WILLIAMS, BILLIE JOE
Remains Returned - ID Announced 20 December 1990
Name: Billie Joe Williams
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force, pilot
Unit: 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Date of Birth: 27 June 1932 (Blytheville AR)
Home City of Record: Malden MO
Date of Loss: 09 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 191800N 1052700E (WG472339)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Hector M. Acosta (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 February 1991 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.
SYNOPSIS: Billie Joe Williams was the aircraft commander of an RF4C armed
reconnaissance "Phantom" fighter/bomber from the 14th Tactical
Reconnaissance Squadron. On December 9, 1972, Williams and four F4s were on
a reconnaisance mission over North Vietnam for action planned for December
18th when his plane was struck by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) and downed
just south of the city of Nghai Hung in Nghe An Province.
When the aircraft was hit, Hector Acosta, the navigator on the RF4C, ejected
both seats, and two parachutes were observed by the F4s in the flight to
leave the disabled aircraft. Acosta did not know his pilot's condition at
that time, but feared that he was already dead. He had ejected the pilot's
seat because he did not want his commander to go down with the plane.
When Acosta was taken prisoner by the Vietnamese on the following day, he
did not see whether Williams was also captured, but thought the Vietnamese
had left him where he was. Rescue teams the following day observed a body,
apparently Williams, in the middle of a clearing. The rescue helicopter was
fired on, and noted that the body did not move in spite of the close
proximity to the gunfire. The Vietnamese had used the body as a decoy for
the rescue chopper. They failed, but Williams' remains were not recovered.
Bill's wife Barbara says, "Bill loved to fly and loved the Air Force. I
honestly believe Bill died the way he expressed a desire to. But he always
cautioned me to not accept 'just anything.' I'll have to be very sure when
the time comes his remains are returned. I have to do that for him."
On December 20, 1990, U.S. officials announced that remains had been
returned by the Vietnamese which had been positively identified as those of
Billie Joe Williams. After nearly 20 years, Billie Joe Williams was home.
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