I adopted Eugene in the summer of 1972 when I was a sophomore in High School, living in NJ. I corresponded with his mother from NJ and Mexico. I lost touch with her after several years, and also lost my POW/MIA bracelet during one of several inter country moves. If anyone knows Mrs. Christiansen, please let her know I have never stopped thinking about her or Ricky or their great loss.
Name: Eugene Francis Christiansen
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: 282nd Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group,
1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 16 February 1949 (Cedar Springs CA)
Home City of Record: Barstow CA
Date of Loss: 06 February 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162750N 1070238E (YD182212)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Robert C. O'Hara; Charles I. Stanley; Ronald D. Briggs; David E. Padgett; Donald E. Parsons (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
SYNOPSIS: On February 6, 1969, CW2 Charles I. Stanley, pilot; 1Lt. David E. Padgett, aircraft commander; SP5 Robert C. O'Hara, crew chief; PFC Eugene F. Christiansen, door gunner; LtCol. Donald E. Parsons, 1Lt. Ronald D. Briggs, and Maj. Vu Vanh Phao, ARVN, all passengers, were aboard a UH1H (serial #67-17499) on a resupply mission in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.
While in route from Landing Zone Vandergrift to LZ Tornado, 1Lt. Padget contacted the LZ Tornado radio operator at about 1100 hours and stated that due to poor weather conditions and poor visibility, the flight was returning to LZ Vandergrift.
At that time, the radio operator at LZ Tornado could hear the helicopter northeast of his location, which sounded as if it were heading in a northerly direction. When the aircraft failed to return to LZ Vandergrift, a coordinated search and rescue operation was initiated and continued for seven consecutive days, finding nothing.
However, on the morning of February 7, Crown, an airborne control aircraft, reported receiving radio beeper signals several times from the general vicinity of where Lt. Padgett's aircraft was last reported. The beeper signals were estimated to emanate from that general direction. The source of the signals was never determined.
The area in which the aircraft was estimated to go down has been dubbed "Antenna Valley" and is located west of Cam Lo and on the backside of Camp Carrol. The area was occupied by NVA regulars, and was never cleared. On-site search was not possible at that time.
On September 4, 1969, an ARVN source reported that in August he had seen LTC Parsons, Maj. Phao, LT Briggs, and four other unidentified American POWs in a hospital in Laos. The U.S. Army determined that the four unidentified Americans could possibly be Christiansen, Stanley, Padgett and O'Hara.
On July 5, 1972, an NVA rallier reported seeing two caucasian POWs in the vicinity of a T-35 commo-liaison station on the 499th infiltration corridor in Laos. The two POWs were being taken to North Vietnam. This information was tentatively correlated to LT Padgett and PCF Christiansen.
In September 1970, LTC Parson's wife and friends identified him in a North Vietnamese film of a protestant service in a POW environment. CW2 Stanley's mother made a tentative identification of her son in the same film.
In December 1979, an alleged "gun-runner", Sean O'Toolis reported that he had the fingerprints of Robert O'Hara, and that O'Hara was at that time being held south of Hanoi near Bong Song. O'Toolis' information was summarily dismissed by the U.S. Government and he was thoroughly discredited, thus it is not clear how much credence can be given to his information.
The reports relating to the crew of the UH1H that went down on February 6, 1969 are typical of the over 10,000 reports received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. After reviewing "several million documents" and conducting "over 250,000 interviews" the USG has been unable to state categorically that Americans are still alive.
Many authorities, however, including a former Director of Defense Intelligence Agency, have reluctantly concluded that there are many Americans still held against their will in Southeast Asia.
Families who receive these reports are especially tortured. With no means to prove or disprove them, the tormen is indescribable. When they turn to their government, they are usually met with the "mindset to debunk" described by one high official in Congressional hearings. When they approach Vietnam, they are told the person they seek is unknown to them. Yet the reports continue to flow in, month after month, year after year. And year after year, families wait.
In memory of JASON "MOONDUSTER" JONES, who passed away on Oct. 16, 1997, three days after telling me he felt fine and was finally catching up on his correspondence. Thanks Jason for your immense patience with those of us who could not learn HTML, and for always giving us a cheerful answer even though we'd asked the same question many times before. We'll miss you!
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