Name: Lilburn Ray Stow 
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force 
Unit: 772 Tactical Airlift Squadron
Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 20 May 1929
Home of Record: Vici, OK
Date of Loss: 26 April 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 161630N 1071322E (YC386996)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: C-130B "Hercules"
Other Personnel In Incident: John L. McDaniel and Larry R. Todd (missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  The Lockheed C130 Hercules, or "Herc" for short, was multi-purpose propeller driven aircraft used as a transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance and electronic reconnaissance platform; as well as search, rescue and recovery aircraft.

In the hands of the "Trash Haulers," as the crew of the Tactical Air Command transports styled themselves, the C130 proved to be the most valuable airlift instrument in the Southeast Asia conflict. They were so valuable, in fact, that Gen. William Momyer, 7th Air Force Commander, refused for a time to let them land at Khe Sanh when the airstrip was under fire from NVA troops surrounding the base. The C130 was critical in resupplying American and allied troops in this area, and when the Hercules could not land, it delivered its payload by means of a parachute drop.

On 26 April 1968, Major Lilburn R. Stow, pilot; Major John L McDaniel, pilot; and Sgt. Larry R. Todd, loadmaster; were three members of an eight-man aircrew of a C-130B that was conducting an emergency resupply mission for American and allied ground personnel who were operating in the infamous A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

The location of the A Luoi Airfield was approximately 1 mile west of Highway 548, the primary road running through the A Shau Valley and part of the NVA's infiltration route through Laos and into this vital sector of South Vietnam; 5 miles west of the South Vietnamese/Lao border and 22 miles west-southwest of Hue. It was also adjacent to Oscar Eight, which was the code name given to a sector of eastern Laos located in rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 25 miles west-northwest of the infamous A Shau Valley, Saravane Province, Laos. The area encompassed the junction of Highway 92, which was a primary north-south artery of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and Highway 922, which branched off and ran directly east where it crossed into South Vietnam at a strategic point near the northern edge of the A Shau Valley. Further, burrowed deep in the hills of Oscar Eight was North Vietnamese General Vo Bam's 559th Transportation Group's forward headquarters. It was also the Ho Chi Minh Trail's control center and contained the largest NVA storage facility outside of North Vietnam.

The A Luoi Airfield was located in the northern portion of the A Shau Valley. Upon arriving in the area, Major Stow established radio contact with A Luoi Airfield's ground control for landing instructions. Once cleared in, the Herc made its approach and was struck by heavy, accurate enemy 37mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire. The seriously damaged Herc attempted to land, but crashed into the runway and scattered flaming wreckage along its path. When the wreckage cooled sufficiently, search and rescue (SAR) personnel were able to locate and recover the bodies of 5 of the 8 men on board. They were unable to find any trace of either pilot or the aircraft's loadmaster. At the time the formal search was terminated, Lilburn Stow, John McDaniel and Larry Todd were declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. Shortly afterward, the remaining aircraft wreckage was cleared away and damage to the runway repaired.

There is little doubt that Major Stow, Major McDaniel and Sgt. Todd died in the loss of their aircraft. However, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight 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.