Richard K. Harper
Killed In Action - Body Not Recovered
|SYNOPSIS: The O1 "Bird Dog" was used extensively in the early years of the war in
Vietnam by forward air controllers and provided low, close visual reconnaissance and
target marking which enabled armed aircraft or ground troops to close in on a target.
The Bird Dog was feared by the enemy, because he knew that opening fire would expose his location and invite attack by fighter planes controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog.
The Vietnamese became bold, however, when they felt their position was compromised and attacked the little Bird Dog with a vengeance in order to lessen the accuracy of the impending air strike.
On May 19, 1965, O1 pilot CWO Rickard K. Harper was assigned an aerial recon-
naissance mission over South Vietnam. His observer was SFC Leroy M. Donovan.
At 1700 hours the aircraft was an hour overdue. A check was made with airfields where
the plane could have landed along its flight path, with negative results. A search was
initiated in and around Camp Holloway, and along the route the aircraft was to take.
Radio Hanoi broadcast on May 28 that the Viet Cong had shot down an O1F aircraft on
May 18, which may or may not correlate to this aircraft because of the date discrepancy.
Donovan and Harper are among nearly 2500 Americans who disappeared in Southeast Asia. Experts now believe, based on thousands of reports received, that there may be hundreds of Americans still alive, captives of a long-ago enemy, today. Whether the crew of the O1F lost on May 19, 1965 is among them is not certain. What is clear, however, is that we must do everything it takes to bring these men home. Our honor depends upon it.