Name: Gale A. Despiegler
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 421st TFS
Date of Birth: 24 March 1938
Home City of Record: Browns Valley MN
Date of Loss: 15 April 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170700N 1064500N (XE664271)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Other Personnel in Incident: Larry A. Trimble (remains returned)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Date
Compiled: 01 January 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK. 2023


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. 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.

Maj. Gale Despiegler and 1Lt. Larry A. Trimble were F4 pilots assigned a
mission over North Vietnam on April 15, 1972. From Defense Department data,
it appears that 1Lt. Trimble was the pilot of the aircraft, while Maj.
Despiegler was the rear seater - the crewmember who operated the technical

At a point over Quang Binh Province about 20 miles northwest of the city of
Vinh Binh, Trimble's aircraft went down. Despiegler ejected and was
subsequently captured by the North Vietnamese. Trimble, whose last known
location is some distance away, was never heard from again.

In March 1973, Despiegler was released from Hanoi along with 590 other
Americans. Trimble, however, was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any
knowledge of the pilot of the aircraft downed on April 15, 1972.

In June 1989, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of 1Lt. (by then
promoted to Captain) Larry A. Trimble and returned them to U.S. control. A
positive identification of the remains was announced by the Department of
Defense the following October.

These two men were among roughly 3000 Americans who were captured, missing,
or unaccounted for in the Vietnam War. When 591 prisoners returned in 1973,
military experts expressed their "dismay" that hundreds thought to have been
captured were not among them.

Since the end of the war, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing
Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government which
have convinced many authorities that hundreds of Americans remain alive in
captivity today. While Larry Trimble's family finally knows his fate,
thousands of other families wait, tortured by the thought they their man
could be alive in captivity, tortured by the thought that he could be dead.

Larry Trimble, alive or dead, was a prisoner of war for over 17 years.
Others have been there longer. It's time we brought our men home.


Gale DeSpiegler retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel.
he and his wife Carole reside in Florida.