APPELHANS, RICHARD DUANE Name: Richard Duane Appelhans Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 29 October 1937 Home City of Record: Dodson MT Date of Loss: 16 October 1967 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 160600N 1072300E (XC961808) Status (In 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Refno: 0862 Other Personnel In Incident: George W. Clarke (captured) 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 2016. REMARKS: NEGATIVE SAR CONTACT SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam. Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful and the recovery rate was high. Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated, Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been held in Laos. On October 16, 1967, the RF4C Phantom reconnaissance jet flown by Capt. Richard D. Appelhans disappeared while flying over Saravane Province, Laos. Flying as backseater on this flight was Capt. George W. Clarke. Radio and radar contact with the aircraft was lost at grid coordinates XC961808, which is located in the northeast portion of Saravane Province, Laos. Aerial searches were conducted, but no trace of the missing aircraft or its crew were found. American POWs who were released early (1968) reported that they had seen George Clarke as a prisoner, and all stated that they last saw him alive. A number of reports relating to Clarke were received by his parents, and his status was changed from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War. No further information was received on Richard Appelhans. Just before December 1971, Clarke's wife was informed by the Air Force that "it had come to their attention" that her husband needed eyeglasses. Mrs. Clarke has a photograph of an individual in captivity she believes is her husband. The U.S. maintains Clarke's case among those called "discrepancy" cases which are regularly presented to the Vietnamese as those that could be resolved. Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia, the Clarke and Appelhans families might be able to close this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are alive, being held captive, Clarke and Appelhans could be among them. It's time we brought these men home. Both Clarke and Appelhans were promoted to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained Prisoner of War and Missing in Action.