LEFEVER, DOUGLAS PAUL
Name: Douglas Paul LeFever
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 04 January 1943
Home City of Record: Arcanum OH
Date of Loss: 05 November 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 172800N 1053900E (WE725422)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Joseph Y. Echanis (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.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Douglas P. LeFever was the pilot and Major Joseph Y. Echanis
the navigator of an F4D aircraft from the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
On November 5, 1969, their mission was to act as Forward Air Controller for
an operational mission over Laos. While directing a flight over the assigned
area, radio contact was lost with the plane. At 4:34 a.m., one of the strike
aircraft in the area saw a large ball of fire on the ground. Although no
parachutes were observed, the Air Force concluded that the possibility
exists that the crew ejected and safely reached the ground.
Throughout the day, an electronic search was conducted, with negative
results. The terrain where the plane went down was so rugged that a visual
search was not possible. No wreckage was ever found. The last known location
was just southwest of Ban Som Peng in Khammouane Province, Laos.
Since the war's end in 1973, thousands of reports have been received by the
U.S. Government regarding Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia.
Most of the reports involve Americans in Laos, where nearly 600 Americans
went missing, and none released.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50's, that future "limited political
engagements" would result, unfortunately, in non-recoverable prisoners of
war. We have seen this prediction fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where
thousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists
that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today. For Americans, the
"unfortunate" abandonment of military personnel is not acceptable, and the
policy that allows it must be changed before another generation is left
behind in some faraway war.
Both Echanis and LeFever were promoted to the rank of Major during the
period they were maintained Missing in Action.