WESLEY R. PHENEGAR, JR., CAPT, USMC
Wesley Phenegar, Jr. '58
Date of birth: October 23, 1936
Date of death: August 13, 1967
From the 1958 Lucky Bag:
From the November 1967 issue of SHIPMATE:
Capt. Wesley R. PHENAGAR, Jr., USMC, was killed in an aircraft accident on 13 Aug. Wes developed engine trouble in his A-4 during a combat mission 30 miles west of Chu Lai, RVN. He returned to Chu Lai in an attempt to make an emergency landing. On final approach, his engine failed completely. Wes elected to stay with his aircraft in order to avoid a Vietnamese village that was in his flight path. Memorial services were held both by his fellow Marines and by the Vietnamese whose village was spared. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on 24 Aug. He is survived by his wife, Jo Anne, their three children, and his mother and father.
From Wall of Faces:
I have only heard stories of you, my father's cousin. I have followed in the foot steps of several other family members including yourself, and served in the Iraq War. I have visited your name in the wall and take great pride in carrying the soldier bloodline. SGT. STEVEN PHENEGAR, SWPHENEGAR@YAHOO.COM, 3/6/17
Wesley. My name is Wesley Philip Alaniz. My grandfather, Lt. Col. William Schwab 'Cowboy', was your wingman and best friend and I was named after you. Each time the wall passes through our town I go find your name and I always take pride telling your story, what little bit my papa Bill has told me. You are not forgotten and your name lives on... WES ALANIZ, WES.ALANIZ@YAHOO.COM, 4/4/13
Distinguished Flying Cross
From Together We Served:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS posthumously to CAPTAIN WESLEY R. PHENEGAR, JR. UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS For service as set forth in the following CITATION: For heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Pilot of an A4E jet aircraft while attached to Head- quarters and Maintenance Squadron 12 and flying with Marine Attack Squadron 223 in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 13 August 1967, Captain Phenegar was scrambled from the "Hot Pad" as the leader of a two-plane flight with the assigned mission of providing emergency close air support for embattled Marines twenty miles northwest of Chu Lai. Approximately five minutes after becoming airborne, Captain Phenegar notified his wingman that he had developed engine problems and would be returning to Chu Lai. Immediately turning for home, he skillfully maneuvered his aircraft into position for a low altitude precautionary approach. While approximately five miles from the field, however, Captain Phenegar notified Chu Lai tower that his engine had failed completely and that he was planning to eject. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, he unhesitatingly directed his aircraft away from the congested Chu Lai airfield complex, all the while losing precious altitude at an alarming rate. Attempting unsuccessfully to eject, he was immediately aware of the severity of his situation. Committed now to a barely controllable forced "dead stick" landing, and realizing full well the hazard his combat loaded aircraft presented to the inhabitants of Sam Hai Hamlet which lay directly in his path, Captain Phenegar, exhibiting outstanding heroism and iron determination, maneuvered his disabled aircraft away from the populated area scant seconds before impact, saving countless innocent lives. Captain Phenegar's dauntless courage, expert aeronautical skill, and selfless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Wes is mentioned in the book "The Secret Casino at Red Men’s Hall" By Samuel W. Valenza Jr.
Wes is among those names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. As his loss was not due directly to hostile action, though, he does not appear in the Vietnam War section of the Killed In Action panel in Memorial Hall.
Memorial Hall Error?
Wesley is not listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall. While not an obvious error, inclusion on the panel for crashes like this (incidental to combat flights) has been inconsistent across WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Guy Houston '58 was also in 12th Company.