ELANDER, WILLIAM J. JR.
|Name: William J. Elander Jr.
Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 469th TFS
Date of Birth: 02 July 1934
Home City of Record: Charlotte NC
Date of Loss: 05 July 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212900 North 1063600 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Note: 1st Tour F 105D, 1965, 100 missions, 67th TFS
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald Logan, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: 730229 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
WILLIAM ELANDER JR.
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: July 5, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is William James Elander Jr. known
to my friends and relatives as Bill Billy, Mekong Bill, Yukon Bill, Tazz
I was born in Berwyn, Illinois in 1934 graduated, from high school in
Charlotte North Carolina received an Air Force commission after graduating
from The Citadel in 1957 During my college years my family moved to the
Atlanta, Georgia area where they reside to this day.
After graduation I worked and lived in Charleston, West Virginia until
called to active duty in 1958. I entered pilot training receiving my
"wings" from Webb AFB, Texas. After completing jet fighter training at
Luke AFB Arizona and Nellis AFB, Nevada in 1959 I was assigned as a F-100
Supersabre pilot at George AFB, California.
In 1962, only ten days after being introduced, I married the former Lynn
Greer, a Delta Airline Stewardess from West Palm Beach, Florida. However,
five days after the wedding I was sent to Korea for a one year tour without
family. In 1963 Lynn joined me for my next assignment at Kadena, AB Okinawa
During our Okinawa tour we were blessed with two children, Scott in 1964 and
Tanya in 1965.
While at Kadena I was flying the F-105 Thunderchief and in 1965 I spent six
months flying combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1966 we were
transferred to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina where I served as a F-105
instructor in a training unit of the 4th TAC Fighter Wing.
In 1967 the training unit at Seymour folded and the Wing's new mission was
to maintain an operational F-4 Phantom Wing of three squadrons. I remained
at Seymour, flying the F-4 until I was selected to join the USAF
Thunderbirds in 1969.
I moved the family to Las Vegas, and spent the next two and a half years as
the Thunderbird Maintenance or Materiel Officer, flying the number six
airplane. While living in Vegas our third child, Benjamin James, was born in
In March 1972 I was again in Southeast Asia at Korat AB flying combat in the
F-4E Phantom aircraft. On July 5th, 1972, my aircraft was struck by an
air-to-air missile and I was forced to eject over an area 35 miles northeast
of Hanoi. I was captured and remained a prisoner until released on the 29th
of March, this year.
After capture I was soon registered at the "Hanoi Hilton." The interrogation
attempts and rough treatment lasted only for six and a half days in my case.
During those few days and for the first time in too many years, I prayed and
gained strength from my prayers. I resigned myself that I would not
cooperate with the enemy in any way with their interrogation and propaganda
attempts. My fears of torture were unfounded, however, since those six and a
half days were filled with threats, shouts, and discomfort, but nothing
more. I was then removed from isolation and placed in a cell with 19 other
American POW's. I remained with most of this group until our release.
During captivity I experienced some joys and many frustrations. My greatest
joy was during October 1972 when our group was permitted to mix with many of
the real heroes of this war. These were the "Old Guys," men who had suffered
as many as eight years of foul food, no medicine, no news; men who suffered
the torture, solitary confinement and barrages of propaganda. These were the
men who defeated the Vietnamese in all their efforts to turn them against
their own country and betiefs. I was proud just to associate with these
My biggest frustration was the fact that I was never permitted to write
letters or receive mail or packages. Since I was not used for any propaganda
and was labeled by the North Viets as a "Bad Attitude," the mail privilege
was never extended. Knowing the anxiety my family would be enduring and
being unable to reassure them was difficult for me.
Since release my dreams and prayers have all come true. Operation Homecoming
surpassed even my wildest imagination. The warmth and gratitude of every
American I have met brought tears of pride to my eyes. My family, all in
good health, filled with love and faith, made our reunion the greatest event
of my life.
My future remains with the Air Force. I plan to enter service school this
fall and work on my Master's degree. I am in excellent health and hope to
continue to fly in the service of our country.
William Elander retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel.
He and his wife Lynn reside in Alaska, where they manage a hotel.
1974 Air Command and Staff College Research Study, Report 0860-74,
A Prisoner of War Report - Vietnam
by William J. Elander, Major, USAF
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