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Lcdr William Ernest Ricker

Conflict: Vietnam

Service: United States Navy

Status: Unaccounted For

Name: William Ernest Ricker

Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Reserves

Unit: Aircraft Group 31, 1st Marine Air Wing, Chu Lai AB SV

Date of Birth: 01 June 1933 (Quincy MA)

Home City of Record: Portland OR

Date of Loss: 28 October 1968

Country of Loss: South Vietnam

Loss Coordinates: 161455N 1073315E (YC730980)

Status (in 1973): Missing in Action

Category: 4

Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: TA4F

Refno: 1313

Other Personnel in Incident: Charles R. Connor (missing)

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: Capt. Charles R. Connor was a Marine pilot based at Chu Lai Air

Base in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. On October 28, 1968, he was

assigned a combat mission near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). His co-pilot

("special crew") on the flight was Navy pilot LT William E. Ricker.

Connor and Ricker were flying a Douglas Aircraft TA4F Skyhawk. The Skyhawk

had been designed to be an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground

support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability

during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch

and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding

wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size,

the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and

maneuverability were essential. The Skyhawk was normally a one-man aircraft,

but the T models had been created with dual controls originally for training

purposes, but later the T models saved the Marines' forward air controllers

over heavily defended areas where speed and maneuverability were essential

for survival.

Connor and Ricker launched from the Chu Lai Air Base at about 11:20 a.m. on

a Tactical Airborne Controller mission. Enroute to their operations area,

they made radio contact with several controlling agencies. At 12:15 p.m.

local time they radioed their mission complete and requested and received

clearance back to Chu Lai. Their radio call indicated they were over water

heading down the coast towards their home field. No further radio contact

was made.

The aircraft never landed at Chu Lai as expected. According to the Navy,

this was the last contact anyone ever had with Connor and Ricker. According

to the Marines, however, an emergency radio beeper signal was detected,

indicating that one or more of the crew probably successfully ejected from

the aircraft. Connor and Ricker were not located, however, and they were

placed in a Missing in Action Status.

When 591 Americans were released from prisoner of war camps in 1973, Ricker

and Connor were not among them. Military authorities were shocked at the

time that hundreds known or suspected to be prisoners of war were not


Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner,

missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.

Many authorities who have reviewed this largely classified information have

reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive, waiting

for the country they proudly served to bring them home.

Whether Connor and Ricker are among those still alive is unknown. But as

long as even one American remains held against his will, we must do

everything possible to secure his freedom.

William E. Ricker was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and

Charles R. Connor was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the

period they were maintained missing.

Image of Lcdr William Ernest Ricker