SIGLER, GARY RICHARD Name: Gary Richard Sigler Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn AFB Thailand Date of Birth: 07/14/42 (Bloomington IL) Home City of Record: Table Grove IL Date of Loss: 29 April 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 214501N 1050513E Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Other Personnel In Incident: Mark L. Stephensen (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 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. NETWORK with information provided by Gary R. Sigler 02/22/97. REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: Major L. Mark Stephensen was the pilot, and First Lieutenant Gary R. Sigler the co-pilot, of a reconnaissance-outfitted version of the F4 Phantom fighter/bomber aircraft. Assigned to an armed reconnaissance mission on April 29, 1967, it was Sigler's 93rd run over North Vietnam. Sigler and Stephensen were friends, having met some 8 months before they were both shipped overseas. Sigler was confident in his friend's flying ability, and was undoubtedly thinking of his young daughter's first birthday the next day. Sigler and Stephenson usually flew night missions, and nearing the end of their tour as marked by an upcoming 100 missions, were glad it was dark, figuring if "we couldn't see them, they couldn't see us." Thirteen minutes after takeoff, they radioed their position to an airborne controller. It was the last radio transmission before the Phantom went down. About 60 miles from Hanoi, their systems indicated that SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) had locked onto them. Attempting to evade their course, the aircraft crashed against treetops on one hill, then into the side of another hill. Sigler ejected after the first impact, and from a position over the top of a hill from the crashed aircraft watched the sky illuminated from the burning plane. Sigler was captured two days later and spent 5 years, 10 months and 8 days in captivity (one year in solitary confinement) of war before his release in 1973. He suffered severe burns, a broken back and was subjected to the "rope trick" and repeated beatings while held. Early in his captivity, he was asked if another pilot was on his plane. He stated that during his entire captivity, he had no indication that the Vietnamese knew what happened to his pilot and friend. Major Stephenson was never heard from again. In April 1988, the Vietnamese returned remains they identified as those of Mark Stephenson. By August, 1988, the U.S. had verified that the identification was valid. Mark Stephenson, alive or dead, had been a prisoner of war for 21 years. During the period he was maintained missing, Mark Stephenson was promoted to the rank of Colonel. Gary R. Sigler was promoted to the rank of Captain during his captivity.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 02/97 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO GARY R. SIGLER Captain - United States Air Force Shot Down: April 29, 1967 Released: March 3, 1973 I received my commission in the Air Force in December of 1964 at Colorado State University through the ROTC program. A few days later I was married to Miss Pamela Harris. Our honeymoon was a trip to Reese AFB where I went to pilot training. After graduation I received orders to go to Shaw AFB to train for the back seat of RF-4C. While we were there our daughter Becky was born the first of May in 1966. (One year later on that date I was captured on a hilltop in North Vietnam.) After leaving Shaw, we went to Mtn. Home AFB where we lived until I volunteered to go to war in Southeast Asia in November of 1966. I left my wife and baby daughter in Illinois to await my return - I didn't realize how long it would be! On April 29th on a night Reconaissance Mission, my 93rd, we struck a group of trees while avoiding a missile. Almost six years later I was released by the DRV on 4 March 1973. After these long, hard years, I was finally back home. I have decided to resign from the Air Force, not as a result of bitterness, but rather to seek a way of life more compatible with my family's interests. I will farm and raise horses in Illinois where I hope the most excitement I have will be the State Fair. My family is very active - my principle hobby is photography and we have a family hobby of quarter-horses. I have so many interests that I can't do them all if I live to be 100. As a returning POW, I have received many honors for which I am very grateful. I feel however, that there are very many who have sacrificed much more than we. I hope Americans do not forget them or their families. February 1997 Upon his release, Gary Sigler was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, 9 Air Medals and 2 Purple Hearts. He left the United States Air Force at the rank of Captain before retirement. In recent reflection on his captivity, Gary said "God Bless America... and those who kept the faith with us!" Sigler has a BS in Psychology from Colorado State Univeristy and now is an executive in a life insurance company. He still raises and shows quarter horses and accepts some public speaking engagements. Gary and his wife Pam have been married 32 years and they reside in Missouri. Their daughter Rebecca, has given them a grand daughter, Libby, and they have also have a son, Zachary.