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Gonsalves (third from left) on July 4, 2008

Marc David Gonsalves (born 1972 or 1973) is an American Northrop Grumman employee who was abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and was held hostage from February 13, 2003 to July 2, 2008.[1] He was rescued in Operation Jaque, along with the two other American contractors, Ingrid Betancourt, and eleven members of the Colombian security forces. On March 12, 2009, Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes were each awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.



Early life and educationEdit

Marc Gonsalves is the son of George Gonsalves and Jo Rosano. He was raised in Bristol, Connecticut and has a brother.[2]


Gonsalves served as an imagery analyst in the United States Air Force[3] for eight years[4] prior to becoming a contractor employed by California Microwave Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.[5]

Marriage and childrenEdit

Gonsalves and his ex-wife, Shane,[6] have three children. (One daughter and two stepsons) On July 17, 2008,[7] Marc Gonsalves filed for divorce from his wife in Key West.

Mission in ColombiaEdit

Marc Gonsalves was part of a team of a dozen or so pilots and technicians overseen by the U.S. Southern Command. Their operation was dubbed the Southcom Reconnaissance System, and Northrop Grumman held the $8.6 million contract for the work.

As the program became increasingly successful, several former pilots and others familiar with the program said civilian managers pushed flight crews farther over the jungles, often at night and sometimes 300 miles from their base.[8]

Their mission expanded, too, from locating targets in the illegal drug trade chosen by the American Embassy to keeping a lookout for leftist terrorist guerrillas, who also delved in the drug trade, including those of FARC.

By 2002, pilots began to worry about what they perceived to be the lack of power and speed of their planes – the single-engine Cessna Caravan – for a country as big and mountainous as Colombia.

Two pilots, Paul C. Hooper and Douglas C. Cocker, wrote letters in November and December 2002 to Northrop Grumman warning that flying single-engine planes was a recipe for disaster. The letters suggested that the Cessnas be replaced with twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 300s.[9]

The planes were not replaced, and the two pilots resigned. After two crashes, which temporarily halted the program, Northrop Grumman resumed the operation under a different name, the Colombia Surveillance System, using twin-engine planes.

After the first crash, the program was transferred to a newly created company, CIAO Inc.[10]


Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell were on a drug surveillance mission in Colombia's cocaine-producing southern jungle when their single-engine Cessna plane crashed on February 13, 2003, in territory controlled by FARC.

The American pilot, Tom Janis, and a Colombian army intelligence officer, Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz, were led out by FARC gunmen and shot. The three surviving Americans (Gonsalves, Stansell and Howes) were forced to march with the guerrillas, deeper and deeper into the jungle. After this, the three Americans' exact location was lost by US intelligence. Three other Americans associated with Northrop Grumman made an attempt to find the hostages by air, but were all killed when their plane hit a tree.

Then Colombian journalist Jorge Botero was allowed to contact the hostages and record a tape to prove that they were alive and well – and ready to be traded for imprisoned members of the FARC being held by the Colombian government.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ex-captive: U.S. hostages could die in rescue". USA Today. 2007-05-19.
  2. ^ Hayasaki, Erika (2008-01-24). "A hostage's mother hopes, and waits". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Contreras, Joe (2008-02-07). "America's Forgotten Hostages". Newsweek.
  4. ^ Jordan, Lara Jakes (2007-03-08). "Hostages' Families Fear Military Rescue". Washington Post.
  5. ^ Forero, Juan (2004-02-14). "Private U.S. Operatives on Risky Missions in Colombia". New York Times.
  6. ^ McQuaid, John (2004-02-13). "Reports reveal little on plane crashes in Colombia". The Times-Picayune. Gonsalves' wife, Shane Gonsalves, of Big Pine Key, Fla., said she had not received a copy of the summary but said the description of its contents did not surprise her....
  7. ^ "Freed hostage files for divorce in Keys". 2008-07-18.
  8. ^ Gonsalves, Marc; Stansell, Keith; Howes, Tom; Brozek, Gary (2009). Out of Captivity. NY: HarperCollins. p. 31 et al. ISBN 978-0-06-176952-8.
  9. ^ Contreras, Joe (February 7, 2008). "U.S. Hostages Held for 5 Years". Newsweek.
  10. ^ [1]

External linksEdit