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 Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1518
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. NETWORK 1998.
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 nonrecoverable 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
.... 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 Action.
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.