WESTER, ALBERT DWAYNE

Name: Albert Dwayne Wester
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 37th Air Rescue/Recovery Squadron, Da Nang AB SV
Date of Birth: 04 September 1933
Home City of Record: Terrell TX
Date of Loss: 05 October 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 155357N 1072258E (YC592700)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: HH3E
Refno: 1298

Other Personnel in Incident: Gregory P. Lawrence (missing)

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 2020.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: Maj. Albert D. Wester was a copilot of an HH3E "Jolly Green Giant"
helicopter dispatched on a recovery mission on the border of South Vietnam
and Laos on October 5, 1968. The Jolly Green normally carried a crew of
four, and could carry up to 30 passengers, but the only other crew member
whose name is part of public record is Sgt. Gregory P. Lawrence.

At a point about due west of Da Nang in Laos, on the border of Quang Nam
Province in South Vietnam and Savannakhet Province in Laos, Maj. Wester's
aircraft was hit by hostile fire and crashed. Both Wester and Lawrence
sustained fatal injuries from the subsequent crash, fire and explosion. It
is assumed, but not known, that the rest of the crew was either rescued or
recovered dead.

Wester and Lawrence are among a number of Americans who were listed as
Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. They are counted among the missing
because their remains were never recovered for an honorable burial at home.
For their families, there can be some assurance that they died in the
service of their country.

The cases of many of the missing, however, are much more complex. Among
those missing, a substantial number were known to have been alive when last
seen. Some were even photographed in captivity, only to disappear.

Since the end of the war, the U.S. has engaged in tentative "talks" with the
countries of Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam, which has resulted in the
return of several hundred sets of American remains. In Laos, where Wester
and Lawrence still lie, the U.S. has excavated aircraft crash sites with
varying degrees of success in recovery of American remains.

Critics of U.S. policy in dealing with the POW/MIA issue point to the nearly
10,000 reports received since the war ended relating to Americans missing in
Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined these reports have come
to the reluctant conclusion that hundreds of Americans are still alive in
captivity today.

Unfortunately, progress has been particularly slow in Laos. The U.S. never
negotiated for the release of the "tens of tens" of Americans the Pathet Lao
stated they held during the war. Consequently, even those Americans known to
have been captured by the Lao were never released. The U.S. has been unable
to secure the freedom of even a single captive American since the war, even
though reports of sightings continue to pour in. Surely there is a
reasonable solution to bringing these men home. They willingly served us
when they were called to do so. What are we doing to keep the faith with
them?

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02/2020

https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTPmEAO

MAJ ALBERT DWAYNE WESTER

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On October 5, 1968, an HH-3E Jolly Green helicopter (tail number 65-12782, call sign Jolly Green 10) with a crew of four carried out a combat search and rescue mission to extract an eight-man special operations team from hostile territory in Laos. Upon landing at the LZ to pick up the ground team, the helicopter was hit by enemy ground fire. A fire started on the aircraft, and it moved away from the landing zone but crashed while still on the Lao side of the border. Two members of the crew survived the crash, explosion and fire, and another helicopter moved in to rescue the surviving six members of the special operations team survived the crash. The copilot and flight engineer died in the crash.

Major Albert Dwayne Wester, who entered the U.S. Air Force from Texas, served with the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron and was a crew member aboard this helicopter at the time of its loss. He was killed in the crash and his remains could not be recovered. Today, Major Wester 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.

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