Jungle Hunt for Missing Airmen a U.S. Mission Searches for the Victims of a 1972 Air Crash

A U.S. AC-130 Spectre gunship was in night combat over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in December 1972, when ground fire punctured its fuel line. The plane was limping back to base in Thailand when it exploded and plunged into the jungle about 25 miles northeast of Pakse, Laos. Two crewmen parachuted to safety, and a rescue helicopter recovered the partial remains of a third airman. That left 13 Americans on the plane presumed dead but designated as missing in action, a classification that encompasses 2,483 other Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.

Last week the Communist government of Laos allowed...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!