MEYER, WILLIAM MICHAEL Remains Returned 850814 Name: William Michael Meyer Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 22 November 1934 Home City of Record: Taylor MI Date of Loss: 26 April 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210400N 1055500E (WJ947313) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D Refno: 0654 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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 F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing capability and ECM pods for the wings. While the D version was a single-place aircraft, the F model carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses. Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25 Russian MiGs. Thirteen of these modified F's were sent to Southeast Asia in 1966. Most of the F105s flown by the U.S. Air Force were based in Thailand, their flights into North Vietnam guided by ultra-secret U.S.-operated radar installations in Laos. During the mid-sixties, both Navy and Air Force jets descended on military targets in North Vietnam as part of Operation Rolling Thunder. Major William M. Meyer was an F105D pilot dispatched on a mission to destroy a supply bridge near Hanoi on April 26, 1967. During the mission, his aircraft was struck by enemy fire. Meyer went down less than five miles northeast of Hanoi at the city of Yen Vien. There existed the possibility that Meyer safely ejected his crippled aircraft, and he was classified Missing in Action. Meanwhile, at the coastal city of Haiphong, Navy bombers were running successful bombing missions aimed at vital supply stores and storage facilities. One bomber was flown by Michael Estocin, who was shot down on this mission and who was awarded the Navy's only Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor on this mission and those of days previous over Haiphong. The same day Meyer was shot down, another F105 was lost northwest of Hanoi. Flown by Capt. John F. Dudash, with Major Alton B. Meyer in the rear seat, this F105F was hit by enemy fire in northwest of Hanoi in Vinh Phu Province. Meyer, as the rear-seater, ejected first and was captured immediately. He landed about 45 miles northwest of Hanoi, and the aircraft continued in a southeasterly direction with Dudash still at the controls. Although the Air Force later located the precise location of the downed aircraft, the fate of Dudash is uncertain. The aircraft continued another five miles or so before it finally crashed. Whether Dudash successfully ejected is uncertain, but he was classified Missing in Action, and it was felt that the Vietnamese could account for him. [NOTE: Some records indicate that Dudash was aboard an F105E and that Meyer was aboard an F105F. This is probably an error as Dudash and Meyer are definitely on the same aircraft and it is the F model which is a two-seater.) In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from POW camps and Alton B. Meyer was among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of William M. Meyer and John F. Dudash. William Meyer had landed in a heavily populated area near Hanoi and it seemed incredible that the Vietnamese would not know what happened to him. Dudash's loss occurred in a less populated area, but the fact that his backseater was captured indicated that the enemy was in the area. They would not fail to notice the aircraft crash and investigate. Sixteen years later, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of John F. Dudash. The U.S. accepted this humanitarian gift without question. Eighteen years after the two F105s were downed, the Vietnamese returned the remains of William M. Meyer. For nearly two decades, the Vietnamese denied knowledge of the fates of Dudash and Meyer. Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times. Were Dudash and Meyer waiting, in a casket, for just such a moment? Even more disturbing are over 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Were Dudash and Meyer among them? Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did they die?" As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive. As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.