John William Armstrong

480TH TFS, 366TH TFW, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
05 December 1926 - 07 June 1974
Dallas, TX
Panel 29E Line 055



John W Armstrong

USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John William Armstrong

9 Jun 2001


On the night of 09 Nov 1967, then-LTC John Armstrong, commander of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Da Nang, South Vietnam, and Weapons System Officer CAPT Lance P. Sijan were tasked with a bombing mission in the Ho Chi Minh Trail area of Laos. The target was Ban Loboy Ford, and a second F-4C was along as wingman.

Shortly before 9 PM, Armstrong rolled in on the target and released his ordnance. Almost immediately, the aircraft was engulfed in a ball of fire and entered a banking climb to about 10,000 feet before rolling to a near vertical plunge into the jungle below. Neither the Forward Air Controller nor Armstrong's wingman saw parachutes, but initiated SAR at once.

The SAR forces established contact with Sijan, who was badly hurt during his ejection and landing, but were unable to pick him up. SAR efforts continued the next day, but were called off when no further radio contact could be established with Sijan. No contact was made at any time with LTC John Armstrong. Both men were placed in MIA status.

Although wounded and without food, water, or even his survival kit, Sijan managed to evade the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces for 46 days before being captured on Christmas Day 1967. By that time, he was emaciated and in extremely poor shape. Never the less, he managed to cold-cock his guard and escape, but was recaptured within hours. He was transported to a holding compound in Vinh, North Vietnam, where he was put into the care of other American POWs. After another trip to Hanoi, Sijan's body failed him and he died of wounds and exhaustion on 22 January 1968. His mental determination and physical stamina so impressed his fellow POWs that, upon their return, Sijan was nominated for and received the Medal of Honor. Further details are available on a number of web sites; Mishalov's site and the are recommended. CAPT Sijan's remains were repatriated in 1974.

Now-Colonel John William Armstrong's remains have not been repatriated (29 Dec 03).

From one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Shirley F. Haas
273 Peach Tree Ave., Vacaville, Ca 95688-4442

29 Dec 2003

My father (MIA Lt Col John M. Martin ) was in Col Armstrong's squadron. I would like to locate surviving members of the 366th TFW and 480th TFS who may have known my father. Thank you and God Bless.

John M. Martin II

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wore his MIA bracelet,
Shirley F. Haas
273 Peach Tree Ave., Vacaville, Ca 95688-4442 
9 Jun 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 12/29/2003