Remains Returned - identified  10/01/98

Name: Bobby Gene Vinson
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit: 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Da Nang
Date of Birth: 28 January 1928
Home City of Record: Nederland TX
Date of Loss: 24 April 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173600N 1062800E (XE562479)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1141

Other Personnel In Incident: Woodrow W. Parker (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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.

REMARKS: DEAD/CS-317-09142-72

SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes

LtCol. Bobby G. Vinson was the pilot and 1Lt. Woodrow W. Parker II the
bombardier/navigator, of an F4D Phantom sent on a scramble mission with
another aircraft from Da Nang Airbase, South Vietnam on April 24, 1968.

Vinson was orbiting the area looking for targets over Quang Binh Province, a
few miles southwest of the city of Quang Khe and radioed he was decreasing
altitude for a better sighting of ground targets. Shortly thereafter, a
fireball was seen on the ground by the crew of the other aircraft. Radio
contact with Parker and Vinson was unsuccessful. However, the possibility
existed that the two were able to safely eject from the aircraft, and they
were not listed as killed in action but missing in action.

Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as
prisoners in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs"
from other wars, most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in
Southeast Asia can be accounted for. If even one was left alive (and many
authorities estimate the numbers to be in the hundreds), we have failed as a
nation until and unless we do everything possible to secure his freedom and
bring him home.

Bobby G. Vinson was promoted to the rank of Colonel and Woodrow W. Parker to
the rank of Major during the period they were maintained missing. Bobby G.
Vinson graduated from West Point Academy in 1950.

Subject: DoD Memoranda For Correspondents

No. 165-98

The remains of two American airmen previously unaccounted-for from the war
in Southeast Asia have been identified and returned to the United States for

The first set of remains is identified as those of Maj. Woodrow W. Parker
II, U.S. Air Force, of St. Petersburg, Fla.  The other set of remains is
those of Parker's aircraft commander.  At the wishes of the commander's
family, the identity of these remains will not be released. Since the end of
American participation in the war in 1973, the remains of 504 Americans have
been recovered and identified; 2,079 remain unaccounted-for.

On April 24, 1968, Parker and his aircraft commander were on a combat
mission over Quang Binh province, North Vietnam, when their F-4D Phantom
crashed amid a large fireball. The flight leader was unable to establish
radio contact.  No parachutes were observed, nor was there an emergency
signal detected.

Hostile threats in the area precluded airborne or ground search and rescue

In April 1992, a joint U.S.-Vietnam team, led by the Joint Task Force- Full
Accounting, interviewed several local informants in a village near the
location of the loss. Three informants turned over human remains and
survival-related items that had been collected at the crash site years
earlier.  In July of 1992, a second joint U.S.-Vietnam team returned to the
site and recovered aircraft wreckage and crew-related equipment. A third
joint team excavated the crash site during Aug.-Sept. 1993 and recovered
aircraft wreckage, life support equipment and several skeletal fragments.

Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army
Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of
Parker and his aircraft commander. The U.S. government welcomes and
appreciates the cooperation of the government of the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that
such cooperation will bring increased results in the future.  Achieving the
fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national


A woman of action: Joan McKinney Vinson
Published March 03, 2008
Annapolis Stories tell the living history of the Annapolis area through the lens of individual experiences.

In September of 1968, Joan Vinson picked up the phone in Orly Airport and called the North Vietnam delegation. To her surprise, the voice on the other end of the line spoke perfect English. She was in Paris, she said, because she wanted to meet with them to discuss her husband, Col. Bobby Vinson, whose plane had been shot down in the Quang Bin Province in April of that year......


Janice Gary is an award-winning writer of creative nonfiction. She teaches memoir at Annapolis Senior Center.

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