BOOTH, LAWRENCE RANDOLPH

Name:  Lawrence Randolph Booth
Rank/Branch: Major/US Army
Unit:  131st Aviation Company, nicknamed "Nighthawks 
212th Aviation Battalion, 
16th Aviation Group

Date of Birth: 11 September 1944
Home of Record: Stoney Creek, VA
Date of Loss: 16 October 1969 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  184227N 1032748E (UF380690)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  OV1C "Mohawk"
Other Personnel in Incident: Dennis M. Rattin (missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:  The Grumman OV1C Mohawk arrived in Vietnam in 1962 with various models serving continuously throughout the war. It became an increasingly familiar sight from one end of Vietnam and Laos to the other. This twin engine aircraft was handy when only short, rough runways were available and ground units needed almost instantaneous photo coverage. Gradually increasingly effective sensors and radar were produced including side-looking aerial radar (SLAR). Further, surveillance techniques using infrared detection equipment and a forward-aimed camera proved especially useful since the communists relied heavily on darkness to conceal their activities. The Mohawk also had the ability to carry both offensive armament and defensive weapons. This made the sturdy OV1C not only an excellent FAC and intelligence gathering aircraft, but one which could give close air support to ground troops in need of assistance.

On 16 October 1969 then Capt. Lawrence R. Booth, pilot, and Sgt. Dennis M. Rattin, technical observer, comprised the crew of an OV1C aircraft on a night reconnaissance mission enroute to the Thai/Lao border. At 1730 hours, Capt. Booth made normal radio contact with base. At that time he reported the flight was progressing normally. At 1815 hours, a Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft requested a radio check from all aircraft in the area, but received no response from Capt. Booth or Sgt. Rattin.

The next morning the company commander of the Nighthawks conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the region. During this search, he saw what appeared to be a parachute hanging in the trees. Other members of their company continued the aerial search for a number of days, but were unable to locate the Mohawk's wreckage or establish contact with either one of the downed crewmen. No ground search was possible due to the heavy enemy troop concentration in the area. At the time the formal search was terminated, Lawrence Booth and Dennis Rattin were both immediately listed Missing in Action. The location of loss placed them in rugged jungle-covered mountains approximately 3 miles northwest of Ban Hatham, 20 miles southeast of Moung Cha and 72 miles northeast of Vientiane, Bolikhamxai Province, Laos.

Capt. Booth and Sgt. Rattin are among 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 well 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.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in 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.