Name: Fielding Wedley Featherston III
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB, Thailand
Date of Birth: 03 December 1942
Home City of Record: Wickliffe OH
Date of Loss: 30 December 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 195900N 1032900E (UH413101)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1541

Other Personnel In Incident: Douglas D. Ferguson (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance
of 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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: The Plain of Jars region of Laos was long under the control of the
communist Pathet Lao and a continual effort had been made by the secret
CIA-directed force of some 30,000 indigenous tribesmen to strengthen
anti-communist strongholds there. The U.S. committed hundreds of millions of
dollars to the war effort in Laos, but details of this secret operation were
not released until August 1971.

Doug Ferguson and Fielding Featherston were aboard one of five F4D aircraft
on a mission into the Plaine des Jarres region of Laos on December 30, 1969.
Their ship was hit by enemy fire and exploded in a fireball. There were no
parachutes seen, nor were emergency radio "beeper" signals heard that day by
other aircraft.

On the following day, the crash site was photographed and two empty
parachutes were visible hanging in nearby trees. The area was too heavily
defended for a ground search to be possible.

Ferguson and Featherston may well have been captured. They are among the
nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Because Laos was "neutral", and because
the U.S. continued to state they were not at war with Laos (although we were
regularly bombing North Vietnamese traffic along the border and conducted
assaults against communist strongholds thoughout the country at the behest
of the anti-communist government of Laos), and did not recognize the Pathet
Lao as a government entity, the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos were never

The Pathet Lao stated that they would release the "tens of tens" of American
prisoners they held only from Laos. At war's end, no American held in Laos
was released - or negotiated for.

Voluminous evidence exists that Americans still survive, captive, in
Indochina. Until serious steps are taken to resolve the fate of these men,
the families of Ferguson and Featherston must wonder if their men are alive,
abandoned by their country.





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On December 30, 1969, an F-4D Phantom (tail number 66-7590, call sign "Laredo 03") with a crew of two embarked on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. The potential target was an enemy storage facility. The crew located the storage area, reported back to the forward air controller and were cleared to strafe the target. On the Phantom's third pass over the target, the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of (GC) UH 413 101. Other aircraft in the area reported seeing a large fireball over the target, with wreckage scattered over the area. No parachutes were observed, and no rescue beepers were heard. An electronic search for survivors was unsuccessful, and enemy activity in the area precluded a ground search for remains.

Captain Fielding Wesley Featherston III, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Ohio, served with the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 432rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. He was the aircraft commander aboard the Phantom when it crashed, and his remains were not recovered. Today, Captain Featherston is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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