Name:  Thomas Dean Clem
Rank/Branch:  02/USMC Reserve
Unit:  Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Date of Birth: 31 May 1942
Home City of Record: New Paris, IN (born Goshen, IN)
Date of Loss: 3 May 1968
Country of Loss:  North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: N164658 E1070157
Status (in 1973): Killed in Action/Body not Recovered
Category:  3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A
Refno: 1156

Other Personnel in Incident:  Avery, Robert D., missing

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project and the P.O.W. NETWORK 2 April
1992 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government
agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews and the Senate Select Committee Hearing Report.  2020


SYNOPSIS: Captain Clem was the pilot of the A6A aircraft that failed to
return from a mission over North Vietnam.

Since the war ended, the Defense Department has received over 10,000
reports relating to the men still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, yet
concludes that no actionable evidence has been received that would
indicate Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. A recent Senate
investigation indicates that most of these reports were dismissed
without just cause, and that there is every indication that Americans
remained in captivity far after the war ended, and may be alive today.


Senate Select Committee Report:

North Vietnam            Robert D. Avery
                                  Thomas D. Clem

On May 3, 1968, Avery and Clem were the crew in an A-6A on an armed
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam providing support to U.S.
Air Force operations along Route Package 1.  Radar contact was lost
with the aircraft when it was approximately 10 kilometers northwest
of the coastal town of Dong Hoi and six kilometers southeast of the
district seat of Bo Trach in Quang Binh Province.  SAR forces were
unable to locate any sign of the crew which was declared missing.

Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on the
eventual fate of the crew.  After Operation Homecoming they were
declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a
presumptive finding of death.

In January 1991, a U.S. team in Vietnam visited Bo Trach District
and reviewed archival documents.  One document listed the downing
of an A-6A on May 3, 1968 in which both crewmen died.  In July
1991, U.S. researchers at the Military Region IV museum in Vinh
City obtained access to an archival list of gravesites of Americans
who died there during the war.  One entry listed Robert D. Avery as
buried in Quang Ninh District from an F-105 downed on April 15,
1968.  In January 1992, a Region IV air defense record listed an A-
6A downed on May 3, 1968 with both crewmen dead.  In December 1992,
a copy of the list of burial sites was turned over by Vietnam to
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on
POW/MIA Affairs. 




Return to Service Member Profiles

On May 3, 1968, an A-6A Intruder (bureau number 154164, call sign Hillborn 18) with two crew members participated in a radar-controlled strike mission over enemy targets in North Vietnam. No radio transmissions were received from the aircraft after it left the target area, and radio and radar contact were lost when the aircraft was near the vicinity of (GC) 48Q XE 662 409. The Intruder failed to return to base, and both crew members were not seen again. Radar and visual searches for the aircraft were conducted through May 21 but were unsuccessful. Ground searches for the crash site were prevented at the time due to enemy presence in the area. 

First Lieutenant Thomas Dean Clem, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps from Indiana, served with the Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Marine Air Group 12, 1st Marine Air Wing. He was the pilot of the Intruder when it crashed, and his remains have not been recovered. After the incident, the Marine Corps promoted 1stLt Clem to the rank of Captain (Capt). Today, Captain Clem is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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