WEISNER, FRANKLIN LEE

Name: Franklin Lee Weisner
Rank/Branch:  O2/US Army
Unit: 219th Aviation Company "Headhunters", 17th Aviation Group, 223rd
Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 21 March 1945 (Oakland CA)
Home City of Record: Ft. Benning GA (or Long Beach CA)
Date of Loss: 10 October 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 1500554N 1074835E (ZB043728)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G
Refno: 1501

Other Personnel In Incident: Calvin Maxwell (missing)

Source: Compiled 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 in 1998.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The Cessna O1 Bird Dog was an indispensable craft for forward air
controllers in the early years of the war in Indochina. The aircraft,
cruising at highway speeds, could fly close enough and slow enough to detect
things a higher and faster flying aircraft could not. When the targets were
found, they were marked with rockets and air strikes called in. Smoke from
carefully placed rockets brought swift destruction upon the enemy and also
prevented accidental bombing of friendly troops.

In the early years of the conflict, the O1 patrolled the roads over which
friendly truck convoys passed, searching for ambush sites. For a time, the
mere presence of one of these planes served as a deterrent, since the enemy
was reluctant to open fire, reveal his location, and invite fighters
controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog. The Viet Cong and North
Vietnamese soon grew bolder, however, and any group that believed it had
been sighted would open fire, trying to bring down the forward air
controller and reduce the accuracy of the impending strike.

By October 10, 1969, the Vietnamese were trying to knock the vulnerable Bird
Dog out of the air. On that day, they successfully downed the craft flown by
Franklin L. Weisner and Calvin Maxwell in Quang Nam Province. Capt. Weisner
was the pilot and Capt. Maxwell the observer in the "high aircraft" (serial
#51-11942) in a flight of two O1G aircraft on a high/low search mission on
that day in Military Region 2 (MR2), South Vietnam. The aircraft flew from
the "Headhunters" 219th Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group, while the
observer was an artillery man from 14th Artillery, 6th Battalion. A high/low
search involved a "low" aircraft moving slower and close to the ground doing
the looking for target locations (in this case, undoubtedly for artillery
targets), and a "high" aircraft doing the location identification and
confirmation.

The low aircraft made radio contact with Capt. Weisner as they were
proceeding down a valley. About 10 or 15 seconds after this radio contact,
the low aircraft picked up a radio transmission in which, after a few
minutes, they heard screams and moans. No further radio contact could be
made with the high aircraft. (Note: there are discrepancies in the records
of Weisner and Maxwell - on some records, they are coded as a helicopter
crew lost in Kontum Province. All records indicate the aircraft type as O1G.
Additionally, various records place the loss in Kontum, Quang Nam, or Binh
Dinh provinces, but coordinates are in Kontum Province, about 5 mile
northeast of the city of Dak Pek. In addition to location and aircraft type
discrepancies, each man has two home cities of record listed in different
records.)

On October 13, search aircraft found the wreckage of the Weisner/Maxwell
aircraft lying inverted in a fast-flowing river. Ground search teams were
brought into the area the next day and confirmed the tail number as that of
Weisner and Maxwell. They reported that the aircraft had hit a cliff above
the river and had slid into its present position.

Barefoot tracks of four people were found in the area, but no bodies wer
located. A scuba team was brought in, and reported that both seat belts and
shoulder harnesses were still hooked together in the cockpit, but no seat
pads remained in the aircraft. One seat pad and an aviator's helmet were
located about 100 meters downstream of the crash. An 8 inch thick tree had
been carried to the site for unknown reasons. Two 30-calliber holes were
found in the aircraft, but they would not have caused the malfunction and
would not have wounded either crew member. All searches were terminated on
October 18 with no remains recovered, and no further information as to the
fate of Maxwell and Weisner.

Weisner and Maxwell were classified Missing In Action, with a strong
probability that the enemy know their fates. Whether they survived to be
captured is unknown. When 591 Americans were released from prisons at the
end of the war, they were not among them. But, as thousands of reports have
indicated, neither were hundreds of others who survived and were captured.
Many of them, according to many authorities, are still alive and held
captive today. Weisner and Maxwell could be among them. It's time these men
were brought home.