CORNWELL, LEROY JASON III Remains returned 08/94 ID'd 03/96 Name: Leroy Jason Cornwell III Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn Airbase Thailand Date of Birth: 05 August 1944 Home City of Record: Tucson AZ Date of Loss: 10 September 1971 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 192900N 1032800E (UG391653) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1771 Other Personnel In Incident: Andrew Ivan, Jr. (missing) REMARKS: 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. SYNOPSIS: Capt. Leroy J. Cornwell was the radar intercept officer aboard an F4D Phantom fighter bomber flown by Capt. Andrew Ivan, Jr. when it was sent on a forward air control mission which took them over the Plaine des Jarres in Laos on September 19, 1971. When the Phantom and its crew failed to return to Udorn, an intensive air search was initiated. A crash site was located near the village of Ban Ban in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos, and air photos showed what appeared to be the main carriage of an F4 aircraft. No sign was found of either crewmember. The Plain of Jars region of Laos had only two months prior been taken over by Lao tribesmen from the communists. The area had long been controlled by the communist Pathet Lao and a continual effort had been made by the secret CIA-directed force of some 30,000 indigenous tribesmen to strengthen anti-communist strongholds there. The U.S. had to date committed over $284 million to the war effort in Laos. Details of this secret operation had been released only the previous month. Because Laos was "neutral", and because the U.S. continued to state they were not at war with Laos (although we were regularly bombing North Vietnamese traffic along the border and conducted assaults against communist strongholds thoughout the country at the behest of the anti-communist government of Laos), and did not recognize the Pathet Lao as a government entity, the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos were never recovered. The Pathet Lao stated that they would release the "tens of tens" of American prisoners they held only from Laos. At war's end, no American held in Laos was released - or negotiated for. Mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. Among them could be Leroy Cornwell and Andrew Ivan. They proudly served their country. They deserve better than abandonment.