Name added to Vietnam Memorial May 97
remains identified 02 Aug 96

Name: Ernest Arthur Olds
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 14 July 1934
Home City of Record: Salisbury MD
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175400N 1062800E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Other Personnel in Incident: Albert E. Rodriguez (remains returned)


Source: Compiled 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: 1Lt. Albert E. Rodriguez and Maj. Ernest A. Olds comprised the crew
of an F4D Phantom fighter/bomber sent on a mission over North Vietnam on March
11, 1968. Their mission area was near a railroad which runs parallel to the
Nguon Nay River in Quang Binh Province.

The F4 Phantom D model had only arrived in Vietnam the previous May and was
initially part of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron's aircraft inventory. The
D model was improved over the C model with the addition of a lead-computing
sight and central air data computer for both bombing and navigation. The
computer automatically determined the weapon release point for all bombing
modes - dive or level, at night or in bad weather. The D model also launched
Walleye television guided missiles and laser guided bombs. All in all, the
Phantom was the "hot" aircraft of the day, and pilots were proud to fly them.

Rodriguez and Olds are both in "pilot" classifications, so it is unclear which
is the pilot and which was the backseater/bomber/navigator on this flight, but
given the ranks and the fact that Rodriguez' military occupational specialty is
classified, it is rather safe to assume that Olds was the pilot and Rodriguez
the "guy in back" - the one with the extensive systems knowledge.

At a point about 5 miles southwest of the city of Ron, Olds and Rodriguez'
aircraft was shot down. Other aircraft in the area saw the crash site, but
heard no emergency beepers, nor did they see any parachutes indicating that one
or more of the crew ejected from the crippled aircraft.

Because the area in which the aircraft went down was a populous one, there is
reason to believe that, if the crew survived, the enemy knew their fate. The
area was not conducive for rescue efforts, although one would have commenced if
there had been any indication that the crew was safe.

Since 1968, the Vietnamese have denied any knowledge of the fates of Olds and
Rodriguez. Then on July 24, 1989, it was announced that remains "discovered"
and returned by the Vietnamese to the U.S. had been positively identified as
being those of 1Lt. Albert E. Rodriguez.

The Rodriguez family can now lay their well loved son to rest. They know now
that he is dead. In light of the thousands of reports of Americans still in
captivity in Vietnam, however, they may never know when - or how - he died.

NOTE: Ernest Olds was seen alive in the German propaganda film "Pirates in





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On August 2, 1996, Joint Task Force–Full Accounting (JTF-FA, now DPAA) identified the remains of Colonel Ernest Arthur Olds Jr., missing from the Vietnam War.

Colonel Olds entered the U.S. Air Force from Maryland and was a member of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron. On March 11, 1968, he was the aircraft commander aboard an F-4D Phantom II (tail number 66-7719, call sign "Blackjack 02") on an armed reconnaissance mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Just outside the target area, the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons, killing Col Olds. His remains were not recovered at the time of his loss. In 1988, the Vietnamese government repatriated human remains to U.S. custody and analysts subsequently identified Col Olds from these remains. 

Colonel Olds is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.