Name: Virgil G. Stewart
Rank/Branch: USAF, O2
Date of Birth: 10 October 42
Home City of Record: Baton Rouge, LA
Date of Loss: 17 May 69
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 173602N 1054515E
Status (in 1973): Killed in Action/Body not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D

Other Personnel In Incident:

Source: Compiled by THE P.O.W. NETWORK 02 February 93 from the
following published sources - POW/MIA's -- Report of the Select Committee
on POW/MIA Affairs United States Senate -- January 13, 1993. "The Senate
Select Committee staff has prepared case summaries for the priority cases
that the Administration is now investigating. These provide the facts about
each case, describe the circumstances under which the individual was lost,
and detail the information learned since the date of loss.  Information in
the case summaries is limited to information from casualty files, does not
include any judgments by Committee staff, and attempts to relate essential
facts. The Committee acknowledges that POW/MIAs' primary next-of- kin know
their family members' cases in more comprehensive detail than summarized
here and recognizes the limitations that the report format imposes on these
summaries." 2020

On May 17, 1969, First Lieutenant Stewart was the pilot of an F-4D
in the area of the Mu Gia Pass, Khammouane Province, Laos, when his
aircraft sustained battle damage.  He ejected from his aircraft and
reported to rescuers that he was on the ground with a broken arm
and leg.  Rescue forces had a visual sighting of him and short
beepers.  A hostile gun position was located south of his position
and it was attacked by SAR forces.  A pararescue specialist later
landed in the area and found him dead.  Hostile groundfire
prevented recovery of his body.  He was declared killed in action,
body not recovered, in May 1969.

In 1978, the Defense Intelligence Agency reevaluated a December
1972 report from the Defense Attache Office, Vientiane, prepared by
the Air Force member (Project 5800-09-05) of the Attache's
Exploitation Team.  One of the items reported by the source of the
report was that an F-4H had crashed circa May 1969 and it was
assumed the pilot had been rescued.  This report was reevaluated to
be a possible correlation to one of several losses in the area of
the crash, one of which was Lieutenant Steward's loss incident.




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First Lieutenant Virgil Grant Stewart, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Louisiana, was a member of the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. On May 17, 1969, he was one of two crew members aboard an F-4D Phantom II (tail number 65-6241, call sign "Cobalt 1") on a mission over Laos. The Phantom sustained combat damage in the vicinity of Mu Gia Pass, North Vietnam, which prompted First Lieutenant Stewart to eject from the plane. However, the aircraft commander did not eject and was able to fly the Phantom back to base. Search and rescue teams returned to the area, and made radio contact with First Lieutenant Stewart, who reported that he had a broken arm and leg. Enemy fire in the area hampered rescue efforts, and once searchers finally reached First Lieutenant Stewart’s position in the vicinity of (GC) WE 815 535, he had died. Hostile presence prevented the recovery of First Lieutenant Stewart’s remains at the time, and they have not been located since. Subsequent to the incident, the U.S. Air Force posthumously promoted First Lieutenant Stewart to the rank of Captain (Capt). Today, Captain Stewart is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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