FERGUSON, DOUGLAS DAVID "DOUG"

Name:  Douglas David "Doug" Ferguson
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force
Unit:  555th Tactical Fighter Squadron 
Udorn Airfield, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 26 April 1945
Home of Record: Tacoma, WA
Date of Loss: 30 December 1969 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  195900N 1032900E (UH413101)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  F4D "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: Fielding W. Featherston III (missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. 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. It 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.

On 30 December 1969, Capt. Fielding W. Featherston III, pilot, and then 1st Lt. Douglas D. Ferguson, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4D, call sign "Loredo 03." The mission identifier was Barrel Roll. Their intended target was a petroleum/oil/lubricant (POL) facility located in the heavily forested, mountainous area of Xiangkhouang Province, Laos. This region was under the complete control of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces. Further, this area of Laos was considered a major supplier of POL products for the communist war effort. It was located in close proximity to the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

At 1700 hours Capt. Featherston and 1st Lt. Ferguson arrived in the target area. The on site Forward Air Controller (FAC) directed them to strafe the target. An RF4C also participating in this mission arrived in time to observe Loredo 03 pulling off target, then watched as they made another pass on the POL facility. The crew of the RF4C then saw Fielding Featherston and Doug Ferguson's aircraft attempt a third ordnance delivery run and impact the ground approximately ¼ mile beyond the target resulting in an explosion and large fireball. The other aircrews in the area did not see any ground fire directed at Loredo 03. Likewise, they did not see the crew eject which they attributed in part to shadows cast by trees in and around the site. An electronic search was immediately initiated, but with negative results.

On 31 December, a visual, photographic and electronic search of the loss area was conducted. The wreckage was located approximately 25 kilometers southwest of Houamuang, 500 meters north-northwest of Nakhang and 200 meters west of Route 6 where the terrain gradually begins to slope upwards. A photograph of the crash location revealed what appeared to be two parachutes hanging in the trees, however, there was no indication of the whereabouts of the two pilots. When no contact could be established with either officer, the search was terminated. Capt. Featherston and Capt. Ferguson were immediately listed Missing in Action.

Over the years additional analysis of that photograph depicting two possible parachutes has been conducted. Those examinations were done in 1975 and 1985. The results of both of these analysis could not prove conclusively one way or the other if what was originally believed to be parachutes, was in fact parachutes, an anomaly caused by shadows or something else altogether.

Fielding Featherston and Doug Ferguson are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.