HARPER, RICHARD K. 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 1998. REMARKS: ACFT OVERDUE-JF815-J 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.