William D. Frawley

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William D. Frawley



In Memory of William D. Frawley


William Frawley



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  • Name: William David Frawley
  • Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
  • Unit: Fighter Squadron 143, USS RANGER (CVA-61)
  • Date of Birth: 14 November 1938
  • Home City of Record: Brockton MA
  • Date of Loss: 01 March 1966
  • Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
  • Loss Coordinates: 200700N 1062500E (XH480248)
  • Status (in 1973): Body Not Recovered
  • Category: 5
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B
  • Other Personnel in Incident: William M. Christensen (missing)


Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 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.


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. 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.


LT. William D. Frawley was a pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 onboard the aircraft carrier USS RANGER. On March 1, 1966, he launched in his F4B Phantom with his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), LTJG William M. Christensen. Along with two other F4 aircraft, they were assigned an armed coastal reconnaissance mission.
After routine aerial refueling, they began their mission into what was deteriorating weather conditions. While just off the coast of North Vietnam and at extremely low level, all three aircraft began a coordinated low-level turn through inclement weather. Midway through the turn, the lead aircraft lost contact with Frawley's plane.
The flight leader radioed Frawley to see if he held the flight leader visually. Frawley responded that he did not. The flight leader then joined up on the third F4, but neither were able to contact or get a visual on Frawley's aircraft. The flight leader contacted a rescue destroyer and gave the shop the last known position of frawley's aircraft.
Limited search efforts were begun by the USS BERKELEY, USS ISBELL and HU-16 and A-1H aircraft, covering an area from the shoreline out to 10 miles. No visual or electronic signals were made of the two crewmembers. The other two F4s returned safely to the RANGER without further incident.
It was learned later that during the course of events, the crew of the second aircraft did near a surface-to-air missile (SAM) alert warning on UHF radio, but no missiles were seen or reported fire. Circumstances strongly suggest collision with the water, however enemy action was not ruled out. Their last known location was approximately 50 miles southwest of Haiphong, and about 10 miles south of the city of Hoanh Dong, North Vietnam. Both men were declared Missing in Action, but because it was suspected they crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin, it is not believed their remains, if killed, are recoverable.
The following day, evidence of an aircraft crash was located just off the shoreline which was believed to increase the chance that the plane was shot down by enemy fire. No trace was ever found of Frawley of Christensen, and the decision to keep them in Missing in Action status rather than Killed status was made. This status was maintained for the next 7 years.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released from prisons in Vietnam. A list of those who died in captivity was provided, and some of their remains were repatriated. Some remains have been repatriated since. There were many men who were known to have survived their loss incident who did not return. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of these men, even though some were photographed as their captives.
Unlike "MIAs" from other wars, most of the over 2300 remaining missing in Southeast could be accounted for. Because of this, and because the U.S. has received thousands of reports indicating hundreds of Americans are still held captive in Southeast Asia, we cannot close this chapter of the Vietnam war.
Perhaps Frawley and Christenson perished. Perhaps in their story, they have another mission to fly -- that of telling us never to quit, never to give up until ALL Americans are home, especially those who are still alive, captive and fighting the war that claimed America's best sons -- like Bill Christensen and Bill Frawley.


Thanks to Ron Fleischer.


"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."

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