SANDERS, WILLIAMS STEPHEN
Name: Williams Stephen Sanders
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 09 April 1943
Home City of Record: Winthrop ME
Date of Loss: 30 June 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164858N 1063138E (XD616601)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: SFC Albert E. Mosiello;
Marvin E. Bell; Michael F. Dean; Paul L. Jenkins; John W. Goeglein; Leroy C.
Schaneberg (all missing from a nearby HH53C)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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 2001 with information provided by Bill Shelton, LTC, USA,(Ret). 2020
SYNOPSIS: On June 30, 1970, a crew from the 40th Aerospace Rescue and
Recovery Squadron at Udorn Airfield, Thailand was dispatched to rescue a
downed flight crew. Crew aboard the Sikorsky HH53C "Super Jolly" helicopter
included the pilot, Capt. Leroy C. Schaneberg, crewmembers Major John W.
Goeglein, MSgt. Paul L. Jenkins, SSgt. Marvin E. Bell, and SSgt. Michael F.
The members of the 40th Air R & R were trained for both air and sea
recovery, and the big "Super Jolly" was equipped to airlift both the crew
and aircraft out of sticky situations.
The downed and injured pilot was located in Savannakhet Province, Laos,
about two kilometers south of Bang Tang. The HH53C penetrated the area,
known to be hostile, in an attempt to rescue the pilot, but was forced away
by hostile ground fire. A second attempt was made, but the helicopter was
hit by hostile fire, caught on fire, went out of control and crashed. The
Air Force states it received evidence on July 4, 1970, that the crew was
dead, but that evidence is not specifically described, and no remains
identifiable as Bell, Dean, Goeglein, Schaneberg, or Jenkins have been
recovered. Schaneberg received the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism
as the aircraft commander on this rescue mission.
On the same day, Capt. Williams S. Sanders was flying an OV10A Bronco
southeast of Khe Sanh at a point where Laos veers north to intrude on South
Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down just inside Laos, not far from the
location of the downed helicopter. The Bronco was generally used for marking
targets, armed reconnaissance and forward air control, so the nature of
Capt. Sanders' mission and its precise relation to the mission of the Super
Jolly from Udorn is unknown. The crew of the helicopter was numerically
listed missing before the OV10, so it is does not seem likely that the
helicopter was assisting the observation aircraft, but as no other aircraft
is missing on that day in that area, either the downed pilot was Sanders or
the pilot was rescued by other means.
Unfortunately, for families of men missing in Laos, information is difficult
to obtain. Twenty and twenty-five year old records remain classified and
details obscured. Much of this information was classified to distort
American involvement in a now well known "secret" war in Laos.
Since the war's end in 1973, thousands of reports have been received by the
U.S. Government regarding Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia.
Many of the reports involve Americans in Laos, where nearly 600 Americans
went missing, and none released despite public statements by the Pathet Lao
that "tens of tens" of Americans were being held there.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50's, that future "limited political
engagements" would result, unfortunately, in nonrecoverable prisoners of
war. We have seen this prediction fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where
thousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists
that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today.
For Americans, the "unfortunate" abandonment of military personnel is not
acceptable, and the policy that allows it must be changed before another
generation is left behind in some faraway war.
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 12:56:51 -0800
From: "Bill Shelton" <email@example.com>
I am William L. Shelton, LTC, USA, Ret.
I went to your data on CPT Sanders, and find it to be way off.
At the time of his shoot down, I was the CDR of MLT 3, Heavy Hook, a
MACVSOG mobile launch team. We were located at NKP RTAFB, and CPT Sanders
was a FAC from 23d TASS, fragged to us for missions. The day he was shot
down, he was in fact flying a Prairie Fir Mission for me. One of my NCOs,
SFC Albert E. Mosiello, was in the back seat flying as an
observer/controller. The details on your site do not match with what I know
of the incident.
If you want, I can provide you with a more factual set of details.
Let me know.
Glad to hear from you on this one.
Bill Sanders was a good friend, and I flew in the back seat with him on
several Prairie Fire/Daniel Boone missions.
On the day Bill was shot down, he and SFC Mosiello were flying in the area
west of the DMZ, at very low altitude. They were doing a VR for LZs for an
upcoming SOG mission. As they pulled up thru 1500' AGL, (the normal minimum
in that area. We were allowed to fly lower, because of the special
requirements of SOG missions.) a 37mm opened fire, hitting the OV10 in the
left side, adjacent to the pilots position. The plane nosed over. SFC
Mosiello tried to gain control of the A/C, but the stick only shuddered in
his hand. He immediately ejected, and was under canopy for 4-6 seconds
according to his debriefing after recovery. In his opinion, CPT Sanders did
not survive the crash. He saw no other canopy.
Another NAIL FAC (also a Praiirie Fire FAC) was in the vicinity and heard
Mosiello's beeper. He notified ABCCC, and the 56th SOW of the situation. My
staff and I were in immediate contact with the TUOC at 56th, including the
Wing CDR. As I was told by TUOC, the 37th ARRS out of Danang sent a Jolly to
the crash site for the rescue. Sandys from the 56th were also on station to
provide support. The HH53 was in a hover approximately 150' above SFC
Mosiello's position. An NVA fired an RPG into the rotor head of the helo,
which rolled over, and crashed in a fireball. No beepers came up, and all
were assumed to have perished in that crash. The Super Jolly had indeed been
launched to do the rescue of Sanders and Mosiello. Due to the classification
of the SOG mission, it is very likely the 'official' version had been
altered to protect the true nature of both missions. The OV10 was definitely
shot down BEFORE the HH53.
I relayed a message thru the FAC to SFC Mosiello that he should prepare to
evade, and escape toward SVN. I was about ready to halt the rescue effort
due to the late hour of the afternoon. COL Sam Crosby, CDR 56th SOW called
me on the phone, and told me the 37th was prepared to launch another Super
Jolly for another recovery try. He asked if I wanted another flight of A1s,
loaded with tear gas for fire suppression. I said yes, and the mission was
launched. SFC Mosiello was sucessfully recovered by the 37th, and flown back
to Danang. There was never another beeper from the area, and no sign of
survivors from either crash site.
The following a.m., CPT Fred Parrott, 23d TASS, and I flew electronic and
visual search over the crash sites. No beepers, and no signs of survivors
To my knowledge, CPT Sanders was carried as MIA for quite a while after
this, and later changed to KIA.
I hope this is helpful.