Name: Elbert Austin Phillips
Branch/Rank: United States Air Force/E6
Date of Birth: 04 May 1934
Home City of Record: HUNTSVILLE AL
Date of Loss: 28 August 1968
Country of Loss: LAOS
Loss Coordinates: 175744 North  1023531 East
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: T28
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert Miller, KIA/BNR
Refno:  1266

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File. 2020



No further information available at this time.


To Joseph C. Mosher or anyone

who might have an interest in my father, TSgt Elbert "Bert" Austin Phillips.
I have just come upon this website and found an email dated May 9, 1998 from
then TSgt Joseph C. Mosher AF recruiter.  Mr. Mosher has worn my dad's
bracelet and expressed his thoughts and concern for my family.
I have just returned from Washington, DC attending the Government Briefings
regarding POW/MIA's.  It is the first that has been attended by my family
and I must say it was very informative.  I am thankful for the continued
efforts that our government is putting forth in order to recovery missing
servicemembers, my father included.  He is one of 1833 still unaccounted

I was eight when my dad, an AF Medic stationed at Udorn AFB in Thailand, was
declared KIA on August 28,1968.  My mother raised 6 children alone with only
the help of the memories she had of her true love and the help from our
loving God who sustained her through the years.

I am learning more and more about my father's mission in Laos and his
demise.  There are still so many questions unanswered so I ask that if
anyone who reads this, served with my father or has any information on the
T28 he was in that downed in the Mekong river on that date, to please
contact me.  He was a back seater in the T28 with pilot Maj. Robert Charles
Miller of Hayward, CA. who has never been recovered.

We have just learned that President Bush will schedule a visit to VietNam in
2006.  We hope that these meetings will create a relationship that is
conducive to bringing of servicemen home.

On behalf of my 3 sisters and 2 brothers I thank you for your continued
support and prayers.  My mother just passed away on August 11, 2004 from a
brief battle with cancer.  I asked her, on what would have been their 49th
wedding anniversary June 29 2004 what she thought her life would have been
like if daddy had come back...I could hear in her voice the love she still
held for him after 36 years.  She was an exceptional person and an awesome
mother who played dual roles and supported each of us in all we did.  The
only thing that helps me accept her death is that they are together forever
now.  A love story that continues...

May we never forget...
I love you daddy!

Please contact me at:

256-533-8618 w
256-651-6574 c

Teresa Phillips Schmitt


From: Teresa <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2013 00:17:56 -0600
To: "" <>

My Love Letter to all who have worn and continue to wear bracelets which keep the memory of our service members alive. You REALLY don't have any idea what it means to the families that you wear the bracelet in support of their return.
You see, I am the daughter of T/Sgt Elbert Austin Phillips who served as an AF Medic. He was stationed in Thailand at Udorn AB and had flown over to Vientiane, Laos to (from my understanding) check into the American Embassy as he was to participate in a covert operation in the "Secret War" (you can Google Secret War). I was eight years old, when on August 28, 1968 he was killed when the T28 he was a passenger in, crashed into the embankment of the Mekong River.

Over the years, when my mother was still living we would receive letters and invitations from JPAC, DPMO to attend the Family Briefings in DC. I never really paid that much attention to the letters since (I thought) my mother never showed interest in attending. Over the years I learned that my mother remained heartbroken over the loss of my father and attending any of those briefings would have only validated the fact that his body would never be recovered, he would never be coming home. Clinging on to any hope of return would be dashed and that news would have been salt in the already deep, painful wound for us all.


Since the inception of the Internet, we have learned more and more about the Vietnam War, the Secret War, our father's assignment, etc., but as much as that, the Internet has connected me to men who served with my dad/knew my parents, were stationed at the same bases at times.


Those letters that my mother received over the years from JPAC were kept in a notebook along with certificates, commendations, pictures...memories of my dad. After my amazing mother passed away in August 2004, I opened one of the letters and began making plans to attend the next annual Family Briefing in DC in June 2005. My eyes were opened to the efforts that the organization made to recover the remains and repatriate the missing with their families. Unfortunately for us, my father was declared BNR (body not recoverable). I continue to receive the invitations to the Briefings and the issues of "The Torch" which gives updates on the organization and the continued recovery efforts, and in some cases, repatriation of our Service Members with their families.


After my return from the meeting in '05 and learning about this website, I posted a comment on the site in response mostly to an email I found which was written by Joseph Mosher, May 1998, who had been wearing my dad's bracelet for 10 years. The post I made lead to men, who knew my dad, contacting me. Amazingly enough his last immediate supervisor contacted me! What a gift! We have shared time, pictures, stories, and tears over the years. He sent me a patch of the Special Operation Detachment they were in along with other artifacts and we've shared some precious emails. He shared things with me that I had heard about my dad over the years, but confirmation of my dad's character from a perfect stranger was a gift. I am pleased to say that I have the opportunity to meet this man and his family in February!


The latest "find"...from the same '05 post on the website...I was contacted a few weeks ago by a fellow who lives in New Orleans. Mark left me the most heartfelt message a few weeks ago then we shared an initial 2 hour conversation. When enlisted in the Air Force 22 years ago he purchased a bracelet at that time and told me he chose this particular bracelet for a couple reasons; his brother's birthdate was the day before the date on the bracelet, he also had in common with this man, enlistment in the AF. It happens that that bracelet he so lovingly and faithfully wore for 22 years bears my dad's name, rank, location and date of his death, and the state he was from. To hear him speak fondly of wearing the bracelet and how he shared about it with so many people, did more than warm my heart! But when he shared with me that his 6 year old little boy would hand his daddy the bracelet as part of his morning dressing ritual...well that clinched my heart!

Wearing the bracelet had become a real part of his life in every aspect. His wife said "we would every now and then talk about Mr. Elbert and wonder if he ever came home." Mark and I have become FaceBook friends and at his wife's suggestion, I looked at Mark's pictures and I noticed how often he had the bracelet made me cry. They kept him alive without ever knowing him. Sharing that with me has meant so much that I can't even begin to express my feelings in words.


Mark humbly and reverently asked me what I would like him to do with the bracelet..."I can bring it to you, mail it, whatever you want...", he said. It didn't take me long at all to express my gratitude but insist that I would be honored that he keep the bracelet and if he chose to ever wear it again he could now share the rest of the story with those who found interest in what had come to pass. I am blessed. I hope to meet Mark and his family soon.


You see, you may never know what impact you might have on someone's life, but as fate would have it, in this case, a new union is made. A sweet story. There is always good that can be born of tragedy...we must seek to find it. I commend you for always keeping the memory alive of those who served to preserve our freedom. Never forget...

God Bless,

Teresa Phillips Schmitt
Sent from my iPad






Return to Service Member Profiles

On August 28, 1968, a T-28 Trojan (tail number and call sign unknown) carrying a pilot and a passenger departed Vientiane, Laos, on an administrative flight to Udorn Royal Air Force Base, Thailand. Shortly after take-off the aircraft banked left and crashed into the Mekong River approximately two miles southeast of Vientiane. A responding rescue team located parts of the aircraft in the vicinity of (GC) TE 450 875. However, searchers were unable to locate the bodies of the pilot and his passenger, even after using scuba divers to search the river.

Technical Sergeant Elbert Austin Phillips, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Alabama, served with Detachment 1, 56th Special Operations Wing. He was the passenger aboard the Trojan when it crashed, and his remains were not recovered. Today, Technical Sergeant Phillips is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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