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.