William J. Elander



Preferred Name: 
Bill

Nickname/Call Sign:

Date of Birth: July 2, 1934

Highest Military Grade Held: Lieutenant Colonel, O5

Hometown: Berwyn, IL

Biography

Units Assigned

  • 7/1957 commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at The Citadel
  • 7/1959 Undergraduate Pilot Training, at Webb AFB, TX
  • 1959-6/1960 F-100 Super Sabre combat crew training
  • 6/1960-4/1962 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100)
  • 4/1962-3/1963 39th Air Division, Osan AB, South Korea
  • 3/1963-12/1965 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron,  Kadena AB, Okinawa (F-105)
  • 1/1966-11/1969 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 11/1969-3/1972 USAF Thunderbirds (Number 6) Aerial Demonstration Team, Maintenance and Material Officer, (F-4E Phantom)
  • 3/1972-7/5/1972 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand
  • 7/5/1972 Taken as P.O.W.
  • 3/29/1973 267 days in captivity, released during Operation Homecoming.
  • 1973-1974 Air Command and Staff College
  • 9/1974-3/1976  33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, FL
  • 3/1976-4/1978 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Commander, Hill AFB, UT
  • 4/30/1978 Retired USAF

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Flying Cross (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 Bronze Star (with Valor Device)
 Purple Heart (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 Meritorious Service Medal
 Air Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 AF Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 AF Outstanding Unit Award (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Prisoner of War Medal
 Combat Readiness Award
 National Defense Service Medal
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (with Bronze Star)
 Vietnam Service Medal (with 1 Bronze, 1 Silver Star)
 Korean Defense Service Medal
 AF Longevity Service Award (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Small Arms Marksmanship Award
 Vietnam Gallantry Cross (with Palm)
 Vietnam Campaign Medal

Flight Info

F-100
F-105
F-4E

Military Education

  • 1957 The Citadel
  • 1974 Air Command and Staff College

Civilian Education

Myers Park HS

WILLIAM  ELANDER JR.
Major – United States Air Force
Shot Down: July 5, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973

“Allow me to introduce myself. My  name is William James Elander Jr. known
to my friends and relatives as Bill Billy,  Mekong Bill, Yukon Bill, Tazz
and Elly.

I was born in Berwyn, Illinois in 1934 graduated, from high school in Charlotte North Carolina received an Air Force commission after graduating from The Citadel in 1957 During my college years my family moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area where they reside to this day.

After graduation, I worked and lived in Charleston, West Virginia until called to active duty in 1958. I entered pilot training receiving my “wings”  from Webb AFB, Texas.  After completing jet fighter training at Luke AFB Arizona and Nellis AFB, Nevada in 1959 I was  assigned as  a F-100 Supersabre pilot at George AFB, California.

In 1962, only  ten days after being introduced, I married  the former Lynn Greer, a Delta Airline Stewardess from West Palm  Beach, Florida. However, five days after the wedding I was sent to Korea for a one year tour without family. In 1963 Lynn joined me for my next assignment at Kadena, AB Okinawa
During our Okinawa tour, we were blessed with two children, Scott in 1964 and Tanya in 1965.

While at Kadena I was flying the F-105 Thunderchief and in 1965 I spent six months flying combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1966 we were transferred to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina where I served as an F-105 instructor in a training unit of the 4th TAC Fighter Wing.

In 1967 the training unit at Seymour folded and the Wing’s new mission was to maintain an operational F-4 Phantom Wing of three squadrons. I remained at Seymour, flying the F-4 until I was selected to join the USAF Thunderbirds in 1969.

I moved the family to Las Vegas, and spent the next two and a half years as the Thunderbird Maintenance or Materiel Officer, flying the number six airplane. While living in Vegas our third child, Benjamin James, was born in 1970.

In March 1972 I was again in Southeast Asia at Korat AB flying combat in the F-4E Phantom aircraft. On July 5th, 1972, my aircraft was struck by an air-to-air missile and I was forced to eject over an area 35 miles northeast of Hanoi. I was captured and remained a prisoner until released on the 29th of March, this year.

After capture, I was soon registered at the “Hanoi Hilton.” The interrogation attempts and rough treatment lasted only for six and a half days in my case. During those few days and for the first time in too many years, I prayed and gained strength from my prayers. I resigned myself that I would not cooperate with the enemy in any way with their interrogation and propaganda attempts. My fears of torture were unfounded, however, since those six and a half days were filled with threats,  shouts, and discomfort, but nothing more. I was then removed from isolation and placed in a cell with 19 other American POW’s. I remained with most of this group until our release.

During captivity, I experienced some joys and many frustrations. My greatest joy was during October 1972 when our group was permitted to mix with many of the real heroes of this war. These were the “Old Guys,” men who had suffered as many as eight years of foul food, no medicine, no news; men who suffered the torture, solitary confinement and barrages of propaganda. These were the men who defeated the Vietnamese in all their efforts to turn them against their own country and beliefs. I was proud just to associate with these great Americans.

My biggest frustration was the fact that I was never permitted to write letters or receive mail or packages. Since I was not used for any propaganda and was labeled by the North Viets as a “Bad Attitude,” the mail privilege was never extended. Knowing the anxiety my family would be enduring and being unable to reassure them was difficult for me.

Since release, my dreams and prayers have all come true. Operation Homecoming surpassed even my wildest imagination. The warmth and gratitude of every American I have met brought tears of pride to my eyes. My family, all in good health, filled with love and faith, made our reunion the greatest event of my life.

