HALL, KEITH NORMAN
Name: Keith Norman Hall Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB TH Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Grand Forks ND Date of Loss: 10 January 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 202500N 1050800E (VH774777) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Missions: 59 Other Personnel In Incident: Earl P. Hopper Jr. (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 October 1990 from information provided by Col. Earl P. Hopper, Sr. (USA, ret.) and Patty Skelly of Task Force Omega, Inc., as well as information from a December, 1984 article by Larry J. O'Daniel. Other information from one more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.
REMARKS: 730314 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Keith N. Hall and 1Lt. Earl P. Hopper, Jr. were pilots assigned to the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On January 10, 1968 the two flew their first mission together on an "aircap" mission over Hanoi. Hall was the pilot, and Hopper flew as Bombardier/Navigator on the flight. During the mission, the aircraft was damaged by a SAM missile exploding 100 feet below and to the right of the aircraft, knocking out the hydraulic system. Neither Hall nor Hopper was injured by the blast.
After some initial ejection problems, Capt. Hall, was able to bail out. [Note: Normal ejection sequence calls for the backseater to bail out first, followed a few seconds later by the pilot.] Other pilots in the flight marked Hall's position, then continued with Hopper as he headed for Laos.
Hopper was about 15 miles north of Muong Min in Hoa Binh Province and nearly to the border of Laos when he ejected. Hall had ejected about 20 miles to the east. The accompanying pilots observed the canopy of the aircraft and Hopper's ejection seat leave the aircraft as the aircraft was about to enter a 5,000 foot overcast. The pilots also picked up two emergency radio signals, one very strong and the other rather weak, indicating that both men reached the ground.
Hall was captured about 40 minutes after he bailed out. Hopper's radio signal was tracked for three consecutive days in the rugged, mountainous area where the aircraft went down. On the second or third day, a pilot monitoring the beeper gave Hopper's recognition code and said, "Lt. Hopper, if that's you, give me 15-second intervals (in his radio signal)." The pilot received six 15-second intervals in a positive response. This information was released to the family in a February 8, 1968 communique. On about the third day, a ground search team was inserted into the area, and recovered Hopper's radio, but no trace of Hopper was found.
Hall was captured by the North Vietnamese and released in 1973. Hall was closely interrogated regarding personal information about Hopper, but knew little. The Vietnamese guard was noncommittal when Hall asked if Hopper was also a prisoner.
On July 14, 1982, "due to the length of time missing and with no information to prove he is alive," Hopper's official status, Missing In Action, was changed to Presumed Killed In Action. Only two months later, a three-man judiciary committee from the U.S. Justice Department, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, found officially that Hopper should have been classified Prisoner of War, not Missing In Action.
During the first few months of 1984, the Hopper family learned that CIA had always listed Hopper as a POW. Further, CIA files revealed that the agency had tracked Hopper as he headed for a "safe" area in Laos, that there were heavy concentrations of NVA and Pathet Lao troops in the area searching for the downed pilot, and that the CIA sent a free Lao team to extract him. When Hopper knew he was in imminent danger of being captured, he locked the transmission key on his radio in the "on" position, extended the antenna, and hid it, thus marking his location of capture for the search team.
From 1981 to 1984, Major Mark A. Smith (a returned POW from Vietnam) and SFC Melvin McIntyre, both attached to Special Forces Detachment, Korea (SFDK) were pursuing DIA instructions to gather intelligence on American POWs who remained in captivity in Southeast Asia. Smith and McIntyre, who did not believe Americans were held, obtained specific information which convinced them that Americans were still alive at that time, held captive. Among other evidence presented to the U.S. was a list of some 26 Americans by name and captivity location. Earl Hopper's name was on the list.
In 1984, Maj. Smith received word that on 11 May three U.S. POWs would be brought to a given location on the Lao/Thai border. The only prerequisite was that the POWs be received by an American. Smith's request to stand on the border and wait for delivery was refused, and he and his team were commanded to remain in Korea. If the three Americans were brought to the border, no one was there to receive them. Smith and McIntyre believed Hopper to be one of the three men.
The information obtained by Smith and McIntyre was provided under oath to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on January 28, 1986, and included in a lawsuit the two initiated against the U.S. Government for its failure to protect the rights of live American POWs in Southeast Asia.
Parents Earl and Betty Hopper have diligently sought information on their son and others who disappeared in Southeast Asia. They believe there is actionable evidence that some are still alive in captivity. Until that evidence is acted upon, and proof is obtained to the contrary, they will not give up hope that their son is alive.
1Lt. Earl Hopper graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1965 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.
Keith Hall retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and his wife Judy resided in Florida until her death December 7, 2002.