CRUZ, CARLOS RAFAEL
REMAINS IDENTIFIED 18 OCT 95
Name: Carlos Rafael Cruz
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 606th Air Commando Squadron
Date of Birth: 29 November 1941
Home City of Record: Arroyo PR
Date of Loss: 29 December 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164900N 1060300E (XD125595)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A26A
Refno: 0955
Other Personnel In Incident: Paul L. Foster, William J. Potter (both missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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. NETWORK 1998.
REMARKS:
SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A26 Invader was a twin-engine attack bomber with World
War II service. In Vietnam, it served the French in the 1950's and also the
U.S. in the early years of American involvement in Southeast Asia. In 1966,
eight A26's were deployed to Nakhon Phanom to perform hunter-killer missions
against truck convoys in southern Laos.
Capt. Carlos R. Cruz, pilot, Capt. William J. Potter Jr., co-pilot, and SSGT
Paul L. Foster, crewmember, comprised the crew of an A26A Invader assigned a
mission in Laos December 29, 1967. The three flew from Nakhon Phanom from
the 606th Air Commando Squadron to a target area along the Ho Chi Minh
Trail.
During the mission the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and was seen to crash.
The last known location for Foster's plane was about 15 miles northwest of
the city of Muang Xepone (Sepone) in Savannakhet Province. This is just
about due west of the DMZ in Vietnam. No parachutes were seen, and no
emergency radio beeper signals were heard by aircraft in the area.
A day or so before the Invader was shot down, Lao Premier Souvanna Phouma
reported that North Vietnamese troops had started a general offensive
against Lao government forces in southern Laos. North Vietnam denied this
report on December 29th, the day the Invader was shot down.
The three men onboard the Invader were declared Missing in Action. The U.S.
believes the enemy may know their fates. Unfortunately, although the Pathet
Lao stated publicly that they held American prisoners, the U.S. never
negotiated for their freedom. Consequently, no American held in Laos has
ever been released.
The fates of the crew of the Invader remain unknown. They are among nearly
600 Americans who disappeared in the "secret war" in Laos and never
returned. There is ample reason to believe that the Vietnamese and/or the
Communist Lao know what happened to Cruz, Potter and Foster on December 29,
1967.
William J. Potter Jr. was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Carlos
R. Cruz to the rank of Major and Paul L. Foster to the rank of Senior Master
Sergeant during the period they were maintained missing.