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  #11  
Old 08-04-2009, 03:02 PM
Geosail Geosail is offline
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Default Many Thanks

I just discovered this site. Charles Burkart was my brother - still loved and missed. I am thankful to "Seatjerker" for his continuous posts and remembrances. I don't know if you knew him, but appreciate your annual visits to this site.
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  #12  
Old 08-04-2009, 03:30 PM
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Default Another MIA - Maj. Richard G. Elzinga - 3-26-70 MIA

In memory of this USAF Officer (lost in Laos) I have carried worn his bracelet for the past 35 years and check often on several sites to see if he was ever found. To date he's never been posted so I wear it in hopes some day I can send it to one of his relative's or I will pass it along to one of my Grand-kids to wear it in memory of a soldier who never made it home. SJ/DMZ/HC and I like so many others have often commented on the the MIA and POW issues. I wear this bracelet as a badge of honor in memory of them and to remind me that they are not here - like so many others. RIP - but you are not forgotten.


ELZINGA, RICHARD GENE
Name: Richard Gene Elzinga
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 56th Special Operations Wing, Udorn AF TH (RAVENS)
Date of Birth: 13 August 1942
Home City of Record: Shedd OR
Date of Loss: 26 March 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 175900N 1023400E (TF543931)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1
Refno: 1579
Other Personnel in Incident: Henry L. Allen (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 with the assistance
of 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. NETWORK 1998.
REMARKS:
SYNOPSIS: The Steve Canyon program was a highly classified FAC (forward air
control) operation covering the military regions of Laos. U.S. military
operations in Laos were severely restricted during the Vietnam War era
because Laos had been declared neutral by the Geneva Accords.
The non-communist forces in Laos, however, had a critical need for military
support in order to defend territory used by Lao and North Vietnamese
communist forces. The U.S., in conjunction with non-communist forces in
Laos, devised a system whereby U.S. military personnel could be "in the
black" or "sheep-dipped" (clandestine; mustered out of the military to
perform military duties as a civilian) to operate in Laos under supervision
of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos.
RAVEN was the radio call sign which identified the flyers of the Steve
Canyon Program. Men recruited for the program were rated Air Force officers
with at least six months experience in Vietnam. They tended to be the very
best of pilots, but by definition, this meant that they were also mavericks,
and considered a bit wild by the mainstream military establishment.
The Ravens came under the formal command of CINCPAC and the 7/13th Air Force
56th Special Operations Wing at Nakhon Phanom, but their pay records were
maintained at Udorn with Detachment 1. Officially, they were on loan to the
U.S. Air Attache at Vientiane. Unofficially, they were sent to outposts like
Long Tieng, where their field commanders were the CIA, the Meo Generals, and
the U.S. Ambassador. Once on duty, they flew FAC missions which controlled
all U.S. air strikes over Laos.
All tactical strike aircraft had to be under the control of a FAC, who was
intimately familiar with the locale, the populous, and the tactical
situation. The FAC would find the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from
an airborne command and control center, mark the target accurately with
white phosphorus (Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout
the time the planes remained on station. After the fighters had departed,
the FAC stayed over the target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA).
The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a
complex problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet
could suddenly become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter
pilot's mentality, but but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed
and vulnerable aircraft as the Cessna O1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O2.
Consequently, aircraft used by the Ravens were continually peppered with
ground fire. A strong fabric tape was simply slapped over the bullet holes
until the aircraft could no longer fly.
Ravens were hopelessly overworked by the war. The need for secrecy kept
their numbers low (never more than 22 at one time), and the critical need of
the Meo sometimes demanded each pilot fly 10 and 12 hour days. Some Ravens
completed their tour of approximately 6 months with a total of over 500
combat missions.
The Ravens in at Long Tieng in Military Region II, had, for several years,
the most difficult area in Laos. The base, just on the southern edge of the
Plain of Jars, was also the headquarters for the CIA-funded Meo army
commanded by General Vang Pao. An interesting account of this group can be
read in Christopher Robbins' book, "The Ravens". This book contains an
account of the loss of 1Lt. Henry L. Allen and Capt. Richard G. Elzinga:
The post at Long Tieng had been under seige, and it became necessary for
Ravens to live in Vietntiane in new quarters nicknamed Silver City, but they
continued to stage out of Long Tieng. "They called the daily flight there
and back...the 'commute.'
"Hank Allen, an exceptional pilot with eyes like a hawk, took off with Dick
Elzinga in the front seat of his O-1. Allen was 'short', soon to return home
after a tour in which he had notched up four hundred combat missions, and he
planned to return directly to the States and marry his fiancee within a
fortnight. Elzinga had only just arrived in Laos, and it was his first trip
up to the secret city. Allen intended to use the 'commute' as a checkout
ride. It was a cloudy day. He took off and reported over the radio...that
the O-1 was airborne. It was the last thing ever heard from them. Neither of
