John Wayne Lafayette

Army of the United States
01 August 1939 - 15 November 1973
Waterbury, Vermont
Panel 06E Line 090

United States Army


John W Lafayette

Army Aviator

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

The database page for John Wayne Lafayette

17 Nov 1999

My name is Helen and I have a POW/MIA bracelet for Captain (now Major - as per my bracelet) John Wayne Lafayette. He was in the 20th ASTA, an Army air detachment as an observer in OV-1 Mohawks that flew from Phu Bai over Laos and he and his pilot went missing in April 1966.

27 Sep 2004

Here is a quote that I'd like to dedicate to John:

"Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do -- can love things that no one else can love ... We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music. You know what to do."

John made music.

From one who wears his MIA Bracelet,
E-mail address is not available.

Visit Operation Just Cause

30 Oct 2004

Dear John and John's Family,

My Name is Richard R. Hammond of Milton, Vermont. I have adopted you as my POW/MIA. I am doing my best to bring you home. I don't have your bracelet yet as I am not sure how to get it or get one made. I have read a lot about you, bought books about your unit and have written many letters to the President and other officials about finding my Hero and bringing you home so you may rest in Peace and to help you get out of the hell of war you are still in. Until then may God bless you - and God Speed, Sir!

Rick R. Hammond
401 Route 7 South #23, Milton, Vt 05468

05 Feb 2007

Dear John,

I adopted you several years ago as my POW/MIA. I am a fellow Vermonter and a Vietnam Veteran that came home.

I wear your bracelet every day and will do everything I can to see that you are brought home also.

Every morning when I put on your bracelet I read your name out loud so you will not be forgotten.

Until you are home to the Green Mountains again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

From a fellow vet,
Moe Burden
E-mail address is not available.

03 Jul 2007

Dear John and John's family,

I live in the United Kingdom and have had an interest in the Vietnam war since an early age. I'm now twenty-seven and I sent off for an MIA/POW bracelet as it is important to keep their memory alive. I recived a bracelet which bears John W Lafayette's name on it and I feel it an honour and privilege to wear it on my wrist every day.

Richard Halford

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 06 April 1966 a section of OV-1 Mohawk aircraft departed Hue/Phu Bai on a reconnaissance mission in Laos. The two aircraft were assigned to the 20th Air Surveillance and Targeting Detachment (20th ASTA) and were crewed by
  • OV-1A tail number 63-13116
    • Captain Harry Duensing, pilot, and
    • SP4 Larry Johnson, observer

  • OV-1A tail number 63-13117
    • Captain James W. Gates, pilot, and
    • Captain John W. Lafayette, observer
In the spring of 1966 the 20th ASTA was under the direct operational control of MAC-V Headquarters, and MAC-V was represented: although the other three men were assigned to the 20th ASTA, Captain Lafayette was assigned to the Operations Directorate (J-3), MAC-V Headquarters.

The two aircraft, with Duensing as lead, proceeded west toward Laos, checking in with "HILLSBOROUGH", the Air Force airborne command post aircraft, enroute. HILLSBOROUGH matched the Mohawks with two Forward Air Controllers who would help work the recon mission.

Shortly before 5 PM, HILLSBOROUGH received Mayday calls from both Mohawks - Captain Duensing had been downed by antiaircraft fire, and when Captain Gates took position overhead the downed Mohawk he too was hit. Search and rescue efforts began at once, and by 5:30 PM the FACs had located both crash sites and established radio contact with all four aircrewmen. They were about a kilometer apart on the lower slopes of a hill some 9 kilometers inside Laos.

At approximately 6:15 PM Captain Lafayette radioed that enemy troops were closing in on him and Gates and they were in imminent danger of capture. Shortly thereafter radio contact was lost. While Gates and Lafayette could not be rescued, the two crewmen from 63-13116 were picked up by an Air Force SAR helicopter.

Gates and Lafayette were classed as Missing in Action and were continued in that status until the Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of Death for them, Lafayette on 15 Nov 1973 and Gates on 28 Oct 1977. Their remains have not been repatriated.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 17 Nov 1999
Last updated 08/10/2009