Remains Returned 18 March 1977
Name: Bruce Chalmers Ducat
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
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.
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
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
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.