Last Known Activity|
Captain Dennis Eilers served with the 4th Air Commando Squadron, 6250th Combat Support Group, 13th Air Force out of DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam. He was shot down on 24 December 1965, aboard an AC-47D gunship, call sign "Spooky 21." They were on an armed reconnaissance/strike mission over the panhandle of Laos.
Lt. Col. Derrell B. Jeffords, pilot
Capt. Dennis L. Eilers, co-pilot
Maj. Joseph Christiano, navigator
TSgt. W. Kevin Colwell, flight engineer
MSgt. Larry C. Thornton, gunner
SSgt. Arden "A. K." Hassenger, gunner
As the gunship made its way westward, it was diverted to a second location 18 miles east-northeast of Saravane. Shortly before contact was lost with the gunship at 1050 hours, one of the crew broadcast, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Spooky 21" over the UHF emergency frequency. The aircrews of two separate aircraft who were also operating in this sector heard the gunship's final radio transmission. At 1448 hours, an extensive search and rescue (SAR) operation was initiated. During the entire search effort, SAR aircraft were subjected to intense enemy ground fire emanating from the jungle below. The search was terminated at 1500 hours on 26 December when no trace of the aircraft or crew was found. At the conclusion of the search, military personnel determined the aircraft was downed by enemy action and weather conditions played no part in its loss. They were listed as MIA.
Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y.; Col. Derrell B. Jeffords of Florence, S.C.; Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chief Master Sgt. William K. Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y.; Chief Master Sgt. Arden K. Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore.; and Chief Master Sgt. Larry C. Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho, were buried as a group in a single casket representing the entire crew on 9 July 2012 in Arlington National Cemeter