Austin, Joseph Clair, Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1967-1979, MIA Vietnam
Service Years
1948 - 1967
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

27 kb

Home State
West Virginia
West Virginia
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Austin, Joseph Clair, Col.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Moundsville, WV
Last Address
Korat RTAFB, Thailand

Casualty Date
Mar 19, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
16E 109

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

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

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 Ribbon Bar

Aviator (Command)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
34th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Rams388th Tactical Fighter WingUS Air Force
  1966-1967, 00066, 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Rams
  1966-1967, 1115E, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing
  1967-1979, MIA Vietnam
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1967 Various Air Missions over North Vietnam
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1948-1952, United States Military Academy
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-105 Thunderchief (Thud)  
  1965-1967, F-105 Thunderchief (Thud)
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Lt Col Joseph C. Austin was an F-105 pilot assigned a mission over North Vietnam on March 19, 1967. Departing from his base (probably in Thailand), Austin proceeded to his mission area. When Austin's aircraft was just east of the Ban Karai Pass, it was hit by enemy fire and crashed. The Ban Karai Pass is one of several passageways through the mountainous border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from Thailand to missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and many aircraft were lost.

On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail", a road heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of neutral Laos. The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that of those men lost in more populous areas, even though both were shot down by the same enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to the extremely rugged terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery. It was not known if Austin safely ejected from his aircraft, but not thought likely that he survived.

However, because the opportunity existed for him to eject safely, Austin was declared Missing in Action rather than presumed dead. When 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming in 1973, Austin was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him, although it was their guns that downed him and it is unlikely that the crashing aircraft escaped their attention. The U.S. believes the Vietnamese can account for Austin, alive or dead. Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy.

He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.
His remains have never been found. He is memorialized on Court A of the Courts of the Missing.

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