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Back TO Main!

William Henry Ostermeyer

 

Name: William Henry Ostermeyer
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 15 March 1945 (Cleveland OH)
Home City of Record: Orlando FL
Date of Loss: 12 May 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 171200N 1960900E (XE222018)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Other Personnel in Incident: Lonnie P. Bogard (Missing)

Here is His story!

 

William's Story!

 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. 
The F4 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. 

Capt. Lonnie P. Bogard, had celebrated his birthday the day before he
was 
assigned a night low-level reconnaissance mission along the Ho Chi Minh
trail on 
May 12, 1972. Bogard was the pilot, and 1Lt. William H. Ostermeyer the 
electronics officer comprising the crew of an F4D Phantom. The mission
went 
according to plan until after a scheduled mid-air refueling, after which
radio 
contact was lost with the aircraft. At last contact, Bogard and
Ostermeyer were 
near the Ban Karai Pass in Savannakhet Province, Laos. 

The Ban Karai Pass was 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. 

The U.S. Air Force placed Bogard and Ostermeyer in the category of
Missing in 
Action. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) further refined that
category to 
include the likelihood of enemy knowledge, classifying Bogard and
Ostermeyer as 
Category 4. Category 4 includes those individuals on whom no
intelligence exists 
to support the belief that the enemy knew details of the loss, or
individuals 
whose loss time and location are unknown. 

The families of Bogard and Ostermeyer understood that the two could have
been 
captured by either Pathet Lao forces or North Vietnamese, and waited for
the war 
to end. 

When peace agreements were signed, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
informed 
the families of the men prisoner and missing that their men would soon
come 
home. When asked specifically if the agreements included all countries
(Vietnam, 
Cambodia, China and Laos), Kissinger replied, "What do you think took us
so 
long." 

When 591 American prisoners were released in the spring of 1973, it
became 
evident that Kissinger had lied to the families. No prisoners held by
the 
Chinese, Lao or Cambodians were released, even though the Pathet Lao had
stated 
on a number of occasions that they held "tens of tens" of Americans.
Kissinger 
had not negotiated for these men. 

In Laos alone, nearly 600 Americans are Prisoner of War or Missing in
Action. 
Since 1975, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans still missing in 
Southeast Asia, convincing many authorities that hundreds of Americans
are still 
held in captivity. Lonnie Bogard and William Ostermeyer could be among
them. 
It's time we brought our men home. 
 I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep pushing this
issue inside the Beltway...
The need to get specific answers is more important now than ever before.
If still alive, some MIAs are now in their 70s...They don't have much
time left. We have to demand the answers from the bureaucrats and keep
standing on their necks (figuratively speaking) until they get the
message that THEY work for US and that we are serious about getting
these long overdue responses. Diplomatic considerations aside...
We can no longer allow questionable protocols established by
pseudo-aristocratic armchair strategists, to determine or influence the
fate of the men who were in the trenches while the diplomats were
sharing sherry and canapes and talking about "Their Plans" for the
future of SE Asia.
If you'd like to see what some others are doing in addition to writing
their congressmen, senators and the Whitehouse, check out some of these
sites: 
http://hawk.nji.com/~mred/mialist.htm

Another remarkable site is by an 11 year old angel who never even set
foot on American soil...She not only put up a page...she started a major
project for an organization of Kids on the Net called KeyPals
International.
Her MIA page is at http://www.geocities.com/~angelicdevil/mia.html but
don't miss her Bring Grandpa Home page at
http://www.worldkids.net/clubs/kci/projects/Bring.html.
If you come away from that site without a lump in your throat, then you
just weren't paying attention.

Credits

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.