WELSHAN, JOHN THOMAS Name: John Thomas Welshan Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 604th Air Commando Squadron, Bien Hoa AB SV Date of Birth: 05 February 1942 Home City of Record: Oak Ridge TN Date of Loss: 03 March 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 091858N 1053959E (WR732298) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category:4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A37A Refno: 1070 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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 2012. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Cessna's A37 "Dragonfly" was a two-seat light strike aircraft. Although the B version was equipped for aerial refueling, the earlier A model was restricted to its fully-armed range of about 450 miles. The easily maintained jet was flown by both the U.S. and South Vietnamese Air Force, and remained on station in Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in 1975. 1Lt. John T. Welshan was a pilot trained on the Dragonfly and attached to the 604th Air Commando Squadron at Bien Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam. On March 3, 1968, Welshan was assigned a frag mission in Bac Lieu Province, South Vietnam. (NOTE: Air Force accounts of Welshan's incident do not refer to a second crew member. As this type aircraft is a two-seater, it is speculated that the second crew member may have been Vietnamese. The U.S. does not normally maintain any records on the identities of foreign nationals lost with U.S. personnel in Southeast Asia.) 1Lt. Welshan's aircraft did not return from the mission at the appointed time, and he was declared Missing in Action. His last location is listed as being approximately 5 miles south of the city of Bac Lieu, near the shoreline of South Vietnam. 1Lt. Welshan was maintained missing until July 15, 1975, at which time he was administratively declared dead based on no specific information that he was alive. He had been advanced to the rank of Major during the period he was maintained missing. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Many authorities who have reviewed this largely classified information have reluctantly concluded that there are still hundreds alive in captivity. The United States Government, although involved in talks with the Vietnamese since the end of the war, has been unable to bring home a single live prisoner. The Vietnamese, on the other hand, refuse to let the issue die, with the ultimate hope of normalizing relations with the west. The Americans who are still alive have been reduced to bargaining pawns between two nations. For their sakes, everything possible must be done to bring them home. The sacrifice of Americans who died in Southeast Asia is mocked by the abandonment of their comrades. For the sake of our future fighting men and those who have given their lives in the defense of their country, we must see to it that we never again abandon our soldiers to enemy hands.
From: Neto, Franco CDR OSD DPMO
Subject: FAC-"David 24"-3 March 1968
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 8:01:17 AM
It's been over a year now since I gave my presentation on the DPMO mission at the 183rd's reunion in Colorado Springs. I am reaching out to you now regarding information on one of our loss cases. Here's what this is about: Our office works closely with the folks in JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) in Hawaii. They are the ones who do the field work in Southeast Asia, investigations and remains recoveries, and eventually identification of remains. We try and feed them any bits of information that will assist them in their work. In this particular case, 1Lt John Welshan, flying an A37A in a flight of two, was attacking a target near Bac Lieu province town on the afternoon of 3 March 68. After making a pass, he pulled up and both his lead and the FAC lost sight of him. No chute seen and no beeper heard---he just disappeared. After 45 minutes of searching, lead was forced to return to base for lack of fuel. Strangely, 4 years later, an ARVN unit found Welshan's military ID card among documents discovered in an abandoned VC bunker many miles to the WNW of the target area. Air Force records indicate the FAC's callsign was "DAVID 24," however previous analysts that have reached out to other bird dog members have not panned out.I have reason to believe this part of the record is erroneous. My purpose in trying to contact the FAC is to pick his memory on the incident, to see if he might recall any details that aren't already in our records. Would appreciate your help in getting the word out via your contacts as to the identity of "DAVID 24". Appreciate any assistance/insight you can provide.
Best regards,Commander Neto
You can reach Commander Neto at: Franco.Neto@osd.mil