RICKER, WILLIAM ERNEST Name: William Ernest Ricker Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Reserves Unit: Aircraft Group 31, 1st Marine Air Wing, Chu Lai AB SV Date of Birth: 01 June 1933 (Quincy MA) Home City of Record: Portland OR Date of Loss: 28 October 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 161455N 1073315E (YC730980) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: TA4F Refno: 1313 Other Personnel in Incident: Charles R. Connor (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 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 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Capt. Charles R. Connor was a Marine pilot based at Chu Lai Air Base in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. On October 28, 1968, he was assigned a combat mission near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). His co-pilot ("special crew") on the flight was Navy pilot LT William E. Ricker. Connor and Ricker were flying a Douglas Aircraft TA4F Skyhawk. The Skyhawk had been designed to be an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential. The Skyhawk was normally a one-man aircraft, but the T models had been created with dual controls originally for training purposes, but later the T models saved the Marines' forward air controllers over heavily defended areas where speed and maneuverability were essential for survival. Connor and Ricker launched from the Chu Lai Air Base at about 11:20 a.m. on a Tactical Airborne Controller mission. Enroute to their operations area, they made radio contact with several controlling agencies. At 12:15 p.m. local time they radioed their mission complete and requested and received clearance back to Chu Lai. Their radio call indicated they were over water heading down the coast towards their home field. No further radio contact was made. The aircraft never landed at Chu Lai as expected. According to the Navy, this was the last contact anyone ever had with Connor and Ricker. According to the Marines, however, an emergency radio beeper signal was detected, indicating that one or more of the crew probably successfully ejected from the aircraft. Connor and Ricker were not located, however, and they were placed in a Missing in Action Status. When 591 Americans were released from prisoner of war camps in 1973, Ricker and Connor were not among them. Military authorities were shocked at the time that hundreds known or suspected to be prisoners of war were not released. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Many authorities who have reviewed this largely classified information have reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive, waiting for the country they proudly served to bring them home. Whether Connor and Ricker are among those still alive is unknown. But as long as even one American remains held against his will, we must do everything possible to secure his freedom. William E. Ricker was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and Charles R. Connor was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period they were maintained missing.