Name: Mark John Ruhling
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Pittsburgh PA
Date of Loss: 23 November 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 172700N 1063400E (XE565270)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C
Missions: 84
Other Personnel In Incident: Bradley G. Cuthbert (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 February 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. NETWORK.
SYNOPSIS: On his 28th birthday, Capt. Bradley G. Cuthbert and his
backseater, Capt. Mark J. Ruhling departed Udorn Airfield, Thailand on a
photo reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in their Phantom fighter
jet. When the aircraft was in the vicinity of Dong Hoi, it was shot down.
Their aircraft, the only one shot down that day, was the first plane shot
down after a bombing halt had been announced. Ruhling ejected safely, made
radio contact with other planes in the area and said that his capture was
imminent. He was then captured by the North Vietnamese.
Bradley Cuthbert's parachute was seen to open by both Ruhling and other
aircraft in the area, indicating that he also successfully ejected. No radio
contact was made to verify that he landed on the ground safely.
A Hanoi news item on November 27 described the capture of one pilot hiding
behind a bush and the aircraft's second pilot being shot while still sitting
in the plane. As the Air Force stated that Brad's plane crashed and burned,
leaving no chance a body would remain intact, this report was not attributed
to the crew of Cuthbert's plane. Besides, both crewmen aboard Cuthbert's
aircraft had successfully bailed out. A second news item described the
capture of another pilot which could have been Cuthbert.
A Christmas 1969 film contained frames of a POW Brad's family feels is him,
yet neither the Vietnamese or the U.S. Department of Defense listed Brad as
a POW.
When agreements were signed ending the war, 591 American POWs were released,
including Mark Ruhling. Brad Cuthbert was not released, nor has substantial
information been found on his fate since that time. The Vietnamese deny any
knowledge of him. Experts now believe that hundreds of Americans are still
captive in Indochina. One of them could be Brad Cuthbert. It's time we
brought him home.
In December 1990, the U.S. announced that the remains of Bradley G. Cuthbert
had been returned by the Vietnamese.
Mark Ruhling retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
and his wife Pat reside in Texas.