THOMAS, WILLIAM EDWIN JR. Name: William Edwin Thomas, Jr. Rank/Branch: W2/US Marine Corps 20th TASS TDY USMC Unit: Sub Unit 1, 1st Anglico Date of Birth: 22 July 1936 Home City of Record: Pittsburg PA Date of Loss: 19 May 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 164400N 1071800E (YD465527) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV10A Other Personnel in Incident: David P. Mott (released POW) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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. REMARKS: 730328 RELSD BY PRG SYNOPSIS: The OV10 Bronco was among the aircraft most feared by the Viet Cong and NVA forces, because whenever the Bronco appeared overhead, an air strike seemed certain to follow. Although the glassed-in cabin could become uncomfortably warm, it provided splendid visibility. The two-man crew had armor protection and could use machine guns and bombs to attack, as well as rockets to mark targets for fighter bombers. This versatility enabled the plane to fly armed reconnaissance missions, in addition to serving as vehicle for forward air controllers. Capt. David P. Mott and Chief Warrant Officer William E. Thomas, Jr. were the crew of an OV10A aircraft sent on a combat mission over South Vietnam on May 19, 1972. During the mission, the aircraft was shot down a few miles from Quang Tri city in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. Both Mott and Thomas, unknown to U.S. authorities, were captured by the Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi. For the next 11 months, Thomas and Mott were "guests" in the Hanoi prison system. They were officially prisoners of the Viet Cong, but were held in North Vietnam. On March 28, the two were released in Operation Homecoming, during which 591 Americans were released by the Vietnamese. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
William Thomas retired from the United States Marine Corps as a CWO-4. He and his wife Emilia reside in Hawaii.