CHAVEZ, GARY ANTHONY
Name: Gary Anthony Chavez
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn AB TH
Date of Birth: 23 September 1943
Home City of Record: New York NY
Date of Loss: 30 July 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 151300N 1064900E (XB987810)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald A. Brown (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 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.
SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was
extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending
on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and
handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of
state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and
computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of
the "hottest" planes around.
Capt. Gary A. Chavez and Capt. Donald A. Brown were pilots assigned to the
14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On July
30, 1970, Chavez and Brown were assigned an operational mission over Laos.
Chavez served as pilot in their RF4C while Brown was the navigator.
Chavez and Brown did not return to friendly control when expected. Their
last known location was just east of the ridge which marks the Plateau des
Bolovens in Attopeu Province, Laos. Both men were declared Missing in
The war continued about three more years, and the families of the men
missing in action and prisoner of war waited for the war to end. The Pathet
Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners.
Only a handful were known by name or photographed in captivity. No letters
came home from the men in Laos.
In early 1973, Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's chief negotiator with the
Vietnamese, informed the families that agreements would soon be signed. When
queried about the men lost in Laos, Cambodia and China, Kissinger replied,
"What do you think took so long?"
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from communist prisoner
of war camps. No Americans held in Laos were released. The U.S. had failed
to negotiate with Laos, Cambodia and China. Nearly 600 Americans lost in
Laos had been abandoned--even those who were known to be alive.
Donald A. Brown was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was
maintained missing. He was continued in MIA status until October 1973, at
which time he was declared dead based on no specific information to the