HUMPHREY, GALEN FRANCIS
Name: Galen Francis Humphrey
Rank/Branch: E7/US Marine Corps
Unit: VMGR 152, 1st Marine Air Wing
Date of Birth: 28 August 1927
Home City of Record: St. Joseph MO
Date of Loss: 01 February 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 172038N 1072217E (YE520190)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Peter Vlahakos; Albert M. Prevost; Russell B.
Luker; Richard A. Alm; Donald L. Coates (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: The Lockheed C130 Hercules was one of the most important aircraft
used in Vietnam. It served many purposes, among them transport, tanker,
gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center,
weather reconnaissance craft, electronic reconnaissance platform, search,
rescue and recovery.
The U.S. Marines employed the KC130F version which served primarily as a
probe-and-drogue refueling plane, although when the rubber fuel bladders
were removed from the cargo compartment, the plane also served as a
transport. The KC130F was capable of refueling two aircraft simultaneously.
On February 1, 1966, a U.S. Marine Hercules tanker was operating in the Gulf
of Tonkin near the coast of North Vietnam, about 10 miles north of the
island of Hon Co. During a refueling operation, the tanker was hit by ground
fire and crashed into the ocean. All crew onboard the aircraft were
considered to have died in the crash of the plane.
The pilot of the aircraft was 1LT Albert M. Prevost; crew chief SSGT Peter
G. Vlahakos; other crew members included Maj. Richard A. Alm; SSGT Donald L.
Coates; GYSGT Galen F. Humphrey, navigator; and SSGT Russell B. Luker. All
were declared Killed in Action, Bodies Not Recovered.
According to family members of the crew, however, it was reported that there
was not a single piece of wreckage to be found. This seems improbable for an
aircraft weighing in excess of 60,000 pounds involved in a crash -
especially one carrying a jet fuel cargo. Some family members are suspicious
of the reported circumstances of the crash and believe it may have occurred
elsewhere, thus explaining the lack of wreckage found.
Regardless, if the Marine Corps crash site location is accurate, there can
be no question someone was aiming the gun that shot the aircraft down.
Someone knows the fate of the aircraft and crew. Beyond those on the ground,
the shoreline of Vietnam was heavily trafficked by fishermen and patrol
boats. There is no doubt that the Vietnamese could account for the men
onboard the KC130 lost near Ho Co Island on February 1, 1966.
Since American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia ended, over 10,000
reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing, or unaccounted for in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities,
having reviewed this largely-classified information have concluded that
hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today.
Perhaps the entire crew of seven perished on February 1, 1966. But, perhaps
they are among those experts believe are still alive, still held prisoner.
We cannot forget a single man, lest he be left behind. They must all be
Galen had four children, two duaghters and two sons. Daughter Gail was
married in the early 90's. She served 8 years as a nurse in the Army Reserve
Nurse Corps. Although her unit was sent to the Gulf War, her orders never
came. Daughter Susan is a successful CPA, married to an attorney. She ran
for St. Joseph, Missouri, City Council in 1998. Gary Humphrey is married and
the father of two. He is a computer programmer living in Illinois. Michael
Humphrey lives with his wife in Kansas City, Missouri. Their father's fate
is still a mystery, confused by half-truths provided by the USG.
On May 15, 1998 the P.O.W. NETWORK was privileged to attend a POW Flag
Raising at the St. Joseph, Missouri, Post Office. Present as honored guests
were Jim and Susan Humphrey M., Gail Humphrey C. and Mrs. Humphrey. They
were kind enough to share the following material with us following the
service. The portrait of Galen Humphrey (above) hangs in the Law/Accounting
offices of Jim and Susan.
When I went to Chicago last August I attended a Viet Now Vets
Convention.........I told them about Galen...........Paul said he would see
if he could get any information.........sent me clippings three of four
times..........last Saturday I received this letter...........He said he
found the letter at the WALL under Galen's name................I called
18 April 90
Dear Friends of the Wall, Brothers and Sisters; Lubbock, TX
I would like to ask a favor of you that would mean a great deal to me.
