More Than A Name on a Red Band
I wear a red metal band on my wrist, a POW/MIA bracelet. On it is enscribed the name of CDR Richard Rich who has been listed as Missing in Action since 1967! Just for a moment, try to imagine that you are his wife, or his son, or his brother or sister, and you have been waiting for 22 years to find out if he is dead or alive. Wouldn't you want answers??????
I don't know how many of you visiting this page have ever been to a Vigil held for the POW/MIA cause. In Connecticut where I lived until two years ago, the local VVA Chapter and several American Legion Posts sponsored these vigils. Veterans signed up for their hour of cage time. They were dressed in "black pajamas", manacled at the wrists and ankles, and led blindfolded to the "tiger cage" where they sat for one hour in representation of the Prisoners of War still unaccounted for. The first vigil I went to was the most moving thing I had ever seen. My brother had his cage time and the feelings of panic that spread over me when they lowered the bamboo cage over him is a feeling I will never forget and one I just can't explain. I thanked God that this was not real because the thought of him being thousands of miles away from home, all alone in that cage was more that I could bear to think of. I imagined all of those wives, children, and parents who were still waiting for their loved ones, waiting much longer than the hour that I had to wait for Tim to be set free. When his hour was up, another took his place and he was "welcomed home" unlike those who still wait to be freed. Please, please, as Americans, as sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers, please write to your Senators, Congressmen, Representatives and to the President of the United States and tell them that as an American, you are tired of waiting. Tell them that you want an accounting NOW!! One letter alone might not make the difference, hundreds might, thousands are sure to be noticed. It is time that the voice of the American public is heard.
CDR Richard Rich USN
Name: Richard Rich
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy, pilot
Unit: Fighter Squadron 96, USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65)
Date of Birth: 27 October 1925 (New York NY)
Home City of Record: Stamford CT
Date of Loss: 19 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 203952N 1054125E (WH718962)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: William R. Stark (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station
December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought
not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component
warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first week of
operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in a
day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first combat
her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not
achieved without cost.
One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the ENTERPRISE was the F4
fighter/bomber. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air
served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and
and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high
altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes
When the ENTERPRISE arrived in Vietnam on its second combat cruise, two
pilots were LTCDR William R. Stark and CDR Richard Rich. The two
crew of an F4B Phantom sent on a mission over North Vietnam near the
Hanoi on May 19, 1967. Rich served as the pilot of the aircraft, while
the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO).
During the mission, Rich's wingman reported that enemy defenses, both
anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were extremely
and CDR Rich were forced to fly their aircraft at very low altitudes in
avoid the numerous missiles. While over the target, the wingman observed
missile detonate close behind CDR Rich's aircraft and he subsequently
of Rich's aircraft during the violent evasive maneuvering. Visual
completely lost and repeated radio calls to CDR Rich produced negative
The wingman found no trace of Rich's aircraft, there were no emergency
signals, and the wingman saw no parachutes. Search and rescue efforts
impossible due to the high threat in the Hanoi area. Electronic
the area produced negative results.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released by the Vietnamese from Hanoi,
William R. Stark. Stark had been advanced to the rank of Commander
years of his captivity. Richard Rich was among hundreds known or
suspected to be
held captive that were not released. Since that time, the Vietnamese
any knowledge of the fate of Richard Rich.
For 23 years, the Vietnamese have denied knowledge of the fate of
even though his aircraft went down in a heavily populated area. There is
reason to believe that Vietnamese could account for Rich, even if he
his aircraft went down. On November 11, 1976, the Department of the Navy
declared Richard Rich dead, based on no specific information he was
During the time he was maintained Missing in Action, Rich was advanced
rank of Captain.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically
times. Could Rich be waiting, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S.
to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have
information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the
many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could Rich be among
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As
reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive
Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically
way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as
continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we
everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
George M. "Gunny" Fallon -firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit Gunny's Page
Thank you for caring about America's Missing Servicemen.
"A Man is not dead until he is forgotten!"
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