SETTERQUIST, FRANCIS LESLIE

Name: Francis Leslie Setterquist   
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force 
Unit: 14th Tactical Recon Squadron 
Udorn Airfield, Thailand 





Date of Birth: 05 October 1941
Home of Record: Cloquet, MN
Date of Loss: 23 August 1968 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175400N 1054900E (WE880880)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles L. Bergevin (missing) 

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.

The Mu Gia Pass was considered a major gateway into 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 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 stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

On 23 August 1968, then 1st Lt. Leslie L. Setterquist, pilot; and 1st Lt. Charles L. Bergevin, navigator; comprised the crew of an RF4C, call sign "Semantic," that was conducting a night photo reconnaissance mission. The target was logged simply as "3 interdiction points" that were located in the jungle covered mountains northeast of the Mu Gia Pass. Weather in a 10 nautical mile radius of the target area included dissipating thunderstorms and rain showers with the cloud tops at 16,000 to 18,000 feet.

The 3 interdiction points Semantic flight was to photograph were located along Route 15 in a region that was densely populated and heavily defended by enemy troops. It was also one of the most vital supply routes used by the NVA, and was approximately 40 kilometers west-northwest of Tuyen Hoa and 10 kilometers north of Xom Ve. It was also 1 mile southwest of Thanh Lang Xa, 21 miles north-northeast of Mu Gia Pass, 48 miles south of Vinh and 62 miles northwest of Dong Hoi, La Dinh Province North Vietnam.

The Phantom departed Udorn Airfield at 2014 hours. At 2027 hours, Capt. Setterquist checked in with the airborne command and control aircraft, call sign "Alleycat." He requested clearance to initiate the photo run and they were granted it at 2030 hours. Leslie Setterquist acknowledged Alleycat's transmission, then rolled in to begin the low-level photo pass. The section of Route 15 to be photographed ran in a generally north/south direction. A single-track railroad line that ran between the major cities of Vinh and Dong Hoi intersected Route 15 approximately 4 miles to the northeast of the target location. The village of Thanh Lang Xa was just to the south of the northern-most road junction. The second road junction was only 5 miles south of the town.

1st Lt. Setterquist and 1st Lt. Bergevin were to check in with "Waterboy," the ground control radar station for flight instructions following completion of their reconnaissance mission as well as with Alleycat. At 2100 hours, Alleycat queried Waterboy as to the status of Semantic and was informed that they had not checked in. Alleycat immediately called in two F4C sorties to conduct an electronic search that evening with negative results. Subsequent electronic, visual and photo search and rescue (SAR) operations were initiated at first light the next morning, but none found any trace of the missing aircraft or its crew. At the time the formal search was terminated, Leslie Setterquist and Charles Bergevin were listed Missing in Action.

If Charles Bergevin and Leslie Setterquist died in the loss of their aircraft, each man has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if they survived their loss, they most certainly would have been captured and their 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 or Lao could return them or their 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 POWs 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.