KNUTSON, RICHARD ARTHUR
REMAINS RETURNED AND IDENTIFIED 11/95
Name: Richard Arthur "Rick" Knutson
Rank/Branch: W1/US Army
Unit: 62nd Aviation Company, 11th Combat Aviation, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 11 September 1949
Home City of Record: Hallock MN
Date of Loss: 08 January 1973
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 16421N 1070956E (YD324528)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H (pilot)
Other Personnel in Incident: Elbert W. Bush; William L. Deane; Manuel A.
Lauterio; William S. Stinson; Mickey A. Wilson (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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: WO1 Richard Knutson, pilot; WO1 Mickey A. Wilson, aircraft
commander; SP5 William S. Stinson, gunner; SP5 Manuel A. Lauterio, crew
chief; and SSgt. Elbert W. Bush and Maj. William L. Dean, both passengers;
were aboard a UH1H helicopter (serial #69-15619) that flew in support of the
American Senior Advisor to the Vietnamese Airborne Division in Quang Tri and
Thua Thien Provinces, working between the provincial capitals of Hue and
On January 8, 1973, at about 1430 hours, the aircraft had departed a landing
zone en route to other LZs without making radio contact with the 2nd
Battalion Technical Operations Center. When no radio contact was received by
1500 hours, the other LZs were queried. The helicopter did not go to either
of the two designated LZs, nor had any communication been established with
The helicopter's intended route would have taken it northwest toward Quang
Tri, with a left turn to an LZ south of the Thach Han River. Although the
helicopter failed to contact either LZ along the route, it was later seen
flying northwest toward Quang Tri City and crossing the Thach Han River into
enemy held territory. While in this area, the helicopter was seen to circle
with door guns firing. Enemy automatic weapons fire was heard, and a direct
hit was made on the tail boom by a missile, reportedly an SA7.
Aerial searches of the suspected crash site on January 8 and 9 failed to
locate either the wreckage or the crew. The aircraft was shot down less than
three weeks before American involvement in the war came to an official end.
Intelligence reports indicated that of the six men aboard, four were seen
alive on the ground. Further information indicated that the aircraft did not
explode or burn on impact. The families of the men assumed that their loved
ones would be released with the other POWs. Some were even so informed.
But the crew of the UH1H was not released, and have not been released or
found since that day. As thousands of reports of Americans alive in
Southeast Asia mount, these familes wonder if their men are among the
hundreds thought to be still alive.
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FAMILIES
FOR THE RETURN OF AMERICAS MISSING SERVICEMEN
WORLD WAR II - KOREA - COLD WAR - VIETNAM
A portion of ---- BITS 'N' PIECES MARCH 25, 1995
"LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS."
A 7 DECEMBER 1973 DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY MEMO, SIGNED BY CHARLES
TROWBRIDGE, PROVIDED TO THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FAMILIES AND OTHER
POW/MIA GROUPS, OFFERS AN INTERESTING VIEW OF AVAILABLE INTELLIGENCE.
TODAY, WE WILL DEAL WITH ONE OF THE DOCUMENTS CITED IN THE MEMO. THAT
DOCUMENT IS "6 918 5269 73 USDAO SAIGON 11 SEP 73 POSSIBLE GRAVESITE
OF USA MIA'S MORRIS & PETERSON (WORD UNREADABLE) ARMY MIA'S BUSH, DEANE,
KNUTSON, LAUTERIO, STINSON AND WILSON."
WILLIAM DEANE, RICHARD KNUTSON, MICKEY WILSON, WILLIAM STINSON, ELBERT
BUSH AND MANUEL LAUTERIO WERE ON BOARD A HELICOPTER SHOT DOWN OVER QUANG
TRI PROVINCE SOUTH VIETNAM ON JANUARY 8TH, 1973, EXACTLY 19 DAYS BEFORE
THE SIGNING OF THE PARIS PEACE ACCORDS.
