CLARK, RICHARD CHAMP
Name: Richard Champ Clark
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: USS Coral Sea
Date of Birth: 16 August 1941
Home City of Record: Tacoma WA
Date of Loss: 24 October 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212800N 1052600E (WJ448736)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles R. Gillespie (released POW); Robert
Frishmann, Earl G. Lewis (at same coordinates, same day, another F4)
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.
REMARKS: GOOD CHUTE
SYNOPSIS: On October 24, 1967, Ltjg. Richard Clark was flying as backseater
aboard the F4B Phantom fighter jet flown by Commander Charles R. Gillespie
on a bombing mission over the Hanoi, Haiphong and Vinh Phuc region of North
Vietnam. The aircraft was one in a flight of two.
Clark and Gillespie's aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile and
crashed in Vinh Phu Province. Other members of the flight observed two good
parachutes, heard one electronic beacon signal, and observed one
unidentified crew member on the ground.
On the same day, the F4 flown by Earl Lewis and Robert Frishmann was shot
down at the same coordinates. Frishmann relates that he "wasn't even diving
when they hit me. I was flying. Bad luck!" Frishmann sustained a serious
injury to his arm by missile fragments. Frishmann believed Lewis was dead,
but after 4 hours, located him. Both were captured by the Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese were able to save Frishmann's arm, but he lost his elbow,
leaving the arm nearly 8 inches shorter than the other. A reporter, Oriana
Fallaci, interviewed Frishmann for Look Magazine in July 1969. At that time,
he had been held in solitary confinement for 18 months.
Lewis, Frishmann and Gillespie were held in various locations in and around
Hanoi as prisoners. At no time did any of them see Richard Clark, who had
successfully ejected from the aircraft.
Lt. Frishmann was released in August 1969 with the blessings of the POW
community. His message to the world would reveal the torture endured by
Americans held in Vietnam and cause a public outcry which would eventually
help stop the torture and result in better treatment for the prisoners.
Gillespie and Lewis were both released from Hanoi March 14, 1973 in the
general prisoner release nearing the end of American involvement in the war
Cdr. Gillespie, in his debrief, stated that after the missile hit, smoke
filled the cockpit, and as the intercom system failed, he gave an emergency
hand signal to eject and he did not see Lt. Clark again. On October 24,
Radio Hanoi announced that in the afternoon of October 24, eight U.S. war
planes had been shot down and that a number of U.S. pilots had been
captured. The U.S. correlates this information to Lt. Clark and placed him
in prisoner of war classification. (Inexplicably, however, the Defense
Intelligence Agency codes Clark as "category 2" which means only "suspected"
enemy knowledge of his fate.)
If Lt. Clark was captured, why did he not return home? If he died, where are
his remains? If he is one of the hundreds of Americans experts now believe
are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, what are we doing to bring
him home? What must he be thinking of us?