RUSSELL, PETER JOHN Name: Peter John Russell Rank/Branch: O2/US Army Unit: 240th Assault Helicopter Co. 214th Aviation Btn., 12th Aviation Group Date of Birth: 02 October 1946 Home City of Record: New York NY Date of Loss: 01 August 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 114856N 1071107E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1C Other Personnel In Incident: Steven M. Hastings; Donald R. Fowler (both missing), William Fernan, see notes Source: Updated 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. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: SP4 Donald Fowler, gunner; Sgt. Steven Hastings, crewchief; WO Fernam, aircraft commander and 1Lt. Peter J. Russell, pilot, comprised the crew of one UH1C helicopter in a flight of two on a combat mission. Due to inclement weather and poor visibility, the mission was aborted. During the return flight, the two aircraft became separated while attempting to return to the Song Be airstrip. One aircraft crashed into the trees and crewmembers were extracted the following morning. Radio contact was lost with 1Lt. Russell's aircraft after the last contact at 2025 hours on August 1. At that time, the aircraft commander indicated that he was diverting to Binh Hoa airbase rather than returning to Song Be. When the aircraft failed to arrive at either Binh Hoa or Song Be, search efforts were begun at daylight, and continued for 3 days. On August 6, wreckage of the helicopter was discovered. On August 21, a recovery effort was conducted in the area of the aircraft and it was determined that the helicopter had crashed but not burned. During the recovery effort, portions of remains were found that were associated with WO Fernam, along with some personal effects that belonged to him. Only flight helmets were found for the other 3 individuals. No trace was found of the other 3 in subsequent searches. In 1985, a private citizen obtained a previously classified document through the Freedom of Information Act which described in great detail a prisoner of war camp in South Vietnam. Together with the drawings and maps of the compound were lists of guards and their backgrounds, and a list of Americans the source had positively identified from photographs. On the list of positive id's was the name of Steven Hastings. Returned POWs have verified the accuracy of the drawings and much of the information. (Some on the positive list were POWs who returned in 1973) Although the Defense Department has stated that the source was a liar, there appears to be some question as to whether Hastings, at least, perished in the crash of his helicopter or survived to be captured. And if there is question on Hastings, what of the other 2? Nearly 2500 Americans are missing in Southeast Asia. Over 6000 reports have been received indicating that there are hundreds of Americans still alive as captives there. It's long past time we got to the bottom of the issue and brought our men home - alive. ------------------------------------------------- Senate Select Committee Report South Vietnam Donald R. Fowler Steven M. Hastings Peter J. Russell William Fernan (1244) On August 1, 1968, Warrant Officer Fernan, First Lieutenant Russell, Specialist Fourth Class Fowler and Specialist Fifth Class Hastings disappeared while on board a UH-1C helicopter during a flight through bad weather in Song Be Province. A search for them was unsuccessful. On August 6, 1971 local woodcutters discovered the helicopter wreckage. Partial remains belonging to Warrant Officer Fernan were recovered, but none were recovered of the other three crewmen. The possibility that the other three crewmen might have survived arose due to the condition of the wreckage. The four crewmen were initially declared missing and, after the end of hostilities, were declared dead/body not recovered. They were not reported alive in the Vietnamese prison system. In June 1989, U.S. field investigators in Vietnam located six individuals who witnessed an American being captured after he was injured in an aircraft crash in 1968. The American was taken first to Bu Dang District Headquarters and then to the Phuoc Long Province POW camp. As a result of malaria, the prisoner was taken to Hospital 370 where he died one week later and was buried nearby. This report is viewed as possibly correlating to the fate of one of the aircraft's survivors. Additionally, a doctor recently interviewed in Vietnam identified the photograph of Lieutenant Russell as the patient brought to his hospital from a nearby POW camp. He stated that the American died at the hospital and was buried nearby. No reports correlated to other survivors. 1997 -- William Fernan is NOT listed among those whose remains have been returned, nor is he listed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's list of POW/MIAs. His casualty file states body recovered.