|Name:||John Michel "Mike" Nash|
12th Aviation Group,
Headquarters, Special Detachment 5891
Military Assistance Command - Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||21 March 1937|
|Home of Record:||Tipton, IN|
|Date of Loss:||15 March 1966|
|Country of Loss:||Laos|
Click on corrdinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Glenn D. McElroy (missing)|
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 15 March 1966, Maj. Glenn McElroy, pilot, and Capt. Mike Nash, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an OV1A Mohawk (serial #63-13124), call sign "Ironspud," conducting a photo reconnaissance and surveillance mission was along Route 91. This operational area was code named "ECHO," and US intelligence knew there were also 3 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) and 3 automatic weapons gun emplacements in the area along with a large number of NVA troops maintaining a truck park along that portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This hotbed of enemy activity was located on the west side of the Se Nam Kok River Valley 11 miles northwest of Tchepone, Savannakhet Province, Laos.
When the North Vietnamese began to increase their military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troop again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. By this time in the war it was no secret that North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units were openly operating in areas of Laos, particularly those areas which were part of the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. This "highway" was frequently little more than a path cut through the jungle, and used by the enemy to move troops and supplies from North Vietnam, through Laos into South Vietnam. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.
Ironspud was due to return to base at 1719 hours. At 1735 hours an information call was made to the local radar site to make a communications check with Ironspud. At 1800 hours the 14th Aviation Battalion operations center received a message from a Forward Air Controller (FAC), call sign "Hound Dog 50," who reported that he and his observer saw the Mohawk come into the area at 1435 hours and fly directly over an area with a heavy concentration of AAA and automatic weapons positions. He watched as the aircraft received heavy ground fire, burst into flames and crash. He also reported seeing a parachute leave the right side of the aircraft just before impact. However, he thought the parachute went into the 400-foot high fireball from the exploding aircraft.
Just before the Mohawk was shot down, another FAC aircraft piloted by Air Force Capt. David Holmes, call sign "Hound Dog 54," was struck by AAA fire from the same positions that shot down the Mohawk. It crashed on the east side of the same valley. Hound Dog 50 was able to observe Capt. Holmes sitting unconscious is the cockpit of his O1E Bird Dog, but was unable to determine his condition.
A flight of F-4 Phantoms, call sign "Oxwood 95," and A1E Skyraiders were called into the battle area because of the enemy troops and gun emplacements. They continuously bombed and strafed the area for 4 to 5 hours that afternoon. Because of the constant hostile threat in the area, no ground inspections of the site were possible. While the fighters kept enemy troops occupied, numerous photo runs and search and rescue (SAR) missions were flown over the wreckage searching for any sign of either downed aircrew.
Over the next six days emergency radio signals were heard on four separate occasions. Even though all three missing Americans carried emergency radios, it was believed the signals were initiated by enemy troops trying to sucker in rescue forces because voice contact could not be established. Mike Nash and Glenn McElroy were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
In April 1988, just over 20 years from the day that these aircraft crashed into this enemy controlled valley in southern Laos, a US Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the forerunner of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA), recovery team excavated the Mohawk crash site. During the 3-month time it took to excavate the area, several facts became clear:
1. The area had been extensively scavenged from the date of incident right up to the time JCRC personnel arrived on site.
2. The Mohawk's two engines were present when the team arrived, but disappeared sometime between 25 April and 3 May 1988.
3. Mike Nash's dogtag was found 25 feet east of the remains of the Mohawk's cockpit.
4. An abundance of artifacts were found and recovered including an American military boot, USMC pocket knife, US military uniform fragments, and pieces of aircraft wreckage.
5. No flight helmets for either crewman were found in or near the crash site.
6. In spite of the large number of artifacts found including those which logic indicates should have been consumed in the intense fire caused by the exploding aircraft, absolutely no human remains were found in or near the wreckage - no teeth, no bone fragments - nothing that indicated they died in the crash of their aircraft.
Mike Nash and Glen McElroy are among the 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 negotiations between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the Vietnam War since the Laotians were 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.
John Michael Nash graduated from West Point in 1959.