RETURNED: 2/7/2006   ID'd: 11/16/2005  WASHINGTON - DISPUTED

Name: Michael John "Bat" Masterson
Rank/Branch: Ltc. O3/USAF
Unit: Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base
Date of Birth: 16 May 1937
Home City of Record:  Ephrata, WA   (Family in California)
Loss Date: 13 October 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 192900N 1032000E
Status (in 1973)  Missing In Action/Prisoner of War
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground:   A1G
Refno: 1303

Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.


SYNOPSIS:  "Bat" Masterson was flying a night mission near Ban Ban, Laos on
October 13, 1968, when his A16 prop air- plane developed gyro indicator
trouble and he developed vertigo.  Masterson radioed another aircraft that
he was bailing out in the vicinity of a Pathet Lao headquarters and nothing
has been heard from him since.

The Defense Department maintained Masterson as Prisoner of War, while the
Air Force listed him as Missing In Action. His wife is following his
directive, "If I become a POW, I'll just wait for my government to come and
get me.  But if I become an MIA, I want you to find out what happened to
me." Her search has led her to Laos and many times to Washington D.C.  She
says, "Sometimes I feel that I can't possibly go on another day with this,
and then I see that I live in the greatest country in the world.  I have the
freedom to move about and choose what I do, and what I say; I think of the
men that are over there, that they can't speak for them- gives
me the strength to work for their release."

The Lao Government claims to have no knowledge of Michael "Bat" Masterson.


Michael Masterson
He was born in The Pas, Manitoba,  and he has a grave marker in Riverside Cemetery, Riverside, CA.


POW's wife holds onto hope for 36 years
Husband disappeared over Laos in 1968 after radioing for help


Lost Over Laos
Scientists and soldiers combine forensics and archaeology to search for pilot Bat Masterson,
one of 88,000 Americans missing in action from recent wars

Smithsonian Magazine 



....But what about the dog tags, the bone fragments, the unused parachute, the insole matching
 her husband's foot size?

"All circumstantial," she said. "They just want to close this case and get it off the books. We've
gone all this time. What's the hurry?"

She has appealed the findings, which will be reviewed by a board of senior military officers from
all service branches, and if necessary, returned to the laboratory for further investigation.

Meanwhile, the remains of Bat Masterson will stay where they have been since last Thanksgiving,
locked in a Hawaiian laboratory, halfway between Laos and home.

Read more:


Subject: Fran Masterson's Passing
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 2015 14:24:23 -0700
From: John Pagel 2nd. <>
Sorry to share this with you all. Fran passed at about 3:30PM Friday the 12th. Her daughters
said she just went to sleep surrounded by loved ones. Sue and Sherri will be putting together
plans for a memorial service maybe in the next month, will keep you advised.


The National Alliance of Families Mourns the Passing of – Fran Masterson, wife of POW/MIA
Michael “Bat” Masterson. In ill health for some time, Fran passed on Friday June 12. To her
daughters Sue and Sherri  we offer our deepest sympathy. A memorial service is scheduled for
October 13, the anniversary of Bat’s loss.







Return to Service Member Profiles

On March 3, 2006, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Michael John Masterson, missing from the Vietnam War.

Lieutenant Colonel Masterson entered the U.S. Air Force from Washington and was a member of the 602nd Special Operations Squadron. On October 13, 1968, he piloted an A-1 Skyraider (tail number 52-132542, call sign "Firefly 26") that took off from Nakhon Phenom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, on a night armed reconnaissance mission over enemy targets in Laos. During the mission, Lt Col Masterson reported the aircraft's artificial horizon indicator had failed, and soon after the aircraft crashed in Xiangkhouang Province. Lt Col Masterson bailed out prior to the crash but did not survive, and search efforts were unable to locate his remains at the time of the incident. In 2005, the Vietnamese government repatriated human remains to the U.S. that analysts eventually identified as those of Lt Col Masterson.

Lieutenant Colonel Masterson is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.