Remains Returned March 6, 1974

Name: Richard Danner Hartman
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 164, USS ORISKANY (CVA-34)
Date of Birth: 01 May 1935
Home City of Record: Clark NY
Date of Loss: 18 July 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: WH886687
Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E
Refmo: 0767

Other Personnel In Incident: Dennis W. Peterson (missing); Donald P. Frye;
William B. Jackson; Donald P. McGrane all remains recovered.

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources including "Alpha Strike Vietnam" by Jeffrey
L. Levinson, personal interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.


SYNOPSIS: The USS ORISKANY was a World War II-era carrier on duty in Vietnam as
early as 1964. The ORISKANY at one time carried the RF8A (number 144608) that
Maj. John H. Glenn, the famous Marine astronaut (and later Senator), flew in his
1957 transcontinental flight. In October, 1966 the ORISKANY endured a tragic
fire which killed 44 men onboard, but was soon back on station. In 1972, the
ORISKANY had an at-sea accident which resulted in the loss of one of its
aircraft elevators, and later lost a screw that put the carrier into drydock in
Yokosuka, Japan for major repairs, thus delaying its involvement until the late
months of the war.

The ORISKANY's 1966 tour was undoubtedly one of the most tragic deployments of
the Vietnam conflict. This cruise saw eight VA 164 "Ghostriders" lost; four in
the onboard fire, one in an aerial refueling mishap, and another three in the
operational arena. However, the 1967 deployment, which began in June and ended
on a chilly January morning as the ORISKANY anchored in San Francisco Bay,
earned near legendary status by virtue of extensive losses suffered in the
ship's squadrons, including among the Ghostriders of VA 164, and Saints of VA
163. One reason may have been that Navy aviators were, at this time, still
forbidden to strike surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites which were increasing in
number in North Vietnam.

On July 18, 1967, LCDR Richard D. Hartman's aircraft fell victim to
anti-aircraft fire near Phu Ly in Nam Ha Province, North Vietnam. Hartman, from
VA 164, ejected safely, but could not be rescued due to the hostile threat in
the area. Others in the flight were in radio contact with him and resupplied him
for about three days. He was on a karst hill in a difficult recovery area.
Eventually the North Vietnamese moved in a lot of troops and AAA guns, making
rescue almost impossible.

One of the rescue helicopters attempting to recover LCDR Hartman on the 19th was
a Sikorsky SH3A helicopter flown by Navy LT Dennis W. Peterson. The crew onboard
the aircraft included ENS Donald P. Frye and AX2 William B. Jackson and AX2
Donald P. McGrane. While attempting to rescue LCDR Hartman, this aircraft was
hit by enemy fire and crashed killing all onboard. The remains of all but the
pilot, Peterson, were returned by the Vietnamese on October 14, 1982. Peterson
remains missing.

The decision was made to leave Hartman before more men were killed trying to
rescue him. It was not an easy decision, and one squadron mate said, "To this
day, I can remember his voice pleading, 'Please don't leave me.' We had to, and
it was a heartbreaker." Hartman was captured and news returned home that he was
in a POW camp. However, he was not released in 1973. The Vietnamese finally
returned his remains on March 5, 1974. Hartman had died in captivity from
unknown causes.

In July 1967, LCDR Donald V. Davis was one of the Saints of VA 163 onboard the
ORISKANY. Davis was an aggressive pilot. On the night of July 25, 1967, Davis
was assigned a mission over North Vietnam. The procedure for these night attacks
was to drop flares over a suspected target and then fly beneath them to attack
the target in the light of the flares. Davis and another pilot were conducting
the mission about 10 miles south of Ha Tinh when Davis radioed that he had
spotted a couple of trucks. He dropped the flares and went in. On his strafing
run, he drove his Skyhawk straight into the ground and was killed immediately.
Davis is listed among the missing because his remains were never recovered.

LTJG Ralph C. Bisz was also assigned to Attack Squadron 163. On August 4, 1967,
Bisz launched on a strike mission against a petroleum storage area near
Haiphong. Approximately a minute and a half from the target area, four
surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were observed lifting from the area northeast of
Haiphong. The flight maneuvered to avoid the SAMs, however, Bisz' aircraft was
observed as it was hit by a SAM by a wingman. Bisz' aircraft exploded, burst
into flames, and spun downward in a large ball of fire. Remnants of the aircraft
were observed falling down in the large ball of fire until reaching an altitude
estimated to be 5,000 feet and then appeared to almost completely burn out prior
to reaching the ground. No parachute or ejection was observed. No emergency
beeper or voice communications were received.

