SMITH, RICHARD DEAN Remains identified 09/94 Just a few fragments of remains were returned. Survived by 3 children and wife, Sally. His mother passed away in 1984. Name: Richard Dean Smith Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 16 August 1937 Home City of Record: Wichita KS Date of Loss: 11 March 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 142500N 1082500E (BR214952) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B57 Refno: 0059 Other Personnel in Incident: (pilot's remains recovered) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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: CRASH W/2 - PILOT REM RECV - J SYNOPSIS: The B57 Canberra was one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Canberra first came to the Vietnam theater at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident om 1964. It proved to vulnerable and difficult to repair for working targets over North Vietnam, but proved effective in the armed reconnaissance Trail operations of Operation Steel Tiger. The Canberra was sometimes used in conjunction with other, more sophisticated aircraft, such as the C130, and was especially effective on night missions. CAPT Richard D. Smith was the co-pilot of a Canberra on a mission over South Vietnam on March 11, 1965. During the mission, as the aircraft was about 30 miles northeast of the city of Kontum, near the border of Binh Dinh and Kontum Provinces, South Vietnam, it was shot down. The pilot did not survive the crash of the aircraft, and his body was recovered in the area of the crash site. Smith was not seen again. He was declared Missing in Action. In the fall of 1985, a CIA document was obtained by a private citizen through the Freedom of Information Act which contained drawings of a Viet Cong detention center which held U.S. servicemen prior to their being sent north to Hanoi. It was located just 20 miles southwest of Camp Eagle, a major American base near Hue, South Vietnam. In the document were greatly detailed drawings, lists of personnel and lists of U.S. servicemen identified from photographs. Richard D. Smith's name was on a list of tentatively identified prisoners, as being held there AFTER September 1968. Along with Smith were the names of several POWs who were released in 1973. One of them has verified the authenticity of the report as far as the camp itself is concerned. It is doubtful that the Smith family was ever told of this report before it became public in 1985. The Defense Department now maintains that the report was a fabrication, even though much of it has been verified by returned POWs who were held there. The reasoning is based in part that the source could not know what he said he knew. Nearly 2500 Americans were lost in Southeast Asia during our miltary involvement there. Since the war in Southeast Asia ended in 1973, thousands of reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for have been received by the U.S. Government. The official policy is that no conclusive proof has been obtained that is current enough to act upon. Detractors of this policy say conclusive proof is in hand, but that the willingness or ability to rescue these prisoners does not exist. Richard D. Smith, if one of those hundreds said to be still alive and in captivity, must be wondering if and when his country will return for him. In America, we say that life is precious, but isn't the life of even one American worth the effort of recovery? When the next war comes, and it is our sons lost, will we then care enough to do everything we can to bring our prisoners home?