Name: Richard Spaulding Rank/Branch: Civilian Unit: Pacific Archetiechs and Engineers, Phu Bi Date of Birth: 18 October 1936 (Enid OK) Home City of Record: Date of Loss: 01 February 1968 [31 January 68 according to Mr. Spaulding] Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 163300N 1073000E Status (in 1973): Originally reported MIA - when Marj. Nelson was released, she reported Spaulding as held captive in the same camp. -- Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: Gostas, Theodore USA (released); Henderson, Alexander CIV (released); Meyer, Lewis CIV (released); Olsen, Robert CIV, in charge of telegraph, (Released); Page, Russell CIV, in charge of motor pool (Released); Rander, Donald USA (Released); Rushton, Thomas CIV (Released); Daves, Gary CIV (Released); Stark, Lawrence CIV attached to USN (Released); Willis, Charles CIV (Released).
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 14 February 1997 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources and information provided by Ret. Major Gostas and Lawrence Stark. Updated November 1999.
REMARKS: 730316 Released by PRG
Spaulding was working in the northern part of South Vietnam during TET '68 when Hue came under seige. Ret. Major Ted Gostas (135th MIBN PROV) recalls being trapped without his radio in the city, and being unable to warn hundreds of 5th Marines as they walked into an ambush and their death. Government records indicate Spaulding and 11 others were captured soon afterward. Ten of those were civilians working with the Vietnamese.
Richard Spaulding was held captive for 5 years 1 month and 17 days prior to his release on March 16, 1973. Much of his time was spent with other civilian prisoners, including German missionaries Bernhard Diehl and Monika Schwinn.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
RICHARD SPAULDING Civilian Captured: February 1, 1968 Released: March 16, 1973
I was born in Enid, Oklahoma, October 18, 1936, the tenth child of thirteen. I have six sisters and three brothers still living. My father passed away in June 1966 and my mother in December 1970 while I was a POW. I went to Adams Grade School and Longfellow Junior High in Enid. I quit school after the tenth grade but obtained my high school degree while I was in the United States Army.
In 1951, I went to visit my sister in Nevada and stayed to live with her for over three years. In 1954 I met Dorothyan Kay Tibble and we were married on 9 April 1955. We moved to California that same day. On the first of November 1957 my wife gave birth to a baby girl. We named her Judith Louise after my sister. Our son was born on 9 September 1959 and we named him Ricky Dean. In 1961 my marriage ended.
I was drafted into the Army and after my basic training at Fort Ord, California, I spent 22 months at Fort Richardson, Alaska. I was discharged in August 1964 but after 63 days I reenlisted for three more years. I was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for Clerk Typing School and after graduating, I was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas. I stayed at Fort Bliss until October 1965 when my unit, the 6th Battalion, 27th Artillery, 8" S.P. (Self Propelled Howitzers), was sent to Bien Hoa, South Vietnam. I stayed with the 27th Artillery for thirteen months and was then transferred to the 1st Infantry Division. I had voluntarily extended my enlistment for one more year. I stayed with the 1st Infantry Division for a little over three months and was then transferred to the United States Support Command, Saigon. I stayed with this unit until I was sent home for discharge 5 October 1967.
Once back in the United States, I signed an eighteen month contract to return to South Vietnam to work for Pacific Architects and Engineers. Upon reaching Saigon I was sent to Hue. I was to be the Administrator of the Phu Bai Installation nine miles south of Hue. On 31 January 1968 the Viet Cong attacked Hue and at about 1000 hours (10 o'clock in the morning) they broke into my house and took me prisoner. I, along with four other civilians, was taken out of Hue that night and walked southwest out of the city. We stayed in one camp in South Vietnam for nineteen days and then headed for Hanoi. We walked for about 22 days [note: Mr Spaulding stated he and those civilians he was captured with were joined by two female teachers on the march north, Marjorie Olsen and Sandra Johnson. In addition, one civilian with the Dept of Agriculture that was with them was killed when American bombers caught smoke from one of the cook fires on the trail.] and rode in some trucks for nine nights before reaching a camp in North Vietnam. We had traveled the Ho Chi Minh trail into Laos, then traveled for four days in Laos. We stayed at our first camp in North Vietnam for 100 days and then went to Hanoi. We spent two years and eleven and a half months in a camp we called "Camp 77" about nine kilometers west of Hanoi. On 21 June 1971 we were transferred to a camp we called "Camp Rockville" or "Rockview" until 28 January 1973 when we were moved to Hanoi to wait for our release.
I was never physically tortured by the Viet Cong, North or South, but there are many more ways to torture a man than beating him. Not to be allowed to correspond with our families was a gross violation of all agreements on POWs and this denial of permission to write to our families caused all of us much sorrow and worry. Our food was anywhere from bad to terrible with few exceptions.
During my detention I always had faith in our country, President Nixon and myself. I knew that I would return to my family and my country one day and the camp directors, interpreters and guards would be left in that God forsaken country, while I would be back in my beloved United States. That dream has come true. I am home now and very happy to be back. The United States has changed, or I should say, the people have changed, but I will get used to that. Since my release on March 16, 1973, everyone has been wonderful to me. It is impossible to thank all these people personally, but to you who read this, I say, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's great to be back with you."
Spaulding spend 2 years in the Army before returning to Vietnam as a civilian before his 5 + years in captivity. Recently retired, he now resides in Oklahoma near his daughter.