POTTER, WILLIAM JOSEPH JR. REMAINS IDENTIFIED 18 OCT 95
Name: William Joseph Potter, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 606th Air Commando Squadron Date of Birth: 24 September 1935 Home City of Record: Ambridge PA 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, Carlos R. Cruz (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.
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.