KIRK, HERBERT ARTHUR
Name: Herbert Arthur Kirk Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force Unit: TDY-Civilian/Lockheed, Lima Site 85-Phou Pha Thi, Laos Date of Birth: 21 February 1929 Home City of Record: Philadelphia PA Date of Loss: 11 March 1968 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (UH680600) Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 2052
Others In Incident: Clarence Blanton; James Calfee; James Davis; Henry Gish; Willis Hall; Melvin Holland; David Price; Patrick Shannon; Donald Springsteadah; Don Worley (all missing from Lima 85); Donald Westbrook (missing from SAR 13 March)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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. NETWORK 1999.
SYNOPSIS: When Herbert Kirk volunteered for a sensitive assignment called Project Heavy Green, he had to sign a secrecy agreement. Kirk, an Air Force man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian job with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be running Lima 85, a radar base in Laos, whose neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence. No one was to know.
Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on a 5860 ft. mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by sheer cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA. Unarmed US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin Delta to Hanoi.
For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the men in place. When the attack came March 11, some were rescued by helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam.
Donald Westbrook was flying one of 4 A1E's orbiting on standby to search for survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down March 13. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force destroyed Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of the enemy.
In mid March, Kirk's family was notified that Lima Site 85 had been overrun by enemy forces, and that he and the others who had not escaped had been killed. Many years later, they learned that was not the whole truth.
Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and another indicates that 6 were captured. Information has been hard to get. The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was only declassified in 1983, and finally the families could be believed when they said their men were missing in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown to their families for the first time in 1985.
The Lima 85 families have talked and compared notes. They still feel there is a lot of information to be had. They think someone survived the attack on Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if their country will bring those men home.
----------------------------------------- From - Wed Dec 22 08:22:07 1999 From: "Ron Haden" <email@example.com> Subject: Problem concerning proper recognition
I am writing you concerning those MIA at Lima Site 85 in Laos. There is a missing name on the "Combat Skyspot Trophy" and also missing from the "Combat Skyspot Memorial" at Andersen AFB, Guam. An observant website visitor noticed that SSgt Herbert A. Kirk's name was missing from both tributes to these men. I queried Ann Holland, since she has been beating on the governments door since the beginning. Her reply to me was: __________________________________________________________________ Ron;
One reason his name may not be on the memorial is that he was not reinstated into the Air Force until 1982 and only then because of the lawsuit I had started in '75 and which his stepson also started after he found out about me. Kirk was not reinstated because his wife was a German national at the time and the government claimed he agreed that if anything happened to him he would not be reinstated. That is not what the families were told at the briefing in '67. So because of my lawsuit, and the evidence submitted in my case, the government had to reinstate Kirk and pay his family all the insurance and allowances due them. His two stepsons missed out on VA benefits for college and everything else they would have been entitled to.
Who ever got the names for the memorial must have been looking at a pre 1982 list. But actually, none of the men were on any list before 1982. There may have been a brief period of time when Kirk was not listed when the other guys were. His name needs to be added to the memorial. His stepson, Rudy, has since died and his widow and other stepson are back in Germany now. But I'm sure Kirk has other relatives here in the states. I doubt that his mother is still alive. Someone needs to look into where the names came from for the memorial. Let me know what you find out. Ann _________________________________________________________________
Obliviously something needs to be done about this. It is a worthy cause to champion through your many methods. This man's name deserves to be on both memorials. He gave his life.
Ron Haden MSgt, USAF (Ret) USN, USAF 1951-1973 SouthEastAsia duty-1st Mob 64-68 Lima Site 85-Laos 67 AmLegn, Dept of MO, Post 499 LM AFTN Memorial Post - VFW 10249 Korean War Veterans Assoc. LM DAV, Missouri Chapter 2 Missouri Amphibious Navy-AKA98 Charter member Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood Integrated Circuit Design Engineer UNISYS Corp 73-91
Visit the TLC Brotherhood Web Site http://www.tlc-brotherhood.org Visit the Lima Site 85 Web Site http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/3097/ls85.htm Visit the AmLegn Post 499 Web Site http://www.geocities.com/~amlegnpost499