GOULD, FRANK ALTON
Name: Frank Alton Gould
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 72nd Strat Wing, Guam
Date of Birth: 22 May 1933
Home City of Record: New York NY
Date of Loss: 21 December 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 194400N 1035900E (UH950020)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Vincent Russo; James Farmer; Deverl Johnson (two
other crewmen); all rescued.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources including "Linebacker" by Karl J. Eschmann.
Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020
SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war, known as Linebacker II, in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were
dropped, primarily over military targets in the area between Hanoi and Haiphong.
White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only
when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire
was in force.
The Christmas Bombings were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots
involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes
against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S.
"could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy
Scout troop in Hanoi and marching it southward."
The operation had its costs, however, in loss of aircraft and personnel. During
the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and
captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The remains
of roughly a dozen more have been returned over the years, and the rest are
still missing. At least 10 those missing survived to eject safely. Yet they did
not return at the end of the war.
December 21, 1972, on the third day of bombing, Waves One and Two proceeded with
their bombing missions. During Wave Two, due to the losses suffered by G-models
over Hanoi, the 6 B52Gs assigned to strike the rail yards were recalled by
SAC. Wave Three consisted 12 B52G and 9 B52D aircraft from Guam and 18 B52Ds from
Utapao. The Guam B52Ds were targeted against the Hanoi rail yards that had been
bypassed by Wave Two.
The Straw B52 cell flew into its mission at 34,000 feet, transiting the densest
air defense in the world with Soviet SA-2 missiles poised for their flight path.
Straw 02, the fifth aircraft in, took a hit about two seconds into its
post-target run from a missile fired, most probably, by SAM site VN-549. Straw
cell was engaged by up to 18 SAMs during the bomb run. The pilot had just
started a 45 degree banked turn when everything went black inside the fuselage.
The aircraft had fire in two engines and no electrical power. Because the crew
could not transfer fuel from one side of the plane to the other, as fuel ran out
in one tank, the bomber began losing its center of gravity. Severely damaged,
Straw 02 managed to keep airborne for thirty minutes as it flew towards Laos,
whereupon the pilot called for bailout.
At 15,000 feet, the pilot, Capt. Russo, exited the plane and watched as the
aircraft turned into a fireball as it impacted a hillside. After landing in a
tree, Russo waited 20 minutes for first light before lowering himself to the
ground. After a few minutes, he used his survival radio to transmit a Mayday
call. An F4 crew responded, telling him help was on the way. An SAR A7
eventually located him, after which a rescue HH53 arrived and hoisted him to
safety. All the remaining crew was rescued in the same manner except for Maj.
Frank A. Gould, the radar navigator, who was injured during the SAM explosion
and was not observed in a parachute.
SAR forces could not obtain any reading of a survivor beeper, and after an
initial search, it was determined that Gould had probably gone down with the
aircraft. In 1981 a U.S. satellite photographed a jungle clearing in this
isolated part of Laos. The photograph showed that someone had stamped the number
"52" in the elephant grass, in numerals three feet wide and fifteen feet long.
It is believed possible that Gould had in fact successfully ejected but may have
had a defective locator. If this is true, he was tragically missed during the
Gould is one of nearly 600 Americans who were lost in Laos. Although the Pathet
Lao stated they held "tens of tens" of Americans, no negotiations were held to
secure their release. As a result, not one American held in Laos was ever
Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S.
Government relating to Americans still alive in captivity. U.S. experts have
stated they believe Americans are still being held prisoner in Southeast Asia.
The question is no longer whether any are alive, but who are they, and how can
we bring them home?
NCCC - Veterans Journal Summer 1996 09/24/96
Valerie Gould daughter of Col. Frank A Gould, MIA in Laos, testifies
before the House National Security Subcommittee on November 14, 1995:
. .. On December 20, 1972...the B-52 that my father was the radar navigator
on ... was shot down while flying a mission over Hanoi. The men were forced
to bail out near the Thai and Laos border...All of the crewmen were rescued
and returned safely with the sole exception of my father. That night, we
were told by the notification team that my father, Frank Gould, was on a
hill awaiting rescue. They said they had radio contact with him but could
not get to him. They later denied they had had radio contact.
The next day they had spotted mirror flashes that they thought were my
father's, but it was simply too late for them to land safely and get him.
When they returned the next day they were unable to locate him or any more
mirror flashes. A young search and rescue soldier found his helmet but could
not find him. His radio, beeper and parachute were also found. Later, the
government insisted the helmet belonged to another crew member. Gentlemen,
the government maintained this position despite the fact that there were
over 100 miles between each man...In 1991, we received our first live
sighting of my father in Laos. .. We were shocked when we were informed that
they hadn't been to the site and no, they didn't know when they would send a
team in. My family pointed out that for YEARS, they (the government and
military) had been claiming they would immediately send people in to
investigate any live sighting... We have been informed of more than seven
(7) sightings of my Father. We know there are more that have yet to be
declassified and released to us...Has anyone in the government or military
even bothered to physically check the live sightings out? No, they have not.
Have they interviewed the sources in a timely manner, say within a few weeks
of the initial contact? No, they have not.
Several of the reports claim Frank Gould is being held by a Hmong leader who
will turn him over for a reward...They (government officials) have
repeatedly told sources there are not any rewards...which is not true and
they know it. There is, in fact, a $2. 5 million reward put together and
offered by several congressional members and concerned citizens. . .When my
mother questioned why the source still had not been interviewed, some nine
months later, an analyst replied the primary source was ill. The primary
source was not ill, it was the secondary source. . . over a year late the
government has STILL NOT interviewed this primary source...My mother had
written President Clinton to inquire why they hadn't investigated any of the
live sightings reports. A Col. Henley of the Dept. of Defense answered her,
stating in the letter that "none of the reports contained any verbiage that
Frank Gould wanted to come home."...One of the live sighting reports had, in
fact, stated very clearly, Frank Gould was alive and wanted to come
home...Their listing of all of the sources of the remains reports as
credible while listing all of the live sighting sources, until the most
recent one in November of 1994, as not credible, disgusts us. Their spending
almost five years trying to prove a four inch bone fragment belonged to my
father infuriates us...It turned out a source had turned it over totally
unrelated to my father's case.