|Name:||Fielding Wesley Featherston III|
|Rank/Branch:||Captain/US Air Force|
Tactical Fighter Squadron
Udorn Airfield, Thailand
|Date of Birth:||03 December 1942|
|Home of Record:||Wickliffe, OH|
|Date of Loss:||30 December 1969|
|Country of Loss:||Laos|
|Loss Coordinates:||195900N 1032900E
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing In Action|
|Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:||F4D "Phantom II"|
|Other Personnel in Incident:||Douglas D. Ferguson (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. 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. It 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.
On 30 December 1969, Capt. Fielding W. Featherston III, pilot, and 1st Lt. Douglas D. Ferguson, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4D, call sign "Loredo 03," mission identifier: Barrel Roll. Their intended target was a petroleum/oil/lubricant (POL) facility located in the heavily forested, mountainous area of Xiangkhouang Province, Laos. This region was under the complete control of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces. Further, this area of Laos was considered a major supplier of POL products for the communist war effort. It was located in close proximity to 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.
At 1700 hours Capt. Featherston and Capt. Ferguson arrived in the target area. The on site Forward Air Controller (FAC) directed them to strafe the target. An RF4C also participating in this mission arrived in time to observe Loredo 03 pulling off target, then watched as they made another pass on the POL facility. The crew of the RF4C then saw Fielding Featherston and Doug Ferguson's aircraft attempt a third ordnance delivery run and impact the ground approximately ¼ mile beyond the target resulting in an explosion and large fireball. The other aircrews in the area did not see any ground fire directed at Loredo 03. Likewise, they did not see the crew eject which they attributed in part to shadows cast by trees in and around the site. An electronic search was immediately initiated, but with negative results.
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