WILLIAMSON, DON IRA
ID Announced August 1989
Name: Don Ira Williamson
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: Unknown (per USAF)
Date of Birth: 01 December 1930
Home City of Record: Louisville KY
Date of Loss: 07 July 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 182910N 1054602E (WF930390)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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.
REMARKS: POSS DEAD - HANOI PRESS & PHOTOS
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Don I. Williamson was the pilot of an F105D fighter jet in
Vietnam. The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more
missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also
suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was
constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped
with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot
ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing
capability and ECM pods for the wings.
Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the
backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air
Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a
missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on
radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25
On July 7, 1965, Williamson was sent on a mission which took him to Ha Tinh
Province, North Vietnam. About 15 miles southeast of the city of Vinh, Capt.
Williamson's aircraft was shot down. Williamson was seen to eject and land
safely, and electronic contact was made with him on the ground. A search was
initiated and terminated on July 8 when efforts to locate him failed.
Later, Hanoi press featured a story and photos of the incident which led
U.S. intelligence analysts to fear that Capt. Williamson was dead. Clearly,
however, the Vietnamese did know the fate of Capt. Don I. Williamson.
Some years later, in an attempt to establish a ranking for those cases that
could be readily resolved by the Vietnamese should they wish to cooperate,
the Defense Intelligence Agency devised "enemy knowledge categories 1-5".
Category 1 meant that there was certain enemy knowledge, a category
generally reserved for those who were known prisoners of war. Category 5, on
the other end of the scale, meant those personnel lost in circumstances
where they were killed, and remains were considered non-recoverable.
Inexplicably, Williamson was placed in category 4, despite the Hanoi press
and the fact that he was alive and well on the ground after shoot-down.
For nearly 25 years, the Vietnamese stated they had no knowledge of Capt.
Williamson, who had by that time been promoted to Colonel. Then on June 23,
1989, the Vietnamese "discovered" Williamson's remains and returned in a
new "spirit of cooperation" on the POW/MIA issue.
Williamson's family no longer endures the torture of wondering whether he is
dead or is among the hundreds said to be still alive. However, they may
never learn how - or when Don I. Williamson died. He was a prisoner of war -
living or dead - for nearly 25 years.