RUDOLPH, ROBERT DAVID Remains Returned 15 December 1988 Name: Robert David Rudolph Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Light Photographic Squadron 63, Detachment G, USS ORISKANY Date of Birth: 26 February 1942 Home City of Record: Encino CA Date of Loss: 08 September 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 200458N 1055200E (WH906207) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF8A Refno: 0138 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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 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 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. LtJg. Robert D. Rudolph was a pilot assigned to Light Photographic Squadron 63, Detachment G, onboard the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY (CVA 34). On September 8, 1965, Rudolph launched in his RF8A Crusader on a combat photo mission to locate surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites north of Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam. Shortly after crossing the coastline, he and his wingman encountered heavy automatic weapons fire. Rudolph's aircraft was seen to go inverted and begin a steep descent. His wingman began immediate evasive maneuvers and did not see an ejection or the aircraft hit the ground. An immediate search and rescue effort was begun, but there the crash site was not found. No emergency radio beeper signals were heard to indicate that Rudolph successfully ejected. He was believed to have been killed, but was not so listed for three weeks. LtJg. Rudolph is listed with honor among the missing in Southeast Asia because his remains were never recovered. For Rudolph's family, some peace can be had from the fact that his death was witnessed. For many others who are missing, however, final answers are not so simple. Many were known to have been alive at the time they disappeared. Some were actually photographed in captivity, only to disappear. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive today in captivity. Tragically, these men willingly served their country honorably and faithfully, and were abandoned by the country they served. It's time we brought our men home. On December 15, 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of Robert D. Rudolph.