LATELLA, GEORGE FRANCIS Name: George Francis Latella Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon Airfield, Thailand Date of Birth: 2 July 1947 Home City of Record: New York NY Date of Loss: 06 October 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210525N 1051740E (WJ280360) Status (In 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E Other Personnel In Incident: Robert D. Anderson (missing) Source: Compiled 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 in 2011. REMARKS: 730329 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: LtCol. Robert D. Anderson, pilot and 1Lt. George F. Latella, weapons systems officer comprised an F4E Phantom fighter jet of the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. On October 6, 1972, Anderson and Latella were dispatched from Ubon on a mission northwest of Hanoi near the city of Son Tay. This region had been heavily attacked by U.S. aircraft in Operation Rolling Thunder, concentrating on major supply lines to Hanoi. The city of Son Tay had been the site of a late November 1970 rescue attempt of American POWs. The mission, while successful, had not freed any POWs. Anderson's F4 was hit by hostile fire and he and Latella ejected from the crippled aircraft. A good parachute was observed and voice contact was established on the ground. Anderson and Latella both had landed safely on the ground, although separated by several hundred yards. LtCol. Anderson radioed, "I have a good parachute, am in good shape and can see no enemy forces on the ground." Latella was immediately taken captive. Radio Hanoi reported that "a number of U.S. pilots" were captured that same day, yet Anderson and Latella's plane was the only one shot down in North Vietnam that day. Latella was released with 590 other American POWs in 1973, but the communist government of Vietnam denies any knowledge of Robert D. Anderson. Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports concerning Americans still missing in Southeast Asia have flowed in to the U.S. Government. A shocking 80% of them have been proven accurate, many relating to Americans who have returned home. Those relating to men still missing have convinced many authorities that hundreds of Americans remain alive today, captives of our long-ago enemy. LtCol. Anderson may still be alive. He probably doesn't know he has been promoted to the rank of Colonel. He has undoubtedly figured out that he has been abandoned by the country he proudly served. What are we doing to bring these men home?
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). GEORGE F. LATELLA Lieutenant - United States Air Force Shot Down: October 6, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973 I was born on July 2, 1947 in Staten Island, New York. I attended Staten Island Community College and the City College of New York. I graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics. I entered the Air Force on February 11, 1970. I attended Officer Training School and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on May 18, 1970. I won my wings as a navigator on July 8, 1971 and was assigned to F-4's at MacDill AFB, Florida. After finishing training in Florida, I was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Danang AB, South Vietnam. When the Wing was moved to Takhli RTAFB in June 1972, I was assigned to the 8th TFW at Ubon, Thailand. On October 6, 1972, Lt. Colonel Robert Anderson and I were assigned to crew an F-4 on a bombing mission to North Vietnam. While approaching the target area, our aircraft sustained battle damage from a SAM. Having lost all our flight controls, we were forced to eject from our aircraft. I was captured within five minutes after hitting the ground. Lt. Colonel Anderson is still listed as "missing in action." Later that day I was taken to a POW camp in Hanoi. My first few days of captivity were a big shock. One day you have control over your life and later that same day you're subjected to total control by another individual. Faith in the United States and President Nixon helped sustain me during this, the most difficult period of my life. This faith was reinforced during the December 1972 bombing raids of Hanoi and Haiphong. I was released on March 29, 1973 as part of the last group of POWs in Hanoi. When I arrived at Clark I was overwhelmed at the reception there to meet us. I had finally returned to the good old USA on April 1, 1973. It was an experience I'II never forget.
George Latella retired from the military as a Major. He and his wife Susan reside in a small town in Iowa.