DUCAT, BRUCE CHALMERS Remains Returned 18 March 1977
Name: Bruce Chalmers Ducat Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 09 June 1941 Home City of Record: Bethesda MD Date of Loss: 02 December 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 214400N 1052000E (WF344995) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Refno: 0535
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald R. Burns (released POW)
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 2005.
REMARKS: 770318 SRV RET REMS TO PCOM
SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
According to family, contrary to records, Maj. Donald R. Burns was the pilot and 1Lt. Bruce C. Ducat the weapons/systems operator of an F4C sent on a combat mission over North Vietnam on December 2, 1966. During the mission, the aircraft was shot down about 40 miles northwest of Hanoi and both men were captured by the North Vietnamese.
During the years before the war ended, families waited until their loved ones who had been captured were returned. Knowing the torture being received by U.S. POWs in the hands of the Vietnamese, Ducat's father publicly offered an exchange - himself for his son. The Vietnamese ignored the offer.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released by the Vietnamese in Operation Homecoming. One of them was Donald R. Burns, but Ducat was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of his fate.
Then on March 18, 1977, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of Bruce C. Ducat. For eleven years, Ducat, alive or dead, was a prisoner of war.
It is comforting for each family to receive, after years and years of grief and wonder, the remains of their loved ones. However, it is tragic to receive the remains of persons such as Bruce Ducat and others who were known to have been POWs when the Vietnamese continually denied knowledge of them. The U.S. points to such returns of remains as "progress" on the POW/MIA issue, when actually, we are subjugating our honor to our long-ago enemy, and gratefully accepting the "gift" of remains which should have been returned decades ago. We have allowed the Vietnamese to use the remains as political leverage.
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. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. In light of this information, it is doubly questionable that the U.S. is pursuing an honorable solution of the POW/MIA issue.