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Col. Bolte honored on Veterans Boulevard

Mike Conway

Post Date:05/20/2019

Col. Bolte honored on Veterans Boulevard

The City of Merced honored Col. Wayne Bolte with a memorial plaque on Veterans Boulevard today. The plaque is installed at 12th and M streets. Col. Bolte was shot down over Vietnam in 1972 and is listed as Missing In Action.

On hand was his son, Mark Bolte, who assisted with the dedication. Council Member Matt Serratto read a brief biography of the pilot during the dedication.

'I'm appreciative of the City of Merced for what they did,' Mark Bolte said. He said his father had been stationed at Castle Air Force Base before being shipped overseas.

On April 2, 1972, an EB-66 Destroyer (call sign "Bat 21") piloted by Col. Bolte with six crew members took off from Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. It was on an electronic countermeasures mission over South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. While over the target area, an escort aircraft saw a surface-to-air missile (SAM) explode near "Bat 21," after which the aircraft began trailing flames from both wings. "Bat 21" then broke into pieces and crashed.

No parachutes were witnessed, although one rescue beeper was heard resulting in one crew member being rescued 12 days after the crash. The survivor reported the SAM had exploded below and behind the aircraft. The other five crew members are believed to have died in the incident. 

Major Wayne Louis Bolte entered the U.S. Air Force from Oklahoma and served in the 42nd Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was the pilot of "Bat 21" when it was shot down and attempts to locate and recover his remains were unsuccessful. Following the incident, the Air Force promoted Maj. Bolte to the rank of Colonel. Today, Colonel Bolte is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Col. Bolte was 37 when he left behind a wife and family. Today we are joined by his son, Mark.

The plaques along Veterans Boulevard, the honorary name given to M Street, are only for the men and women in the Armed Forced who lost their lived in the service to their country.

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