Name: John Francis Dugan
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: Company B, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division
Date of Birth: 10 November 1947 (Rahway NJ)
Home City of Record: Roselle NJ
Date of Loss: 20 March 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163544N 1962513E (XD515352)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident:
John J. Chubb; William E. Dillender; Jack L. Barker; (all missing)
Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: EXPLODED FIRE NO SEARCH - J
LAM SON 719 was a large offensive operation against NVA communications lines in Laos. The operation called for ARVN troops to drive west from Khe Sanh, cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, seize Tchpone and return to Vietnam. The ARVN would provide and command the ground forces, while U.S. Army and Air Force would furnish aviation airlift and supporting firepower. The 101st Airborne Division commanded all U.S. Army aviation units in direct support of the operation. Most of the first part of the operation, begun January 30, 1971, was called Operation DEWEY CANYON II, and was conducted by U.S. ground forces in Vietnam.
The ARVN were halfway on February 11 and positioned for the attack across the Laotian border. On 8 February, ARVN began to push into Laos. The NVA reacted fiercely, but the ARVN held its positions supported by U.S. airstrikes and resupply runs by Army helicopters.
President Nguyen Van Thieu ordered a helicopter assault on Tchepone, and the abandoned village was seized March 6. Two weeks of hard combat were necessary for the ARVN task force to fight its way back to Vietnam. Towards the end of the removal, a helicopter from Company B, 101st Aviation Battalion was lost.
Flown by Maj. Jack L. Barker, the UH1H (serial #66-16185) was attempting to land to extract ARVN troops about 20 miles west of Khe Sanh. During the attempt, the aircraft came under enemy fire and was seen to spin, explode, and catch fire, then to break up in the air. No signs of survivors were seen. The crew aboard the aircraft were PCF John J. Chubb, Sgt. William E. Dillender, and Capt. John F. Dugan. Because of the presence of enemy forces in the area, no subsequent search could be made for survivors.
Losses were heavy in Lam Son 719. The ARVN lost almost 50% of their force. U.S. aviation units lost 168 helicopters; another 618 were damaged. Fifty-five aircrewmen were killed, 178 wounded, and 34 missing in action in the entire operation, lasting until April 6, 1971.
In all, nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos, but because we did not negotiate with the Pathet Lao, no Americans held in Laos were released. Since that time, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Although many authorities are convinced that hundreds remain alive, the U.S. has not secured the release of a single man.