Remains Returned 830600
Name: John Francis Dudash
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
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.
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
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
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
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.