ALFRED, GERALD OAK, JR.
Name: Gerald Oak Alfred, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Da Nang
Date of Birth: 18 October 1942
Home City of Record: Seattle WA
Date of Loss: 11 December 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171959N 1065057E (XE965172)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Capt. Jerry Woodcock (rescued)
REMARKS: POSS EJECTED AT SEA
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: "Alf" Alfred dreamed of becoming an astronaut. He studied hard at
the Air Force Academy and made the Dean's List four years before his
graduation in 1964. He had a bright future with the Air Force.
After leaving the Academy, Alf trained on the F4 Phantom, which he flew in
Vietnam the following year, where he was assigned to the 480th Tactical
Fighter Squadron at Da Nang. On December 11, 1966, he was flying backseater
to Capt. Jerry Woodcock in an F4C on an armed reconnaissance mission near
the DMZ when the aircraft was hit by hostile fire.
The U.S.S. Keppler (DD-765) was operating in the coastal area about halfway
between Dong Hoi and Vinh Linh. The Keppler's crew, comprised of Navy Seals,
was part of Operation Sea Dragon, which involved engaging and destroying
Waterborne Logistic Craft, junks and barges in particular. On the evening of
December 11, 1966, the seas were relatively calm, and it was somewhat foggy.
Personnel aboard the Keppler observed Woodcock and Alfred's aircraft head
for water, nose over and crash, "literally right in front of [their] eyes."
While no ejection was seen, two emergency beepers were heard momentarily. A
rescue team was dispatched from the Keppler immediately, coinciding with a
rescue effort by the U.S Air Force. Air Force aircraft dropped a number of
flares in the area, while the Navy personnel searched from the water. A
member of the Navy team was awarded the Navy Cross for his rescue of Jerry
Capt. Woodcock believed that his backseater had ejected. The Navy team
continued searching for him, but with no success. There were numerous enemy
craft of all sorts in the area, which was close enough to shore that Lt.
Alfred might have been able to reach the shoreline if his floatation devices
had been functioning (Woodcock's had not been functional).
The failure to find Alfred has haunted some of the personnel aboard the
Keppler throughout the years. Their frustration at being unable to locate
this man, whom they believed had every chance to survive, was deep and
The U.S. Air Force categorized Gerald O. Alfred, Jr. as Missing In Action,
and it is believed that he parachuted into the sea. Because of the proximity
of the enemy, it is also believed that the enemy knows the fate of 1Lt.
Gerald O. Alfred, although the Vietnamese have denied any knowledge of him
for over 20 years.
Since the end of American involvement in Vietnam in 1975, thousands of
reports have been received which have convinced many authorities that
hundreds of Americans are still being held captive today.
Some analysts fear that men like Gerald O. Alfred will never return. In late
1986, a former NSA intelligence analyst stated that backseaters like Alfred,
who possessed technical knowledge surpassing that of the pilot were singled
out. The analyst stated that in the intelligence community these men were
dubbed, "MB", or "Moscow Bound". They would make valuable trades to the
Soviet Union for a heavily indebted Vietnam.
Whether Alf survived that day in December is not known. What seems certain,
however, is that there are men who did survive, and still survive. What must
they be thinking of their country? It's time we brought them home.