CAMERON, KENNETH ROBBINS
Remains Returned 06 March 1974
Name: Kenneth Robbins Cameron
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 76, USS BON HOMME RICHARD
Date of Birth: 09 August 1928
Home City of Record: Berkeley CA
Date of Loss: 18 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 184800N 1053900E (WF684786)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 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.
REMARKS: DIC 701004; DRV RET REMS 750306
SYNOPSIS: The USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA 31) saw early Vietnam war action. A
World War II Essex-class carrier, she was on station participating in combat
action against the Communists as early as August 1964. Her aircraft carried
the first Walleye missiles when they were introduced in 1967. In November
1970, the "Bonnie Dick" completed its sixth combat deployment and was
scheduled for decommissioning by mid-1971.
One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the BON HOMME RICHARD
was the Douglas Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was intended to provide the
Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground
support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability
during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch
and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding
wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size,
the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and
maneuverability were essential.
The Spirits of VA76, assigned to Air Wing 21, reached the coastal waters of
Vietnam in January 1967. As the monsoon season faded, the air war's
intensity rapidly ballooned and sites in North Vietnam that previously had
been off-limits were opened up for U.S. air strikes.
CDR Kenneth R. Cameron was a Skyhawk pilot and the executive officer of
Attack Squadron 76 onboard the BON HOMME RICHARD. On May 18, 1967, he
launched in his A4C on a mission near the city of Vinh in Nghe An Province,
North Vietnam. During the mission, as he was about 5 miles north of the
city, Cameron's aircraft was shot down. Cameron ejected from the aircraft
and was captured.
Cameron spent the next three years and five months in captivity, at which
time, according to the Vietnamese, he died in captivity.* It was another
four years before the Vietnamese returned his remains to U.S. control.
For Kenneth R. Cameron, death is a certainty. For hundreds of others,
however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly
10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the
certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war
were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be
prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers
when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents,
only to disappear without a trace.
The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of
those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in
the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men
unaccounted for at the end of a war.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of
us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to
bring these men home from Southeast Asia?
* DIA Homecoming (Egress Report) 24 April 1973 quotes several returnees
saying that Cameron was with them until Dec 1969. He was in extremely poor
physical and mental health shape. When a large group of POWs were moved from
Heartbreak to another part of Ha Lo in 1970, they were told Cameron was in