Name: William Richard Cook
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit: 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Tan San Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 25 May 1924
Home City of Record: Redwood Falls MN
Date of Loss: 28 April 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 152300N 1083200E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C
Refno: 1147
Other Personnel In Incident: Joseph C. Bors (missing)


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: Capt. Joseph C. Bors was flying backseater aboard LtCol. William
R. Cook's RF4C Phantom jet when the two departed Tan San Nhut Airbase in
South Vietnam on 28 April 1968 on a day photo reconnaissance mission.

The RF4 version of the Phantom is a reconnaissance aircraft outfitted for
photographic and electronic reconnaissance missions. Its principal drawback
was in its use for night photography. Photo flash cartridges, ejected from
the plane's fuselage gave the necessary light, but also alerted enemy
gunners of the aircraft's location, making it somewhat vulnerable,
particularly on low level flights.

Cook and Bors' mission took them into Military Region 1, and into Quang Tin
Province, South Vietnam. When they were about 20 miles west southwest of the
city of Chu Lai, all contact with the aircraft was lost. Both men were
classified Missing In Action.

Bill Cook's photograph was identified by a rallier as an American prisoner
of war, but as none of the returning prisoners saw Cook, CIA analysts
questioned the identification. Perhaps the identification was in error, but
it is now widely known that a second and perhaps third prison system existed
in Vietnam, and it is possible that returned prisoners did not see the
Americans held in other prison systems. No further word of Bors has

Cook and Bors are among nearly 2400 Americans who are still missing in
Southeast Asia. Thousands of sighting reports have accumulated over the
years, convincing many that hundreds of Americans are still alive, held
prisoner. Whether Cook or Bors is among them is unknown, but what is certain
is that it is long past time to bring these men home.




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On April 28, 1968, an RF-4C Phantom II (tail number 66-0398) with two crew members took off from Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, to perform a day photo reconnaissance mission over targets in South Vietnam. Bad weather in the first target area prompted the aircraft to proceed to the second target area. An artillery coordinator cleared the aircraft to proceed to the second target area, and the Phantom’s crew responded that they would not return to the first target area. This was the last radio transmission from the Phantom, and it was not seen again. Search and rescue teams searched the Phantom’s mission area, but found no evidence of the aircraft or its crew. Both crew members aboard the aircraft remain unaccounted for.

Lieutenant Colonel William Richard Cook, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Minnesota, was a member of the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, and was the pilot of the Phantom when it went missing. He was lost with the aircraft, and his remains have not been recovered. After the incident, the Air Force promoted Lt Col Cook to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel Cook 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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