My future remains with the Air Force. I plan to enter service school this Fall and work on my Master’s degree. I am in excellent health and hope to continue to fly in the service of our country.”

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE – 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Biography

Biography

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

  • 7/1957 commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at The Citadel
  • 7/1959 Undergraduate Pilot Training, at Webb AFB, TX
  • 1959-6/1960 F-100 Super Sabre combat crew training
  • 6/1960-4/1962 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100)
  • 4/1962-3/1963 39th Air Division, Osan AB, South Korea
  • 3/1963-12/1965 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron,  Kadena AB, Okinawa (F-105)
  • 1/1966-11/1969 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 11/1969-3/1972 USAF Thunderbirds (Number 6) Aerial Demonstration Team, Maintenance and Material Officer, (F-4E Phantom)
  • 3/1972-7/5/1972 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand
  • 7/5/1972 Taken as P.O.W.
  • 3/29/1973 267 days in captivity, released during Operation Homecoming.
  • 1973-1974 Air Command and Staff College
  • 9/1974-3/1976  33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, FL
  • 3/1976-4/1978 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Commander, Hill AFB, UT
  • 4/30/1978 Retired USAF

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Flying Cross (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 Bronze Star (with Valor Device)
 Purple Heart (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 Meritorious Service Medal
 Air Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 AF Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
 AF Outstanding Unit Award (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Prisoner of War Medal
 Combat Readiness Award
 National Defense Service Medal
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (with Bronze Star)
 Vietnam Service Medal (with 1 Bronze, 1 Silver Star)
 Korean Defense Service Medal
 AF Longevity Service Award (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Small Arms Marksmanship Award
 Vietnam Gallantry Cross (with Palm)
 Vietnam Campaign Medal

Flight Info

F-100
F-105
F-4E

Military Education

  • 1957 The Citadel
  • 1974 Air Command and Staff College

Civilian Education

Myers Park HS

Photos
P.O.W. Story

WILLIAM  ELANDER JR.
Major – United States Air Force
Shot Down: July 5, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973

“Allow me to introduce myself. My  name is William James Elander Jr. known
to my friends and relatives as Bill Billy,  Mekong Bill, Yukon Bill, Tazz
and Elly.

I was born in Berwyn, Illinois in 1934 graduated, from high school in Charlotte North Carolina received an Air Force commission after graduating from The Citadel in 1957 During my college years my family moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area where they reside to this day.

After graduation, I worked and lived in Charleston, West Virginia until called to active duty in 1958. I entered pilot training receiving my “wings”  from Webb AFB, Texas.  After completing jet fighter training at Luke AFB Arizona and Nellis AFB, Nevada in 1959 I was  assigned as  a F-100 Supersabre pilot at George AFB, California.

In 1962, only  ten days after being introduced, I married  the former Lynn Greer, a Delta Airline Stewardess from West Palm  Beach, Florida. However, five days after the wedding I was sent to Korea for a one year tour without family. In 1963 Lynn joined me for my next assignment at Kadena, AB Okinawa
During our Okinawa tour, we were blessed with two children, Scott in 1964 and Tanya in 1965.

While at Kadena I was flying the F-105 Thunderchief and in 1965 I spent six months flying combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1966 we were transferred to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina where I served as an F-105 instructor in a training unit of the 4th TAC Fighter Wing.

In 1967 the training unit at Seymour folded and the Wing’s new mission was to maintain an operational F-4 Phantom Wing of three squadrons. I remained at Seymour, flying the F-4 until I was selected to join the USAF Thunderbirds in 1969.

I moved the family to Las Vegas, and spent the next two and a half years as the Thunderbird Maintenance or Materiel Officer, flying the number six airplane. While living in Vegas our third child, Benjamin James, was born in 1970.

In March 1972 I was again in Southeast Asia at Korat AB flying combat in the F-4E Phantom aircraft. On July 5th, 1972, my aircraft was struck by an air-to-air missile and I was forced to eject over an area 35 miles northeast of Hanoi. I was captured and remained a prisoner until released on the 29th of March, this year.

After capture, I was soon registered at the “Hanoi Hilton.” The interrogation attempts and rough treatment lasted only for six and a half days in my case. During those few days and for the first time in too many years, I prayed and gained strength from my prayers. I resigned myself that I would not cooperate with the enemy in any way with their interrogation and propaganda attempts. My fears of torture were unfounded, however, since those six and a half days were filled with threats,  shouts, and discomfort, but nothing more. I was then removed from isolation and placed in a cell with 19 other American POW’s. I remained with most of this group until our release.

During captivity, I experienced some joys and many frustrations. My greatest joy was during October 1972 when our group was permitted to mix with many of the real heroes of this war. These were the “Old Guys,” men who had suffered as many as eight years of foul food, no medicine, no news; men who suffered the torture, solitary confinement and barrages of propaganda. These were the men who defeated the Vietnamese in all their efforts to turn them against their own country and beliefs. I was proud just to associate with these great Americans.

My biggest frustration was the fact that I was never permitted to write letters or receive mail or packages. Since I was not used for any propaganda and was labeled by the North Viets as a “Bad Attitude,” the mail privilege was never extended. Knowing the anxiety my family would be enduring and being unable to reassure them was difficult for me.

Since release, my dreams and prayers have all come true. Operation Homecoming surpassed even my wildest imagination. The warmth and gratitude of every American I have met brought tears of pride to my eyes. My family, all in good health, filled with love and faith, made our reunion the greatest event of my life.

My future remains with the Air Force. I plan to enter service school this Fall and work on my Master’s degree. I am in excellent health and hope to continue to fly in the service of our country.”

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE – 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO