• caldwell
  • Essex
  • December 03, 1944
  • May 02, 1969
  • Air Force
  • RANK:
  • MAJ
  • MIA
  • LAOS


Phillip Louis Mascari was born on December 3, 1944. His home of record is Caldwell, NJ. Phillip was a 1962 graduate of East Orange High School, where his interests included playing the piano and the accordion.

When Mascari was growing up in East Orange, friends and family were convinced that he would be the first Italian-American to become President. He was considered to be an "all-American boy". He later moved to Caldwell, NJ.

Phillip earned a scholarship from Rutgers University. Phillip entered the ROTC while at Rutgers University. He was named outstanding cadet in the Air Force ROTC program. He was a member of the Rutgers Queens Guard Drill Team of the Air Force ROTC and won the national championship in 1964. He received his BA with distinguished honors from Rutgers University in May 1967.

After graduation, he received his commission as Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. He reported to San Antonio for pilot training. Mascari received his wings on June 9, 1968, and was assigned for training as a Phantom F4 pilot. He would eventually attain the rank of Major (MAJ/04).

Upon completion of this training, the Air Force reassigned him to the Forward Air Command as they had too many F4 pilots. He was then trained to fly an O2A and sent to Vietnam on February 16, 1969. After flying 32 missions, Mascari failed to return from his 33rd on May 2, 1969. Mascari was the pilot of an O2A observation plane on a mission in Laos near the city of Tchepone. His aircraft disappeared near the border of Savannakhet and Saravane Provinces, and about 15 miles southeast of the town of Muong Nong. He was flying over the dense jungles of Laos.

On May 2, 1969, Mascari was listed as missing in action when his aircraft disappeared.

Sal and Jeanne Mascari believed their son could still be alive. In 1970, they traveled to Paris to try and meet with the North Vietnamese. In 1973 and again in 1975, Sal Mascari traveled to Laos to see what he could learn about his son. What he saw on his second trip disheartened him. Sal Mascari was able to travel to within 15 miles of the spot his son was lost, in dense, triple-canopy jungle. But traveling to the Lao village with Phil's photograph, two natives identified the picture. One claimed to have buried Phil, another said he had taken his boots. Sal Mascari didn't know what to believe.

Over the years, the Mascaris accepted the probable fact that their son was dead, and although there is marker in Arlington National Cemetery, they believe his grave is somewhere in the dense jungles of Laos.

The Phillip Mascari Memorial is located in Caldwell, NJ in front of the borough town hall on Provost Square at Mascari Lane, also named for him.

There is a memorial at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ dedicated to the graduates who were killed or missing in action from the Vietnam War. Mascari's name is listed among those missing.

He loved music and everyone he met. He was given the following medals: MIA/POW medal from New Jersey, the Purple Heart, Air Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Force Commendation Medal Honorable service.

We had memorial services for him at St. Aloyisius Church in Caldwell, NJ. They had a parade and planted a tree in memory of him at Caldwell College and one in front of the police building. They named a street Mascari Lane and all of Caldwell adopted him.

One thing I know, he died doing what he loved, flying.

Written by Jeanne Mascari, Mother

Synopsis (from the POW Network) as to the circumstances behind being listed as MIA:
Mascari went to Vietnam on February 16, 1969. On May 2, 1969, on his 33rd mission, Mascari was the pilot of a 02A observation plane in Laos near the city of Tchepone. His aircraft disappeared near the border of Savannakhet and Saravene Provinces, about 15 miles southeast of the town of Muong Nong. The 02A, a two-place spotter and psychological warfare aircraft, like its predecessors, lacked adequate armor. This plane provided a small, vulnerable target.

Mascari was flying over the dense jungles of Laos. The Air Force made visual and electronic searches with no results. He was declared missing at the time of estimated fuel exhaustion. Because his remains have not been recovered, he is still listed by the Department of Defense as unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.

Sources: Jeanne Mascari (mother), POW Network and NJVVMF.


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