COOK, WILLIAM RICHARD
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
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.