Name: William Young Duggan
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 07 May 1935
Home City of Record: El Paso TX
Date of Loss: 31 December 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 172900N 1054200E (WE751343)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1794

Other Personnel in Incident: Frederick J. Sutter (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 1999 with
information provided by R.S. Duggan.  2020


SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in
South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for
sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some
years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for
transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were
shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam.
Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful
and the recovery rate was high.

Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains
between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact
with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been
captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke
of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated,
Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been
held in Laos.

On New Year's Eve, 1971, Maj. William Y. Duggan [posthumously promoted to
LTC,], pilot and  Capt. Frederick J. Sutter, bombardier/navigator [military
records show the positions reversed - Duggan's family states unconditionally
that he was the pilot on the mission] departed on a mission over Laos in
their F4D Phantom fighter/bomber jet. Their target area was near Na Phao in
Khammouane Province, Laos - the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Sutter and Duggan did not return from their mission, and were declared
Missing in Action. Like other families whose men were missing, the Sutter
and Duggan families waited for the war to end, hoping always that their sons
had been captured and would eventually come home.

For Herman and Mary Sutter, Fred's parents, history was repeating itself.
Herman Sutter had been a prisoner of war during World War II, but returned
home. His aircraft had exploded at 10,000 feet, but he survived. Both
believed Fred could survive against tremendous odds as well.

In January 1973, the U.S. and Vietnamese signed an agreement in Paris to end
American involvement in the second Indochina War. Laos was not part of the
negotiations, and as a result, the "tens of tens" of American prisoners the
Lao stated they held were never released. In fact, not one single American
held in Laos was released then or since.

Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held
captive in Southeast Asia, the Sutter and Duggan families might be able to
close this tragic chapter of their lives. Fred's father died not knowing
what happened to his son. Duggan's son and daughter, only 10 and 9 when
their dad was lost, are now rapidly approaching 30. As long as reports
continue to be received that Americans are alive, being held captive, they
fear that Sutter and Duggan could be among them. What must they be thinking
of us? It's time we brought our men home.

Duggan was the recipeint of an ABLEAERONAUT Award and had been an
instructor pilot. At the time of his mission he was a senior pilot with over
400 combat missions and at the time of his downing had flown more combat
missions in Southeast in Southeast Asia  than any other serviceman.





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On December 31, 1971, a F-4D Phantom II (tail number 66-7573, call sign "Owl 2") with a crew of two departed Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base on a nighttime forward air controller (FAC) mission for a target area south of Mu Gia Pass on the Laotian border. When the aircraft was in the vicinity of grid coordinates WE 751 343, it was contacted by another FAC plane which passed on the target coordinates of several trucks in the area south of the pass. After heading for the target area, the F-4D failed to return to base within the appointed time. Electronic and visual searches were carried out, but were unsuccessful. 

Major William Young Duggan, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Texas, served with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was the pilot of the Phantom when it disappeared, and his remains were not recovered. Subsequent to the incident, the U.S. Air Force posthumously promoted Major Duggan to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col). Today, Lieutenant Colonel Duggan is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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