KIA in Phan Rang in 1969
1st Lt. Arthur Gene Ecklund
Arthur Gene Ecklund was born in Galesburg, Illinois and lived there until he was ten years old when his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
He attended Central High School there, and attended Phoenix College and Arizona State University. Artie entered the Army in September of 1966 and took his Basic Training at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was chosen for Officer Candidates School and commissioned at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He took Helicopter training, then attended fixed-wing pilot training, and was deployed to Vietnam shortly after. On 3 April 1969, U.S Army 1LT Arthur G. Ecklund and his U.S. Air Force observer, Capt. Perry H. Jefferson, were flying a visual reconnaissance mission out of Phan Rang Airbase. They left the base at 0700 in an O1G aircraft and reported in by radio at 0730 hours giving their location, destination and information concerning a convey they were going to check out. No further communication was heard, except for a signal "beeper".
Extensive search efforts began at 0950 hours with all available aircraft, and continued for three days without success. The aircraft downing is believed to have happened in an area occupied by enemy forces, thus preventing a ground search. On 15 April 1969, a Vietnamese source reported that he had been in contact with a communist Montangnard who claimed the Vietnamese had shot down an aircraft with two Americans in it and the Americans had been wounded, but were alive, and being held in captivity. He said the aircraft was shot down between Phan Rang and Cam Rahn City. A report later indicated that two men fitting the description of Ecklund and Jefferson were seen on a trail being guarded by Viet Cong, and they appeared in good health.
The U.S. Defense Department list Jefferson’s loss coordinates near the coastline of Vietnam, about 20 miles south of Cam Rahn, while Ecklund’s loss coordinates as about 10 miles southwest of Cam Rahn and about 15 miles northwest of those of Jefferson. Both men are listed as missing in the Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam.
Arthur G. Ecklund is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, panel 27W line 006.