Name: Russell Keith Utley
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 05 August 1933
Home City of Record: San Francisco CA
Date of Loss: 26 January 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163700N 1061300E (XD297373)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Refno: 1366

Other Personnel in Incident: Daniel E. Singleton (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. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes

Maj. Russell K. Utley was a pilot and 1Lt. Daniel E. Singleton the
electronics warfare officer of an F4E attached to the 409th Tactical Fighter
Squadron at Korat Airbase, Thailand. On January 26, 1969, the two were
assigned an operational mission which took them over Savannakhet Province,

When the aircraft was about 5 miles southwest of the city of Sepone, it was
hit by hostile fire and crashed. Pilots of other aircraft observed no
parachutes leaving the aircraft, and no emergency beeper signals were
detected. There was the chance the two ejected unseen, and they were
classified Missing in Action.

Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos during the Vietnam war. Although the
numbers actually termed "prisoner of war" are quite low, this can be
explained by the blanket of security surrounding the "secret war" the U.S.
waged in Laos. To protect the ruse that we "were not in Laos," details of
many loss incidents were "rearranged" to show a loss or casualty in South
Vietnam. Only a handful of publicly-exposed cases were ever acknowledged
POW, even though scores of pilots and ground personnel were known to have
been alive and well at last contact, thus increasing the chance they were
captured alive.

The Lao communist faction, the Pathet Lao, stated on several occasions that
they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, but the Pathet Lao were not
included in the Paris Peace agreements ending American involvement in the
war. As a consequence, no American POWs held in Laos were negotiated for.
Not one American held in Laos has ever been released. They were abandoned to
the enemy.

Reports continue to be received that Americans are alive today, being held
captive. Whether Singleton and Utley are among them is not known. What is
certain, however, is that they deserve than the abandonment they received by
the country they proudly served.

Russell K. Utley was promoted to the rank of Colonel and Daniel E. Singleton
to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained missing.


From: "C W Magsig"
To: <info@pownetwork.org>
Subject: Utley/Singleton Bio
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 17:41:05 -0400

The facts you have printed are not entirely accurate.

Russ and Dan were members of the 469th TFS out of Korat RTAB, Thailand. 
Onthe night in question, they rolled in on a target in Laos and never pulled
out.  While enemy fire hitting the aircraft was a possibility, it was never

No chutes were seen, but it was a night mission so even if they had bailed
out, it is unlikely that they would have been seen.

I served as Dan Singleton's Summary Courts Officer, knew both Dan and Russ
very well, and only send you this to improve the accuracy of the record.

Colonel, USAF, Ret






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On January 26, 1969, an F-4E Phantom II (tail number 67-0286, call sign "Detroit 01") with two crew members took off as the lead in a flight of two aircraft on a night strike mission against enemy targets in Laos. While over the target area, the Phantom made a pass to identify a target, then radioed its wingman that it had acquired a target and was going to attack it. Seconds later, the wingman aircraft observed a bright explosion on the ground near the target, and found that he had lost radio contact with the Phantom. No parachutes were seen and no rescue beepers were detected. Searches for the Phantom's crew members were unsuccessful. 

Major Russel Keith Utley entered the U.S. Air Force from California and served in the 496th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was the aircraft commander aboard the Phantom when it was lost and his remains were never recovered. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted Major Utley to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel Utley 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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