OSTERMEYER, WILLIAM HENRY
Name: William Henry Ostermeyer
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 15 March 1945 (Cleveland OH)
Home City of Record: Orlando FL
Date of Loss: 12 May 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 171200N 1960900E (XE222018)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Lonnie P. Bogard (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 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.
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. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
Capt. Lonnie P. Bogard, had celebrated his birthday the day before he was
assigned a night low-level reconnaissance mission along the Ho Chi Minh
trail on May 12, 1972. Bogard was the pilot, and 1Lt. William H. Ostermeyer
the electronics officer comprising the crew of an F4D Phantom. The mission
went according to plan until after a scheduled mid-air refueling, after
which radio contact was lost with the aircraft. At last contact, Bogard and
Ostermeyer were near the Ban Karai Pass in Savannakhet Province, Laos.
The Ban Karai Pass was one of several passageways through the mountainous
border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from Thailand to
missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and many aircraft
were lost. On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail", a
road heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and
personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of neutral Laos.
The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that
of those men lost in more populous areas, even though both were shot down by
the same enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to the extremely
rugged terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery.
The U.S. Air Force placed Bogard and Ostermeyer in the category of Missing
in Action. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) further refined that
category to include the likelihood of enemy knowledge, classifying Bogard
and Ostermeyer as Category 4. Category 4 includes those individuals on whom
no intelligence exists to support the belief that the enemy knew details of
the loss, or individuals whose loss time and location are unknown.
The families of Bogard and Ostermeyer understood that the two could have
been captured by either Pathet Lao forces or North Vietnamese, and waited
for the war to end.
When peace agreements were signed, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
informed the families of the men prisoner and missing that their men would
soon come home. When asked specifically if the agreements included all
countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Laos), Kissinger replied, "What do
you think took us so long."
When 591 American prisoners were released in the spring of 1973, it became
evident that Kissinger had lied to the families. No prisoners held by the
Chinese, Lao or Cambodians were released, even though the Pathet Lao had
stated on a number of occasions that they held "tens of tens" of Americans.
Kissinger had not negotiated for these men.
In Laos alone, nearly 600 Americans are Prisoner of War or Missing in
Action. Since 1975, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans still
missing in Southeast Asia, convincing many authorities that hundreds of
Americans are still held in captivity. Lonnie Bogard and William Ostermeyer
could be among them. It's time we brought our men home.
member Elmer Getz is seeking to find and compare information with
the families of:
Lonnie P. Bogard and William H. Ostermeyer, both US Air Force, missing in Laos 5/12/72. Refno 1856
L. Bogard's home of record is listed as Mataire, LA. W. Ostermeyer's home of record is Orlando, FL.
Email address for Mr. Getz is firstname.lastname@example.org
USAF CPT Robert Beutel, Refno 1781,Tremont, IL, missing in Laos 11/26/71, is his nephew.
Thanks for your assistance!