Remains Returned July 8, 1981

Name: Ronald Wayne Dodge
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit:   Fighter Squadron 51
Date of Birth: 17 June 1936
Home City of Record: San Diego CA
Date of Loss: 17 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 184759N 1052358E (WF419795)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

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 Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
photo reconnaissance.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.

Lt. Ronald W. Dodge was the pilot of an F8E assigned a combat mission over
North Vietnam on May 17, 1967. When Dodge was about 20 miles northwest of
the city of Vinh in Nghe An Province, North Vietnam, his aircraft was shot
down. Safely on the ground, Dodge talked with his wingman on the radio and
waved him off. He discussed moving up the hill. During this period, he made
three radio transmissions, one of them reporting being surrounded by North
Vietnamese forces and saying, "I'm breaking up my radio." One pilot,
Mdcleary, saw Dodge being captured.

For the next years, Dodge's wife, Jan, was tortured by photos which appeared
on the cover of the September 9, 1967, Paris Match, and in a propaganda film
made by East Germany called, "Pilots in Pajamas." In the Paris Match photo,
Dodge's head was bandaged, but in the German film, he was walking on his own
power between guards. Jan Dodge had little idea of the torture that Ron
Dodge was enduring in the hands of the Vietnamese. It is the general feeling
among returned POWs that Ron Dodge was tortured to the point of death.

When 591 American prisoners were released in 1973, Ron Dodge was not among
them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him, in spite of the
widely-published photographs of Ron Dodge in captivity.

Then, in 1981, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of Ron
Dodge to U.S. control.

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 Ron Dodge 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.


                                 PROJECT X
                        SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE

NAME: DODGE, Ronald W., LT., USN



RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: After landing, Lt. Dodge established radio contact
with his wingman. He stated he was surrounded by enemy troops. North
Vietnamese news media described the downing of LT Dodge's aircraft and his
immediate capture. There is no evidence to indicate his death.

REFNO: 0685 19 Apr 76


1. On 17 May 1967 LT Ronald W. Dodge was the pilot of an F8E aircraft,
(BUNO #149138), as lead in a flight of two on a flak-suppression mission
over North Vietnam. For no apparent reason, LT Dodge ceased a radio
transmission and his aircraft made a descending nose-down maneuver. He
ejected from his aircraft at 7,500 feet. (The aircraft crashed at grid
coordinates (GC) WF 419 795.) LT Dodge's parachute was seen in the vicinity
of (GC) WF 421 789, near the aircraft wreckage. He established radio
communication with his wingman and reported that he was surrounded by enemy
troops. He said that he was moving up the hill, as he was surrounded and
was going to break up his radio. LT Dodge was never seen on the ground, but
the wingman did see a group of people gathered on a hillside near the crash
site. Search and rescue efforts were called off on the assumption that LT
Dodge had been captured. (Ref 1)

2., In the 18 May 1967 edition of the Nhan Dan newspaper, an article
described the downing of LT Dodge's aircraft, and stated that the pilot had
been captured. A 17 May 1967 Radio Hanoi broadcast also described the
downing of LT Dodge's aircraft, and stated that he was captured as soon as
he reached the ground. (Ref 2 & 3)

3. The Paris newspaper MATCH, in its 9 September 1967 edition,, showed a
photo taken in North Vietnam of a captured US pilot. LT Dodge's wife
positively identified the man in the photo as her husband. (Ref 3)

4. During the existence of JCRC the hostile threat in the area precluded
any visits to or ground inspection of the sites involved in this case.
Details of this case together with information indicating enemy knowledge
of the case were turned over to the Four-Party Joint Military Team on 6
August 1973 with a request for any information which would assist in
determining status and resolution. No response was forthcoming LT Dodge's
currently carried in the status of Captured.


1. MSG (U), USS HANCOCK, 171505Z May 67.

2. News Article (U), Dan Newspaper, (Extract), pages I and 4. 18 May 67.

3. RPT (U), File Record Summary for FPJMT, undated.

                 * National Alliance of Families Home Page




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On July 20, 1981, the Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii (CILH, now DPAA) identified the remains of Commander Ronald Wayne Dodge, missing from the Vietnam War. 

Commander Dodge joined the U.S. Navy from California and was a member of Fighter Squadron 51. On May 17, 1967, he piloted an F-8E Crusader on an air defense suppression mission over enemy territory in Vietnam. Commander Dodge's aircraft went down during the mission, but he was able to eject from the aircraft before it crashed. He was captured by enemy forces, and died at some point while in enemy custody. In July 1981, a set of remains alleged to be those of CDR Dodge were turned over to U.S. officials in Vietnam. Subsequent analysis of the remains confirmed this identification.

Commander Dodge is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.