Williams Stephen Sanders
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 09 April 1943
Home City of Record: Winthrop ME
Date of Loss: 30 June 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164858N 1063138E (XD616601)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: SFC Albert E. Mosiello; Marvin E. Bell; Michael F. Dean; Paul L. Jenkins; John W. Goeglein; Leroy C. Schaneberg (all missing from a nearby HH53C)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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 2001 with information provided by Bill Shelton, LTC, USA,(Ret). 2020
SYNOPSIS: On June 30, 1970, a crew from the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Udorn Airfield, Thailand was dispatched to rescue a downed flight crew. Crew aboard the Sikorsky HH53C “Super Jolly” helicopter included the pilot, Capt. Leroy C. Schaneberg, crewmembers Major John W. Goeglein, MSgt. Paul L. Jenkins, SSgt. Marvin E. Bell, and SSgt. Michael F. Dean.
The members of the 40th Air R & R were trained for both air and sea recovery, and the big “Super Jolly” was equipped to airlift both the crew
and aircraft out of sticky situations.
The downed and injured pilot was located in Savannakhet Province, Laos, about two kilometers south of Bang Tang. The HH53C penetrated the area, known to be hostile, in an attempt to rescue the pilot, but was forced away by hostile ground fire. A second attempt was made, but the helicopter was hit by hostile fire, caught on fire, went out of control and crashed. The Air Force states it received evidence on July 4, 1970, that the crew was dead, but that evidence is not specifically described, and no remains identifiable as Bell, Dean, Goeglein, Schaneberg, or Jenkins have been recovered. Schaneberg received the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism as the aircraft commander on this rescue mission.
On the same day, Capt. Williams S. Sanders was flying an OV10A Bronco southeast of Khe Sanh at a point where Laos veers north to intrude on South Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down just inside Laos, not far from the location of the downed helicopter. The Bronco was generally used for marking targets, armed reconnaissance and forward air control, so the nature of Capt. Sanders’ mission and its precise relation to the mission of the Super Jolly from Udorn is unknown. The crew of the helicopter was numerically listed missing before the OV10, so it is does not seem likely that the helicopter was assisting the observation aircraft, but as no other aircraft is missing on that day in that area, either the downed pilot was Sanders or the pilot was rescued by other means.