David Hugh Holmes
Missing In Action
|SYNOPSIS: Captain David Holmes was flying FAC (Forward Air Control) on an O1E
"Bird Dog" aircraft in Laos on March 15, 1966. His radio call sign was "Hound Dog 54"
on this "Tiger Hound" operation. Holmes was flying over a large concentration of NVA
troops maintaining a truck park along the Ho Chi Minh Trail when his plane was struck
by anti-aircraft fire from at least one of the 6 gun emplacements and crashed into the
foliage on the east side of the Se Nam Kok River valley about 300 meters from the
village of Ban Keng Khan Kao.
Another O1E, call sign "Hound Dog 50" was dispatched immediately and observed
Holmes, apparently unconscious, sitting in the cockpit of his plane. At this time
(2:35 p.m.), Hound Dog 50 also observed the OV-1 Mohawk flown by Michel Nash
and Glenn McElroy enter the line of enemy fire on the west side of the valley. The
OV-1 was shot down with Nash and McElroy aboard.
Because of the plane losses and the discovery of the troops and gun emplacements,
F-4's (call sign Oxwood 95) and A1E Skyraiders were called in and the ensuing battle
raged for 4-5 hours that afternoon in the operational area known as "ECHO".
On March 16, a search and rescue team flew to the crash site of David Holmes' O1E
and found the plane empty. Their report states that he was either removed from the
plane or left under his own power. URC-10 emergency radio signals were heard four
times in the next 6 days, but it was thought that the signals were initiated by the enemy
since voice contact was never made. Holmes, Nash and McElroy all had URC-10 radios.
Just over 20 years from the day the two aircraft went down, U.S. teams had the oppor-
tunity to examine and excavate the crash site of Nash and McElroy's OV1A. There
was no shred of evidence that anyone died in the aircraft. No human remains or bone
fragments were found.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released from prisons in Vietnam. Holmes, Nash and
McElroy were not among them, nor were nearly 2500 other Americans who went missing
in Southeast Asia. Of this 2500, nearly 600 are missing in Laos. No prisoners held in
Laos were released in 1973, nor has there ever been any agreement reached which would
Were there not thousands of reports indicating hundreds of Americans are still held
captive in Southeast Asia, America might be able to close this chapter of the Vietnam
war. But if there is even ONE American prisoner, we cannot forget. We must bring
NOTE: The 20th Aviation Detachment existed until December 1966, at which time it was
reassigned as the 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion (Combat Support).
The 131st Aviation Company had been assigned to I Corps Aviation Battalion since June
1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was
reassigned to the 212th Aviation Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon
it transferred out of Vietnam.
There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus E. Williams
and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn D. McElroy (March
15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6, 1966); Robert G. Nopp and
Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher and Robert E. Pittman (September
28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L. Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F.
Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W. Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971).
Missing OV1 aircraft crew from the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on
OV1 aircraft during the war.
U.S. Army records list both Nopp and Kipina as part of the "131st Aviation Company,
14th Aviation Battalion", yet according to "Order of Battle" by Shelby Stanton, a widely
recognized military source, this company was never assigned to the 14th Avn. Battalion.
The 131st was known as "Nighthawks", and was a surveillance aircraft company.