Name: Richard K. Harper
Rank/Branch: W3/US Army
Unit: Headquarters, MACV
Date of Birth: 02 October 1941 (Norwood MA)
Home City of Record: Burlington MA
Date of Loss: 19 May 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 141745N 1084450E (BR570815)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1F
Refno: 0085
Other Personnel In Incident: Leroy M. Donovan (missing)

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, interviews. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.


SYNOPSIS: The O1 "Bird Dog" was used extensively in the early years of the
war in Vietnam by forward air controllers and provided low, close visual
reconnaissance and target marking which enabled armed aircraft or ground
troops to close in on a target. The Bird Dog was feared by the enemy,
because he knew that opening fire would expose his location and invite
attack by fighter planes controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog. The
Vietnamese became bold, however, when they felt their position was
compromised and attacked the little Bird Dog with a vengeance in order to
lessen the accuracy of the impending air strike.

On May 19, 1965, O1 pilot CWO Rickard K. Harper was assigned an aerial
reconnaissance mission over South Vietnam. His observer was SFC Leroy M.
Donovan. The aircraft, assigned to Headquarters, MACV, departed Holloway
Airfield at about 1300 hours.

At 1700 hours the aircraft was an hour overdue. A check was made with
airfields where the plane could have landed along its flight path, with
negative results. A search was initiated in and around Camp Holloway, and
along the route the aircraft was to take. Searches continued until May 25,
but no sign of the aircraft or crew was found. Loss location is estimated to
be in Binh Dinh Province, near the border of Kontum Province.

Radio Hanoi broadcast on May 28 that the Viet Cong had shot down an O1F
aircraft on May 18, which may or may not correlate to this aircraft because
of the date discrepancy. Nothing was ever found of the crew or plane, and no
further indication that the crew had been captured was ever found.

Donovan and Harper are among nearly 2500 Americans who disappeared in
Southeast Asia. Experts now believe, based on thousands of reports received,
that there may be hundreds of Americans still alive, captives of a long-ago
enemy, today. Whether the crew of the O1F lost on May 19, 1965 is among them
is not certain. What is clear, however, is that we must do everything it
takes to bring these men home. Our honor depends upon it.





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On May 19, 1965, an O-1F Bird Dog (tail number 57-2935) with a crew of two took off on an aerial reconnaissance mission from Holloway Army Airfield at Pleiku, South Vietnam. The aircraft failed to return to base and was not seen or heard from again. Searches of the Bird Dog's flight path conducted over the next six days were unable to locate the aircraft or its crew. On, or about, 23 May 1965, a Radio Hanoi broadcast reported that on May 18, 1965, two riflemen shot down a light observation plane along Highway 19, east of Pleiku, in the Central Highlands, and that both occupants were killed.

Warrant Officer 1 Richard K. Harper, who joined the U.S. Army from Massachusetts, was a member of the 52nd Fixed Wing Platoon. He was the pilot of the O-1F when it went missing, and remains unaccounted for following the aircraft’s disappearance. After the incident, the Army promoted WO1 Harper to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2. Today, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Harper is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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