Name: Joseph Shaw Ross
Rank/Branch: Captain USAF
Unit: 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron
         Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 26  January 1943
Home City of Record: Ft. Thomas KY
Loss Date: 01 August 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 172235N 1061310E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground:  F4D
Other Personnel In Incident: William J. Thompson (missing)
R029.jpg (11621 bytes)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 01
January 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.


SYNOPSIS: Capt. Joseph Ross and Col. William Thompson comprised the
crew of the lead aircraft in a flight of two F4-Ds which departed Da
Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam on August l, 1968, on a night armed
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.  Enroute, the flight was
diverted to look for truck traffic in the vicinity of their original
target.  Locating the traffic, Thompson, the plane's pilot, dropped
several sets of flares and illuminated a group of trucks.  He told his
wingman to circle the area while he made a bombing pass on the trucks.
As the wingman circled, he noted a large explosion within several
hundred feet of the target area, and immediately attempted to contact
Thompson, but with no success.  The explosion occurred about 3:10 a.m.
The wingman saw no parachutes and heard no beepers.

About daybreak, search planes heard an emergency electronic signal
which seemed to come from the area where Ross and Thompson were lost.
Searchers were unable to get any response to calls over the emergency
frequency, and terminated the search around noon.  Flare chutes were
found near the truck target, but no wreckage of the F4 was found.

The area in which Capt. Ross and Col. Thompson went down is very near
the Ban Karai Pass on the Laos/Vietnam border.  It is mountainous with
peaks ranging from 3500-4000 feet and deep valleys dense with multiple
canopy jungle.  One searcher described the mountains "of sharp pointed
grey rock karsts in great frequency closely jammed up like the stalac-
tites of a sound suppression chamber".

Thompson and Ross were lost in harsh, largely unpopulated terrain, and
without access to the area, it cannot be known with any certainty what
happened to them.  There have been thousands of reports, however, of
Americans who remain in captivity years after the war's end.  Two of
them could be Thompson and Ross.  Their families will not know until
those live prisoners are brought home.


May 26, 2014
'Thunder' rolls for Fort Thomas Vietnam War MIA pilot
Ross and others listed as POW-MIA. Highland Avenue bridge over I-471 is named for Capt. Ross. Shaw Avenue and Rossford Avenue in the city are ...
Rolling Thunder KY 5 will lay the wreath as part of a short ceremony to honor Captain Joseph Ross at the Boone County Veterans and POW/MIA ...
Subject: Love Letters
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2020 09:43:50 -0500


Paula Gough <>

To the family of Joseph Shaw Ross…While cleaning out my 88yr father’s garage, I found my POW bracelet that I had worn in grade school. I live locally so If you would like to contact me …





Return to Service Member Profiles

On August 1, 1968, an F-4D Phantom II (tail number 66-8822) with two crew members took off as the lead in a flight of two aircraft on a night armed reconnaissance mission against enemy targets near Ben Katoi, North Vietnam. While over the target area, the Phantom dropped several flares to illuminate a group of trucks. The wingman then asked for clearance to attack the target, but the Phantom radioed back for the wingman to hold back as they were rolling in to attack first. As the wingman circled the target, its crew saw a large explosion near the group of trucks at (GC) 48Q XE 296 214. The wingman was unable to make radio contact with the Phantom following the explosion, and no parachutes or rescue beepers were detected. Neither of the Phantom's crew members could be located following the incident. 

First Lieutenant Joseph Shaw Ross entered the U.S. Air Force from Kentucky and served in the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was the pilot of this Phantom when it was lost and he remains unaccounted for. Following the incident, the Air Force promoted 1st Lt Ross to the rank of Captain (Capt). Today, Captain Ross 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 Active Pursuit.

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.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.