ECHANIS, JOSEPH YGNACIO
Name: Joseph Ygnacio Echanis
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 06 October 1937
Home City of Record: Portland OR
Date of Loss: 05 November 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 172800N 1053900E (WE725422)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Douglas P. LeFever (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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: Capt. Douglas P. LeFever was the pilot and Major Joseph Y. Echanis
the navigator of an F4D aircraft from the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
On November 5, 1969, their mission was to act as Forward Air Controller for
an operational mission over Laos. While directing a flight over the assigned
area, radio contact was lost with the plane. At 4:34 a.m., one of the strike
aircraft in the area saw a large ball of fire on the gound. Although no
parachutes were observed, the Air Force concluded that the possibility
exists that the crew ejected and safely reached the ground.
Throughout the day, an electronic search was conducted, with negative
results. The terrain where the plane went down was so rugged that a visual
search was not possible. No wreckage was ever found. The last known location
was just southwest of Ban Som Peng in Khammouane Province, Laos.
Since the war's end in 1973, thousands of reports have been received by the
U.S. Government regarding Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia.
Most of the reports involve Americans in Laos, where nearly 600 Americans
went missing, and none released.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50's, that future "limited political
engagements" would result, unfortunately, in non-recoverable prisoners of
war. We have seen this prediction fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where
thousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists
that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today. For Americans, the
"unfortunate" abandonment of military personnel is not acceptable, and the
policy that allows it must be changed before another generation is left
behind in some faraway war.
Both Echanis and Lefever were promoted to the rank of Major during the
period they were maintained Missing in Action.
From - Sun Jul 09 17:08:32 2000
From: Victoria Echanis Wallace <email@example.com>
.... I do have something to add to Dad's bio. It is part of a piece I wrote
for OJC's Moonduster Chronicles June 2000 POW/Mia of the month....
The Air Force led us to believe that Dad's plane crashed into a mountain
accidentally and without warning. They were flying at night in bad weather.
We were told that there were two aircraft flying with Dad that witnessed the
crash and that no one could have survived the crash that they saw. We had a
memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery, and went on with our lives.
Mom remarried and we moved on. Still there was a nagging feeling of what I
assumed was loss.
In the early 90's, my brother, Joe, became the Primary Next of Kin and began
looking into Dad's case. They were beginning to excavate crash sites in
Laos that they thought might correlate to my father's case. Joe made
connections with people all over the country and began to suspect that maybe
what the Air Force had been telling us was not accurate. We are all working
on the case together now, and we've found out some new information.
Actually, it's old information that we have found recently. The Search and
Rescue logs (SAR logs) were found. Some people might question the fact that
these documents were lost, but I think it's possible. If you knew how the
government keeps their documents, it is entirely possible. There are
documents scattered throughout the country in many different archives and
libraries. As far as I know, there is no centralized system to keep track
of these documents. Back to the SAR logs. There was a mayday call from my
father's plane. This is significant because that indicates that there was
something wrong and that they did not "accidentally" crash into a mountain
because of poor weather and poor visibility. Also, the so called "eye
witnesses" to the crash did not see the crash because they could not see the
aircraft my Dad was in due to a bank of clouds below them and above Dad's
plane. What they saw was a "flash in the clouds below them". This may have
been Dad's plane, but it is possible that they were able to eject from the
aircraft. The eyewitnesses said that they did n ot see any ejection, but
with a large bank of clouds obstructing their view, they may not have been
able to see an ejection if it occurred.
So, now we have the possibility that my Father was able to eject and
possibly taken captive. We are looking for records that may shed light on
what actually happened that night. We are currently awaiting the review and
declassification of National Security Agency (NSA) radio intercept files.
These files contain information from enemy radio transmissions that may give
us information on the fate of many men currently listed as Missing in
Last year when I was in Washington DC for the annual government briefings, I
went with another family member to the National Archives looking for those
NSA radio intercept files. We thought they had already been declassified.
We found withdrawal notices in the place of the files. It looked like they
had been reclassified, when in fact; they had never been declassified in
spite of a formal request that they be reviewed for declassification in
1994. Some of the documents in this group have been released, but none of
them are radio intercepts. There are several government agencies that
continue to hold classified information from the Vietnam War. The majority
of these documents should be declassified in compliance with the Freedom of
Information Act and several presidential orders. The CIA and the NSA are
two agencies that are dragging their feet regarding the issue of
declassification of documents.
Our role in this is to keep the pressure on these agencies regarding this
issue. You can help by making your representatives and senators aware that
you expect them to demand the release of these documents as soon as
possible. This is our responsibility to all the men whose fate is unknown.
We as family members and we as a citizens deserve to know the full extent of
these brave and honorable men's service to our great country.