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.
Daughter of Cedar Falls Vietnam MIA pilot visits Grout district
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 ...