First Lieutenant Joseph Patrick Zeigler U.S. Air Force MIA Korea
Circumstances of Loss:
First Lieutenant Joseph Patrick Zeigler, served as a pilot assigned to the 8th
Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 49th Fighter Bomber Group.
On 23 of April 1953, 1Lt. Zeigler departed Kunsan Airbase, Korea as pilot in command of
an F-84G (Thunder jet). He was flying the number two aircraft in a four-ship flight.
The briefed mission was a road reconnaissance mission in search of targets of
opportunity. Their route was the high road from the western side of the battle zone up
through Suan to Pyongyang. This was a principal enemy supply route, and it had been
attacked repeatedly since the first days of the war. The flight reached the start of
the reconnaissance route at about (0830) and proceeded along the road in search of
targets. At about 0850 the flight leader spotted what he believed to be a truck on the
side of the road. Flight leader notified the flight that he was going to make a
strafing pass; 1Lt Zeigler acknowledged and said he would follow. As flight leader
began his dive, passing through 2,500 feet (mean sea leves) he noticed anti-aircraft
artillery coming from his seven o’clock position and called for 1Lt.Zeigler to break
away. Unfortunately, the warning was too late. As the flight leader began gaining
altitude, 1Lt Zeigler reporting that he was hit and was bailing out. Flight leader
visually acquired Zeigler’s aircraft, saw it was on fire, and ordered him to bail out.
Just before his F-84G crashed, flight members observed 1Lt.Zeigler’s parachute open.
His chute was seen to open and he was seen to land. One radio transmission on emergency
channel was heard, “Do you read me,” after subject disappeared into the trees.
SUBSEQUENT REPORT: 1st Lt. Marcel A. Cayer, Zeigler’s flight leader, stated he saw
subject (Zeigler) land and gather in his chute. It appeared that the downed pilot was
heading for the trees on higher ground. He tried to make radio contact with subject and
received a weak “Do you read me” from him. No other transmissions were received and
they orbited the area for about 30 minutes. The F-86s continued to search the ridgeline
and crash site but they were never able to visually spot him or make radio contact.
Finally low on fuel the F86s were forced to return to base. There is no further direct
knowledge of what happened to 1Lt. Zeigler.
While there is no confirmation, it is DPMO assessment that 1Lt. Zeigler probably
perished soon after parachuting to the ground, likely while evading capture or perhaps
at the hands of local villagers of militia. This is just another case as last seen
alive. WHAT HAPPEN TO 1LT ZEIGLER?
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The F-84 Thunder jet was the U.S. Air Force’s first jet fighter.
Produced in several variants, the F-84E/G were models most widely used in Korea.
The “E” and “G” models were almost identical except for a slightly different engine
and canopy. Both variants were capable of being refueled in air and had almost
identical performance with a maximum speed of 620 miles per hour and a normal cruise
speed of 485 miles per hour. The armaments include six.50 cal machine guns mounted in
the nose, and eight 5”aerial rockets or up to 2,000 pound of bombs or napalm tanks on
under –wing pylons.
1st Lt Zeigler was never on the Johnnie Johnson List