Francis Anthony Walsh, Jr

United States Air Force
14 February 1940 - 21 December 1972
Westport, Connecticut
Panel 01W Line 102



USAF Pilot

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

The database page for Francis Anthony Walsh, Jr

31 May 2006

Francis A. Walsh, Jr. I am a distant family member looking for information about his military service and people who served with him. My e-mail address is

Thank you and God bless you ... and God bless his memory.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

About the only things agreed on with respect to the last flight of AC-130A 56-0490 are that it departed Ubon RTAFB on the night of 21/22 Dec 1972 for an armed recon mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail with 16 men aboard, that it was shot down, and that two crewmen were recovered alive.

According to the POW Network and Task Force Omega (TFO) sites, the aircraft was enroute to its target area when it was hit by enemy fire. It then attempted a return-to-base, remaining in stable flight for about ten minutes before exploding and crashing in flames. According to Hobson's Air Losses in Vietnam, the AC-130A was actively prosecuting a small truck convoy near Ban Laongam when it was hit by 37mm AAA fire, exploded, and crashed. Oddly, the map provided on the TFO site supports Hobson's account rather than the POW Network/TFO account.

All sources agree that two men - Sgt Richard Williams and Sgt Carl Stevens - parachuted from the aircraft and were picked up by a USAF HH-53 from the 40th ARRS. The POW and TFO sites both say bloody bandages and five deployed parachutes were sighted in the area (TFO says by a ground team), and both agree that the partial remains of one crewman - Captain Joel Birch - were recovered. The fourteen men not recovered, including Captain Birch, were classed as "Missing in Action".

In early 1985 a joint US-Lao team excavated the crash site, recovering numerous small bone fragments. In time, the US Government announced that the recovered materials were sufficient to account for the remaining crewmen. Several of the families involved refused to accept the government's identification of individual human remains, while others did accept the findings. A successful court case temporarily overthrew the USG identifications but was itself overturned on appeal.

As matters stand, the US Government considers that the following men died in the crash and that they have been accounted for:

  • 16th SOS, 8TH TFW
    • Capt Joel R. Birch, Phoenix, AZ
    • Capt Delma E. Dickens, Omega, GA
    • SMSgt Robert T. Elliott, El Dorado, AR
    • MSgt Charles F. Fenter, Tucson, AZ
    • CMSgt James R. Fuller, Cibolo, TX
    • LtCol Thomas T. Hart, Orlando, FL
    • Capt Stanley N. Kroboth, Savannah, GA
    • LtCol Harry R. Lagerwall, Carmel, NY
    • Maj Robert L. Liles, Shreveport, LA
    • Capt George D. MacDonald, Evanston, IL
    • Col Paul O. Meder, Jamaica, NY
    • MSgt Rollie K. Reaid, Dora, AL
    • SMSgt John Q. Winningham, Grover City, CA

  • 497th TFS, 8th TFW, 7th AF
    • Maj Francis A. Walsh, Westport, CT
Major Walsh of the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron was not actually a crewman (although he was manifested on the flight) but apparently was simply along as an observer.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 31 May 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009