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
the entire crew.

“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
six-person crew. The site was in deep jungle – a location where farmers had slashed and burned the trees to grow crops. Colonel Jensen's remains were identified through dental records and a piece of a Kodak camera he used to carry. After 34 years of jungle and fire, Colonel Jensen is home.


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