FIESZEL, CLIFFORD WAYNE
Name: Clifford Wayne Fieszel Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 23 November 1937 Home City of Record: Lubbock TX Date of Loss: 30 September 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 172700N 1063200E (XE631311) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F Refno: 1295
Other Personnel In Incident: Howard H. Smith (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, information from George Fieszel. Updated 2002.
SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief (or "Thud") performed yoeman service on many diversified missions in Southeast Asia. F105s flew more combat missions over North Vietnam than any other USAF aircraft and consequently suffered the heaviest losses in action. They dropped bombs by day and occasionally by night from high or low altitude and some later versions (F105D in Wild Weasel guise) attacked SAM sites with their radar tracking air-to-ground missiles. This versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25 Russian MiGs.
Capt. Clifford Fieszel the pilot and Maj. Howard H. Smith was the Electronic Warfare Officer of an F105 assigned a combat mission over North Vietnam on September 30, 1968. During the mission, about 50 miles north of the DMZ near Quang Khe, the aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire. Fieszel's wingman had just been hit and headed out to sea, and did not see the plane hit.
Search and rescue units monitored beeper signals for 24 hours after Fieszel's plane went down, but were unable to rescue him or Smith. On the following day, Radio Hanoi announced that two F105's had been shot down in the Quang Khe and the pilot of the second plane had been captured. On October 7 a Hanoi newspaper repeated the story. It was thought that the Vietnamese believed the wingman's plane had also gone down since it was on fire when it headed out to sea. No mention was made of Smith in either report.
When the last American troops left Southeast Asia in 1975, some 2500 Americans were unaccounted for. Reports received by the U.S. Government since that time build a strong case for belief that hundreds of these "unaccounted for" Americans are still alive and in captivity.
Until the fates of the men like Fieszel and Smith are known, their families will wonder if they are dead or alive .. and why they were deserted.
Howard H. Smith was promoted to the rank of Colonel and Clifford W. Fieszel to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.
Opal Fieszel Button of Texarkana, Texas, passed away on 01 August 2002. She was the mother of LtCol. Clifford W. Fieszel.