ordered by the principal. So, old-fashioned as it may seem, I'm happy to give my taxes to the military and tell the tots and teachers to fire up the oven if they want extra dough. Make muffins, cookies and candy and be happy you're allowed to. Because, as the old saying goes, if it wasn't for the U.S. military, we'd all be speaking German now."

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.

-- Dick Cheney
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