Name: Richard Daniel Wiehr
Rank/Branch: E5/US Navy
Unit: Tactical Electronics Squadron 130, Detachment 4, USS RANGER (CVA 61)
Date of Birth: 06 September 1950
Home City of Record: Mankato MN
Loss Date: 21 January 1973
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 183906N 1070959E
Status (in 1973): Died/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: EKA3B
Refno: 1980

Other Personnel In Incident: Charles L. Parker; Keith A. Christophersen

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.


SYNOPSIS: The USS RANGER was a seasoned combat veteran, having been deployed
to Vietnam for Flaming Dart I operations. The carrier played a steady role
for the remainder of American involvement in the war. The first fighter jets
to bomb Haiphong in Operation Rolling Thunder came from her decks.

On January 21, 1973, the USS RANGER was conducting flight operations in the
Gulf of Tonkin about 100 miles off the shore of North Vietnam (approximately
east of the city of Vinh). As it happened, this was the final week of the

One of the generally unheralded aircraft carried onboard the RANGER was the
tanker ship. The tanker was adapted from various aircraft with room to carry
jet fuel. This plane was the oasis for the fighter jets - the tanker which
circled in safe areas outside their combat areas to be available for
refueling. The presence of the tanker meant extra flight time for the jets
and sometimes meant their survival.

Flying from an aircraft carrier is a special science. The limited takeoff
and landing area leaves little room for error. Occasionally, tragic
accidents occur, claiming lives.

LtCDR Charles L. Parker was a pilot assigned to Tactical Electronic Squadron
130, Detachment 4, onboard the carrier USS RANGER. He was the pilot of an
EKA3B tanker.

At 11:46 p.m. on January 21, 1973, the EKA3B carrying Parker, the pilot;
LTJG Keith A. Christophersen, the copilot/navigator; and Petty Officer
Second Class Richard D. Wiehr, the electronic technician; was preparing to
launch on a night catapult launch. After having made a normal catapult
attachment and pre-launch inspection, the catapult stroke appeared to start
off normally. After about 1/3 of the launch stroke, a loud explosion was
heard and the aircraft was seen to pitch nose down and sparks started to
come from the right engine. The aircraft began to decelerate and run off the
end of the angle deck at a very low speed and fell over the side of the ship
into the Gulf of Tonkin.

An immediate search and rescue effort was begun, but the aircraft sank very
quickly and none of the crew could be recovered. The three Americans were
classified Killed/Body Not Recovered.

The crew of the EKA3B lost on January 21, 1973 are listed with honor among
the nearly 2300 still prisoner, missing or otherwise unaccounted for from
the Vietnam war because their bodied were never found. Some of the missing,
like the crew of the EKA3B, may never be recovered. It may not be possible
to find their bodies. A high percentage of those missing, however, could be

Tragically, thousands of reports have been received that indicate Americans
are still being held captive in Southeast Asia. While the EKA3 crew may not
be among them, the evidence suggests that hundreds of their comrades are
alive, waiting for their country to free them. One can imagine that Parker,
Christophersen and Wiehr would be there if they could, circling and waiting
to help them to freedom.





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On January 21, 1973, an EKA-3B Skywarrior (bureau number 142634) carrying a crew of three was to make a night catapult launch from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61), located in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. A malfunction occurred during the launch, causing the Skywarrior to run off the carrier deck at a slow speed. It crashed into the water and sank. An extensive search for the aircraft’s crew was unsuccessful in locating them. All three members of the Skywarrior’s crew remain unaccounted for.

Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class Richard Daniel Wiehr, who joined the U.S. Navy from Minnesota, was a member of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 130. He was a crew member aboard this Skywarrior when it crashed, and was lost with the aircraft. His remains were not recovered. Today, Petty Officer Wiehr is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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