Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special ForcesPOW-MIA1
Unit: SOA (MACV-SOG), CCN, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 05 July 1950 (Meadville PA)
Home City of Record: Springboro PA
Date of Loss: 24 March 1970
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 142750N 1071816E (YB484003)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Acft/Venicle/Ground: UH1H
Refno: 1578

Other Personnel in Incident: Berman Ganoe; John C. Hosken; Rudy M. Becerra; Michael O’Donnell; John Boronski, Jerry L. Pool (all missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, including James E. Lake’s account found in “Life on the Line” by Philip D. Chinnery, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.


SYNOPSIS: Kontum, South Vietnam was in the heart of “Charlie country” –
hostile enemy territory. The little town is along the Ia Drang River, some
forty miles north of the city of Pleiku. U.S. forces never had much control
over the area. In fact, the area to the north and east of Kontum was freere zone where anything and anyone was free game. The Kontum area was home base to what was known as FOB2 (Forward Observation Base 2), a classied, long-term operations of the Special Operations Group (SOG) that involved daily operations into Laos and Cambodia. SOG teams operated out of Kontum, but staged out of Dak To.

The mission of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company (“Bikinis”) was to perform the insertion, support, and extraction of these SOG teams deep in the forest on “the other side of the fence” (a term meaning Laos or Cambodia, where U.S. forces were not allowed to be based). Normally, the teams consisted of two “slicks” (UH1 general purpose helicopters), two Cobras (AH1 assault helicopters) and other ghter aircraft which served as standby support.

On March 24, 1970, helicopters from the 170th were sent to extract a MACV-SOG long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) team which was in contact with the enemy about fourteen miles inside Cambodia in Ratanokiri Province. The ight leader, RED LEAD, serving as one of two extraction helicopters was commanded by James E. Lake. Capt. Michael D. O’Donnell was the aircraft commander of one of the two cover aircraft (serial #68-15262, RED THREE).
His crew consisted of WO John C. Hoskins, pilot; SP4 Rudy M. Beccera, crew chief; and SP4 Berman Ganoe, gunner.

The MACV-SOG team included 1LT Jerry L. Pool, team leader and team members SSGT John A. Boronsky and SGT Gary A. Harned as well as ve indigenous team members. The team had been in contact with the enemy all night and had been running and ambusing, but the hunter team pursuing them was relentless and they were exhausted and couldn’t continue to run much longer. when Lake and O’Donnell arrived at the team’s location, there was no landing zone (LZ) nearby and they were unable to extract them immeidately. The two helicopters waited in a high
orbit over the area until the team could move to a more suitable extraction point.