STRATTON, CHARLES WAYNE Remains ID announced 08/03/07
Name: Charles Wayne Stratton Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand Date of Birth: 09 October 1940 Home City of Record: Dallas TX Date of Loss: 03 January 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 165400N 1055300E (WD940685) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E Refno: 1688
Other Personnel in Incident: James H. Ayres (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2008.
SYNOPSIS: On January 3, 1971, a flight of two aircraft departed Korat Airbase Thailand for an operational mission over Laos. Both aircraft were the reconnaissance version of the Phantom fighter bomber aircraft. The crew aboard the lead aircraft was Major James H. Ayres, pilot, and Capt. Charles W. Stratton, weapons systems officer.
During the mission, which took the flight over Savannakhet Province, Laos, Ayres' aircraft was seen to crash and explode in a ball of fire prior to its second pass over the target area. No parachutes were observed, and no emergency radio beeper signals were detected. The loss occurred about 8 miles southeast of the city of Ban Muong Sen.
Ayres and Stratton are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. During the course of American involvement in the war, the Pathet Lao stated on a number of occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners and that those captured in Laos would also be released from Laos. Unfortunately, that release never occurred, because the U.S. did not include Laos in the negotiations which brought American involvement in the war to an end. The country of Laos was bombed by U.S. forces for several months following the Peace Accords in January 1973, and Laos steadfastly refused to talk about releasing our POWs until we discontinued bombing in their country.
After the war ended, 591 Americans were released from communist prison camps in Southeast Asia, but NOT ONE American held in Laos was released. Even though family members of the men still missing did their best to keep their men's plight in the public eye, these "tens of tens" were largely forgotten.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, many of them relating to men lost in Laos. Tiny steps towards recognition of the communist Lao government have been taken over the years, but no effort to negotiate the freedom of any Americans still alive has been made.
In 1988, however, the U.S. agreed to "grease the wheels" for the humanitarian construction of medical clinics to help improve U.S./Laos relations. In return, the Lao agreed to excavate crash sites on a regular basis. Still, no acknowledged negotiations have occurred which would free any living American POWs in Laos. If, as thousands of reports indicate, Americans are still alive in Indochina as captives, then the U.S. is collaborating in signing their death warrants. It's time we found the means to bring our men home.
============================= NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 960-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 03, 2007 Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132 Public/Industry(703) 428-0711
Airmen Missing in Action from Vietnam War are Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Lt. Col. James H. Ayres, of Pampa, Texas, and Lt. Col. Charles W. Stratton, of Dallas, Texas, both U.S.Air Force.Ayres will be buried Aug. 10 in Pampa, and Stratton's burial date is being set by his family.
On Jan. 3, 1971, these men crewed an F-4E Phantom II aircraft departing Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base on a nighttime strike mission of enemy targets in Savannakhet Province, Laos.Shortly after Ayres initiated a target run, the crew of other aircraft in the flight observed a large explosion.No one witnessed an ejection or heard beeper signals, and communication was lost with the aircraft.Hostile activity in the area prevented search and rescue attempts.
In 2001, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), traveled to Savannakhet Province and interviewed Laotian citizens about their knowledge of aircraft crash sites.One of the men led the team to what was believed to be the Ayres and Stratton crash site.
Later that year, another U.S./L.P.D.R team began excavating the site.The team recovered human remains and aircrew-related items.Between 2002 and 2005, joint teams visited the site six more times to complete the excavation, recovering more human remains and crew-related items.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.
"BODY OF VIETNAM AIRMAN FROM COUNTY FOUND:
Former Celeste Resident to be buried with Honors:
The remains of a former Celeste resident who disappeared over Laos more than 36 years ago while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War are to be returned to Texas. The Department of Defense reports that the body of Lt. Col. Charles W. Stratton will be returned to Dallas for burial with full military honors......
You can read this directly from the paper at: www.heraldbanner.com
[shared with permission]
August 12, 2007
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2007 17:43:17 -0500
Subject: Lt. Col. James Henry Ayres
Recovery Efforts Help Write Final Chapter For Missing Pilot's Wife
Thu, 04 Dec '08
If This Doesn't Bring A Tear To Your Eye...
Sallie Stratton always knew she wanted to write a book, but she just couldn't bring herself to put pen to paper -- until now.
It is truly a Texas-sized love story that starts nearly 50 years ago in small record store near Dallas. It chases a pilot's dream around the globe to a foreign land, turns on its end in a fiery jet crash, returns to a grief-stricken widow and three small boys, and ends in a southwestern cemetery just last year......
(Aero-News salutes Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service... who in our experience has a particularly deft touch with stories like this one -- Ed.)