SYNOPSIS: Major William R. Andrews was a pilot assigned to the 433rd
Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. On October 5, 1966, he
was assigned a strike mission over North Vietnam in his F4C Phantom
fighter/bomber. (NOTE: U.S. Air Force records on this case indicate that
Andrews was the pilot of the aircraft. Other sources, including Defense
Department data, indicate that Andrews was the back-seater on the aircraft.)
Andrews flew on the number three aircraft in a flight of four. Following the
mission, the flight was directed to fly escort for two B-66's. A MiG alert
was issued after which it was noticed that the number three aircraft
(Andrews) was not in the formation. No radio contact was received from the
missing aircraft crew, but a short time later an emergency radio beeper
signal was heard.
Both crewmen ejected safely from their aircraft and reached the ground
without injury. Radio contact was subsequently made with Andrews, but due to
heavy ground fire, he was not recovered. He reported that he was uninjured,
but that North Vietnamese forces were approaching his position. The two went
down in Nghia Lo Province about 40 miles east-northeast of the city of Na
The second crewman was subsequently rescued. Andrews later reported that he
was wounded and losing consciousness. He was classified as Prisoner of War
and was expected to return in the prisoner release in 1973. Andrews did not
return in 1973, and the Vietnamese deny knowledge of his fate.
A later coordination of records showed that Andrews was listed Missing (not
prisoner) by Defense Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, while JCRC
(Thailand) carried him as Prisoner (not missing). JCRC was ordered to
"delete any references pertaining to PW status" in Andrews' case. The
reasons behind the order are unclear.
Thousands of reports of Americans alive in the hands of the Vietnamese have
been received by the U.S. since the end of the war. Many government
officials state that they believe Americans are currently being held against
their will in Southeast Asia. The question is, who are they, and how will we
bring them home? Is one of them William R. Andrews?
William R. Andrews was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the
period he was maintained Prisoner of War. On December 20, 1990, U.S.
officials announced that remains previously repatriated by the Vietnamese
had been positively identified as being those of William R. Andrews. After
24 years, Andrews was finally home.