|Name:||Paul Clark Stewart|
|Rank/Branch:||Chief Warrant Officer2/US Army|
158th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)
|Date of Birth:||05 January 1950 (Boulder, CO)|
|Home of Record:||Buena Park, CA|
|Date of Loss:||08 February 1971|
|Country of Loss:||Laos|
|Loss Coordinates:||163634N 1062853E (XD582368)
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel in Incident:||WO Thomas P. Doody; PFC John E. Robertson; SP4 Charles G. Bobo and an ARVN soldier (all remains recovered)|
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "Slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
On 8 February 1971, CW2 Paul C. Steward, aircraft commander; WO Thomas P. Doody, pilot; SP4 Charles G. Bobo, crewchief; and PFC John E. Robertson, door gunner; comprised the crew of a UH1H that departed Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam on a combat assault insertion mission into Laos. In addition to the flight of Huey helicopters inserting Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops into the landing zone (LZ), Cobra gunships were providing protective air cover for the assault force.
While the assault force was enroute to the LZ, CW2 Stewart's helicopter received automatic weapons fire that damaged the tail rotor controls. He informed the mission leader that his helicopter had been hit and he was returning to Khe Sanh along the same flight path. A few minutes later Paul Stewart radioed that his Huey was inverted, he was unable to keep his ship airborne and they were going down. The flight leader then observed a column of smoke coming from the area of loss. The Huey crashed in jungle-covered mountain foothills with mountains to the north and dense jungle to the south approximately 70 miles west-northwest of Hue, South Vietnam; 28 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), 9 miles southeast of Muang Xepon and 7 miles west of the Lao/Vietnamese border, Savannakhet Province, Laos.
A pair of Cobra gunships were dispatched by the mission commander to provide air cover for a rescue operation. The gunships arrived at the crash site first. They conducted a visual inspection while waiting for the rest of the search and rescue (SAR) force to arrive. The Cobras' aircrews were unable to detect any signs of survivors in or around the wreckage. Once the SAR aircraft arrived on site and started its descent to the crash site below, it was fired on and driven off by heavy enemy automatic weapons fire.
Two days later, a ground team was inserted into the crash site. SAR personnel determined that the aircraft crashed, exploded on impact, and burned. They recovered four burned bodies who were later identified as those of Thomas Doody, Charles Bobo, John Robertson and one ARVN soldier. They did not find any trace of Paul Stewart or the other members of the ARVN unit in the wreckage or the surrounding area. Likewise, it could not be determined whether the missing men burned in the crash or were thrown clear of the aircraft only to be captured by communist forces. At the time the search effort was terminated, Paul Stewart was listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
Paul C. Stewart is one of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.
Since the end of the Vietnam War over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Our military men in Vietnam were called upon to live and fight under many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.