Armstrong, John William, Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1967-1967, 1115F, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing - Gunfighters
Service Years
1949 - 1967
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Armstrong, John William, Col.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Dallas, Texas
Last Address
Da Nang Air Base, RVN

Casualty Date
Nov 09, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
29E 055

 Official Badges 

Missileman (Basic) Professional Military Education

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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Aviator (Senior)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
480th Tactical Fighter Squadron366th Tactical Fighter Wing - Gunfighters
  1967-1967, 1115F, 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1967-1967, 1115F, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing - Gunfighters
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1967 Vietnam War
 Colleges Attended 
Southern Methodist UniversityUnited States Military AcademyUniversity of Southern California
  1944-1945, Southern Methodist University
  1945-1949, United States Military Academy
  1965-1966, University of Southern California
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-84 Thunderjet  F-4 Phantom  
  1950-1950, F-84 Thunderjet
  1967-1967, F-4 Phantom
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Other Personnel in Incident: Captain Lance P. Sijan (Died in Captivity, Remains returned) 

Then Lt. Col. John W. Armstrong was the Commander of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam.

On 9 November 1967, Lt. Col. Armstrong, pilot; and Capt. Lance P. Sijan, co-pilot; comprised the crew of an F4C, call sign "AWOL 01," that departed their base as the lead aircraft in a flight of two. They were on a Forward Air Control strike mission against enemy targets along a portion of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail located in extremely rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 35 miles southwest of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam; 3 miles northwest of Ban Loboy and 5 miles southwest of the Lao/North Vietnamese border, Khammouan Province, Laos. This area of eastern Laos 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.

At 2045 hours, on the second pass over the target, the aircraft was hit by hostile fire, was seen to burst into flames and began to climb to approximately 10,000 feet, then rapidly descend and crash into the dense jungle below.

No parachutes were seen in the darkness and no emergency beepers heard. Search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated and voice contact was established with Lance Sijan almost immediately. No contact could be established with Lt. Col. Armstrong.

Because of heavy enemy activity around the crash site, SAR personnel were unable to reach Capt. Sijan and were unable to locate any sign of Lt. Col. Armstrong. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, both John Armstrong and Lance Sijan were listed Missing in Action. Lance Sijan was badly injured in his low-level bailout from the damaged Phantom.

Even with his extensive injuries, he was able to evade capture for 45 days. North Vietnamese troops found him on Christmas Day lying unconscious next to the road that had been their target and only 3 miles from where he had been shot down. He died in captivity on 22 January 1968 - approximately 8 days after reaching Hanoi and two weeks after being captured.

On 13 March 1974, Lance Sijan's remains, along with the headstone used to mark his grave in North Vietnam, were returned to the United States. Further, Lance Peter Sijan was awarded this nation's highest decoration for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his fierce resistance during interrogation and determination to resist his captures and escape captivity in spite of his emaciated and crippled condition. Before his death, Capt. Sijan was held in a cell with two other Americans. He recounted the circumstances surrounding their shootdown to them, but unfortunately, he could shed no light on the fate of Lt. Col. John Armstrong before he died.

The National Security Agency (NSA), however, intercepted enemy radio transmissions and correlated information which confirmed that John Armstrong, who would be a prize catch for the communists because of his background and position, was known captured alive in Laos. According to these reports, NSA documented that he was interviewed by a Soviet war correspondent. Much later, a Pathet Lao defector, who claimed to have been a prison camp guard, stated that in 1977 he had been guarding several Americans. According to his report, one was named "Armstrong". However, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) states they place no validity in this report.

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