LADEWIG, MELVIN EARL
|Name: Melvin Earl Ladewig
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn
Date of Birth: 08 August 1944
Home City of Record: Englewood CO
Date of Loss: 24 August 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174000N 1062400E (XE456547)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Charles H.W. Read Jr. (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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.
SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes
Maj. Charles H.W. Read Jr. was the pilot and 1Lt. Melvin E. Ladewig the
Weapons Systems Officer onboard an F4D from the 497th Tactical Fighter
Squadron based at Udorn, Thailand. On August 24, 1968, they were the crew of
the number 2 aircraft in a flight of two assigned an armed reconnaissance
mission over North Vietnam.
As the flight was over Quang Binh province about 10 miles southwest of the
city of Quang Khe, a bombing run was made and afterwards, Read's aircraft
was seen as a large fireball on the ground by the pilots of the lead
aircraft. They reported no radio contact with either pilot prior to the
crash, nor did they see parachutes or hear any emergency radio beeper
signals to indicate Read and Ladewig ejected from the aircraft prior to its
However, Ladewig and Read were not declared dead, so the possibility existed
that they safely left the aircraft. Both were listed Missing in Action.
Since the war ended, the Defense Department has received over 10,000 reports
relating to the men still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, yet concludes
that no actionable evidence has been received that would indicate Americans
are still alive in Southeast Asia. A recent Senate investigation indicates
that most of these reports were dismissed without just cause, and that there
is every indication that Americans remained in captivity far after the war
ended, and may be alive today.
It's time we learned the truth about our missing and brought them home.