KIRK, HERBERT ARTHUR
Name: Herbert Arthur Kirk
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Unit: TDY-Civilian/Lockheed, Lima Site 85-Phou Pha Thi, Laos
Date of Birth: 21 February 1929
Home City of Record: Philadelphia PA
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (UH680600)
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Others In Incident: Clarence Blanton; James Calfee; James Davis; Henry Gish;
Willis Hall; Melvin Holland; David Price; Patrick Shannon; Donald
Springsteadah; Don Worley (all missing from Lima 85); Donald Westbrook
(missing from SAR 13 March)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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.
SYNOPSIS: When Herbert Kirk volunteered for a sensitive assignment called
Project Heavy Green, he had to sign a secrecy agreement. Kirk, an Air Force
man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian job with
Lockheed Aircraft. He would be running Lima 85, a radar base in Laos, whose
neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence. No one was to know.
Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on
a 5860 ft. mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by sheer
cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA. Unarmed
US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin Delta to
For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received
which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on
Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area
to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that
William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the
men in place. When the attack came March 11, some were rescued by
helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in
the bombing of North Vietnam.
Donald Westbrook was flying one of 4 A1E's orbiting on standby to search for
survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down March
13. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force destroyed
Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of the enemy.
In mid March, Kirk's family was notified that Lima Site 85 had been overrun
by enemy forces, and that he and the others who had not escaped had been
killed. Many years later, they learned that was not the whole truth.
Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did
not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and
another indicates that 6 were captured. Information has been hard to get.
The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was only declassified in 1983, and
finally the families could be believed when they said their men were missing
in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown to their families for the first
time in 1985.
The Lima 85 families have talked and compared notes. They still feel there
is a lot of information to be had. They think someone survived the attack on
Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if their country will bring
those men home.
From - Wed Dec 22 08:22:07 1999
From: "Ron Haden" <email@example.com>
Subject: Problem concerning proper recognition
I am writing you concerning those MIA at Lima Site 85 in Laos. There is
a missing name on the "Combat Skyspot Trophy" and also missing from the
"Combat Skyspot Memorial" at Andersen AFB, Guam. An observant website
visitor noticed that SSgt Herbert A. Kirk's name was missing from both
tributes to these men. I queried Ann Holland, since she has been
beating on the governments door since the beginning. Her reply to me
One reason his name may not be on the memorial is that he was not
reinstated into the Air Force until 1982 and only then because of the
lawsuit I had started in '75 and which his stepson also started after he
found out about me. Kirk was not reinstated because his wife was a German
national at the time and the government claimed he agreed that if anything
happened to him he would not be reinstated. That is not what the families
were told at the briefing in '67. So because of my lawsuit, and the
evidence submitted in my case, the government had to reinstate Kirk and pay
his family all the insurance and allowances due them. His two stepsons
missed out on VA benefits for college and everything else they would have
been entitled to.
Who ever got the names for the memorial must have been looking at a pre
1982 list. But actually, none of the men were on any list before 1982.
There may have been a brief period of time when Kirk was not listed when the
other guys were. His name needs to be added to the memorial. His stepson,
Rudy, has since died and his widow and other stepson are back in Germany
now. But I'm sure Kirk has other relatives here in the states. I doubt that
his mother is still alive. Someone needs to look into where the names came
from for the memorial. Let me know what you find out. Ann
Obliviously something needs to be done about this. It is a worthy cause to
champion through your many methods. This man's name deserves to be on both
memorials. He gave his life.
MSgt, USAF (Ret)
USN, USAF 1951-1973
SouthEastAsia duty-1st Mob 64-68
Lima Site 85-Laos 67
AmLegn, Dept of MO, Post 499
LM AFTN Memorial Post - VFW 10249
Korean War Veterans Assoc.
LM DAV, Missouri Chapter 2
Missouri Amphibious Navy-AKA98
Charter member Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood
Integrated Circuit Design Engineer UNISYS Corp 73-91
Visit the TLC Brotherhood Web Site
Visit the Lima Site 85 Web Site
Visit the AmLegn Post 499 Web Site