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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

Navy reservist killed in 1968 crash in Laos

PORT CLINTON - The remains of Lt. j.g. Arthur “Charlie” Buck, 26, were returned to his native Port Clinton Wednesday, more than 35 years after he and his eight crewmates aboard a naval electronic observation aircraft were killed Jan. 11, 1968, while on a reconnaissance mission over Laos.

The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii announced in December that it had identified the remains of Lieutenant Buck and the others aboard their OP-2E MR-2 Neptune aircraft.

Recovery crews in March, 2002, completed excavation work near the mile-high summit of Phou Louang, ending an investigation into the crash that began in 1993, according to a report prepared by the Central Identification Laboratory.

Weather and terrain often hampered recovery efforts.

Lieutenant Buck, a Navy reservist who was the plane's navigator, was based at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base. He and the crew were part of a secret VO-67 squadron that, from their planes, dropped sensors over the jungle to detect footfalls and conversations, according to a report in Parade magazine about the recovery effort.

The plane and crew - along with Snoopy, the bull terrier they took on every mission - left their base Jan. 11. The last radio and radar contact was at 9:57 a.m. as the plane descended through cloud cover to perform its mission, the Central Identification Laboratory report said.

Air Force aircraft located and photographed the crash site two weeks later, but a ground recovery team could not get to the site “due to the hostile threat in the area,” the report said.

Two other planes were on similar missions that day, according to the Parade magazine article. After Navy Cmdr. Adam Alexander's airplane climbed back to safety out of the clouds, Navy Cmdr. Del Olson began his run with a crew that included Lieutenant Buck.

“The last thing I heard [Commander] Olson say was, `I'm going down through this hole in the clouds,'” Commander Alexander told Parade. “What happened after that, only God knows.”

Lieutenant Buck was born in Port Clinton, the son of Wilson and Edith Buck. The family moved to Sandusky, and he was a 1961 graduate of Sandusky High School. He was a 1965 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, which he attended on a football scholarship, according to Parade. He joined the Navy in October, 1965.

Lieutenant Buck was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Danbury, Ohio.

Surviving is his brother, Gary.

Military graveside services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Lakeview Cemetery, Port Clinton. Arrangements are by the Gerner-Wolf-Brossia-Marsh Mortuary, Port Clinton.

The family requests tributes to Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio.



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