|Name:||Lawrence Gerard Evert|
|Rank/Branch:||Lieutenant Colonel/US Air Force|
355th Tactical Fighter Wing
Takhli Airbase, Thailand
|Date of Birth:||15 March 1938|
|Home of Record:||Cody, WY|
|Date of Loss:||08 November 1967|
|Country of Loss:||North Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view (4) maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The principle Air Force tactical strike aircraft during the Vietnam War was the Republic F105 Thunderchief, nicknamed a "Thud." Mass-produced after the Korean War, it served throughout Southeast Asia, particularly during Rolling Thunder operations.
On 8 November 1967, then Captain Lawrence G. Evert was the pilot of an F105D (serial #61-0094) that departed Takhli Airbase as the #4 aircraft in a flight of 4. Capt. Evert's call sign was "Bison 04." The Flight was conducting a morning strike mission against the Phuc Yen railroad by-pass bridge located approximately 5 miles west of Phuc Yen MiG base, 7 miles southeast of Vinh Yen and 15 miles north-northwest of Hanoi. The bridge complex is located in an open, flat and densely populated region laced with rivers, waterways and roads of all sizes crisscrossing it in all directions. It was also dotted with villages, towns and cities throughout the area that supported a wide variety of industry, much of which was geared toward the communist's war effort. Rice fields flourished everywhere.
Bison flight progressed to the target without incident. At 0900 hours, Bison Lead initiated its attack with the rest of the flight following in turn. Capt. Evert's aircraft was last seen over the Phuc Yen bridge complex as he rolled in on the bridge. Other flight members were not aware that he was missing until he failed to make the standard radio check-in call upon egressing the target.
At least one pilot saw a white and gray mushroom cloud on the west side of the railroad by-pass bridge that could have been the aircraft impact. One pilot reported hearing Lawrence Evert radio, "I'm hit!" Another heard him say, "I'm hit hard!" And on the tape recording "I'm hit" is clearly discernable. The rest of the flight reported heavy 37mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) in the target area as well as surface-to-air missile (SAM) warnings.
Later a review of the strike camera film showed the aircraft just prior to and for a few seconds following impact. No parachute was seen by other flight members or by the camera. However, a strong beeper was heard for 10 seconds. No search and rescue (SAR) operation was possible due to the loss being deep in enemy-held territory. Lawrence Evert was immediately listed Missing in Action.
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, 2 North Vietnamese radio messages were intercepted and correlated to this incident. The first NSA synopsis states: "Loss attributed to possible 37mm AAA." The second report added a little more, "Shot down by SAM/AAA. No reflections of pilot status."
If Lawrence Evert died in the loss of his aircraft, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he ejected his crippled Thunderchief, there is no question he would have been captured, and his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way, there is no question the Vietnamese could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.
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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Pilots in Vietnam were called upon to 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.