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
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.


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

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                                                                               





Return to Service Member Profiles


First Lieutenant (1st Lt) John Thomas Welshan entered the U.S. Air Force from Tennessee and served with the 604th Air Commando Squadron. On March 3, 1968, he piloted an A-37A Dragonfly (tail number 67-14521) as the second in a flight of two aircraft on a combat mission over South Vietnam. After delivering his ordnance on an enemy target in the vicinity of (GC) WR 732 298, 1st Lt Welshan he disappeared from the view of the lead aircraft and the Forward Air Controller. When 1st Lt Welshan did not reappear to make a planned strafing pass, the lead aircraft attempted to contact him but was unsuccessful.  Both the Lead and the Forward Air Controller searched the terrain near the target but saw no sign of a crashed aircraft on the ground. They saw no parachute and heard no rescue beeper signal. Subsequent ground search efforts were also unsuccessful. Following the incident, the Air Force promoted 1st Lt Welshan to the rank of Major. Today, Major Welshan 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.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.