MAXWELL, CALVIN WALTER
Name: Calvin Walter Maxwell Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: HHB, 6th Battalion, 14th Artillery "Warbonnets", 52nd Artillery Group, I Field Force Vietnam Artillery Date of Birth: 06 November 1943 (Atlantic City NJ) Home City of Record: Carlsbad, Eddy County NM Date of Loss: 10 October 1969 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 1500554N 1074835E (ZB043728) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G Refno: 1501
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 1998.
Other Personnel In Incident: Franklin Weisner (missing)
SYNOPSIS: The Cessna O1 Bird Dog was an indispensable craft for forward air controllers in the early years of the war in Indochina. The aircraft, cruising at highway speeds, could fly close enough and slow enough to detect things a higher and faster flying aircraft could not. When the targets were found, they were marked with rockets and air strikes called in. Smoke from carefully placed rockets brought swift destruction upon the enemy and also prevented accidental bombing of friendly troops.
In the early years of the conflict, the O1 patrolled the roads over which friendly truck convoys passed, searching for ambush sites. For a time, the mere presence of one of these planes served as a deterrent, since the enemy was reluctant to open fire, reveal his location, and invite fighters controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soon grew bolder, however, and any group that believed it had been sighted would open fire, trying to bring down the forward air controller and reduce the accuracy of the impending strike.
By October 10, 1969, the Vietnamese were trying to knock the vulnerable Bird Dog out of the air. On that day, they successfully downed the craft flown by Franklin L. Weisner and Calvin Maxwell in Quang Nam Province. Capt. Weisner was the pilot and Capt. Maxwell the observer in the "high aircraft" (serial #51-11942) in a flight of two O1G aircraft on a high/low search mission on that day in Military Region 2 (MR2), South Vietnam. The aircraft flew from the "Headhunters" 219th Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group, while the observer was an artillery man from 14th Artillery, 6th Battalion. A high/low search involved a "low" aircraft moving slower and close to the ground doing the looking for target locations (in this case, undoubtedly for artillery targets), and a "high" aircraft doing the location identification and confirmation.
The low aircraft made radio contact with Capt. Weisner as they were proceeding down a valley. About 10 or 15 seconds after this radio contact, the low aircraft picked up a radio transmission in which, after a few minutes, they heard screams and moans. No further radio contact could be made with the high aircraft. (Note: there are discrepancies in the records of Weisner and Maxwell - on some records, they are coded as a helicopter crew lost in Kontum Province. All records indicate the aircraft type as O1G. Additionally, various records place the loss in Kontum, Quang Nam, or Binh Dinh provinces, but coordinates are in Kontum Province, about 5 mile northeast of the city of Dak Pek. In addition to location and aircraft type discrepancies, each man has two home cities of record listed in different records.)
On October 13, search aircraft found the wreckage of the Weisner/Maxwell aircraft lying inverted in a fast-flowing river. Ground search teams were brought into the area the next day and confirmed the tail number as that of Weisner and Maxwell. They reported that the aircraft had hit a cliff above the river and had slid into its present position.
Barefoot tracks of four people were found in the area, but no bodies wer located. A scuba team was brought in, and reported that both seat belts and shoulder harnesses were still hooked together in the cockpit, but no seat pads remained in the aircraft. One seat pad and an aviator's helmet were located about 100 meters downstream of the crash. An 8 inch thick tree had been carried to the site for unknown reasons. Two 30-calliber holes were found in the aircraft, but they would not have caused the malfunction and would not have wounded either crew member. All searches were terminated on October 18 with no remains recovered, and no further information as to the fate of Maxwell and Weisner.
Weisner and Maxwell were classified Missing In Action, with a strong probability that the enemy know their fates. Whether they survived to be captured is unknown. When 591 Americans were released from prisons at the end of the war, they were not among them. But, as thousands of reports have indicated, neither were hundreds of others who survived and were captured. Many of them, according to many authorities, are still alive and held captive today. Weisner and Maxwell could be among them. It's time these men were brought home.