OUR INFORMATION COMES FROM A CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY REPORT
# CS-311/-00565-73. DATE OF THE INFORMATION IS 8 - 13 JANUARY 1973.
SUBJECT -- "8 JANUARY 1973 SHOOTDOWN OF U.S. HELICOPTER AND CAPTURE OF
FOUR PILOTS BY VIET CONG IN QUANG TRI PROVINCE SOUTH VIETNAM. . THE CIA
DOCUMENT STATES "AT A MEETING HELD BETWEEN 2000 HOUR ON 12 JANUARY AND
0030 HOURS ON 13 JANUARY 1973, MEMBERS OF THE VIET CONG QUANG TRI
PROVINCE PARTY COMMITTEE TOLD MEMBERS OF THE VIET CONG GIO LINH AND
TRIEU PHONG DISTRICT PARTY COMMITTEES THAT A UNITED STATES (US)
HELICOPTER WAS REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN SHOT DOWN ON 8 JANUARY 1973 IN NHAM
BIEU HAMLET (YD32_527) IN MAI LINH DISTRICT, QUANG TRI PROVINCE, SOUTH
VIETNAM, BY THE 35TH QUANG TRI PROVINCIAL REGULAR COMPANY. THE
HELICOPTER WAS CARRYING FOUR U.S. PILOTS, ALL OF WHOM WERE CAPTURED.
TWO OF THE PILOTS WERE SENT TO NORTH VIETNAM REGION 4 ON 9 JANUARY. THE
FATE OF THE OTHER TWO PILOTS WAS NOT DISCLOSED."
THIS DOCUMENT CAN ONLY RELATE TO DEANE, KNUTSON, WILSON, BUSH, LAUTERIO
THE CIA ANALYSIS AGREED. COMMENTS TYPED ON THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE READ
" COORDINATES, DATE, CIRCUMSTANCES CORRELATE EXACTLY WITH DEANE,
KNUTSON, WILSON, BUSH, LAUTERIO, STINSON INCIDENT. ONLY THE NUMBER OF
PERSONNEL REPORTED (4) FAILS TO TALLY."
ALL CREWMEN ARE LISTED BY THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY AS CATEGORY 1.
YET, NONE OF THESE MEN CAME HOME.
ANOTHER CIA "MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD" DEALING WITH THIS INCIDENT IS
DATED MARCH 11, 1975.
THE SUBJECT -- "RETURNEE (BLACKED OUT) COMMENTS REGARDING 8 JANUARY
1973 HELICOPTER CRASH IN QUANG TRI (U)".
"1. (U) IN HIS DEBRIEF (BLACKED OUT) STATED THAT PRIOR TO 27 JAN 73 HE
HAD READ AN ARTICLE IN THE NORTH VIETNAMESE NEW AGENCY ABOUT THE
SHOOTING DOWN OF A HELICOPTER. HE THOUGHT THE NAMES LAUTERIO, DEAN, AND
STINSON WERE FAMILAR (SIC) TO HIM IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE ARTICLE.
(OTHERS ABOARD THE HELICOPTER WERE WILSON, BUSH, AND KNUTSON.) HE
STATED THAT PURCELL AND BLANK HAD READ THE ARTICLE ALSO BUT NEITHER
MAKES MENTION OF IT IN HIS DEBRIEF."
"2. (U) TODAY I CALLED (BLACKED OUT) TO FURTHER QUESTION HIM REGARDING
"3. (C) PURCELL MENTIONED THE NORTH VIETNAMESE NEWS AGENCY IN HIS
DEBRIEF AND STATED THAT IT WAS A MIMEOGRAPHED NEWS SHEET WHICH CONTAINED
NEWS RELEASES FROM RADIO HANOI AND EXTRACTS FROM NORTH VIETNAMESE
NEWSPAPERS. (BLACKED OUT) CONFIRMED THIS AND ADDED THAT THE PUBLICATION
WAS A PERIODICAL GIVEN TO PWS MORE OR LESS ON A WEEKLY BASIS. HE
REMEMBERS READING THE ARTICLE ABOUT MID-JANUARY 1973 AND THAT THE
ARTICLE DESCRIBED A HELICOPTER SHOOTDOWN ABOUT FIVE DAYS OR A WEEK
BEFORE THE PUBLICATION DATE. (DEAN AND FIVE OTHERS WERE LOST 8 JAN 73.)
ALTHOUGH HE HAS DIFFICULTY REMEMBERING FOR SURE (BLACKED OUT) IMPRESSION
WAS THAT THE PLACE OF SHOOTDOWN WAS IN THE "NAGHAN" (PHONETIC) AREA,
WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS THE NORTH VIETNAMESE PORTION OF THE DMZ REGION.
