STOWERS, AUBREY EUGENE JR. Name: Aubrey Eugene Stowers, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Force Unit: 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH Date of Birth: 01 October 1941 Home City of Record: Sentinel OK Loss Date: 21 March 1968 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 164900N 1060500E (XD160590) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1100 Others in Incident: Peter D. Hesford (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 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 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: When the North Vietnamese intensified their attempt to take over South Vietnam, and the war spread throughout that country, Vietnam's neutral neighbor, Laos, became a place of sanctuary for the communists, as well as an almost barrier-free route by which to transfer troops and supplies to the South. American planes began to reconnoitre and bomb those sanctuaries and routes used by the Vietnamese communists, the most notable of those routes being the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 1Lt. Peter D. Hesford was the pilot of an F4D Phantom fighter jet, one of the most sought after jobs for an Air Force pilot at that time. The Phantom was used for reconnaissance and air combat missions. The D model of the aircraft was equipped with high tech equipment allowing the use of Walleye television-guided missiles and laser-guided bombs. Its central air data computer automatically determined the weapon release point for all bombing modes-dive or level, at night or in bad weather, as well as controlled navigation. On March 21, 1968, 1Lt. Hesford and his "guy in back", 1Lt. Aubrey E. Stowers Jr., were called on to fly a combat mission in Laos. Their aircraft was number two in a flight of two aircraft on the mission. Their aircraft was struck by enemy fire and crashed on the side of a hill about 20 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass in an area where many pilots went down and radioed they had safely reached the ground. Although search and rescue teams were highly successful, Hesford and Stowers were not rescued. No parachutes had been seen, and no emergency radio beeper signals were detected. Still, it was thought that Hesford and Stowers might have ejected safely. They were classified Missing in Action, rather that reported killed. Americans held prisoner in Laos were not included in the Paris Peace Agreements which ended American involvement in Southeast Asia. Not one of them was released in 1973 when 591 lucky Americans were returned home. Although the Pathet Lao publicly stated that they held many prisoners, the U.S. has never successfully negotiated their release. There have been thousands of reports related to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Most of the which have been "resolved" or "correlated" have proven true because they relate to men who have returned. Over 100 cases are still under review, and in the words of a State Department official testifying before Congress, "pass the closest scrutiny" the U.S. can give them. Whether Hesford and Stowers survived the crash of their aircraft is not known. Tragically, the evidence indicates that many ARE, and as long as that is the case, their families must continue to hope and wonder when they will be brought home. Peter D. Hesford graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1965. Both Hesford and Stowers were promoted to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained missing.