George William Jensen
Colonel, United States Air Force
From a contemporary press report: 15 May 2000
At age 73, Mary Jane O’Neil of Steilacoom, Washington, is reassured to know that her husband is receiving his last rites 34 years after he was shot down over Southeast Asia.
Air Force Colonel George W. Jensen was flying a reconnaissance mission over Laos when his AC-47D “Spooky” propeller plane vanished on May 15, 1966. Also listed as missing were his crew of seven – co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster, two gunners and a South Vietnamese observer. In March 1997, acting on a tip from a conversation overheard in a Vietnamese bar, U.S. and Laotian searchers found the crash site and recovered some teeth, a few bits of an old Kodak camera, dog tags, a Timex watch and a coin.
Last Nov. 24, military officials announced
that dental records had confirmed that the teeth were from Jensen. No other
remains were found from anyone else on the plane. Arrangements have been
made for a burial ceremony for Jensen Monday at Arlington National Cemetery
outside Washington, D.C. A memorial marker also is being set for
“I'm just happy that this happened before I died,” O’Neil said. She remarried in the years after the crash and her second husband died in 1987. She said Jensen joined the old Army Air Corps during World War II but was not assigned to overseas duty until the Korean War, when he was recalled to service as a fighter pilot.
He remained in the Air Force after the ceasefire and was posted to Vietnam in 1965. Anticipating the assignment, he took his wife, teen-age daughter, Carolyn, and son, George A. Jensen, from their home near McChord Air Force Base on a monthlong vacation to California. “We hadn't been home but an hour when the phone rang and he found out he got orders,” Carolyn Jensen said.
O’Neil said she was watching an old Ingrid
Bergman film on television when Air Force officials arrived to tell her
he was missing the same day the plane went down – Mother's Day. “I've never
seen the end of that movie,” she said.
A Laotian jungle recently yielded the remains of another Washington hero, Air Force Colonel George W. Jensen. He was buried on May 15, 2000, in the Arlington National Cemetery, 34 years after his plane was shot down. These scientific detectives received a tip about a former North Vietnamese soldier who had been bragging in a bar about shooting down an American plane decades ago.
The tip led them to what remained of the plane
Colonel Jensen commanded with a
Posted: 16 May 2000 Updated: 10 September 2001 Updated: 6 June 2002 Updated: 17 October 2002