Bisz' aircraft went down in a heavily populated area in Hai Duong Province,
Vietnam. Information from an indigenous source which closely parallels his
incident indicated that his remains were recovered from the wreckage and taken
to Hanoi for burial. The U.S. Government listed Ralph Bisz as a Prisoner of War
with certain knowledge that the Vietnamese know his fate. Bisz was placed in a
casualty status of Captured on August 4, 1967.

The Navy now says that the possibility of Bisz ejecting was slim. If he had
ejected, his capture would have taken place in a matter of seconds due to the
heavy population concentration in the area and that due to the lack of
additional information it is believed that Bisz did not eject from his aircraft
and that he was killed on impact of the SAM.

Classified information on Bisz' case was presented to the Vietnamese by General
Vessey in the fall of 1987 in hopes that the Vietnamese would be able to resolve
the mystery of Bisz' fate. His case is one of what are called "discrepancy"
cases, which should be readily resolved. The Vietnamese have not been
forthcoming with information on Ralph Bisz.

On August 31, three pilots from the ORISKANY were shot down on a particularly
wild raid over Haiphong. The Air Wing had been conducting strikes on Haiphong
for two consecutive days. On this, the third day, ten aircraft launched in three
flights; four from VA 164 (call sign Ghostrider), four from VA 163 (call sign
Old Salt) and two from VA 163. As the flight turned to go into Haiphong, one of
the section leaders spotted two SAMs lifting off from north of Haiphong. They
were headed towards the Saints section leader and the Ghostrider section leader,
LCDR Richard C. Perry.

The Saints section leader and his wingman pitched up and to the right, while Old
Salt 3 (LCDR Hugh A. Stafford) turned down, his wingman, LTJG David J. Carey
close behind him. Carey, an Air Force Academy graduate, was on his first
operational mission. The missile detonated right in front of them and aircraft
pieces went everywhere.

The other SAM headed towards Perry's section, and he had frozen in the cockpit.
All three planes in the division pulled away, and he continued straight and
level. His helpless flightmates watched as the missile came right up and hit the
aircraft. The aircraft was generally whole and heading for open water.

Old Salt Three and Old Salt Four, Stafford and Carey, had by that time ejected
from their ruined planes and were heading towards the ground. Both were okay,
but Stafford had landed in a tree near a village, making rescue impossible.
Stafford and Carey were captured and held in various prisoner of war camps until
their release in Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973.

Richard Perry had also ejected and was over open water. But as Perry entered the
water, his parachute went flat and he did not come up. A helicopter was on scene
within minutes, and a crewman went into the water after Perry. He had suffered
massive chest wounds, either in the aircraft or during descent in his parachute
and was dead. To recover his body was too dangerous because the North Vietnamese
were mortaring the helicopter. The helicopter left the area. Richard Perry's
remains were recovered by the Vietnamese and held until February 1987, at which
time they were returned to U.S. control.

Flight members were outraged that they had lost three pilots to SAMs that they
were forbidden to attack. Policy was soon changed to allow the pilots to strike
the sites, although never to the extent that they were disabled completely.

On October 7, 1967, VA 164 pilot LT David L. Hodges was killed when his Skyhawk
was hit by a SAM about twelve miles southwest of Hanoi. His remains were never
recovered and he is listed among those missing in Vietnam.

On October 18, 1967, VA 164 pilot LCDR John F. Barr was killed when his Skyhawk
was hit by enemy fire and slammed into the ground while on a strike mission at
Haiphong. Barr's remains were not recovered.

On November 2, 1967, VA 164 pilot LTJG Frederic Knapp launched as the lead of a
flight of two aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.
The wingman reported that during an attack run, the aircraft appeared to have
been hit by anti-aircraft fire. The wingman saw Knapp's aircraft impact the
ground and did not see the canopy separate from the aircraft. There was no
parachute sighted or emergency radio beeper heard. The aircraft crashed about 9
kilometers west-southwest of Cho Giat, near route 116, in Nghe An Province.

A source later reported that people from his village had removed the remains of
a dead pilot from his aircraft and buried the remains nearby. These remains are
believed to be those of Knapp. On October 14, 1982, Vietnamese officials turned
over to U.S. authorities a Geneva Convention card belonging to Ltjg. Knapp. To
date, no remains have been repatriated.

Six of the thirteen pilots and crewmen lost in 1967 off the decks of the
ORISKANY remain prisoner, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for in Vietnam.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
times. Could any of these six be in a casket, awaiting just such a moment?

Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating
to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this
information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that
many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could any of these six be
among them?

Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he 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.