One clear day in May 1968, Green Berets Glen O. Lane and Robert Owen, boarded a South Vietnamese Air Force H-34 helicopter along with four South Vietnamese team members and flew west from the top secret MACV-SOG FOB 1 base in Phu Bai near the China Sea, into a target in Laos where communist forces had amassed an estimated 45,000-50,000 troops moving supplies south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and hunting SOG recon teams.

Lane was the team leader, code-named One-Zero of recon team code-named Spike Team Idaho. Owen, was the assistant team leader. In Owen’s case, he left N. Carolina on May 1, kissed his daughter good-bye and promised to be home for her next birthday in May 1969. Owen hitch-hiked across the country to Ft. Lewis, WA, in order to save money, which he mailed back to his wife. Being a combat veteran from previous tours of duty in Vietnam, he skipped in-country training, volunteered for SOG and was shipped to FOB 1 in Phu Bai. Lane was a highly-respected One-Zero who fought valiantly during the Korean War and earned the respect of fellow Green Berets at Phu Bai through his leadership skills as well as his ability to work with the indigenous team members on ST Idaho.

Today, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Lane and Owen remain among the 50 Green Berets who are still listed by the government as missing in action/unaccounted for. Today, few Americans know about the deadly secret war conducted in Southeast Asia for eight years from 1964 to 1972, which yielded the highest casualty rate of the entire war, exceeding 100 percent, as many Green Berets who went across the fence into Laos, Cambodia or into N. Vietnam received multiple Purple Heart awards for being wounded in combat.

Those 50 Green Berets missing in Laos, are, in addition to the approximately 244 airmen, also listed as Missing In Action/unaccounted for. Of those 244 men, an estimated 105 died supporting SOG missions alone in Laos – that includes Air Force FACs (forward air controllers) F-4 Phantom jets, A-1 Skyraider single-propeller driven WWII airplanes, Marine Corps Cobra and Huey gunships, Army aviators and crews from 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Cavalry, 176th Muskets of the Americal Division, and the 195th, to mention a few.

Sadly, on September 15, 2017, the official National POW/MIA Recognition Day, those Americans are among the 1,602 U.S. personnel still listed as missing in action/unaccounted for from the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.

Getting back to Lane and Owen, although they are listed as Missing In Action/Unaccounted for, there’s little doubt in the minds of the Green Berets who served with them at FOB 1 that they were killed in action. I landed at FOB 1 on the South Vietnamese H-34 helicopter that later inserted ST Idaho into Laos. I was in the camp when repeated efforts to raise radio communications with Owen or any member of ST Idaho failed. The silence was gut-wrenching to all of us back on base in Phu Bai – among the most worried were Green Beret Staff Sgt. Robert J. “Spider” Parks and Nguyen Cong Hiep.

Parks had joined ST Idaho earlier in 1968, ran several successful missions with Lane as the One-Zero into Laos and the DMZ. Parks had performed so well as a team member, Lane recommended that Parks be promoted to One-Zero of another recon team, as the need for trained team leaders was reaching critical mass at FOB 1. By May, more than a dozen Green Berets from separate recon teams had been killed in action or were wounded so seriously that they were transported outside Southeast Asia to receive advanced medical training and rehabilitation. By May 1968, Hiep had served on ST Idaho for more than two years, running missions across the fence with other team leaders, before Lane became the One-Zero. Hiep didn’t go on this fateful mission because he had an illness, thus Lane picked another team member, a man Hiep had trained to become the back up interpreter.

After several days of maddening radio silence, another SOG recon team led by Mike Tucker and George “The Troll” Sternberg ran a “Bright Light” mission – the most dangerous of all SOG missions, where the recon team goes in heavily armed, with extra ammo, extra grenades, extra bandages and cravats, no food and maybe one canteen of water because they know the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) are probably waiting for them to land in search of ST Idaho.