KEIPER, JOHN CHARLES
Name: John Charles Keiper
Unit: HAMS 16, Marine Air Group 16
Date of Birth: 18 September 1945
Home City of Record: Renovo PA
Loss Date: 15 November 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162535N 1074619E (ZD150045)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
Other Personnel In Incident: Harry M. Ravenna (missing)
SYNOPSIS: On November 15, 1966, US Army Capt. Harry M. Ravenna, pilot; and
US Marine Corps Cpl. John C.Keiper, passenger, were flying a U6A aircraft
(serial #541723) on a routine flight from Dong Ha to Da Nang. Keiper was
assigned to Helicopter Attack Maintenance Squadron 16, Marine Air Group 16.
His role on this mission is unclear from public record.
Ravenna was assigned to the 138th Aviation Company, 224th U.S. Army Security
Agency Battalion (Aviation), U.S. Army Security Agency Group, Vietnam. All
missions of this agency were highly classified during the war, and secret
cover designations (Radio Research Units) were used instead of the actual
unit designations on station lists and reports. The 138th was based at Da
Ravenna filed a VFR (visual flight rules) flight plan, but ran into poor
weather conditions. He radioed Dong Ha and requested radar guidance. At 1430
hours, he passed into Da Nang airfield radar control and radioed, "Lonely
Ranger 723, heading 125, 3000 feet, estimating Da Nang at 40, request radar.
Presently on instruments."
Having trouble bringing him onto radar screen, Da Nang instructed Ravenna to
activate his transponder, but this did not improve radar contact, so they
asked his location, which he gave as 45 nautical miles from Dong Ha. Da Nang
instructed him to recontact Dong Ha (believing he was out of Da Nang range
and still in that of Dong Ha). Ravenna acknowledged the transmission, radio
contact was broken, and never resumed.
Ravenna and Keiper were last believed to be in South Vietnam about halfway
between Da Nang and the city of Hue. Later investigation concluded that on
his present course, had it been followed, Ravenna's aircraft would have
impacted with the side of a mountain in that vicinity. The hostile threat in
the area prevented extensive search, and all efforts to discover the fate of
Ravenna and Keiper have failed.
Keiper and Ravenna are among nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from
the war in Vietnam. Today, thousands of reports have been received by the
U.S. Government that indicate that men are alive still, held in captivity in
Southeast Asia. Thus far, official policy is to state that "conclusive
proof" is not yet available. Detractors state that proof is in hand, but the
will to act on that proof does not exist. As long as even ONE American is
alive, held against his will, we must do everything in our power to achieve