ALLARD, RICHARD MICHAEL
Name: Richard Michael Allard
Rank/Branch: SP4/US Army
Unit: 119th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st
Date of Birth: 24 August 1946 (Bay City MI)
Home City of Record: Chesaning MI (Family in Schaumburg IL)
Date of Loss: 24 August 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 141813N 1075140E (ZA087831)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Kenneth B. Goff; Ronald L. Holtzman; Richard
Schell (all missing); Dayton Witherall; Richard N. Morrison; John R. Ulp;
Cynthia Colburn (all rescued); Sterling A. Wall (died, body recovered)
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: On August 24, 1967, WO Dayton Witherall, pilot; WO Richard N.
Morrison, aircraft commander; SP4 Richard L. Holtzman, gunner; SP4 Richard
M. Allard, crewchief; 2Lt. Kenneth B. Goff, 2Lt. Richard J. Schell, Sgt.
Major John R. Ulp, 1Lt. Sterling A. Wall, and Miss Cynthia Colburn,
passengers; were aboard a UH1C helicopter (serial #66-12526) which departed
Polei Kleng, South Vietnam to Plei Krong, South Vietnam on a combat support
The 4th Infantry, with the assistance of the 25th Infantry Division and 1st
Cavalry (Airmobile), was at that time conducting an operation called Paul
Revere IV, a continuing effort near the Cambodian border of Pleiku Province.
The UH1H flying over Pleiku Province that day in August 1966 was flying out
of Pleiku, where its crew and passengers were stationed.
(NOTE: While the U.S. Army and describes the flight mission as
combat-related, it also acknowledges that Ms. Colburn was on the aircraft, a
situation which was "illegal", as women serving in Vietnam were not supposed
to be placed in combat situations. It is not clear in public record why she
was on the aircraft, although Phyllis Allard, Richard Allard's mother, has
said that the aircraft was carrying passengers enroute from a hospital and
that Colburn was a Red Cross worker.)
During the flight, the pilot elected to fly low-level along the Dak Bla
River. While attempting a 180 degree turn, the aircraft failed to recover
and was caught in a severe downdraft and crashed into the Krong Bo Lah River
in about 10 feet of water at a point where the current was swift and the
water was deep. (NOTE: loss coordinates place the site of loss
unquestionably on the Se San River about 15 miles southwest of the city of
Kontum, and about 28 miles due south of the city of Dak To. Just south of
Dak To is the juncture of the Se San and another river. Whether at this
juncture the two rivers have other names cannot be determined with materials
on hand at the time of this writing. Information provided by family members
states that the aircraft landed in the "bottomless, rapid Boc River called
Rescue helicopters arrived 10 - 45 minutes after the crash and rescued WO
Morrison, WO Witherall, Ms Colburn and Sgt. Major Ulp, after their having
been swept several hundred feet downstream. 2Lt. Goff, SP4 Allard and 2Lt.
Schell were not seen by any of the survivors after the crash. SP4 Holtzman
was seen by WO Morrison, who stated that Holtzman was wearing a flight
jacket, armor plate, and a flak jacket, and called out to Morrison that he
could not swim. WO Morrison stated that Holtzman drifted away in the swift
current before he could help him.
Later searches of the area revealed several pieces of debris, but the
aircraft itself was not found. In September, Lt. Wall's body was retrieved
from the river. Searches were conducted through December 26, but neither the
aircraft nor the four missing men aboard it were found.
Richard Allard's mother received a collect call from Cambodia a few days
after the crash by someone she believed was Richard. She subsequently had
the call checked by Illinois Bell and states that the results "produced
evidence that they [the crew] were in the hands of the enemy". In 1970 she
saw a prisoner on television in a Viet Cong film which she believed was
Richard. The Army was elusive in its conclusions on both events, so Mrs.
Allard borrowed money from friends to go to Cambodia in January of 1972.
Through a series of events which belong in a spy novel, Mrs. Allard said
that she found herself in a cave where she was blindfolded and led into a
bare room. An official and a soldier came in with her son. In the moments he
was allowed to stay, he said, "Shame on you for coming." He apparently was
afraid for his mother's safety. The Army later said they couldn't believe
Mrs. Allard's account unless the Communists corroborated it in writing. Mrs.
Allard has worked continually for 22 years for information about her son.
In 1969, a communist defector was shown a number of photographs of missing
men. One of the photos he identified positively as being a prisoner of war
was Richard Schell. The U.S. could not determine why the photo was selected.
Clearly, all the evidence is not in on the events of August 24, 1967.
Whether Mrs. Allard's story is true is unknown. Whether Allard and Schell
were truly prisoners can only be known by the communists, and of course,
Allard and Schell themselves. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of any of
the four missing.