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 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: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on
December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with her
not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component of
warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first week of combat
operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in a single
day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first combat cruise,
her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not been
achieved without cost.
One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the ENTERPRISE was the F4 Phantom
fighter/bomber. 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. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics
conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities
enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
When the ENTERPRISE arrived in Vietnam on its second combat cruise, two of its
pilots were LTCDR William R. Stark and CDR Richard Rich. The two comprised the
crew of an F4B Phantom sent on a mission over North Vietnam near the city of
Hanoi on May 19, 1967. Rich served as the pilot of the aircraft, while Stark was
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 heavy. He
and CDR Rich were forced to fly their aircraft at very low altitudes in order to
avoid the numerous missiles. While over the target, the wingman observed a
missile detonate close behind CDR Rich's aircraft and he subsequently lost sight
of Rich's aircraft during the violent evasive maneuvering. Visual contact was
completely lost and repeated radio calls to CDR Rich produced negative results.
The wingman found no trace of Rich's aircraft, there were no emergency radio
signals, and the wingman saw no parachutes. Search and rescue efforts were
impossible due to the high threat in the Hanoi area. Electronic surveillance of
the area produced negative results.
In 1973, 591 Americans were released by the Vietnamese from Hanoi, including
William R. Stark. Stark had been advanced to the rank of Commander during the
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 have denied
any knowledge of the fate of Richard Rich.
For 23 years, the Vietnamese have denied knowledge of the fate of Richard Rich,
even though his aircraft went down in a heavily populated area. There is every
reason to believe that Vietnamese could account for Rich, even if he died when
his aircraft went down. On November 11, 1976, the Department of the Navy
declared Richard Rich dead, based on no specific information he was still alive.
During the time he was maintained Missing in Action, Rich was advanced to the
rank of Captain.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
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. relating
to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this
information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that
many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could Rich be among these?
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as
reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in
Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient
way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports
continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do
everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
My Name is Christopher S. Rich Son of Capt Richard Rich USN MIA since
I am an active member of Sons and Daughters In Touch (SDIT) During Veterans
Day the Moving Wall was at Knox Berry Farms and a Daughter that was adopted
at birth found out that her Biological Father is a MIA. She came on line
tonight asking for help for ANY Information on him.
I looked all over the place, many POW Pages and I finally got to yours
and got some information for her.
Thank you VERY VERY VERY MUCH.
You have helped start the healing proces for another KID.
Thank you again and WELCOME HOME to all my Big Brothers and Sisters here at
Capt. Rich was the Father of four sons at the time that he was shot
down we were 13, 11, 9, 4. This has effect us in different ways,
I am the youngest of the "boys" and am asking questions that the
US Government would rather ignore or continue to keep quite. Why
would the Government, the one that my Father was so proud of and WANTED
to go do his DUTY for. He actually was to old and pulled every string
he could to go over to Vietnam, but you know how Fighter Pilots can be,
they train their whole lives for combat and will do anything to show that
they have the RIGHT STUFF.
Christopher S. Rich
mailto: EMTChris33@prodigy.net" Chris Rich
Update on my Dads Case as of June 1999
On June 15th I arrived in Washington DC for the annual Government
Breifings on Our POW/MIA's. I arrived a few days early to have some fun
and to do some research at the Library of Congress (LOC).
While going through one of the reels at the LOC I saw a Live Sighting
report dated 1968. It was a picture of a group of POW's, location
unknown, my Mom stated that it was Dad postiviely. My Grand Mother on
the other hand state that it could not be her son as he was always Clen
Cut, with Short Hair and always dressed nicley. I am sorry but I do not
know of Many of our POW's that had a Barber shop in there Camp. The DIA
also confirmed this to be my dad.
Than in 1969 an AP report stated that Pilots shotdown on 19May67, my
Dads date, were taken to Russia. They also mentioned his name.
While going through the one file I have on my Dad, the rest are being
copied for me, I noticed several inconsitatncies by Joint Task Force for
Full Accountablity or better known as JTF-FA in the Circle. I was told
last year that there was no longer any Primary (cases that the
government would first try to finish first) and no Alternate cases
(cases that the governemnt would attpemt to get to). But in one of the
Documents in my dads new file JTF-FA stated that he was listed as an
Alternate site two times. But there is a problem with that too, see my
Dads site is in a ricepaddy and it can only be excavated during the dry
season. But the datres given were during the Monson season.
I had a Friend, Thanks Steve, Attend the Quesion and Answer Session for
the Government Briefings. He asked Brig. Gen. Tucker these Questions
for me. Gen Tucker Confirmed that yes they had primary and Alt. Cases on
each mission and he did not know why they would schedule my Dads case
during a monson season. Do they really think that the Families do not
know when the dry season is if it is part of their case?
General Tucker also told Steve that my Dads Case should have been a
Primary last year and that he will personaly look in to this and get
back to Steve and Myself.
Well that is all now.
Thanks for caring
From - Wed Mar 15 14:17:57 2000
Press Release from the Family of Commander Richard Rich, USN
Secretary of Defense William Cohen Uses Dad's Crash Site as Publicity Stunt.
By Christopher Rich
Son and Primary Next of Kin to Cdr. Richard Rich, USN
We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the Joint Task Force for Full
Accounting for excavating the crash site associated with my father,
Commander Richard Rich, USN, during the much publicized visit of the US
Secretary of Defense William Cohen to Vietnam.
However, we object to the fact that this recovery operation is being used as
a publicity stunt to give the appearance of the Vietnamese governments "full
cooperation" on the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action issue. US
Intelligence is well aware of the fact that the Vietnamese could readily
account for many missing servicemen but they refuse to do so. Men known to
be Prisoners of War were never returned. The remains of men the Vietnamese
admit died in captivity have yet to be returned.
The US Government should refrain from using recovery efforts to bolster the
misconception of Vietnamese "full cooperation," when in fact Vietnam holds
the answers to the fates of many, many POWs left behind alive in captivity.
If remains retrieved from this crash site prove to be our dad, we will have
our long sought closure. But we will keep in mind that there are hundreds of
American families that the Vietnamese could provide answers for but have
not. Those families deserve to have their long sought closure as well. The
US Government must press the Vietnamese on the men known to be held prisoner
of war and not returned, while continuing efforts to recover remains.
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