Could you please place the enclosed "Memorium", that I wrote at the WALL on
this Memorial Day, 1990, at the base of Panel # 4 East? So that it will let
veterans and visitors know the story of these men's sacrafice, and will be
placed in the museum, someday. Thank you.
I have only been able to visit the WALL once, in 1984, when the STATUE was
dedicated. I only had that one afternoon to be there, and I was so
devastated by it all that I was unable to place any tribute there for these
men. It is especially meaningful .... and painful .... for me, because I
was on the flight manifest for THAT aircraft on THAT day in Vietnam. GySgt.
Galen Humphrey, Navigator, like I was, took my place after he "bumped" me
from the flight. He did so in order to be able to pick-up a 'cowboy gun
holster set' in Hue, a pre-stop before the mission, that he had ordered made
for his kids in the States Had he not done so, I would be on the WALL in his
place instead of vice-versa.
I greatly appreciate your helping me to make this tribute by placing this at
the WALL. Thank you again.
ON JANUARY 30th, 1966, A UNITED STATES MARINE KC-13OF HERCULES AIRCRAFT.
#804, THE "DASC" TANKER, WAS RETURNING TO DA NANG AIRBASE AFTER A REFUELING
MISSION OVER THE GULF OF TONKIN FOR MARINE AND NAVY F4B PHANTOM JETS ENROUTE
TO BOMB THE HAIPHONG AREA WAS "SCRUBBED". THE AIRCRAFT HELD OVER 70,000
GALLONS OF AVIATION IN ITS "BLADDER" IN THE FUSELUGE.
THE AIRCRAFT RADIOED A TRANSMISSION THAT IT "SAW SOME UNUSUAL 'FLASHES' ON
'TIGRE IS'" 'AS IT FLEW OVER IT ENROUTE SOUTH, AND THAT IT WAS GOING TO
MAKE ANOTHER PASS TO TAKE A LOOK-SEE.' THIS WAS SIMPLY A ROUTINE EFFORT BY
THE AIRCRAFT COMMANDER TO CONTRIBUTE PERHAPS SOME EXTRA INTELLIGENCE' WITH
THE MISSION, SINCE TIGRE ISLAND (NORTH VIETNAMESE TERRITORY) WAS CLASSIFIED
THAT WAS THE LAST TRANSMISSION RECEIVED, AND SHORTY THEREAFTER, THE AIRCRAFT
DISAPPEARED FROM THE DA NANG RADAR SCOPE. IT WAS DETERMINED LATER THAT THE
NVA HAD SECRETLY MOVED SEVERAL RADAR-CONTROLLED ANTI-AIRCRAFT 37MM GUNS ONTO
TIGRE ISLAND JUST FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRYING TO DOWN AMERICAN AIRCRAFT THAT
REGULARLY FLEW OVER OR NEAR THE ISLAND. APPARENTLY, #804 WAS HIT AND
EXPLODED IN MID AIR WHEN THE AVIATION FUEL WAS IGNITED, KILLING ALL ABOARD.
EXTENSIVE SEARCHES OF THE SEA, THE ISLAND, AND THE NEAR-BY NORTH VIETNAMESE
COASTLINE YIELDED NOT ONE SHRED OF EITHER THE AIRCRAFT NOR ANY OF THE SIX
MARINE CREWMEMBERS ON BOARD- MAJOR RICHARD ALM GYSGT. GALEN
HUMPHREY SSGT. VLAHAKOS (PETER) 1STLT. ALBERT PREVOST SSGT. DONALD
COATES SSGT. RUSSEL LUKER TO THESE SIX FINE 'LEATHERNECKS, MY FRIENDS
THAT I FLEW WITH, WE ALL SALUTE YOU! AND ESPECIALLY TO YOU, GALEN, WHO FATE
HAD TAKE MY PLACE ON THAT FLIGHT THAT DAY, I KNOW YOU ARE THERE WITH OTHER
MARINES, GUARDING THE STREETS OF HEAVEN. THEY GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR
COUNTRY. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.
