SPENCER, WARREN RICHARD Remains Returned 30 September 1977 Name: Warren Richard Spencer Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, RAD/NAV Unit: 307th Strat Wing, Anderson Air Base, Guam Date of Birth: 06 February 1943 Home City of Record: La Crescenta CA Date of Loss: 20 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210459N 1053958E (WJ692313) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52G Other Personnel In Incident: Terry M. Geloneck; William Y. Arcuri; Roy Madden Jr.; Michael R. Martini (all released POWs); Craig A. Paul; (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, including "Linebacker" by Karl J. Eschmann. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK. REMARKS: REMS RETD BY SRV 770930 SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war, known as Linebacker II, in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over military targets in the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. The Christmas Bombings were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S. "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching it southward." The operation had its costs, however, in loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The remains of roughly a dozen more have been returned over the years, and the rest are still missing. At least 10 those missing survived to eject safely. Yet they did not return at the end of the war. On December 20, 1972, three B52 aircraft -- Quilt Cell -- departed Anderson Air Base, Guam for a bombing mission over Hanoi. One of the aircraft was flown by Capt. Terry M. Geloneck. The crew consisted of 1Lt. William Y. Arcuri, co-pilot; Capt. Craig A. Paul, Electronic Warfare Officer; Capt. Warren R. Spencer, the radar navigator; 1LT Michael R. Martini, navigator; and SSgt. Roy Madden, the gunner. Approaching the initial point where the bombing run was to begin, the EWO (Paul) reported SAM signals. The aircraft instituted evasive maneuvers while calmly running through their checklist in preparation of releasing the twenty-seven 750-pound bomb load. About 30 seconds to target, three or four SAMs were sighted. The crew could do nothing but watch their progress until the "bombs away" was called and evasive action could be taken. After releasing the bomb load, the aircraft had been in a hard turn about 10 seconds when the loud metallic bank of an exploding SAM hit them, accompanied by a bright white flash. The aircraft was still airborne and in its post-target turn. Martini reported that he, Arcuri and Spencer were okay, but that they had sustained a fuel leak in the left main fuel tank, and that cabin pressurization was lost. Paul had been hit and was bleeding heavily. There were four six-inch holes in the fuselage next to Madden, and his leg was shattered. As the aircraft began losing altitude, the crew prepared for bailout. Geloneck, Arcuri, Martini and Madden successfully ejected from the aircraft and were captured immediately. It is not known whether Spencer and Paul ejected. When they were released in mid-February, 1973, Madden, Martini, Arcuri and Geloneck were all injured; Madden's leg was still in dangerous condition, and he was brought home on a litter. The leg was later amputated. The Vietnamese returned the remains of Paul and Spencer on September 30, 1977, despite earlier protestations that they knew nothing about the two. One thing that amazed analysts about the B52 bombers that were shot down over Hanoi during this period was the high survival rate of the crewmembers. Many more were returned as POWs than was expected. The B52s that were shot down were downed in extremely hostile territory with little or no chance of rescue. However, they were fortunate to be captured during a period in which little or no harassment and torture was being experienced by American POWs. In fact, the Vietnamese were "fattening them up" for their imminent release. Unfortunately, it does not appear that all the prisoners were returned in 1973 at the end of the war. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans still alive in captivity. U.S. experts have stated they believe Americans are still being held prisoner in Southeast Asia. The question is no longer whether any are alive, but who are they, and how can we bring them home?