FEATHERSTON, FIELDING WEDLEY III Name: Fielding Wedley Featherston III Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB, Thailand Date of Birth: 03 December 1942 Home City of Record: Wickliffe OH Date of Loss: 30 December 1969 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 195900N 1032900E (UH413101) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1541 Other Personnel In Incident: Douglas D. Ferguson (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Plain of Jars region of Laos was long under the control of the communist Pathet Lao and a continual effort had been made by the secret CIA-directed force of some 30,000 indigenous tribesmen to strengthen anti-communist strongholds there. The U.S. committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the war effort in Laos, but details of this secret operation were not released until August 1971. Doug Ferguson and Fielding Featherston were aboard one of five F4D aircraft on a mission into the Plaine des Jarres region of Laos on December 30, 1969. Their ship was hit by enemy fire and exploded in a fireball. There were no parachutes seen, nor were emergency radio "beeper" signals heard that day by other aircraft. On the following day, the crash site was photographed and two empty parachutes were visible hanging in nearby trees. The area was too heavily defended for a ground search to be possible. Ferguson and Featherston may well have been captured. They are among the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Because Laos was "neutral", and because the U.S. continued to state they were not at war with Laos (although we were regularly bombing North Vietnamese traffic along the border and conducted assaults against communist strongholds thoughout the country at the behest of the anti-communist government of Laos), and did not recognize the Pathet Lao as a government entity, the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos were never recovered. The Pathet Lao stated that they would release the "tens of tens" of American prisoners they held only from Laos. At war's end, no American held in Laos was released - or negotiated for. Voluminous evidence exists that Americans still survive, captive, in Indochina. Until serious steps are taken to resolve the fate of these men, the families of Ferguson and Featherston must wonder if their men are alive, abandoned by their country.