Name:  William Patrick Egan
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Commander/US Navy
Unit:  Attack Squadron 215 
USS Hancock (CVA-19) 

Date of Birth: 20 January 1931 (Houston, TX)
Home of Record: Fort Worth, TX
Date of Loss: 29 April 1966 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  172900N 1054200E (WE743330)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  A1H "Skyraider"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)


SYNOPSIS:   With its fantastic capability to carry a wide range of ordnance (8,000 pounds of external armament), great flight range (out to 3,000 miles), and the ability to absorb punishment, the single-seat Douglas A1 Skyraider became one of the premier performers in the close air support and attack mission role (nickname: Spad) and RESCAP mission role (nickname: Sandy). The Skyraider served the Air Force, Navy and Marines faithfully throughout the war in Southeast Asia.

On 29 April 1966, Lt. Cmdr. William P. Egan was the pilot of a A1H Spad that launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hancock as the lead aircraft in a flight of two on an bombing mission against a pre-assigned target. The target, a military complex used by the communists as a truck stop and supply depot, was located in the foothills on the south side of a jungle-covered mountain range approximately 62 miles due west of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi, 14 miles southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border and 1 mile southwest of Ban Senphon, Khammouan Province, Laos.

This area of eastern Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

The pilots had been briefed to make one bomb run from 10,000 feet and then leave the area. At approximately 1600 hours, Lt. Cmdr. Egan identified the target as they approached it at the attack altitude. The flight immediately rolled in on the enemy depot with Lt. Cmdr. Egan in the lead and his wingman following a few seconds later. His wingman observed William Egan drop his bomb, but instead of pulling up and away from the target, he watched in horror as the Spad continued down at a 30 degree dive angle and explode upon impact with the ground. The wingman orbited the wreckage several times before being forced to depart the area. He believed Lt. Cmdr. Egan did not have time to bail out of his crippled aircraft, and after observing the crash site, he reported there was no chance of survival. William Egan was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

While the fate William Egan is in little doubt, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different. Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.