|Name:||Albro Lynn Lundy, Jr.|
|Rank/Branch:||Major/US Air Force|
Nakhon Phanom Airfield, Thailand
|Date of Birth:||17 November 1932 (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Home of Record:||Sherman Oaks, CA|
|Date of Loss:||24 December 1970|
|Country of Loss:||Laos|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: With its fantastic capability to carry a wide range of ordnance (8,000 pounds of external armament), great flight range (out to 3,000 miles), and the ability to absorb punishment, the single-seat Douglas A1 Skyraider became one of the premier performers in the close air support and attack mission role (nickname: Spad) and RESCAP mission role (nickname: Sandy). The Skyraider served the Air Force, Navy and Marines faithfully throughout the war in Southeast Asia.
On 24 December 1970, Major Albro L. Lundy, Jr. was the pilot of the lead aircraft in a flight of two, call sign "Sandy 3," that was conducting an afternoon medical evacuation escort mission. His wingman was Capt. Park George Bunker, call sign "Sandy 4." Ironically, Capt. Bunker was shot down 6 days later and listed Missing in Action.
Early in the afternoon, the Forward Air-Ground (FAG) controller, call sign "Badman," notified the on-site Raven Forward Air Controller (FAC), call sign "Gold 86," that he had casualties and requested a medevac to extract them. Although 2 other A1E flights refused to work in this area on 24 December, Major Lundy volunteered his flight to fly air cover for 3 Air America helicopters, call signs "Durax 30, 31 and 32," making the pick up of casualties.
The mission was briefed for all aircraft to circle in the area of Lima Site 2 before entering the Ban Ban Valley area. A second FAC, call sign "Raven 25," lead the Skyraiders and helicopters over the Ban Ban Valley, then turned control of the mission over to Durax 30, the lead Air America helicopter.
At 1700 hours, Major Lundy was to follow Durax 30 down to make the pick up while Capt. Bunker and the other 2 helicopters remained at altitude during the recovery operation. Shortly after Durax 30 started down, Badman heard Sandy 3 state, "I have a rough engine," then he heard, "it's backfiring" followed by Sandy 4 saying to Major Lundy "Climb south and I'll pick you up." Sandy 3 replied, "I can't, I gotta get out now." About a second later Capt. Bunker saw the seat rocket fire followed by an apparently normal parachute deployment. Immediately Capt. Bunker closed the distance between his aircraft and Sandy lead. When he reached the parachute, he saw that it was roughly 1,000 feet in the air.
Durax 31 and 32 were already circling the parachute when he got there. Sandy 4 heard someone state, "There's no one in the chute" then Capt. Bunker "began watching the slowly descending chute through my field glasses. I watched it all the way to the ground. There appeared to be part of a harness hanging below the chute - there was no one in it." However, the crewman aboard an Air America C7, flight #392, saw Major Lundy eject and reported that he was in the parachute harness when it first opened. None of the Durax flight crewmen or Sandy 4 could confirm that report.
After Major Lundy ejected his crippled Skyraider, the other pilots watched it descending at a 30 to 40 degree angle, and then impact the ground just seconds after the seat rocket fired. All on-site aircraft circled the crashsite and parachute for approximately 30 minutes. During that time no emergency beeper was heard and no sign of a survivor was seen.
In his after action debriefing, Capt. Bunker said he was very sure that Albro Lundy could not have survived if he had stayed with his aircraft as it exploded upon impact and was consumed by fire. He also reported that while he continued to circle the area, Badman said that "the friendlies" would move toward the crashsite and chute at nightfall. However, due to enemy activity in and around the crashsite, the ground unit was unable to enter the area to examine it for any sign of Albro Lundy. At the time the search effort was terminated, Albro Lundy was immediately declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
The area of loss was in the extreme eastern edge of the heavily populated and hotly contested Ban Ban Valley approximately 9 miles east-southeast of the town of Ban Ban, 23 miles west of the Lao/North Vietnamese border and 31 miles northeast of Muang Phonsavan airfield, Xiangkhouang Province, Laos.
The valley was heavily forested with several primary and secondary roads, as well as two rivers, running through it. The crashsite was on the north side of one of the rivers less than 1 mile north of a primary east/west road that generally paralleled the river. Villages of various sizes were scattered throughout the valley and rolling mountains to the east.
In June 1990, the Pentagon received a photograph of three men reported to be American POWs holding a sign between them bearing the date 25 May 1990. Albro Lundy was identified by his family as one of the men. The other two were identified as John L. Robertson and Larry J. Stevens. Immediately government analysts dubbed the photograph "The Three Amigos." On 12 July 1990, the families of the three men confronted Pentagon officials about taking action to obtain the release of their loved ones.
Three days later the US State Department submitted the picture to the Vietnamese government with a demand for an explanation. This action would not have been taken if our government did not believe it was genuine. On 17 July the same picture appeared for the first time in newspapers and on TV all over the world. The next day unidentified Pentagon officials told reporters "the photo was probably a hoax." Officially at the time no one in the Pentagon would comment on the validity of the picture or the identification of the three American Prisoners of War. However, unofficially they discredited the photograph from the day it was made public.
In April 1991 the US government released a list of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who were known to be alive in enemy hands and for whom there is no evidence that he or she died in captivity. This list, commonly referred to today as the USG's "Last Known Alive" list, included Albro L. Lundy, Jr.
On 28 October 1997, according to the official press release, "The Lao government returned the possible remains of an American aviator Missing in Action from the Vietnam War to US officials. On that date the remains were presented to US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin by Soubanh Srinthirath, Laotian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. The remains were the first returned under a new program in which Laotian teams unilaterally investigate leads on cases that joint US/Laotian teams have been unable to resolve." The press release went on to state, "those (remains) are believed to of an Air Force pilot lost 24 December 1970 over Xiangkhouang Province in northern Laos."
In addition to the reported remains, the Laotians returned a dogtag, military ID card and a blood chit - a form of identification carried by US pilots - were being returned at the same time. The dogtag and military ID card were, in fact, Major Lundy's. The blood chit could not be confirmed as his. Further, according to a US military spokesman, "a Laotian witness retrieved the bones and the identification card in 1992." The spokesman could provide no indication where the remains had been since that time. The remains were transported to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) for forensic examination. CIL-HI personnel determined the bone fragments are unidentifiable.
If Albro Lundy died in his loss incident or as a result of wounds he received, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no doubt the Laotians, could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.
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.
Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and 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.
Albro L. Lundy, Jr. graduated from UCLA in 1955.