FULLAM, WAYNE EUGENE Remains Returned 24 September 1987; ID Announced 7 January 1988 Name: Wayne Eugene Fullam Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 09 March 1932 Home City of Record: Chattanooga TN Date of Loss: 07 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 211600N 1065500E (XJ970520) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D Refno: 0855 Other Personnel In Incident: (none 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. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: In the early 1970's, families and friends of missing Americans launched a campaign to plant Freedom Trees in honor of the missing men. The first Tree planted at McGhee Tyson Air Base, Alcoa, Tennessee was dedicated to Air Force Major Wayne E. Fullam. Since that time, many of the freedom trees have been removed or forgotten, but many have grown tall in the two decades since their planting, leaving a living reminder of the men America left behind in Southeast Asia. Major Wayne Fullam was the lead F105D pilot in a group of 20 planes on a strike mission in North Vietnam. Fullam's plane was shot down about 30 miles north-northeast of Haiphong over Ha Bac Province. Fullam radioed to his wingman that he was "getting out." In nearby Hanoi, Soviet helicopters were being bombed and destroyed for the first time in the war. Maj. Fullam was observed to eject with a good parachute, and strong emergency beeper signals were received by his flight members. Voice contact was not made, however, after he bailed out. A rescue helicopter started in after Fullam, but was driven back by heavy fire. When search and rescue teams arrived, Fullam's parachute was seen hanging in the trees with his beeper still transmitting. The helicopter crew watched as Fullam's parachute was being pulled from the tree. When SAR made a second pass, the parachute was gone and the beeper had been silenced. At the time, it was assumed that Fullam had been injured or killed during his ejection or had been unconscious and subsequently captured. Since no proof of either capture or death was obtained, Maj. Fullam was listed Missing in Action. A subsequent intelligence report indicated that Fullam had been captured in good condition by members of a Chinese anti-aircraft unit operating in Vietnam, turned over the the North Vietnamese, and was last seen being driven away in a jeep. This report was never verified, however, and Maj. Fullam's status remained Missing in Action. The Vietnamese are believed to have information about the fate of Fullam. He did not disappear into a vacuum. When 591 lucky Americans were released from North Vietnamese prisons in 1973, Fullam was not among them. The Vietnamese denied all knowledge of him. By 1985, all the nearly 2500 missing Americans were presumptively declared dead by the U.S. Government, except for only one man, who remains in Prisoner of War status. In September 1987, twenty-one years after Major Fullam was shot down, the Vietnamese "discovered" his remains and returned them to U.S. control. In January 1988, the U.S. announced that it had verified the identification of the remains, and they were turned over to Fullam's family for burial. By 1991, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Many authoritied who have reviewed this largely-classified information believe there are hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today. Regardless of political viewpoints on the war in Indochina, Americans agree that the high value of human lives is one of our basic tenets. For the Communists, however, human life is subjugated for the good of the State. "Humanitarian" is not a word in the Communist vocabulary. Negotiations with the Vietnamese, on a "humanitarian" basis, cannot, therefore, have any hope for success. Meanwhile, Americans wait in captivity while governments decide on common ground for negotiations. Wayne E. Fullam was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.