Remains returned - Burial June 11, 2012

Name: William Edward Swanson
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Reserves
Unit: Attack Squadron 95, USS RANGER (CVA 61)
Date of Birth: 01 November 1937 (Zimmerman MN)
Home City of Record: Minneapolis MN
Date of Loss: 11 April 1965
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 172758N 1054358E (WE778311)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H
Refno: 0073
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from 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.


SYNOPSIS: The USS RANGER was a seasoned combat veteran, having been deployed
to Vietnam for Flaming Dart I operations. The carrier played a steady role
for the remainder of American involvement in the war. The first fighter jets
to bomb Haiphong in Operation Rolling Thunder came from her decks.

One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the RANGER was the Douglas A1
Skyraider ("Spad"). The Skyraider is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven
aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The H
model was a single seat aircraft. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in
its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in
counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used the aircraft
as escort for rescue units.

The general procedure for a rescue escort entailed two A1 aircraft flying
directly to the search area to look for sign of the downed crewmen while two
other A1s escorted the rescue helicopter to the area. If it was necessary,
the A1s would attack enemy in the area with bombs, rockets and cannon fire
so that the helicopter could land.

LTJG William E. Swanson was an A1H pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 95
onboard the USS RANGER. On April 11, 1965, Swanson launched in the late
morning on an armed reconnaissance mission flight into Laos, flying in a
flight of two with the Operations Officer, LTCDR Shea.

Approximately 20 minutes after they had commenced their reconnaissance route
the two aircraft encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire and LTJG Swanson's
aircraft was hit and began trailing smoke. Swanson flew straight and level
for about 5 to 10 seconds and then made a slow descending turn to the right
and crashed into a dense jungle area. From the time Swanson was hit until
the aircraft crashed, LCDR Shea made several radio transmissions to him,
advising him that he had been hit and to leave the aircraft. At no time
between the time the aircraft was hit and the time it crashed did Shea
observe the canopy coming open or Swanson exit the aircraft.

Immediately after the aircraft impacted the ground, several aircraft were
dispatched to the area and a complete search was made. Search efforts were
negative. It was suspected that LTJG Swanson did not exit the aircraft and
perished in the crash. Swanson is listed among the Americans prisoner,
missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam war because his remains were
never found. His last known location is approximately 5 miles south of the
city of Na Phao in Khammouane Province, Laos.

For William E. Swanson, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others,
however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly
10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the
certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war
were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be
prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers
when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents,
only to disappear without a trace.

The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of
those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in
the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men
unaccounted for at the end of a war.

Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today.  What must they be thinking of
us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to
bring these men home from Southeast Asia?


Four Vietnam-Era Aviators Identified

Three Airmen, One Naval Aviator Returned To U.S. For Burial

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has released the names of three aviators missing in action from the Vietnam war whose remains have returned to the U.S. for military burials.....

And Navy Lt. William E. Swanson, 27, of Zimmerman, Minn., will be buried June 11, at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. On April 11, 1965, Swanson was the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider aircraft that crashed while on an armed reconnaissance mission over Khammouan Province, Laos. Other Americans in the area reported seeing his aircraft being struck by enemy fire and no parachute was deployed prior to the crash. Recovery efforts were not possible due to enemy presence in the days following the crash.....