KRECH, MELVIN THOMAS
Name: Melvin Thomas Krech
Rank/Branch: E6/US Navy
Unit: Heavy Attack Squadron 4, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65)
Date of Birth: 02 December 1931 (St. Paul MN)
Home City of Record: Marine on St. Croix MN
Date of Loss: 01 April 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 175051N 1083538E (BK450750)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: William R. Grayson (missing); William F.
Kohlrusch (rescued, but died of injuries)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 15
March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.
SYNOPSIS: The A3 Skywarrior "Whale" is a three-place turbojet light bomber,
reconnaissance plane, electronic warfare craft or aerial tanker, depending
upon its outfitting. The aircraft was comparable in speed to other fighter
aircraft of the era, and the B model only required armament consisting of a
pair of radar-aimed 20mm cannons in a remotely controlled tail turret.
The USS ENTERPRISE was the largest warship built until the mid-1970's. The
nuclear-propelled carrier carried an air wing of more than ninety aircraft.
The USS ENTERPRISE was the last addition to the permanent combat force which
would remain on station until the end of the war, arriving on Yankee Station
in December 1965.
On March 17, 1966 the flight wings on board the ENTERPRISE began a 27 day
strike period on enemy concentrations near the DMZ in the height of monsoon
On April 1, 1966, two USS ENTERPRISE personnel were lost in an A3B(T)
Skywarrior in the Gulf of Tonkin about 45 miles off the southwest shore of
the Chinese island of Hai Nan Tao. The pilot of the aircraft was Commander
William R. Grayson; ADJ2 Melvin T. Krech was the designated navigator; LtJG
William F. Kohlrusch was the electronics flight officer. At 800 hours that
day, the aircraft was catapult launched for an operational flight, but did
not maintain airspeed and crashed near the ship.
The rescue helicopter was on the scene within moments of the crash, but
sighted only Kohlrusch and he was the only one retrieved from the crash
site. He died minutes after he was rescued. The investigation which followed
did not determine the cause of the accident.
Krech and Grayson were listed Killed, Body Not Recovered. Navy officials
believed at that time, due to the circumstances surrounding the loss of
Grayson and Krech, that both were dead, and recovery of their remains would
probably be impossible.
Following their loss, both Grayson and Krech were posthumously awarded Air
Medals; Grayson's with two Gold Stars in lieu of third award, and Krech's
with three Gold Stars in lieu of fourth award.
Grayson and Krech are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for
from the Vietnam war. The cases of some, like Grayson and Krech, seem clear
- that they perished and cannot be recovered. Unfortunately, mounting
evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still captive, waiting for
the country they proudly served to secure their freedom.
In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?