|SYNOPSIS: PFC Paul King was a rifleman and a member of a Special Forces recon-
naissance team composed of 2 Americans and 4 indigenous personnel on a combat
mission in Laos. During the mission, the team made contact with an enemy force
of unknown size, and maneuvered to an area for possible extraction.
All attempts to rescue the team failed because of intense enemy fire. The team
remained in that pickup point overnight, and received sporadic fire from all sides.
The next morning, the enemy intensified their efforts to dislodge the team from the
site. During the ensuing action, King exposed himself while throwing a hand grenade
and was hit in the head by large calibre weapons fire and was killed instantly.
Staff Sgt. Allen, the only survivor of the team stated that he saw King's body lying
very close to that of one of the indigenous personnel. King and the 4 indigenous were
killed in the action. Allen evaded capture and was later extracted. Because of the
intense fire in the area, the bodies of the King and the rest of the team could not be
recovered. The area in Saravane Province remained consistently hostile throughout
the war, and it was never possibile to reenter the area.
Paul King was listed as killed, body not recovered. He is listed with honor among the
missing because no remains were found. His case seems quite clear. For others who
are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived
their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing
an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply
vanished without a trace.
Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos during the war with Vietnam. The Lao
communist faction, the Pathet Lao, stated on several occasions that they held "tens
of tens" of American prisoners, but the Pathet Lao were not included in the Paris Peace
agreements ending the war. As a consequence, no American POWs held in Laos were
negotiated for. Not one American held in Laos has ever been released. They were
abandoned to the enemy.