RIP 11/11/2016

Name: Ben M. Pollard
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force
In 2001 The DoD corrected the PMSEA to reflect Pollard's real rank at
shootdown - an O4.

Unit: 80th TFS
Date of Birth: 27 February 1932
Home City of Record: Shelbeyville KY
Date of Loss: 15 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212900 North  1063000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F
Missions: 11
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald Heilinger, returnee, pilot

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK April 1997 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated 05/2017


Donald Heiliger was the pilot and Lt. Col. Ben Pollard the "GIB" when they
were shot down on May 15, 1967. They were flying as part of "Ryan's Raiders"
out of Korat.

They were flying a night low level bombing run on railroad marshalling yards
30 miles northeast of Hanoi. Either small arms or light AAA set the plane
afire. They ejected safely. Heiliger received minimum rib and leg injuries
when his parachute caught in a tree. Pollard received many cuts and bruises,
and initially was paralyzed from the waist down from back injuries. They
were both taken prisoner separately, but met on the way to Hanoi.

Once in captivity, Pollard spent two weeks in Heartbreak, fourteen months in
Desert Inn, Little Las Vegas, two years in Sontay, six more months in
Heartbreak, one month in Riviera-Little Las Vegas, and then two years three
months in Camp Unity - Hilton. He was tortured while in Cell #18 of New Guy

Donald Heiliger was released on February 18, 1973, Pollard on March 4th.

Pollard was awarded the Silver Star with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit
with 1 OLC, Bronze Star with Valor with 1 OLC, Meritorious Service Medal,
Air Medal, Purple Heart with 1 OLC and the P.O.W. Medal.

Ben Pollard was medically retired from the United States Air Force as a
Colonel after more than 26 years of outstanding service. He helped start a
long-distance telephone service, selling out after 4 years. He now teaches
and repairs computers. He and his wife have traveled extensively. He enjoys
skiing, sailplanes, gardening and overseas travel. He and Joan have 2
children and 4 grandchildren. They reside in California.


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From Joan Pollard via BB: 

Dear Bob, I'm sorry that I must tell you that Ben passed away on Friday, Veterans Day.  As you probably know, he has had a bad heart for many years -
7 bypasses in 1982, as well as an assortment of medical problems.  This year was a tough year.  He fell in January and broke his hip but the screws
they put in didn't work so they had to do it again in June with a real hip.
Anyway, he never could get up to par. Our first granddaughter, Mark's Rachel, was getting married on Oct. 29 and he was absolutely determined to
make that wedding.  He did make it, just two weeks ago, but couldn't make more. He refused extraordinary measures and we were able to say
our farewells and he was content and at peace at the end.  
I have not been able to contact the church here because of the holiday but we hope to have a Memorial Service the weekend of Dec 3.  I'll let
you know when I know.
If you would, please get the word out to the NAMPOW guys.  

My best, Joan


Funeral;  Friday, Dec 2, at 10:30am, Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church,
17010 Pomerado Road, Rancho Bernardo, CA.  Parking on lower level.

RATNET DIGEST  December 18, 2016
Newsletter of the River Rats

Ben Pollard, RIP

Colonel Ben Pollard passed on 11 November 2016. He was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky and graduated in engineering from Purdue University. It was at Purdue that Ben met the love of his life, Joan! They spent a short time together at Caterpillar (gaining a streak of yellow paint in their blood) before Ben entered into the Air Force and Pilot Training. Ben would fall in love again with flying: the thrills, the excitement, the other pilots and especially teaching students to fly complex, difficult airplanes. It was a love affair at first sight. Then it was back to Purdue for a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering before the family, now three with son Mark, headed for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It was another love affair for everyone: the mountains of Colorado, skiing, the West and teaching engineering to some of the best students, ever! Along came daughter, Ginny, who then completed the family. Teaching in the spectacular AFA teaching facilities with dedicated, bright, fellow instructors and their families made for wonderful camaraderie. But all good things must end. Ben was selected to fly the F-105 (another love) for possibly one of the most dangerous missions in Vietnam as the first crew in Ryan's Raiders. He was shot down on his 11th mission, after which the Ryan's Raiders mission was thankfully ended. Ben spent almost six years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, while Joan would be both wonderful mother and father to Mark and Ginny. For 3 years of the 6, his family would not even know if Ben was alive. He came home with many physical difficulties but to a happy, healthy, wholesome family. After returning to the AFA, he taught Aeronautical Engineering. He was then promoted to Colonel and was selected to be one of the two Deputy Commandants. He was charged with all military training, soaring and survival tactics. He was especially proud of playing a lead role in bringing the first class of women to the Academy, accomplishing the task in a mere 9 months. In 1976, he became Commander of the AFA Preparatory School, while also being a sailplane instructor. After leaving the Air Force, he served as Vice President of STARNET Corporation, a small pioneering telecommunication company, as well as President of the NAMPOW Vietnam POW organization. Ben Pollard received the Distinguished Engineering Award from Purdue University in 1979 and was the recipient of an Honorary PhD in 2012 from Purdue University. During his Air Force career, he also received two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merits, two Bronze Star Medals with the "V" Device to signify combat heroism, and two Purple Hearts. In recent years, computers, teaching computers, theatre, the symphony, the family and worldwide travel with Joan became his new loves. Most of all, his heart burst with pride as he watched the wonder of the accomplishments of his family, Mark with Laurie, and Ginny with Steve, and grandchildren Rachel and Sarah Pollard and Dave and Tom Lorenc. Throughout his career, he proved to be both a courageous and exemplary leader, innovator, and educator. In his words, "We had many twists and turns, but Life was a Blast! Services were held on Dec. 2 at the RB Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Bernardo, CA.



Ben will be buried at the USAFA May 12, 2017.  This is unusual because only AFA grads qualify to be buried there.  There are a few
exceptions...one being that Ben was the Commanding Officer of the USAFA Preparatory School there on base...for 5 years.     MM

Ben Pollard flew West 11-11-16.  Friday, 5-12-17 he landed softly as we said our goodbyes at the US Air Force Academy.  He was granted an exception
to be buried there because he was both a Commandant, then the Commander of the USAFA Prep School for 5 years.  Normally, only grads are buried here.

Ben accomplished a lot during his years here (post-release in 1973).  Read his bio.    MM


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