Remains identiified 10/21/94 [One of nine men identified "as a group" COLE, RICHARD MILTON JR. Name: Richard Milton Cole Jr. Rank/Branch: E6/USAF Unit: 16th SOS (PAF), Ubon, Thailand Date of Birth: 20 July 1940 Home City of Record: Uniondale NY Date of Loss: 18 June 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 161500N 1071200E (YC343978) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: AC130A Other Personnel in Incident: Jacob Mercer; Richard Nyhof; Robert Wilson; Leon A. Hunt; Larry J. Newman; Paul F. Gilbert; Stanley Lehrke; Robert Harrison; Donald H. Klinke; Gerald F. Ayres; Mark G. Danielson (all missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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. NETWORK REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Lockheed's versatile C130 aircraft filled many roles in Vietnam, including transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance, electronic reconnaissance, and search, rescue and recovery. The AC130, outfitted as a gunship, was the most spectacular of the modified C130's. These ships pierced the darkness using searchlights, flares, night observation devices that intensified natural light, and a variety of electronic sensors such as radar, infared equipment and even low-level television. On some models, a computer automatically translated sensor data into instructions for the pilot, who kept his fixed, side-firing guns trained on target by adjusting the angle of bank as he circled. The crew of these planes were, therefore, highly trained and capable. They were highly desirable "captures" for the enemy because of their technical knowledge. 1LT Paul F. Gilbert was the pilot of an AC130A gunship assigned a mission near the A Shau Valley in the Republic of Vietnam on June 18, 1972. The crew, totaling 15 men included MAJ Gerald F. Ayres, MAJ Robert H. Harrison, CAPT Robert A. Wilson, CAPT Mark G. Danielson, TSGT Richard M. Cole Jr., SSGT Donald H. Klinke, SSGT Richard E. Nyhof, SSGT Larry J. Newman, SGT Leon A. Hunt, and SGT Stanley L. "Larry" Lehrke. During the mission, the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) and went down near the border of Laos and Vietnam. In fact, the first location coordinates given to the families were indeed Laos, but were quickly changed to reflect a loss just inside South Vietnam. Three survivors of the crash were rescued the next day. After several years of effort, some of the family members of the other crewmembers were able to review part of their debriefings, which revealed that a bail-out order was given, and that at least one unexplained parachute was observed, indicating that at least one other airman may have safely escaped the crippled aircraft. In early 1985, resistance forces surfaced information which indicated that SGT Mercer had survived the crash and was currently held prisoner. Parents of another crew member, Mark G. Danielson, discovered a photograph of an unidentified POW printed about 6 months after the crash, in their local newspaper whom they were CONVINCED was Mark. It was several years, however, before the U.S. Government allowed the Danielsons to view the film from which the photo was taken. When they viewed the film, their certainty diminished. The hope that some of the twelve missing from the AC130A gunship has not diminished, however. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, including over 1,000 first-hand live sighting reports. Families who might be able to lay their anguish and uncertainty to rest are taunted by these reports, wondering if their loved one is still alive, abandoned and alone. Since a large portion of the information is classified, it is impossible for the families to come to their own conclusions as to the accuracy of the reports. The fate of the twelve missing men from the gunship lost on June 18, 1972 is unknown. What is certain is that the governments of Southeast Asia possess far more knowledge than they have admitted to date. A large percentage of the nearly 2500 missing Americans CAN be accounted for. There can be no question that if even one American remains alive in captivity today, we have a moral and legal obligation to do everything possible to bring him home.
[up1021.94 10/22/94] UPn 10/21 U.S. MIA remains identified in Vietnam TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Air Force officials announced Friday they have identified the remains of 13 servicemen killed during the Vietnam War, including 12 who were on the same aircraft when it was shot down over Vietnam's A Shau Valley in 1972. Tech. Sgt. Patrick McKenna, an Air Force spokesman, said the remains of the crew were repatriated in 1993 and then identified by military pathologists. The remains of Cmdr. Robert Hessom, a Navy pilot from Bloomsburg, Pa. , were found earlier this year. The Air Force said Hessom was flying his A-1H aircraft over the Ha Tinh Province in March 1966 when he was shot down by ground fire. Hessom's wingman witnessed the crash and reported there was no sign of a parachute. However, because of heavy ground fighting in the area, Hessom's remains were not immediately recovered. The discovery of the remains of the crew of an AC-130A aircraft brought back the ironies of war. The aircraft was on an armed reconnaissance mission in the war's final days when its No. 3 engine suffered a direct hit by a surface-to- air missle. A second explosion rocked the plane moments later, throwing three crewmen free of the craft as it plummeted to the earth. Those three men survived and were rescused the following day. Three members of the crew were identified individually. They were Maj. Gerald F. Ayers, Newcastle, Del.; Capt. Mark Danielson, Aurora, Colo.; and Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer, Jacksonville, Fla. Among the nine other members of the crew who were identified only as a group were two Northern California men -- Tech. Sgt. Donald Klinke, West Sacramento, Calif., and Tech. Sgt. Richard Nyhof, Fremont, Calif. A third, Staff Sgt. Stanley Lehrke, was from San Diego. The others were: Tech. Sgt. Richard Cole, Uniondale, N.Y.; Capt. Paul Gilbert, Plainview, Tex.; Maj. Robert Harrison, Massapequa Park, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Leon Hunt, Pleasure Ridge Park, Ky.; Tech. Sgt. Larry J. Newman, North Platte, Neb.; and Capt. Robert A. Wilson, Detriot. All the servicemen had previously been unaccounted for in Indochina. Their remains will be returned to their families in ceremonies later this month.