TERLA, LOTHAR GUSTAV THOMAS
Name: Lothar Gustav Thomas Terla
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 04 November 1940
Home City of Record: Scranton PA
Date of Loss: 09 March 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 152029N 1071429E (YB406972)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Larry W. Cotten (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
Capt. Lothar Terla was an F4 pilot assigned to the 4th Tactical Fighter
Squadron at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On March 9, 1970, he was assigned an
operational mission which took him over Attopeu Province, Laos. His
bombardier/navigator on the flight was 1Lt. Larry W. Cotten.
When the aircraft was about 10 miles southeast of Chavane, it was hit by
enemy fire and crashed. An electronic search was made of the area to locate
the crash site and any survivors, but none were found. The crashed aircraft
was later found, and it was determined that Cotten and Terla could not have
survived the incident. This determination was made on unspecified
information which was received by the Department of the Air Force.
The Air Force believes that Cotten and Turla did not survive. They are
listed among the missing because their remains were never found. They are
among nearly 600 Americans who were lost in Laos. Since the U.S. did not
recognize the communist government faction which captured and held Americans
in Laos, no negotiations were conducted to secure their freedom.
Consequently, not a single American held by the Lao was ever released.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of
us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to
bring these men home from Southeast Asia?