MASCARI, PHILLIP LOUIS Name: Phillip Louis Mascari Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 03 December 1944 Home City of Record: Caldwell NJ Date of Loss: 02 May 1969 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 161500N 1064400E (WD450850) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O2A Refno: 1435 Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 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: When Phillip Mascari was growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, friends and family were convinced he'd be the first Italian-American to become President. He was outgoing and an "all-American boy." Mascari eanred a scholarship to Rutgers University and graduated with a degree in business administration. He was a member of Rutgers Queens Guard Drill Team which won the national championship his second year. He was named outstanding cadet in the Air Force ROTC program at Rutgers. Phil Mascari went to Vietnam February 16, 1969. He had taken F-4 and observer pilot training. On his 33rd mission, on May 2, 1969, Mascari was the pilot of an O2A observation plane on a mission in Laos near the city of Tchepone. His aircraft disappeared near the border of Savannakhet and Saravane Provinces, and about 15 miles southeast of the town of Muong Nong. The O2A was a two-place spotter and psychological warfare aircraft, which like its predecessors, lacked adequate armor. The OV10 was later employed on most FAC and observation missions. The 02A carried a number of target marking rockets, but was usually unarmed. This plane provided a small, vulnerable target. Sal and Jeanne Mascari believed their son could still be alive. In 1970 they traveled to Paris to try and meet with the North Vietnamese. In 1973 and again in 1975, Sal Mascari traveled to Laos to see what he could learn about his son. What he saw on his second trip disheartened him. Sal Mascari was able to travel to within 15 miles of the spot his son was lost, in dense, triple-canopy jungle. But traveling to a Lao village with Phil's photograph, two natives identified the picture. One claimed to have buried Phil, another said he had taken his boots. Sal Mascari didn't know what to believe. Over the years, the Mascaris accepted the probable fact that their son was dead and, although there is a marker in Arlington National Cemetery, they believe his grave is somewhere in the the dense jungles of Laos. Since the war ended, the U.S. Government has conducted over 250,000 interviews and pored over "several million" documents related to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information believe hundreds of Americans are still alive today. Phil Mascari is one of nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos during American involvement in Indochina. Although the Pathet Lao repeatedly spoke of the prisoners they held, and stated that they would be released only from Laos, no prisoners held by the Pathet Lao were ever negotiated for or released. Many officials and returned POWs believe the greatest hope for American POWs to be found is in Laos. The U.S. does not know whether the enemy knows the fate of Mascari. Phillip L. Mascari was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was maintained missing in action.