COOK, DWIGHT WILLIAM

Remains Recovered 3 June 1994; Identified 23 October 1995
Name: Dwight William Cook   
Rank/Branch: 1st Lieutenant/US Air Force 
Unit: 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron 
Ubon Airbase, Thailand 





Date of Birth: 08 July 1948
Home of Record: Center Point, IA
Date of Loss: 21 September 1972 
Country of Loss: Laos 
Loss Coordinates: 191900N 1030900E (UG056368)
Click corrdinates to view (4) map

Status in 1973: Missing in Action/Died In Captivity               
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: Roger W. Carroll (remains recovered) 

REMARKS:

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.

By September 1972, Major Carroll was the Deputy Commander of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron as well as being well into his second tour of duty in Vietnam.

On 21 September 1972, Major Roger W. Carroll, Jr., pilot; and 1st Lt. Dwight W. Cook, weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of an F4D (serial # ..-8769), call sign "Joyhop 01," that departed Ubon as the lead aircraft in a flight that was conducting a night operational mission against Pathet Lao forces operating in the strategic Plaine des Jarres, Xieng Khouang Province, Laos.

At 0355 hours, Major Carroll and 1st Lt. Cook were making an attack pass on a target moving along a north/south primary road identified as Route 5 when their aircraft was struck by enemy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire. The onsite Forward Air Controller (FAC) operating with them observed the Phantom crash. In the pre-dawn darkness, he saw no parachutes and heard no emergency radio beepers.

Search and rescue aircraft were called in, but they were unable to locate ant sign of Major Carroll or 1st Lt. Cook. Because the area was under total enemy control, no ground search was possible. At the time the aerial search was terminated, Roger Carroll and Dwight Cook were immediately listed Missing in Action.

The location of loss was in the southeast portion of the Plaine des Jarres that was heavily populated and covered with rice fields. It was also approximately 1 mile east of Route 5, the north/south primary road; 3 miles northeast of Muang Pang, 5 miles southwest of Ban Phuang and 8 miles south of the Xieng Khouang airfield. Major road junctions were located at both Muang Pang and Ban Phuang where they crossed Route 5 allowing for the movement of men and material in all directions throughout this vital region.

In early November 1972, 1st Lt. Cook's blood chit was recovered from the crash site and sent to the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC) on 11 November 1972. There were human remains reportedly seen at the crash site at the time the blood chit was recovered. Due to the tactical situation at the time, no attempt to recover the remains was possible. Further, given the location of loss with a large number of Pathet Lao troops and local villagers living in and around the area, there was a question of to whom those remains really belonged, an American or an Asian.

In 1973 after Operation Homecoming, Major Carroll and 1st Lt. Cook were both reclassified as having "Died in Captivity," a status that documented our government's knowledge that they had been captured and were Prisoners of War who died under the control of enemy forces. Up until that time Roger Carroll's family had not been told there was a possibility he might have survived the loss of his aircraft let alone the probability that he had been captured.

In 1983, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) received hearsay information of a crash site in the area of the Plaine des Jarres where this loss incident occurred. In 1986 JCRC personnel interviewed another source in Thailand who reported having been at a crash site in Laos. The aircraft was scattered over a wide area. The source also reported seeing bones at the site and these were left in place. JCRC personnel received more reports in 1987 and 1988 that described a crash site with human remains and artifacts visible. These reports were believed to correlate to the loss of Joyhop 01.

In 1992, a National Security Agency (NSA) correlation study of all communist radio intercepts pertaining to missing Americans, which was presented to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in a classified format, was finally declassified and made public. According to this document, 5 North Vietnamese radio messages were intercepted and correlated to this incident.

The NSA synopsis states: "Shot down by AAA. The 120th AAA Battalion of the 284th AAA Regiment shot down one F4 and captured one of the pilots at 1556z on 26 September 1972. An AAA unit fired on a F4B causing it to trail flames. No report of actual crash or reflections of aircrew. DIA concurs with the initial ..…. Correlation for this case. The …... indicates at least one of the crew was captured and one was dead. This information has already been incorporated in an all source position for this Refno. This recent review of the ……did not add anything new to Refno 1926."

On 1 December 1992, Senator Bob Smith submitted to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs a list of "American POWs who may have survived in captivity". The short synopsis included in this document for Dwight Cook states: "identified as POW by Thai returnees, 1973 - possibly captured according to NSA intercept correlation." While comments were listed for Dwight Cook, none were provided for Roger Carroll in this document.

In September 1993, the first of four joint crash site excavations was conducted with personnel from the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA). The other excavations took place during March 1994, April 1994 and June 1994. During the March excavation a bone fragment was found. Another team found Dwight Cook's ID card, wreckage and "pilot related material" along with another piece of human bone in June 1994.

The two bone fragments were transported to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) for examination shortly after the site excavation was completed. After examining the bone fragments, CIL-HI personnel determined they were too small and fragmented for DNA testing.

The fact that 1st Lt. Cook's blood chit and ID card were found at the crash site went toward the circumstantial identification of the remains of both crewmen. In the end Roger Carroll and Dwight Cook were simply identified as a "group identification" on 23 October 1995. Their families buried the two bone fragments in one grave with a headstone bearing both men's names.

1st Lt. Cook and Major Carroll were among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Lao admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or the Paris Peace Accords since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

While the fate of Roger Carroll and Dwight Cook are finally resolved and each man's family has the peace of mind of knowing where their loved one now lies, for other Americans who remain unaccounted for, their fate could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, over 21,000 reports of American Prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and 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.

Roger Carroll attended the University of Kansas before joining the United States Air Force.