It is also partly
due to the fact that the U.S. never negotiated the freedom of Americans held by the Lao.
Capt. William F. Mullen was a Marine A4 pilot. The aircraft he flew, the Douglas Aircraft
A4 Skyhawk was a lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized
low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for
catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was compact, but in spite of its
diminutive size, packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and
maneuverability were essential.
On April 29, 1966, Capt. Mullen was sent on a combat mission near the Ban Karai Pass in
Laos. When the time arrived that he should have returned, and he had not, the Marines
began to try to find him. Bill Mullen was never found.
Barbara Mullen received a visit and a telegram from the Marine Corps telling her that her
husband had been shot down, but that "every effort" was being made to rescue
him. Barbara's experiences in trying to find information on her lost husband led to her
later book, "Every Effort."
Barbara spoke with notables from Eugene McCarthy, John Kerry, George McGovern to Henry
Kissinger and Ross Perot. She found interesting information. Capt. Mullen was identified
by other pilots as having been captured. She learned from an Australian freelance
photographer who had been held for twenty-nine days by Pathet Lao guerrillas that some 200
Americans were being held in Laos. The guerrillas told him that there was an underground
bakery in Sam Neua which made bread especially for the American prisoners, who were not
used to a rice diet. The underground complex at Sam Neua was used because of intense U.S.
During the war years, the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of
tens" of American prisoners. Yet, when peace agreements were signed in Paris ending
American involvement in the war in Vietnam, the families of the men lost in Laos were
horrified to learn that Kissinger had not included Laos in the peace agreements.
The years passed, and Barbara raised two
children. Bill was promoted to Lt. Col. while missing. Her book was written
to tell others of the heartbreak she endured as the wife of a missing
Today, Barbara and her family do not know
if Bill Mullen survived, or if he
was captured. But they have watched as over 10,000 reports relating to
Americans missing in Southeast Asia have poured into the U.S. Government's
intelligence community. They believe that Americans are still alive in
Southeast Asia -- and they believe that the abandonment of these men is one
of our nation's greatest shames.
September 10, 2008
The following information should be included in his file and his personal
website under William F. Mullen:
About six years ago intelligence from former North Vietnam military officers
confirmed to our Defense Department that my husband's parachute had carried
him straight down into a North Vietnam Headquarters on the Ho Chi Minh Trail
in Laos. Since then the Defense Department has located a grave where
eventually the North Vietnamese buried him.
My husband and an estimated 400 plus aviators were shot down, many captured
and later buried by the North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and
elsewhere in Laos - so many, in fact, that although my husband's grave was
found more than five years ago, the list for returning the remains of these
POWs is so long they will not excavate my husband's grave for at least three
I will appreciate your making these changes as soon as possible...