WISTRAND, ROBERT CARL Name: Robert Carl Wistrand Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 12 August 1930 Home City of Record: New York NY Date of Loss: 09 May 1965 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 173943N 1054559E (WE710400) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D Refno: 0082 Other Personnel in Incident: (none 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. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Mu Gia Pass was one of several passageways through the mountainous border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from Thailand to missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and many aircraft were lost. On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail", a road heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of neutral Laos. The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that of those men lost in more populous areas, even though both were shot down by the same enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to the extremely rugged terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery. Capt. Robert C. Wistrand was a pilot assigned a mission which would take him through the Mu Gia Pass on May 9, 1965. His aircraft was the F105D Thunderchief. The 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. During the mission, Wistrand's aircraft crashed. Wingmen observed no parachute and heard no emergency radio beeper signals. Searches of the loss area proved to be fruitless. There remained the possibility, however, that Wistrand had successfully ejected, and he was classified Missing in Action. In 1973, the prisoners of war held in Vietnam were released. Laos was not part of the Paris agreement which ended American involvement in Indochina and no prisoners held by the Lao were ever released. Nearly 600 Americans, including Robert C. Wistrand, were left behind, abandoned by the country they served. In 1975, refugees fled Southeast Asia and brought with them stories of Americans prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The reports continued to flow in as the years passed. By 1990, over 10,000 reports had been received. Some sources have passed multiple polygraph tests, but the U.S. Government still insists that proof is not available. We are haunted by the secret war we conducted in Laos through the lives of the Americans we left behind. Some of them are still alive. What must they be thinking of us? Robert C. Wistrand was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.