[Vision2020] Where Are They Now? (CMSgt Larry C. Thornton)

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Mon Jan 8 21:00:55 PST 2007

A copy of the following email has been provided to the appropriate elected
officials at:

Governor Butch Otter

Senator Larry Craig

Senator Mike Crapo

Representative Mike Simpson

Representative Bill Sali

Emails concerning those unaccounted for veterans whose home of record is
within Idaho's 1st Congressional District will be provided to Representative
Sali if/when he becomes accessible to the citizens of Idaho.


Subject:  Where Are They Now? (CMSgt Larry C. Thornton)
Dear - ,
As a retired veteran and citizen in the state of Idaho I would like to know
what is being done to determine the fate of the following veteran who
remains unaccounted for:

Chief Master Sergeant Larry C. Thornton (Idaho Falls, Idaho), U.S. Air Force

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;  TSgt. W. Kevin
Colwell, flight engineer; then 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.

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.

Additional information and a detailed account of Chief Master Sergeant
Thornton's activities on December 24, 1965, prior to his disappearance, are
available at:


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.

Information related to other Idaho citizen-veterans who remain unaccounted
for may be accessed at:


Yours most sincerely,

Thomas P. Hansen
SFC, US Army (Retired)
201 Taylor Avenue
Moscow, Idaho

Lewiston Tribune
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Spokesman Review


Pro patria,

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil
and steady dedication of a lifetime." 

--Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.

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