MACV-SOG had more than its share of MIAs. One of the most well-known was Larry Thorne, a Finnish veteran of the so-called Winter War against the Soviet Union during the prelude to World War II and a recipient of the Mannerheim Cross. Thorne was carrying a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield when he became MACV-SOG’s first MIA in Laos.
Stories abound of teams that disappeared without a trace, though sometimes circumstances and evidence (such as proof that NVA concussion grenades had been used) led MACV-SOG to believe that the men were captured. A dozen entire teams are still unaccounted for.
As of Oct. 15, 2017, there were nearly 300 Americas still missing in Laos [MIA], and of those 50 were Green Berets from the eight-year secret war fought across the fence in Laos, Cambodia and N. Vietnam. At least 105 airmen died supporting SOG teams in Laos.
Of the men known to be prisoners of war [POW], only a few returned home alive. No MACV-SOG POWs were released from Laos.
Of the 58 MACV-SOG MIAs in Laos, only one returned–Charles Wilklow. Wilklow escaped captivity after being staked out by the NVA as human bait for rescuers for several days. His captors had thought he was too close to death to need a guard, but he managed to crawl off into the jungle and evade recapture until rescued.
MACV-SOG recon casualties exceeded 100 percent, the highest sustained American loss rate since the Civil War. In 1968, every MACV-SOG recon man was wounded at least once, and about half were killed. But despite such high losses, MACV-SOG boasted the highest “kill ratio” in U.S. military history, topping out at 158-to-1 in 1970.