WHITFORD, LAWRENCE WILLIAM JR.

Name: Lawrence William Whitford, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit: Commando Sabre Operations, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Tuy Hoa
Airbase, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 09 June 1929
Home City of Record: Cedar Falls IA
Date of Loss: 02 November 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 144500N 1071700E (YB218846)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F100F
Refno: 1510

Other Personnel In Incident: Patrick H. Carroll (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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 1998.


REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in
South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for
sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some
years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for
transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were
shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam.
Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful
and the recovery rate was high.

Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains
between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact
with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been
captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke
of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated,
Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been
held in Laos.

On November 2, 1969, LtCol. Lawrence W. Whitford, Jr., pilot, and 1Lt.
Patrick H. Carroll, navigator, departed Tuy Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam in
a F100F Super Sabre fighter bomber on a visual reconnaissance mission over
the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

Whitford radioed that he was running out of fuel in Attapeu Province, about
20 miles east of the city of Muong May. He had a scheduled refueling, but
never appeared. Searches did not reveal any sign of the aircraft crash or
the crew.

Several months later, a damaged plane thought to be the plane flown by
Carroll and Whitford was found in the area with no bodies inside and nothing
to indicate that the crew had perished in the crash. Both Whitford and
Carroll were declared Missing in Action.

Carroll and Whitford went down in an area heavily infiltrated by enemy
forces. In Whitford's case, there is certain indication that the enemy knows
what happened to him. As pilot, he would have ejected second. In Carroll's
case, it is highly suspected that the Lao or the Vietnamese know his fate.

Whitford and Carroll are two of the nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in
Laos, never to return. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held
"tens of tens" of American prisoners in Laos, not one man held in Laos was
ever released - or negotiated for.

Patrick Carroll attended the Air Force Academy, graduated from the
University of Colorado and had just begun a promising career in the
military. Larry Whitford was a senior officer with a distinguished record.
The country they proudly served abandoned them in their haste to leave an
unpopular war.

Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held
captive in Southeast Asia, the Whitford and Carroll families might be able
to close this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are
alive, being held captive, one of them could be Carroll or Whitford. It's
time we brought these men home.

 
Nancy Whitford Eger, daughter of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lawrence William Whitford of Cedar Falls, speaks at a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ...