CUNNINGHAM, KENNETH LEROY
Remains Identified - announced 11/13/2015 Name: Kenneth Leroy Cunningham Rank/Branch: E2/US Army Unit: 225th Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade Date of Birth: 21 January 1948 (Olney IL) Home City of Record: Ellery IL Date of Loss: 03 October 1969 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 145719N 1075326E (ZB109553) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C Refno: 1496 Other Personnel In Incident: Paul L. Graffe (missing) Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2016. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The OV1C Mohawk aircraft was designed as a battlefield reconnaissance aircraft and was used primarily by the U.S. Army. The various models were outfitted with different detection equipment. The standard aircraft was not armed, but some carried various weapons. The C model featured infared detection equipment and a forward-aimed camera. Because the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong relied so heavily upon darkness to conceal their activities, the infared sensor proved especially valuable. On October 3, 1969, 1Lt. Paul L. Graffe, pilot; and PFC Kenneth L. Cunningham, observer; departed Phu Hiep, South Vietnam, during the early evening on a surveillance mission of targets located in the northwest portion of MR2 (Military Region 2) in the tri-border area of Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam. The aircraft (serial #61-02679) failed to return at the scheduled time. The last radio contact with Graffe and Cunningham was at 1800 hours when another OV1 aircraft had been informed by Grasse that they were going to continue their mission for about 30 more minutes, and then begin the return trip to Phu Hiep. All further attempts at electronic contact with the missing OV1 were unsuccessful. On the morning of October 5, search and rescue aircraft located the wreckage of an aircraft atop a 7,000 foot peak in a mountain range north of the city of Kontum. This wreckage was positively identified as that of Graffe and Cunningham. Efforts were made to insert a ground team at the site on October 5 and 6, but inclement weather prevented the team from being inserted. On neither occasion was either visual or electronic contact made with the downed crew. On the morning of October 7, another attempt was made to insert a ground SAR team. However, the SAR pilots noticed a change in position in the aircraft wreckage, and the SAR aircraft was receiving continuous beeper signals from the ground. Since this continuous beeper signal was not compatible with established emergency radio procedures, the SAR flight leader directed that the site was probably a trap and withdrew from the area. Both crewmembers were declared Missing In Action. Graffe and Cunningham are among nearly 3000 Americans who were missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia at the end of the war. Unlike the MIAs from other wars, most of these men can be accounted for. Tragically, over 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities that hundreds of men are still alive in captivity, yet freedom for them seems beyond our grasp.
Missing from the Vietnam War, Staff Sergeant Kenneth Leroy Cunningham has now been accounted for.
On 3 October 1969, Private First Class Kenneth Leroy Cunningham was assigned as observer-crewmember aboard an OV-1C aircraft. Pfc. Cunningham and the pilot were conducting a nighttime infrared surveillance mission when they failed to return at the scheduled time. Search-and-Rescue efforts were initiated, and on October 5th, 1969 a SAR aircraft located OV-1 wreckage atop a 7,000-foot mountain peak north of Kon Tum Town, Vietnam. Efforts to land a search party were unsuccessful due to inclement weather conditions and further efforts by SAR teams were abandoned due to hostile activity in the area. While in a Missing-in-Action status, Pfc. Cunningham was promoted to Staff Sergeant and later declared dead, body not recovered.
In 1997, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam team excavated the crash site where possible remains, personal gear and uniform items, and life support equipment items were recovered. Later, in 2010, a joint team excavated a possible burial within the area of the crash site where additional material evidence and multiple life support items were recovered.
Laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence available establish the remains as those of Staff Sergeant Kenneth Leroy Cunningham.
Interment is planned for Staff Sgt. Cunningham’s birthday, January 21st, 2016 in Little Prairie Cemetery, Alboin IL.
|Kenneth L. Cunningham||U.S. Army||225th Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade||10/3/1969||Vietnam||
ALBION, Ill. — The remains of an airman listed as "missing in action" during the Vietnam War have been recovered.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed the remains of Pfc. Kenneth Leroy Cunningham of Ellery, Illinois.
He had been missing since Oct. 3, 1969. He was 21 at the time.
Cunningham's remains will be flown back to the United States later this month, arriving at the airport in Louisville, Kentucky on Jan 19. His remains will be escorted back to Albion, Illinois for funeral services and burial at the Little Prairie Christian Church on Jan. 21....