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 Category: 5 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A3B Refno: 0292 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 1998. REMARKS: 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 season. 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?