Remains Returned 15 December 1988

Name: Robert David Rudolph
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Light Photographic Squadron 63, Detachment G, USS ORISKANY
Date of Birth: 26 February 1942
Home City of Record: Encino CA
Date of Loss: 08 September 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 200458N 1055200E (WH906207)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF8A
Refno: 0138
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.


SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
photo reconnaissance.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.

LtJg. Robert D. Rudolph was a pilot assigned to Light Photographic Squadron
63, Detachment G, onboard the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY (CVA 34). On
September 8, 1965, Rudolph launched in his RF8A Crusader on a combat photo
mission to locate surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites north of Thanh Hoa,
North Vietnam. Shortly after crossing the coastline, he and his wingman
encountered heavy automatic weapons fire. Rudolph's aircraft was seen to go
inverted and begin a steep descent. His wingman began immediate evasive
maneuvers and did not see an ejection or the aircraft hit the ground. An
immediate search and rescue effort was begun, but there the crash site was
not found. No emergency radio beeper signals were heard to indicate that
Rudolph successfully ejected. He was believed to have been killed, but was
not so listed for three weeks.

LtJg. Rudolph is listed with honor among the missing in Southeast Asia
because his remains were never recovered. For Rudolph's family, some peace
can be had from the fact that his death was witnessed. For many others who
are missing, however, final answers are not so simple. Many were known to
have been alive at the time they disappeared. Some were actually
photographed in captivity, only to disappear.

Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to
Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities believe there are
hundreds of Americans still alive today in captivity. Tragically, these men
willingly served their country honorably and faithfully, and were abandoned
by the country they served. It's time we brought our men home.

On December 15, 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains
of Robert D. Rudolph.