SUMMARY OF INCIDENT INVOLVING REFNO 1530
(An Official Air Force Account)
On 24 November 1969, Captain Earl C. BROWN (Aircraft Commander), First Lieutenant Peter R. MATTHES (C0-Pilot), Major Michael D. BALAMOTI and Captain Richard O. GANLEY (Navigators), Staff Sergeant Donald L. WRIGHT (Flight Engineer), Sergeant Rexford J. DEWISPELAERE and Staff Serseant Larry I. GREWELL (Loadmasters), and Staff Sergeant Charles R. FELLENZ (Illuminator Operator) comprised the crew of an Air Force C-130A on a Forward Air Controller (FAC) mission over Laos. Due to the overcast in the area of the original target, they requested their secondary target which was around Ban Salou, Laos. The weather around this area was clear with a full moon.
The escort aircraft saw anti-aircraft artillery fire burst close to the C-130A and advised Capt Brown that he was being fired upon. Capt. Brown responded and made a turn from his position to a southerly heading. The escort aircraft observed the C-130A aircraft in flames and descending from 9,000 feet. An explosion was observed prior to the aircraft impacting the ground.
No parachutes were sighted and no beepers or voice transmissions were heard by escort aircraft that remained in the area for 30 minutes following the crash. On 25 November, an aircraft operating in the area on a FAC mission located wreckage in the the area of the reported crash location. However, there were no signs of life and no parachutes sighted, and no beeper signals were heard.
All eight members of the crew are carried in the presumptive status of Dead, bodies not recovered.