Paul Wedlake Bannon

United States Air Force
15 October 1934 - 22 January 1979
Hueytown, Alabama
Panel 21W Line 105



USAF Pilot

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

The database page for Paul Wedlake Bannon

05 Jan 1999

Where to start? Colonel Bannon was not my Father or even a friend. I wore his POW/MIA bracelet as a child until a basketball coach insisted I remove it or not play. Had I known at the time that I would "grow up" to be 5 feet, 3 inches it may not have mattered so much. But I took the bracelet off. It held a place of honor on my dresser for many years but was finally left in a box that held all of my "precious things" which included my baby book, first shoes, Girl Scout badges, etcetera. My Father one day decided that I must not want them else I would have taken them with me.

But Paul W. Bannon never left my heart.

Years later (2 years ago, as a matter of fact) I visited DC for the first time. I went to "The Wall" and found Colonel Bannon's name and was touched in a place I had never been touched before. (I lost a brother at the age of 27 but I didn't feel the things I felt while standing before that Wall.) After walking away from that Wall I went to one of the many "souvenir" tables that surround The Wall. I was in tears and explained to the vendor that I had had a POW bracelet during the War but had lost it. He told me there was no way I would find a particular serviceman's bracelet. But... guess what? Colonel Bannon's was the third bracelet I put my hands on. More tears, of course.

The packet my bracelet came in contained a short biography which is where I learned that "my soldier" was from Hueytown, Alabama. Only a 2 hour drive from my current residence. I got a phone book from Birmingham, Alabama and wrote letters to the only "Bannon's" I could find. A few weeks later my phone rang and the caller was Jeff Bannon, Paul's son. He was very interested in his Father's original POW bracelet (which I no longer had) and I felt like a total failure.

Anyway, to end my story, Jeff Bannon was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at the time that I talked to him over 2 years ago. He was young and had a young child at the time. I don't know where he is now or if he is still alive as he hasn't returned calls or letters since that initial conversation.

But if you could please add his Father's name to "The Virtual Wall" I would be much in your debt.

Ami Partin

19 Feb 2005

Paul, it was my honor to be your 433rd TFS Flight Surgeon from 1968-69. You were an outstanding fighter pilot and a natural leader.

I was transferred to Vietnam just six weeks before Paul, and his backseater 'GIB' Peter Pike, were lost over Laos. I'd flown many sorties over Laos, and knew well the hazards of bad weather in the area. When I returned to Ubon from Vietnam on a Special Ops crew, I learned the fate of my pals, Peter and Paul. A tragic loss to this country, and to their loved ones!

Paul and Peter remain strapped in their Phantom deep in an Asian jungle, but God knows where they rest, and so do I.

From his Flight Surgeon and friend,
Dr. Vernon P. Wagner
Lt Col, USAF (Ret)

11 Jun 2006

I have a POW bracelet with Paul Bannon's name on it - I have had it for so many years, and as a World History teacher I proudly show it to my students every year, along with the rubbing of his name from the Wall. I have researched much about Colonel Bannon's service in Vietnam, and try to keep up with any new information. Every year my students are SO interested in the bracelet and the history of Vietnam, and every year I tell my students that I should try to locate Colonel Bannon's family to see if they would like to have it back. Although I would miss it greatly, I would be happy to do so. I feel as if it is part of my history (I wore it for several years in the 70's), but I know it is probably more important to his family! If anyone reads this and has advice or information, please let me know!

Jan Takac
San Antonio, Texas

01 May 2007

I am writing on behalf of my friend Piper. While she was rummaging around NYC she found a bracelet with COL Paul W. Bannon, USAF, 12 Jul 69 Laos and on the end of the cuff its says AL. It is quite a large silver cuff.

Is this the original? how many bracelets would exist? If you could shed any light on this mystery please do so. We are more than happy to return it to someone.

If you are searching for this bracelet please contact us at

Antoinette Zelig

08 Jun 2007

My Dad recently showed me his old POW bracelet. He researched the man on the internet and found out he had returned from Vietnam safely. It reminded me that the whole family had POW bracelets when I was a kid in the early 70's. My son was fascinated by the POW bracelet phenomenon which has far deeper meaning than his generation's Live Strong counterpart. It represented a specific person. I mentioned that I hadn't seen mine in years. My son then asked me if I remembered the name on mine and without a moment's hesitation, even to my own surprise,I said, "Major Paul Bannon". I prayed for this man for years, how could I forget that name? I remember mostly praying that he wasn't being tortured, because that's worse than anything. Now, thanks to the internet, and mostly to you wonderful people, I know a bit more about him.

Karen Klein

26 Aug 2007

I too have a bracelet with Maj. Paul Bannon 7-12-69 - I wore it for many years, and as everyone else put in my jewelry box. I look at it from time to time and wonder what his fate was. I say a prayer and go on with my day - happy to be free.

I now send packages to our men and women in Iraq, and thanking them for my freedom.

Freedom isn't free... Thanks to all the men and women who serve, you are special people.

Joanne Norbury
Middletown, New York

04 Nov 2007

I wore Colonel Bannon's MIA bracelet when I was a student at the University of Georgia back in the early 70s. In that pre-internet time, I did not know how to go about getting more information about him.

Last night, more than 30 years later, I was going through a box of mementos and came across his bracelet. I have thought about him off and on through the years, and it is so good to come across this site and find out more about him. I'm so glad there is a memorial for him here.

Elizabeth Burns

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 12 July 1969 then-Major Paul Bannon and then-1st Lt Peter Pike launched from Ubon RTAFB in F-4D tail number 66-7697 on a Wolf Forward Air Controller mission over the northern part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Laotian panhandle. The target area was covered with low cloud. Major Bannon, finding it impossible to operate below the overcast, advised the airborne control post that he was going to find a hole to climb through enroute to an area with better weather conditions. However, his radio transmission stopped in mid-sentence and the radar return from the Phantom disappeared from the controller's radar scope.

The aircraft was known to have gone down in a mountainous area south of Ban Nathon, but search and rescue efforts were severely hampered by bad weather. The SAR forces were unable to locate the F-4's wreckage, nor was voice contact established with either crewman. When the formal SAR effort was terminated both men were classed as Missing in Action since there was no firm evidence of their deaths.

The two men remained in MIA status (and were promoted while MIA) until the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for them, Colonel Bannon on 22 Jan 1979 and Captain Pike on 28 May 1974. As of 29 June 2006 their remains have not been repatriated.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Ami Partin

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AL State Index . Panel 21W
433RD TFS Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 05 Jan 1999
Last updated 01/20/2008