The 1962 Geneva Accords prevented U.S. Navy and Air Force helicopters to be stationed in Laos and often were too far away for quick rescues. Getting a downed aviator out as fast as possible was essential, or he would most probably be captured and killed. Consequently, the Department of State ordered Air America, a USG Corporation, to conduct SAR operations in Northern Laos. Air America was a quasi-military air force providing necessary logistical support for USG military units and plausible deniability for the President and his administration. Whenever there was an American aviator down all work stopped, and the Search & Rescue helicopters had to go, even if it meant going into North Vietnam. Air America’s fixed wing crews often assisted with spotting and acting as overhead command posts. SAR was their assigned mission, but there was more involved than dedication and due diligence. There is a sense of duty, a moral obligation among aviators to assist those in peril. Air America’s motto was Anything, Anytime, Anywhere-Professionally but the Air America Creed was they would act quickly and decisively to rescue a downed aviator against all the odds, because next time it might be them on the ground. Air America SAR activity lasted from 1964 until 1974 when the war in Laos ended. The rescue aircraft were unarmed and missions often conducted with a single pilot. Many downed aviators owe their life to Air America.
The following is a list of articles, letters, and other supporting documentation about specific Air America Rescue Missions that took place during the war in Vietnam and Laos.
Air America — “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, Professionally.”