WISTRAND, ROBERT CARL
Name: Robert Carl Wistrand
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 12 August 1930
Home City of Record: New York NY
Date of Loss: 09 May 1965
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 173943N 1054559E (WE710400)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none 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 Mu Gia Pass was one of several passageways through the
mountainous border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from
Thailand to missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and
many aircraft were lost. On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi
Minh Trail", a road heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving
materiel and personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of
neutral Laos. The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far
lower than that of those men lost in more populous areas, even though both
were shot down by the same enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to
the extremely rugged terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery.
Capt. Robert C. Wistrand was a pilot assigned a mission which would take him
through the Mu Gia Pass on May 9, 1965. His aircraft was the F105D
Thunderchief. The 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.
During the mission, Wistrand's aircraft crashed. Wingmen observed no
parachute and heard no emergency radio beeper signals. Searches of the loss
area proved to be fruitless. There remained the possibility, however, that
Wistrand had successfully ejected, and he was classified Missing in Action.
In 1973, the prisoners of war held in Vietnam were released. Laos was not
part of the Paris agreement which ended American involvement in Indochina
and no prisoners held by the Lao were ever released. Nearly 600 Americans,
including Robert C. Wistrand, were left behind, abandoned by the country
In 1975, refugees fled Southeast Asia and brought with them stories of
Americans prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The
reports continued to flow in as the years passed. By 1990, over 10,000
reports had been received. Some sources have passed multiple polygraph
tests, but the U.S. Government still insists that proof is not available.
We are haunted by the secret war we conducted in Laos through the lives of
the Americans we left behind. Some of them are still alive. What must they
be thinking of us?
Robert C. Wistrand was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he
was maintained missing.