RIP 07/03/04
Name: John Edward Stavast
Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 12th TRS
Date of Birth: May 5, 1926
Home City of Record: Claremont CA
Date of Loss: 17 September 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205400 North  1053000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C
Missions: 91
Other Personnel in Incident: Gerald Venanzi, returnee
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.
After training in June 1962 Gerald Venanzi proceeded to Udorn RTAFB,
Thailand, where he was permanently stationed.
On the 17th of September 1967 while navigator on an RF-4C aircraft, Venanzi
and the pilot, John Stavast, were hit by a Surface-to-Air missile and
ejected from the aircraft about 25 miles southwest of Hanoi. After spending
45 minutes on the ground, Venanzi was captured by the enemy, thus starting
his internment.
Both men were released 5 1/2 years after their capture.
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 - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
Colonel - United States Air Force
Shot Down: September 17, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973
How wonderful it is to be back home in this wonderful America. It's just
like Christmas morning every morning.
In a way, I think I am lucky. To have been faced with the trials and
tribulations ever present in a communist jail makes me realize just how
great it is to be free. How wonderful to live in this great country. I'll
never take my freedom for granted again.
During my 5 1/2 years in Hanoi prisons, I never met a POW whose faith in
you, or our President, ever wavered. We all knew we would be back home one
day. I am proud of my association with so many fine, courageous men, and we
are all very proud of you.
God bless you all. Thank you for your many prayers and efforts on our
behalf. Thanks also for the wonderful welcome home.
.... regret to inform you that Col John Stavast made his final
Flight West this morning. A lot of spectacular fireworks were observed in
the Western skies.
John Stavast retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and
his wife Shirley resided in Texas until his death.
Colonel John E. Stavast (USAF Ret.) died on July 3, 2004, at age 78. He was
born May 5, 1926, in Denver Colorado to John and Anne Van Eck Stavast. On
March 20, 1944, John entered the Army as an Aviation Cadet, then became an
aerial gunner in November 1944, served in Europe in B-17s and was
discharged in 1946. In 1949, Colonel Stavast again became an aviation
cadet, earned his pilots wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. He served as
a flying instructor in the USAF Air Training Command and in Japan, training
Japanese Self Defense Force pilots. Back in the U.S., Colonel Stavast
served in multiple assignments, both flying and staff, in various tactical
reconnaissance units. Col. Stavast was flying an RF-4C over North Vietnam
on his 91st combat mission September 17, 1967, when his plane was shot down
by a missile near Hanoi. Col. Stavast and his backseater ejected and were
quickly taken prisoner. Immediately after his capture, Colonel Stavast was
tortured continuously for seven days and nights. Both crewmembers survived,
and were eventually released in March 1972. As a POW, Col. Stavast, as the
Senior Ranking Officer, was responsible for over 200 American POWs at a
remote prison camp near the Chinese border. After his release during
Operation Homecoming in March 1973, it was determined that while in
captivity Col. Stavast had suffered broken bones in his back, arms and
legs, a skull fracture and a fractured jaw. Colonel Stavast retired from
the Air Force in June 1980 with over 6000 flying hours in a variety of
fighter, reconnaissance and trainer aircraft. His last Air Force assignment
was as Air Base Group Commander at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin Texas.
His many combat decorations include three Silver Stars, two Legions of
Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, the Bronze
Star with ``V' (for Valor) device, and six Air Medals. John is survived by
his beloved wife of 38 years, Shirley Metzger Stavast; his sister, Jeanne
(and husband, John) McKinley of Denver; his brother, Arthur (and wife,
Cathy) Stavast of Ogden, Utah, as well as his nieces and nephews. John's
parents, his brother, Clarence, and his sister, Barbara Franz, preceded him
in death. Col. Stavast belonged to the Military Order of the Purple Heart,
Order of Daedalians, the Air Force Association, the Military Officers
Association, VFW, American Legion, the TAC RECCE Reunion Association, and
the RF-101 Voodoo Association. He was also a tireless volunteer worker at
the Veterans Administration Hospital. A service in celebration of his life
will be held for Colonel Stavast on Thursday, July 8, 2004, at 10:00 a.m.
at the Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church at 5226 W. William Cannon
Drive in Austin, followed by graveside services with military honors at the
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio at 2:00 p.m. Memorials to
this patriotic American or contributions in his honor may be made to the
Leukemia Research Foundation, 820 Davis St, Suite 420, Evanston, Illinois
60201, or to the above church, or to a charity of choice.