MINNICH, RICHARD WILLIS JR.
Remains Returned 04 December 1985

Name: Richard Willis Minnich, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit:
Date of Birth: 04 March 1942
Home City of Record: Collegeville PA
Date of Loss: 04 January 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210800N 1064900E (XJ766266)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E
Refno: 0965
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 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.
NETWORK 1998.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
photo reconnaissance.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.

Lt. Richard W. Minnich Jr. was the pilot of an F8E conducting a combat
mission over North Vietnam on January 4, 1968. As he was about 5 miles north
of the city of Uong Bi in Quang Ninh Province, his aircraft was shot down.

Since there was not proof that Minnich died in the crash of his aircraft, he
was declared Missing in Action. The Defense Intelligence Agency further
expanded Minnich's classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of
2. Category 2 indicates "suspect knowledge" and includes personnel who may
have been involved in loss incidents with individuals reported in Category 1
(confirmed knowledge), or who were lost in areas or under conditions that
they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected
with an incident which was discussed but not identified by names in enemy
news media; or identified (by elimination, but not 100% positively) through
analysis of all-source intelligence.

On December 4, 1985, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of
Richard W. Minnich, Jr.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. Fighter pilots in Vietnam were called upon to fly in many dangerous
circumstances, and were prepared to be wounded, killed, or captured. It
probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country
they proudly served.