Select one of my POW-MIA Dedication Pages:
Bobby Neeld] [Capt
Mitchell Lane] [Capt
Randall Craddock] [Col
Stuart Andrews] [SSgt
Connecticut Memorial] [Viet
Nam Veterans Memorial Wall]
Name: Alfons Aloyze Bankowski
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Unit: 314th Air Division - Osan Airbase, Korea
Date of Birth: 15 June 1930
Home City of Record: Stamford CT
Loss Date: 23 March 1961
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 192855N 1031014E (UG081550)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Lawrence Bailey (released 1962); Frederick
Garside; Ralph W. Magee; Glenn Matteson; Leslie V. Sampson; Edgar Weitkamp;
Oscar Weston (all missing)
REMARKS: KIA - RES SHTDN/CRSH
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.
SYNOPSIS: Henry Kissinger once predicted that an "unfortunate" by-product
"limited political engagements" would be personnel who could not be
On March 23, 1961, one of the first group of Americans to fall into
"unfortunate" category were shot from the sky by Pathet Lao antiaircraft
Most Americans at that time did not even know that the United States
military personnel in Southeast Asia. In fact, most Americans had not
heard of the name "Laos". The Geneva Agreements had yet to be signed;
rescue teams had yet to arrive in Southeast Asia.
The C47 aircraft crew consisted of 1Lt. Ralph W. Magee, pilot; 1Lt.
Weston, co-pilot; 2Lt. Glenn Matteson, navigator; SSgt. Alfons A. Bankowski,
flight engineer; SSgt. Frederick T. Garside, assistant flight engineer;
Leslie V. Sampson, radio operator; and passengers Maj. Lawrence R.
WO1 Edgar W. Weitkamp. Bailey and Weitkamp were assigned to the Army
Office at Vientiane, Laos. The aircraft crew were all Air Force personnel
flying from the 315th Air Division, Osan Airbase, Korea.
This C47 was a specially modified intelligence-gathering SC-47 which
from Vientiane for Saigon. The passengers and crew were bound for "R
& R" in
the "Paris of the Orient". Before heading for Saigon, the pilot turned
toward Xieng Khouangville, a Pathet Lao stronghold on the eastern edge
Plain of Jars. The crew, experienced in intelligence collection, planned
their radio-direction finding equipment to determine the frequencies
by Soviet pilots to locate the Xieng Khouangville airfield through
fog that often blanketed the region. Pathet Lao anti-aircraft guns
plane, shearing off a wing and sending the aircraft plummeting toward
Maj. Bailey, who always wore a parachute when he flew, jumped from the
aircraft and was captured by the Pathet Lao. Bailey spent seventeen
months as a
prisoner in Sam Neua, the Pathet Lao headquarters near the North Vietnamese
border, before being repatriated after the signing of the Geneva Agreements
Laos in 1962. The caves at Sam Neua were said to have held scores of
prisoners during and after the war.
The seven men lost on March 23, 1961 were the first of many hundreds
American personnel shot from the sky only to disappear in the jungles
Four Lao sources stated that 7 of the 8 personnel on board died in
the crash of
the aircraft, and were buried in the vicinity.
Sixteen years later, in February 1977, several Pathet Lao films were
by a friendly foreign government showing an identification card with
a photo of
SSgt. Garside, and an open passport bearing 1Lt. Magee's ID number.
that these items were recovered in good condition is evidence that
information is available on the crew, due to the fact that the plane
completely destroyed, and the Pathet Lao were present at the site of
Clearly, someone knows what happened to the crew of the C47. Because
not included in the Paris agreements ending American involvement in
Asia, and because no agreement has been reached since regarding Lao-held
American POWs, hundreds of Americans remain missing, including the
crew of the
C47. Many Americans were known to have survived, and hundreds of reports
to their survival today.
"Electronic Rubbing" courtesy of The
VVMF--The Virtual Wall
This site is owned by Barry Axelrod,
Maj, USAF, Ret
Proud Member of the POW/MIA
Get a POW/MIA
Honor Page of your own.
Updated March 19, 2005