DUDASH, JOHN FRANCIS Remains Returned 830600
Name: John Francis Dudash Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 25 November 1929 Home City of Record: Manville NJ Date of Loss: 26 April 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212958N 1052557E (WJ448773) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F Refno: 0653
Other Personnel in Incident: Alton B. Meyer (released POW)
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 2002.
SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing capability and ECM pods for the wings. While the D version was a single-place aircraft, the F model carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses.
Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25 Russian MiGs. Thirteen of these modified F's were sent to Southeast Asia in 1966.
Most of the F105s flown by the U.S. Air Force were based in Thailand, their flights into North Vietnam guided by ultra-secret U.S.-operated radar installations in Laos. During the mid-sixties, both Navy and Air Force jets descended on military targets in North Vietnam as part of Operation Rolling Thunder.
At the coastal city of Haiphong, Navy bombers were running successful bombing missions aimed at vital supply stores and storage facilities. One bomber was flown by Michael Estocin, who was shot down on this mission and who was awarded the Navy's only Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor on this mission and those of days previous over Haiphong.
Several F105's were lost northwest of Hanoi on this day. One, an F105F, flown by Capt. John F. Dudash, with Major Alton B. Meyer in the rear seat, was hit by enemy fire in northwest of Hanoi in Vinh Phu Province. Meyer, as the rear-seater, ejected first and was captured immediately. He landed about 45 miles northwest of Hanoi, and the aircraft continued in a southeasterly direction with Dudash still at the controls. While Meyers watched, the plane disintegrated in mid-air. Although the Air Force later located the precise location of the downed aircraft, the fate of Dudash was uncertain. The pieces fell to earth about 5 miles from the ejection coordiates of Meyer and finally crashed. Whether Dudash successfully ejected was doubtful, but he was classified Missing in Action, and it was felt that the Vietnamese could account for him.
[NOTE: Some records indicate that Dudash was aboard an F105E and that Meyer was aboard an F105F. This is probably an error as Dudash and Meyer are definitely on the same aircraft and it is the F model which is a two-seater.)
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from POW camps and Alton B. Meyer was among them. Dudash's loss occurred in a less populated area, but the fact that his backseater was captured indicated that the enemy was in the area. They would not fail to notice the aircraft crash and investigate, yet the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of Dudash for more than a decade.
Sixteen years later, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of John F. Dudash. The U.S. accepted this humanitarian gift without question. Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times. Was Dudash waiting, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did they die?" As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.