Memorial Day, 1990
SGT. JIM B. USMC
lst MARINE AIR WING RVN-66
OFFICE OF THE
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
2400 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301-2400
INTERNATlONAL 1 DEC 1995
SECURITY AFFAIRS In reply refer to:
Dear Mrs. xxxxx Humphrey:
In October 1994, the Department of Defense initiated a
comprehensive review of each case involving an American serviceman or
civilian who is unaccounted for as a result of United States involvement in
the war in Southeast Asia. Analysts of the Defense Prisoner of War and
Missing In Action Office, Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and the United
States Army Central Identification Laboratory worked together to examine
carefully all information developed throughout the years. Our efforts
included a total review of wartime and post-war intelligence, as well as the
reports of joint investigation, oral history interviews, and archival
research. This painstaking, case-by-case review was completed on July 21,
Our purpose was to determine how to achieve the fullest possible
accounting for each individual. Unfortunately, our analysis has identified
some cases where all available evidence indicates that there is no
reasonable expectation that identifiable remains will ever be recovered.
This is true in the case of Gunnery Sergeant Galen F. Humphrey, United
States Marine Corps, REFNO 0246.
In February 1966, your husband was a member of the crew of a KC- 13
OF aircraft on an aerial refueling mission over the Gulf of Tonkin in the
vicinity of Hon Co Island, when all radio and radar contact with the
aircraft was lost. Am extensive search and rescue effort revealed nothing
of the fate of the crew. In 1992, Vietnamese officials provided a document
which represents their compilation of American aircraft shot down over
southern North Vietnam. An entry notes that an aircraft was shot down by an
antiaircraft unit on Hon Co Island at the approximate time that contact with
your husband's aircraft was lost. This is the only reference to the
aircraft's fate that we have. The record states that the aircraft crashed
out to sea six kilometers off the coast of the island. There is no
indication that the Vietnamese investigated the crash or were ever aware of
the crew's fate. Because the crash occurred out to sea over 25 kilometers
from the coast of Vietnam with no evidence of survivors, we are compelled
reluctantly to conclude that the crew was lost with the aircraft and that
there is no hope of recovering the crew's remains.
I regret very much that our findings were not more positive. We
have taken our obligation to pursue the cases of our service members and
civilians very seriously. It is only with great reluctance that we have
come to this conclusion.
Those of us who have worked to account for your husband and for our
other brave Americans consider ourselves privileged to have done so. Even
though his remains may never be recovered, his name and memory will long be
honored by this nation.
James W. Wold
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
NOTE: Mrs. Humphrey was invited, several years ago, to a district meeting
held by DPMO. She was told she would have the opportunity to review Galen's
case file. The stipulations were:
No recoding/copy devices.
Should you wish someone else to review the case file, you FOREVER give up
your right to review it.
In addition, she mentioned that there was a great deal of concern by the
military about the time of the PFOD hearing. So much so, it seems, his
TEACHER was contacted for an interview by the military. The interview seemed
to revolve around a "classified" clearance Galen Humphrey had been issued.
The family commented they had had little in the way of information over the
years, except for the above letters. The one constant, though, was the
Annual White House Christmas card, with a personal note enclosed from the
President each year since 1966.
On Memorial Day, a metal band with the name of a service person and the date
he went missing was reunited
with the Marine's family.
The bracelet has a special meaning for former Missouri State Auditor Susan
The POW/MIA bracelet has been part of George Cole's life for decades.
"I figured 25 years is long enough," he said. "I wanted to turn it over to
At one time, millions of the bracelets were made to commemorate lost or
missing service people. The name on
Cole’s band is Gunnery Sgt. Galen Humphrey of St. Joseph. His U.S. Marine
Hercules tanker was believed to have
been shot down in the Gulf of Tonkin near Vietnam in 1966. Neither the plane
nor the crew was ever found....