WEST, JOHN THOMAS Name: John Thomas West Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AB, Thailand Date of Birth: 26 July 1947 Home City of Record: Baltimore MD Date of Loss: 02 January 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 163400N 1062700E (XD548329) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1543 Other Personnel in Incident: Ronnie G. Lindstrom Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance of 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 1998. REMARKS: 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. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around. Capt. John T. West and 1Lt. Ronnie G. Lindstrom were co-pilots of an F4D Phantom which departed as second aircraft in a flight of two from Ubon Airfield on January 2, 1970 on an operational mission over Laos. As the aircraft were near the Sepone River in Savannakhet Province, about 10 miles from the border of South Vietnam, West and Lindstrom's aircraft was seen to crash. The flight leader saw the aircraft descend and saw the wreckage on the ground, but observed no parachutes. No emergency radio beeper signals were heard to indicate that West and Lindstrom safely ejected from the aircraft. West and Lindstrom became two of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos during the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, they stated that those captured in Laos would be released in Laos, hoping to gain a seat at the negotiating table in Paris where the U.S. and Vietnam were negotiating an end to the war. The U.S. did not include Laos in the Paris Peace Accords, and no American held in Laos was ever released. In America's haste to leave Southeast Asia, it abandoned some of its finest men. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received indicating that hundreds of Americans are still held captive. In seeming disregard for the Americans either held or having been murdered by the Pathet Lao, by 1989 the U.S. and the Lao had devised a working plan to provide Laos with humanitarian and economic aid leading toward ultimate full diplomatic and trade relations while Laos allows the excavation of military crash sites at sporadic intervals. In America's haste to return to Southeast Asia, we are again abandoning our men.