WHEN I ASKED HIM IF HIS DEBRIEF WAS ACCURATE IN STATING THAT HE RECALLED
THE NAMES LAUTERIO, DEAN AND STINSON FROM THE ARTICLE, HE SAID THAT IT
IS DIFFICULT NOW FOR HIM TO RECALL EXACTLY WHICH NAMES BECAUSE HIS
DISCUSSIONS O F THIS CASE SINCE HIS RELEASE HAS C LOUDED HIS
RECOLLECTION OF WHAT HE REMEMBERED AT RELEASE. HE DOES, HOWEVER,
REMEMBER THAT ALL THE NAMES DID NOT SOUND FAMILAR (SIC) AT THE TIME. IN
REGARDS TO ANY STATEMENTS IN THE ARTICLE ON THE FATE OF THE SIX MEN, HE
RECALLS THAT THE ARTICLE ALLUDED TO ONE OR TWO WOUNDED, BUT, THERE WAS
NO MENTION OF THE OTHERS. HE WAS LEFT WITH THE IMPRESSION THAT THE
OTHERS WERE NEITHER WOUNDED OR KILLED."
"4. (U) (BLACKED OUT) OFFERED THAT (BLACKED OUT) HAS A FANTASTIC MEMORY
AND WOULD THEREFORE BE A GOOD CONTACT FOR FURTHER PURSUE THIS MATTER."
THE MEMO IS SIGNED GARY KOBLITZ
NOW FOR THE SPIN DOCTORS.
A MEMO, DATED 23 SEP 1075 ADDRESSED TO MAJOR JAMES L. PIKE, USA, CHIEF
PW/MIA BRANCH DAAG-CAS STATES:
"1. REFERENCED MEMORANDUM WAS A SUMMARY OF AN 11 MARCH 1975 DIA
TELCON WITH (BLACKED OUT) RETURNEE WI (BLACKED OUT) REGARDING THE
POSSIBILITY THAT SOME CREW MEMBERS OF AN ARMY HELICOPTER LOST IN QUANG
TRI PROVINCE ON 8 JANUARY 1973 SURVIVED. IN HIS DEBRIEF, (BLACKED OUT)
THOUGHT THAT SOME NAMES OF THE CREW MEMBERS INVOLVED WERE INCLUDED IN A
NORTH VIETNAMESE ARTICLE HE HAD READ WHILE HE WAS INCARCERATED, BUT HIS
MEMORY WAS NOT CLEAR. (BLACKED OUT) SUGGESTED THAT FORMER PW (BLACKED
OUT) BE CONTACTE , ACCORDING TO (BLACKED OUT) HE HAD ALSO READ THE
"2. (BLACKED OUT) HAS BEEN CONTACTED, AND HE COULD NOT RECALL
ANY INFORMATION PERTAINING TO THE HELICOPTER CRASH IN QUESTION.
ACCORDING TO THE REPORT PROVIDED TO DIR-4H (BLACKED OUT) SAID THAT
"DURING HIS INCARCERATION HE HAD OFTEN HEARD STORIES CONCERNING AIR
CRASHES AND READ NUMEROUS NORTH VIETNAMESE NEW RELEASES ALLUDING TO MANY
DOWNED U.S. AIRCRAFT AND PERSONNEL THAT IS WAS DIFFICULT TO PINPOINT ANY
PARTICULAR CRASH WITH ACCURACY." THE MEMO IS SIGNED, CHARLES F.
TROWBRIDGE, JR. CDR USN, CHIEF, PW/MIA BRANCH RESOURCES AND
DID MR. TROWBRIDGE READ THE SAME 11 MARCH 1975 MEMO THAT WE DID?
HAS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT REQUESTED THE RECORDS OF THE 35TH QUANG TRI
PROVINCIAL REGULAR COMPANY?
HAS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT REQUESTED COPIES OF THE ARTICLES DESCRIBED BY
THE RETURNED POWS.
JUST WHAT HAS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT DONE TO ACCOUNT FOR DEANE, KNUTSON,
WILSON, BUSH, LAUTERIO, AND STINSON?
FLORIDAY TODAY - Friday April 7, 2000
Time to remember Vietnam victims
An older man parks his dark sedan beneath the shade pines at Melbourne's
Wickham Park on one of those early spring afternoons you want to stick on a
postcard and mail to those in less fortunate northern latitudes. Nylon flags
of all 50 states and their international allies againsf communism are driven
into urgent rippling by western winds. In the clearing next to the pond sits
the Moving Wall, the shrine to the dead......