WALLACE, MICHAEL WALTER
Remains Returned December 1988

Name: Michael Walter Wallace
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Light Photographic Squadron 63, USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14)
Date of Birth: 12 September 1936
Home City of Record: Salt Lake City UT
Date of Loss: 28 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162957N 1062957E (YD291087)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF8G
Refno: 1109
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: LtCdr. Michael W. Wallace was a pilot assigned to Light
Photographic Squadron 63 on board the aircraft carrier TICONDEROGA. On March
18, 1968, he launched in his RF8G "Crusader" aircraft on a
bombing/photographic mission. A flight of five A4 "Skyhawk" attack aircraft
were to hit a target 15 miles west of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.

The Crusader sometimes played the role of decoy in the battle against
surface-to-air missiles (SAM). The Navy had been convinced that enemy radar
operators could not differentiate among the types of planes on their
screeen, so it was decided to send a two-plane section above and ahead of
the strike force. This was done to get the radar-controlled SAM battery to
concentrate on the first and clearest target -- the Crusaders -- thereby
allowing the attacking divisions to reach their targets at little or no
risk. On these missions, the Crusaders carried little or no munitions to
increase their maneuverability and airspeed in dodging the SAMs that were
released. On many such occasions, in excess of eight SAMs were fired on the
Crusaders, forcing them to conjure up their best aviation skills to avoid
the glowing doom. The tactic was extremely successful.

Wallace's aircraft rolled in with the bombing group and then pulled off the
target. LtCdr. Wallace's aircraft was observed in a tight spin with the nose
60 degrees below the horizon. The aircraft did not appear to be on fire, nor
did any disintigration take place.

The aircraft continued to spin until it struck the ground still in the nose
low attitude and burst into flames. The strike was discontinued while the
other aircraft circled the crash site. No parachutes were seen, nor were
emergency radio beepers heard in the vicinity. It is believed that the pilot
was still in the aircraft when it crashed. The aircraft was consumed by
fire.

LtCdr. Wallace was initially placed in a Missing In Action status which was
changed on April 17, 1968, less than a month after his loss incident, to
Killed/Body Not Recovered based on all the known facts at the time. As with
any multiple-plane loss incident, Wallace's family wondered for years if he
had managed to bail out of the crippled aircraft unnoticed, as others had
done.

In the summer and fall of 1988, the U.S. helped ease the way for a private
humanitarian concern to build medical clinics in Laos. The Lao, in their
appreciation, agreed to assist in performing a limited number of crash site
excavations in their country.

In December, 1988, U.S. and Lao technical teams excavated the site of LtCdr.
Wallace's aircraft crash in Savannakhet Province, Laos. This excavation
effort yielded bone fragments that were later identified as being those of
LtCdr. Michael W. Wallace.

Although nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos, and the Pathet Lao stated
publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, no American
held in Laos was ever released -- or negotiated for.