Walter Harrison Sigafoos III

Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force

Date of Birth: 29 August 1946

Home City of Record: Richboro PA

Date of Loss: 25 April 1971

Country of Loss: Laos

Loss Coordinates: 153700N 1065700E (YC090273)

Status (in 1973): Missing In Action

Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D

Other Personnel In Incident: Jeffrey C. Lemon (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2003.

Attended the USAF Academy.


SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. 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. Most pilots considered it one of the “hottest” planes around.

Capt. Jeffrey C. Lemon was the pilot and 1Lt. Walter H. Sigafoos III the weapons/systems officer of an F4D fighter jet sent on a combat mission over Laos on april 25, 1971. During the mission, the aircraft was shot down about 15 miles northeast of the city of Ban Phone in Saravane Province. Both crewmen were declared missing in action.

In 1973, the prisoners of war held in Vietnam were released. Laos was not part of the Paris agreement which ended American involvement in Indochina and no prisoners held by the Lao were ever released. Nearly 600 Americans were left behind, forgotten and abandoned by the country they proudly served.

In 1975, refugees fled Southeast Asia and brought with them stories of Americans prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The reports continued to flow in as the years passed. By 1990, over 10,000 reports had been received. Some sources have passed multiple polygraph tests, but the U.S. Government still insists that proof is not available.

Meanwhile, the Lao voice dismay about the large numbers of their people that were killed and the fact that much of their once beautiful homeland now is cratered like the moon from bombs dropped by American planes. They seem to want acknowledgement that, in bombing enemy sanctuaries in Laos, we also did great harm to the Lao people.

We are haunted by the secret war we conducted in Laos through the lives of the Americans we left behind. Some of them are still alive. What must they be thinking of us?

Jeffrey Lemon was promoted to the rank of Major and Walter Sigafoos to the rank of Captain during the period they were maintained missing.


Associated Press Newswires Saturday, July 5, 2003

Missing Vietnam soldier’s fate still haunts brother

NEWTOWN, Pa. (AP) – More than three decades after his brother was declared missing in action in Vietnam, Alan Sigafoos says he hasn’t given up hope.

“If anybody could survive, he would be one of them,” Sigafoos said of his brother, Capt. Walter H. Sigafoos III. “Until the military comes up with something, I still have hope.”

The soldier, a Bucks County native, was an Air Force weapons systems officer and navigator on an F-4 Phantom jet escorting a gunship off the shores of Vietnam when he was declared MIA on April 25, 1971.

“They saw a (Viet Cong) convoy and all of a sudden there was an explosion,” said Alan Sigafoos, 50, who was born seven years after his brother. The plane crashed and a rescue attempt was made, but failed. Word of his brother’s crash came as Alan Sigafoos was finishing his first military assignment with the Air Force. He later left active duty, joined the reserves and has been a Newtown Township police officer since 1977.

But time has not eased the pain he suffered from the loss of his only sibling, and the uncertainty about his fate.

“I idolized him so much,” he said. “I don’t have a brother to share secrets with.” 

* SOURCE : POW Network 

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