SCHWERTFEGER, WILLIAM R.

Name: William R. Schwertfeger
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 433rd TFS
Date of Birth:22 September 1945
Home City of Record: Enid OK
Date of Loss: 16 February 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170900 North  1064600 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Missions: 350
Other Personnel in Incident: Ralph Galati, returnee
 


May 2017

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK  from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.  2017

REMARKS: 730328 RELEASED BY DRV


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).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

WILLIAM R. SCHWERTFEGER
Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down: February 16, 1972
Released: March 28, 1973

I was born in Enid, Oklahoma on 22 September 1945 to Dean and Jean
Schwertfeger. I lived on a farm in Northern Oklahoma until I was thirteen.
We then moved to Medford, Oklahoma. I went to Medford High School and
graduated in 1963. I then went to College at Oklahoma State University and
graduated in 1967 with a BS in Physical Science. I was commissioned through
ROTC and attended Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma. After receiving my
Wings, I went to the F-4 at George AFB, California. I was then assigned to
the 8th TFW, 433rd TFS, Ubon, Thailand. My first Southeast Asia tour was as
a GIB From August 1969 to June 1970. I then returned to George AFB to
upgrade and returned to the 433rd TFS in April 1971.

I was married to Vonya on 22 March 1969. She stayed in Caldwell, Kansas
during both my Southeast Asia tours. We have no children.

I was shot down on the 16th of February 1972 just north of the DMZ by two
SAMs. My GIB (Lt. Ralph Galati) and I ejected safely. We arrived at the
"Hanoi Hilton" on 17 February 1972. We had been captured by the local
militia. I was imprisoned for thirteen and a half months.

During my time in Hanoi, my love, and knowledge of God increased greatly.
During my stay, God was there at my side to hold my hand and lead the way so
we all could "Return with Honor!"

I am planning a trip to the Bahamas for some rest and sun. I then plan on
being assigned to Nellis AFB, Nevada. Since I've returned home I am doing
all I can to help with the MIA situation. Each time I speak anywhere I plead
with the people to "please do not forget the MlAs."

William Schwertfeger retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt.
Colonel. He and his wife Vonya reside in Kansas.

 

Schwertfeger earned an array of awards during his time in service including a Prisoner of War Medal, a Silver Star with two devices, a Distinguished ...
RATS IN THE NEWS 
06/24/18  Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association
Bill Schwertfeger Honored
 
On 30 May 2018 Lt Col Bill Schwertfeger, USAF Retired, fighter pilot, mentor, and past resident of the Hilton*no not the one that gives Hilton Honor points*was a guest of honor at the 2018 Gathering of Eagles. The Gathering of Eagles is the capstone event at USAF Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. The guests of honor are all airman of note or have accomplished significant achievements in aviation.

The Gathering of Eagles was first started in 1986 as a way for the class to both honor those who have achieved much in the field of aviation and for the class of majors to learn about those who accomplishments mush first hand. These achievements were usually accomplished at great risk.

The honorees got to talk to the class in a formal setting and then attend the graduation banquet. During the formal talk, the students were able to ask questions of the honoree to further their knowledge.

Lt Col Schwertfeger was on his second combat tour. On 18 Feb 1972, he was flying as a Wolf FAC (Forward Air Controller) in southern North Vietnam on a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) hunting mission. An SA-2 missile site that he was not aware of, fired a missile that destroyed his F-4D. He ejected and, as luck would have it, landed in the middle of North Vietnamese Army forces who were moving south to take part in the Easter Offensive. He was quickly captured and ended up in the Hanoi Hilton. He suffered at the hands of the Cubans who interrogated him to try to find out about the LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) that were being used by USAF forces. After 407 days in captivity, he was released.

In addition to the F-4, he flew the F-15 and was an instructor at the USAF Fighter Weapons School. Lt Col Schwertfeger's awards include 3 Silver Stars, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal, 2 Purple Hearts, and 35 Air Medals. Following retirement, he flew for American Airlines.

His time as a POW gave him a desire to give back to this nation by giving presentations to military and civilian groups about his faith, pride in country, sense of service, and determination to succeed. All of which helped him survive while in prison. He has taught leadership classed at several universities in Oklahoma and Kansas and visits with student pilots at Vance AFB, OK, where he speaks on the military Code of conduct. He is the current CinC Rat at the Risner Pack of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association.