MASON, WILLIAM HENDERSON
Name: William Henderson Mason
Unit: 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron, Ubon Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth: 12 October 1924
Home City of Record: Camden AR
Date of Loss: 22 May 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162000N 1063000E (XC843858)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Jerry L. Chambers; Calvin C. Glover; Thomas E.
Knebel; John Q. Adam; William T. McPhail; Thomas B. Mitchell; Gary Pate; Melvin
D. Rash (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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: CONTACT LOST - NFI
SYNOPSIS: The Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft was a multi-purpose propeller
driven aircraft, used as transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne
battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance craft, electronic
reconnaissance platform; search, rescue and recovery craft.
In the hands of the "trash haulers", as the crews of Tactical Air Command
transports styled themselves, the C130 proved the most valuable airlift
instrument in the Southeast Asia conflict, so valuable that Gen. William Momyer,
7th Air Force commander, refused for a time to let them land at Khe Sanh where
the airstrip was under fire from NVA troops surrounding that base.
Just following the Marine Corps operation Pegasus/Lam Son 207 in mid-April 1968,
to relieve the siege of Khe Sanh, Operation Scotland II began in the Khe Sanh
area, more or less as a continuation of this support effort. The C130 was
critical in resupplying this area, and when the C130 couldn't land, dropped its
payload by means of parachute drop.
One base from which the C130 flew was Ubon, located in northeast Thailand. C130
crews from this base crossed Laos to their mission areas in Vietnam. One C130
crew from Ubon was comprised of LtCol. William H. Mason and Capt. Thomas B.
Mitchell, pilots; Capt. William T. McPhail, Maj. Jerry L. Chambers, SA Gary
Pate, SSgt. Calvin C. Glover, AM1 Melvin D. Rash and AM1 John Q. Adam, crew
On May 22, 1968, this crew departed Ubon in a C130A carrying one passenger - AM1
Thomas E. Knebel. Radio contact was lost while the aircraft was over Savannakhet
Province, Laos near the city of Muong Nong (suggesting that its target area may
have been near the DMZ). When the aircraft did not return to friendly control,
the crew was declared Missing In Action from the time of estimated fuel
exhaustion. There was no further word of the aircraft or its crew.
The nine members of the crew are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in
Laos. Many are known to have been alive on the ground following their shoot
downs. Although the Pathet Lao publicly stated on several occasions that they
held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos has
ever been released. Laos did not participate in the Paris Peace accords ending
American involvment in the war in 1973, and no treaty has ever been signed that
would free the Americans held in Laos, and not one of them has returned home.
William Mason was a 1946 graduate of West Point. Thomas Mitchell was a 1963
graduate of the Air Force Academy. Mason was promoted to the rank of Colonel
during the period he was maintained missing.
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