McDOW, Richard H. 

Name: Ricahrd H. McDow 
Rank/Branch: United States Air Force/O2 
Date of Birth: 
Home City of Record: Columbia AL 
Date of Loss: 27 June 1972 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam 
Loss Coordinates: 210000 North   1043000 East 
Status (in 1973): Returnee 
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E 
       Flew the A10 in Desert Storm 
Other Personnel in Incident: 
REFNO: 1885 

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw 
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA 
families, published sources, interviews. 


SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

First Lieutenant - United States Air Force
Shot Down: June 27, 1972
Released: March 28, 1973

I am a relatively short-timer both in time in service and time in captivity.
I came on active duty in February of 1970 after graduating from the University
of Alabama in January of the same year. I was  released from Hanoi March 28
1973 after 9 months and l day of imprisonment.  The three years  of military
service  I have seen have been marked with  many  enjoyable experiences and
needless to say, some rather horrifying  times also.

I greatly enjoyed the year and a half that I spent in training as a Navigator
and later in the F4 in California and the many different areas  of the U. S.
that I saw in my Air Force travels. I will also look back with pride and
satisfaction on my tour of duty with the "Gunfighters," the 366th  Tactical
Fighter Wing, at DaNang and Tahkli.

The "not so enjoyable times" began on June 27, 1972. Our four F4s were flying
as a Mig Cap for a SAR (Search and Rescue) mission after we had completed our
primary mission of escorting two flights of F-4s into the Hanoi area for a
chaff drop. We were searching an area approximately 70 miles almost due west
of Hanoi. During our search, two Migs got behind us without our seeing them
and fired at least two air-to-air missiles. The aircraft that I was in and our
number four aircraft were hit. Our plane went out of control immediately and
was tumbling and vibrating quite severely. There was no hope of regaining
control so we (the pilot and I) ejected at approximately 5000 feet above the
ground. The crew of number four also ejected.

We were fortunate that all four crew members were able to eject and reach the
ground safely. The pilot of number four was severely injured, but he, along
with my pilot, were rescued. The other navigator, Capt. Tom Hanton, and myself
were captured.

It took about three days to reach Hanoi - the  first day and a half I walked,
the last half of the trip, I rode in a jeep-type vehicle. During the trip, we
stopped and I was put on display in about ten different villages. The
reaction of the people varied from a seeming indifference, to curiosity, and
to open hostility. Fortunately, the militia that were with me saw fit to keep
the more hostile elements of the populace away from me.

The general treatment of the POW's had changed for the better in 1969. This,
in my opinion, was the result of the mass pressure applied to North Vietnam by
the millions of concerned people in the United States and elsewhere who
demanded by petitions and letters, that the treatment of the POW's be
improved. During my stay, there were still occasional incidents of torture and
"roughing up" but nothing on the scale that had existed previous to 1969.

I learned much during my internment - about  myself, others, and especially
about our enemy- Communism. I came home greatly valuing the friendships formed
in prison, with a greater love for my family and country, and a stronger faith
in God. Thank you all, each and every one of you, because of the role that you
played in bringing us home. God Bless You.

Richard McDow retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
lives in South Carolina.