MEYER, WILLIAM MICHAEL

Remains Returned 14 August 1985; Identified 25 October 1985
Name: William Michael Meyer 
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Colonel/US Air Force 
Unit: 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron 
Korat Air Base, Thailand 





Date of Birth: 22 November 1934
Home of Record: Taylor, MI
Date of Loss: 26 April 1967 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210400N 1055500E (WJ947313)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D "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 "Thud." Mass-produced after the Korean War, it served throughout Southeast Asia, particularly during Rolling Thunder operations.

On 26 April 1967, then Captain William M. Meyer was the pilot of an F105D Thunderchief that departed Korat Airbase as the number 4 aircraft in a flight of four. Capt. Meyer's call sign was Baltic 4. They were participating in an afternoon strike mission against the Song Duong railroad highway bridge over the Song Duong River on the northeast edge of Hanoi. Approximately 3 miles east of the bridge complex, the Song Duong branched off of the Song Hong Ha River, which was much better known as the Red River by the US pilots who flew missions across it.

The Song Duong railroad highway bridge was located in the open, flat and densely populated rice fields that were also laced with canals and roads of all sizes approximately 1 mile northeast of Gia Lam Airfield and 4 miles northeast of Hanoi. The entire area in and around Hanoi was very heavily defended by 85mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) batteries and was also ringed with surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries.

At 1615 hours, just before rolling in on the target, Baltic 3 observed Capt. Meyer in position, but did not see him roll in or off the bridge. Approximately one minute off target, Baltic Lead called for a radio check. Capt. Meyer did not respond to the Lead's radio call. Baltic Lead continued to try to raise William Meyer on channels 13, 14 and Guard for 5 minutes, but received no response from him.

None of the other pilots in Baltic Flight observed William Meyer in trouble at any time. They did not have communication with him after pulling off target, and no parachute was sighted by any of them in the chaos of the attack. However, in addition to receiving AAA fire, the other flight members reported seeing 2 or 3 smoke trails they believed were from SA-2 missiles. Because of the location of loss, no formal search and rescue (SAR) operation was possible. At the time the initial search conducted by Baltic flight was terminated, Capt. Meyer was listed Missing in Action.

There was no further information about William Meyer until the North Vietnamese returned his remains without explanation to US control on 14 August 1985. The remains were transported to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) where they were identified on 25 October 1985.

While William Meyer's fate is resolved, and his family and friends have the peace of mind of knowing where he is buried, there is still no answer as to how and when he died. 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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Pilots in Vietnam 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.