Last Known Activity|
Commander L. W. Richards and then-Lieutenant (junior grade) Richard Deuter were flying as lead in a section of two A-6A INTRUDERS, operating under FAC control against a target near Tavouc in southern Laos. Richards, flying A-6A BuNo 155613, rolled in on the target and released his weapons, but as he pulled out of the dive-bombing delivery the wing structure failed and the aircraft disintegrated in flight. Richards was able to escape and was picked up about 30 minutes later, but Richard Deuter apparently went in with the aircraft.
In a separate incident, LCdr Richard F. Collins and LT Michael E. Quinn, flying A-6A BuNo 155607, were conducting a night armed reconnaissance mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail further to the north. A second A-6 was operating at some distance in trail. The crew of the second aircraft sighted a large fireball estimated to be in the vicinity of Ban Tampanko, Laos. There was no radio contact with either crewman and SAR efforts failed to locate either crew or aircraft.
As of 07 Dec 2002 the remains of the three men have not been repatriated.
The loss mentioned by Mike Munson above was F-4J BuNo 155889 from VF-143, crewed by LTJG Herbert C. Wheeler and LTJG Henry J. Bedinger, who went down while conducting a bombing strike near Ban Nampakhon, Laos. Low clouds required that Wheeler conduct a relatively flat dive delivery, rolling in from less than 8,000 feet. When he attempted to level his wings for the drop, the aircraft refused to follow the control inputs and continued in a left roll and an increasingly steep dive toward the ground. As the aircraft passed through the minimum possible recovery altitude, the crew ejected. LTJG Wheeler was picked up by a USAF "JOLLY GREEN" HH-53A helo, but Bedinger was surrounded by enemy troops and captured. Bedinger eventually was moved to a prison within North Vietnam and was repatriated on 28 March 1973 - one of the few aviators who survived capture in Laos.
The seventh USS Ranger (CV-61), formerly CVA-61, is a United States Navy Forrestal-class supercarrier.
Ranger was the first aircraft carrier in the world to be laid down as an angled-deck ship (her elder sisters Forrestal and Saratoga had been laid down as axial-deck ships and were converted for an angled deck while under construction). She was laid down 2 August 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia, launched 29 September 1956, sponsored by Mrs. Arthur Radford (wife of Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard 10 August 1957, Captain Charles T. Booth II in command.
USS Ranger (CV-61
ATTACK SQUADRON 196
GRUMMAN A-6 Intruder