FREDERICK, PETER JOSEPH

Name:  Peter Joseph Frederick
Rank/Branch: Colonel/US Air Force
Unit:  355th Tactical Fighter Wing 
Takhli Airbase, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 30 August 1924
Home of Record: Long Island City, NY
Date of Loss: 15 March 1967
Country of Loss:  North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates:  192700N 1040500E (VG047524)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  F105  "Thunderchief"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

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 15 March 1967, then Lt. Col. Peter J. Frederick was the pilot of the #2 aircraft, call sign "Hotrod 02," in a flight of two on an armed route reconnaissance mission. Their planned flight was from Takhli Airbase to the target coordinates and back to Takhli. Their mission area was a section of western North Vietnam and eastern Laos bordered by 1602N/10207E, 1810N/10210E, 1907N/10255E and 1928N/10405E.

This area 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.

After departing Takhli, Hotrod flight refueled from an airborne tanker, then contacted Cricket Control, the command and control center, for their specific target coordinates. Weather conditions in the area were clear with a haze layer to 12,000 feet and visibility of 2 miles "down sun" and 1.5 miles "up sun." Cricket Control advised them not to go below 10,000 feet because weather conditions were turning marginal. There were some isolated puffy clouds to 9,500 feet. Further, they were advised they would be used south of their position by the on-site Forward Air Controller (FAC) who would control their mission.

The FAC cleared Hotrod flight to investigate a section of road and to expend ordnance on lucrative targets on that route. Lead radioed Lt. Col. Frederick not to go below 10,000 feet and to try to keep him in sight during the attack run. Peter Frederick acknowledged the call. Both aircraft began to roll in on targets on the road in the vicinity of 192755N 1040530E where the FAC was orbiting.

Hotrod lead was to the right of the road when he climbed off target. As he pulled up, he tried to contact Lt. Col. Frederick, but got no response from his wingman. Because of his position, Lead could not see Hotrod 02 as he rolled in on the target, but thought this was because of the haze. At 0915 hours, Lead switched to Guard Channel, but still was unable to make contact with Peter Frederick. Lead requested assistance with a radar search of the target area on the premise that his wingman was downed by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) or automatic weapons fire even though he saw none.

Hotrod Lead conducted Rescap (Rescue Air Patrol) in the area for his wingman until he was relieved by other search and rescue (SAR) flights. At that time he left to refuel from an orbiting tanker. After refueling, Lead rejoined the other aircraft in the on going SAR effort. At that time he learned from the other pilots that they had taken heavy ground fire as they circled around the loss location in the extremely rugged, jungle covered mountains of western North Vietnam approximately 1 mile east of the border with Laos and 5 miles northwest of Muang Sen, North Vietnam.
 
 

At 1040 hours the SAR operation was terminated. Hotrod Lead was given permission to take one more look for his wingman. During that pass he still saw no sign of the Thunderchief or its pilot. Likewise, no emergency beeper was heard by any of the pilots emanating from the rugged jungle covered mountains. A ground search was not possible due to the area being under total enemy control. At the time SAR operations were terminated, Hotrod Lead was forced to divert to DaNang Airfield, South Vietnam with battle damage sustained during the mission and Peter J. Frederick was immediately listed Missing in Action.

Peter Frederick is one many men lost within the limits of the ill-defined border region of Vietnam and Laos. One of the many questions surrounding this loss is whose communist troops were responsible for downing Hotrod 02, and who actually captured him - the NVA or the Pathet Lao? In reality was he one of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos even though he was listed as a casualty in North Vietnam?

Many of the men and women captured in Laos were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians 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 through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

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.

Fighter pilots were called upon to fly 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.