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Name: George William Clarke, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 28 January 1941
Home City of Record: Hampton VA
Date of Loss: 16 October 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 160600N 1072300E (XC961808)
Status (In 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C

Other Personnel In Incident: Richard D. Appelhans (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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. 2020


SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in
South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for
sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some
years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for
transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were
shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam.
Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful
and the recovery rate was high.

Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains
between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact
with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been
captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke
of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated,
Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been
held in Laos.

On October 16, 1967, the RF4C Phantom reconnaissance jet flown by Capt.
Richard D. Appelhans disappeared while flying over Saravane Province, Laos.
Flying as backseater on this flight was Capt. George W. Clarke.

Radio and radar contact with the aircraft was lost at grid coordinates
XC961808, which is located in the northeast portion of Saravane Province,
Laos. Aerial searches were conducted, but no trace of the missing aircraft
or its crew were found.

American POWs who were released early (1968) reported that they had seen
George Clarke as a prisoner, and all stated that they last saw him alive. A
number of reports relating to Clarke were received by his parents, and his
status was changed from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War. No further
information was received on Richard Appelhans.

Just before December 1971, Clarke's wife was informed by the Air Force that
"it had come to their attention" that her husband needed eyeglasses. Mrs.
Clarke has a photograph of an individual in captivity she believes is her

The U.S. maintains Clarke's case among those called "discrepancy" cases
which are regularly presented to the Vietnamese as those that could be

Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held
captive in Southeast Asia, the Clarke and Appelhans families might be able
to close this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are
alive, being held captive, Clarke and Appelhans could be among them. It's
time we brought these men home.

Both Clarke and Appelhans were promoted to the rank of Major during the
period they were maintained Prisoner of War and Missing in Action.




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On October 16, 1967, an RF-4C Phantom II (tail number 65-0855, call sign "Kodak 64") with two crew members took off on a single-aircraft night photo reconnaissance mission over the western section of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. The crew made radio contact with ground control radar during the flight, and eventually radioed to report they were changing radio frequencies for artillery clearance in the target area. Clearance was granted, and the crew was instructed to exit the target area to the south following their target run, which they acknowledged. However, the crew was not heard from again, and searches for the lost aircraft and crew were unsuccessful. 

Captain George William Clarke Jr. entered the U.S. Air Force from Virginia and served in the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. He was the navigator of the Phantom when it went missing and his remains were not recovered. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted Captain Clarke to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Clarke 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 Deferred.

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