Kenneth Dewey McKenney
Remains Identified - 1999
|SYNOPSIS: Maj. George W. Jensen was the pilot of an AC47 aircraft which departed
Ubon Air Base, Thailand on an armed visual reconnaissance mission over Laos on
May 15, 1966. His crew that day consisted of Maj. Lavern G. Reilly, spare pilot; Capt.
Marshall L. Tapp, co-pilot; 1Lt. George W. Thompson, navigator; SSgt. James A.
Preston, load master; Sgt. James E. Williams, flight engineer; Airman 1st Class Kenneth
D. McKenney and Sgt. William L. Madison, gunners.
At 1745 hours, Jensen radioed his position, and again at 2100 hours, Jensen radioed
situation normal, with no position given, nor was the target area specified. The aircraft's
last location was over the Laotian panhandle about 15 miles due east of the city of Ban
Muong Sen in Savannakhet Province.
When the aircraft failed to return to the base as scheduled, an aerial search was
conducted during the daylight hours of May 16, with negative results. The aircraft
was not found, and no evidence of the crew surfaced.
The crew of the AC47 is among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos during the war with
Vietnam. Although the numbers of men actually termed "prisoner of war" are quite
low, this can be explained in understanding the blanket of security surrounding the
"secret war" the U.S. waged in Laos. To protect the public perception that we "were
not in Laos", details of many loss incidents were "rearranged" to show a loss or casualty
in South Vietnam. Only a handful of publicly exposed cases were ever acknowledged
POW, even though scores of pilots and ground personnel were known to have been alive
and well at last contact (thus increasing the chance they were captured alive).
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 American involvement in the war. As a consequence, no
American POWs held in Laos were negotiated for. Not one American held in Laos has
ever been released. As thousands of reports continue to flow in regarding Americans
still captive in Southeast Asia, the fates of the crew of the AC47 become more intriguing.
It is entirely possible, with no evidence to the contrary, that they survived to be captured.
Whether they survived or not, they were abandoned to the enemy.
No. 190-M MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS December 13, 1999
The remains of eleven American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War have been identified and
are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.
They are identified as U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tim L. Walters, South Bend, Ind.; U.S. Army 1st Lt. James R. McQuade, Hoquiam, Wash.; U.S. Army; Spc. James E. Hackett, Bradenton, Fla.; U.S. Air Force Col. George W. Jensen, Seattle, Wash.; U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall L. Tapp, Los Angeles, Calif.; U.S. Air Force Col. Lavern G. Reilly, St. Paul, Minn.; U.S. Air Force Maj. George W. Thompson, Beckley, W.Va.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James A. Preston, Bowden, Ga.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James E. Williams, Oxford, Miss.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. William L. Madison, Lexington, Ky.; and U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth D. McKenney, Auburn, Mass.