In Honor of these 15 brave men in Utah:
CHIPMAN, RALPH JIM
Name: Ralph Jim Chipman
Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: VMA 533, MAG 15, 1st Marine Air Wing
Date of Birth: 15 August 1943
Home City of Record: Orem UT
Date of Loss: 27 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171500N 1064500E (XD985800)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
"Ralph Jim Chipman is Honored on Panel 01W Line 106
Other Personnel in Incident: Ronald W. Forrester (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.
REMARKS: DEAD/QUAN DOI NHAN DAN
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is an all weather, low-altitude,
carrier-based attack plane. The A6A primarily flew close air support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as
DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small
precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located
and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were
credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war,
including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong
by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most
talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
Capt. Ralph J. Chipman was the pilot of an Intruder assigned a mission over
North Vietnam on December 27, 1972. His co-pilot on the flight was 1Lt.
Ronald W. Forrester. The aircraft did not return from the mission, and last
contact was made with the crew over the target area.
A subsequent article in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, a daily Vietnamese newspaper
described an aircraft downed by the Vietnamese. Apparently the pilot was
reported to be dead, and possibly the co-pilot as well. Although this
article was thought to possibly relate to Chipman and Forrester, it was not
definite enough for proof of death. Both men were classified Missing in
Action. It is believed that the Vietnamese could account for them.
Forrester and Chipman are among nearly 2500 Americans who remained missing
from the Vietnam war. Many experts, having seen the "several million"
documents relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in
Southeast Asia, believe that hundreds of these men are still alive in
In our haste to leave Southeast Asia, we abandoned some of our best men.
Surprisingly, in 1990, overtures by many U.S. government officials hint at
normalization of relations with Vietnam, yet no agreements have been reached
which would free those Americans still held in Southeast Asia. In our haste
to return to Indochina will we again abandon our men?
Ronald W. Forrester graduated from Texas A & M in 1969. He was promoted to
the rank of Captain during the period he was maintained missing.
CHRISTENSEN, JOHN MICHAEL
Name: John Michael Christensen
Branch/Rank: United States Marchine Corps/O2
Unit: VMCJ 1 MAG 15
Date of Birth: 19 August 1946
Home City of Record: OGDEN UT
Date of Loss: 13 April 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 183188 North 1073200 East
Status (in 1973): Presumptive Finding of Death
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: EA6A #156979
Missions:Other Personnel in Incident: David Leet, Presumptive Finding of Death
"John Christensen is Honored on Panel 02W Line 135"
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File. Updated in 2002 with information from Major Jerry Cox,
REMARKS: RADIO CONTACT LOST
CACCF CRASH/OTHER AIRCREW W/LEET
Lt. Christensen was the Electronic Countermeasures Officer. Captain Leet was
No further information available at this time.
CONNOR, CHARLES RICHARD
Name: Charles Richard Connor
Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: HAMS 132, 1st Marine Air Wing, Chu Lai AB SV
Date of Birth: 15 January 1938
Home City of Record: Salt Lake City UT
Date of Loss: 28 October 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 161455N 1073315E (YC730980)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: William E. Ricker (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
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
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.
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Bernie K. Stewart 2001
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