the pilots, nor the plane, was ever seen again.
"They had disappeared. Each of the Ravens spent at least two hours, on top
of their usual day's flying, searching for the wreckage. No Mayday call had
been heard, nor had a beeper signal been picked up from the survival radio,
and no clue to the airplane's whereabouts was discovered. The disappearance
was a complete mystery."
The official point of loss was noted as 20 miles northeast of Vientiane,
Laos. Both men were classified Missing in Action.
Three years later, on March 10, 1973, a Pathet Lao agent was captured
carrying three of Elzinga's traveler's checks and money of three countries.
Elzinga had not been in Vientiane long enough to get a locker for his
billfold. According to a 1974 list compiled by the National League of
POW/MIA Families, Elzinga, at least, survived the loss of the O1 plane.
Elzinga and Allen are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Even though
the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American
prisoners, not one American held in Laos was ever released -- or negotiated
for.
Since U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War ended, nearly 10,000 reports have
been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans missing in
Southeast Asia. Many authorities have reluctantly concluded that hundreds
are still alive in captivity today. We, as a nation, owe these men our best
effort to find them and bring them home. Until the fates of the men like
Elzinga and Allen are known, their families will wonder if they are dead or
alive .. and why they were abandoned.
=================================
From - Mon Apr 10 13:05:06 2000
From: "Lee, Thomas E. - SAIC"
Subject: Information correction
First I would like to establish my credentials with you, before I point
out errors in the descriptive write-ups on approximately 20 entries in
your data base.
I am a retired US Air Force Colonel who served in Laos covertly as part
of DoD Project 404 from June 1968-June 1969. I was the intelligence
officer in Savannakhet operating in "civilian" status working for the US
Embassy. I carried civilian documentation for presentation but also
possessed my military ID card. We wore civilian clothes. One of my roles
was to support the Raven forward air controllers (FAC), the US FACs
operating from "in-country" bases in Laos. See my website at
http://members.xoom.com/targeteer.
The following is a paragraph from your description of the "Raven"
Forward Air Controllers operating in Laos.
We lost 21 of them from 1966-1973.
"The non-communist forces in Laos, however, had a critical need for
military support in order to defend territory used by Lao and North
Vietnamese communist forces. The U.S., in conjunction with non-communist
forces in Laos, devised a system whereby U.S. military personnel could
be "in the black" or "sheep-dipped" (clandestine; mustered out of the
military to perform military duties as a civilian) to operate in Laos
under supervision of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos."
****
An error in the above description is that most of the US military
personnel operating in Laos were NOT "sheep-dipped" as you described. We
were in the "Black" in that we were technically not there, we were
assigned to out of country units and our in-country existence was
generally classified for part of the 1964-1973 period. (The existence of
these operations was revealed during Congressional Hearings in late 1969
or 1970). The Raven Program and the complementary DoD Project 404 both
began in 1966. However, there was no mustering out of the service for
the Ravens or the Project 404 personnel. To my knowledge the only
program that was "sheep dipped" as you described was Project Heavy Green
(the Air Force troops supporting Site 85 and the TACAN site support).
That accounted for under 100 people. (13 were lost) There were military
personnel operating within the Air America and CIA (CAS) operations that
may have operated under different rules.
Critically speaking the US devised the sheep dipping process. It was
used across the US intelligence community. The non-communist forces had
virtually nothing to do with that process. They did play a role in
accepting the US military members in "civilian" status by accepting our
presence and not "spilling the beans". We were not deceiving the
opposition because they knew we were military. Our deception was aimed
at the World scene and the US population regarding our activities in
contravention of the 1962 Geneva Accords.
****
This was a very unique period and very misunderstood period in our
military history due to its classified nature. Fortunately, we are able
to tell our story now. Those of us that served in Laos are trying to
correct this mis-information and myth that has grown up around these
activities so they are better understood in their real context.
Respectfully,
Tom Lee
(Thomas E. Lee, Colonel USAF (Ret))
Savannakhet, Laos
1968-1969
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Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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  #13  
Old 08-04-2009, 04:18 PM
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Capt. Park G. Bunker
USAF, 30 Dec. 1970, Laos
was a member of the Ravens that weren't even listed until many years after he didn't come home because of the "Classified" missions that he was assigned to. Park's plane was found many years later on what was the HoChiMinh trail and Rt. 9 near KheSanh in Laos but no remains were found in it.
I've worn that bracelet since the bracelets were first introduced to help in the financing of the The Wall and it will go into the hole with me unless he's back home.
Several months ago I was going into a courthouse and the uniformed deputy at the security station told me that I had to take the bracelet off and I told him that I wouldn't. He made a fuss about it untill another uniformed cop came over but he had three stripes on his sleeve. He looked at the bracelet and asked the deputy if his name was Park Bunker?
"No!" with a snotty tone.
With an authoritive loud voice from the Sgt., "You have absolutely no right to ask this any man, any woman to take off one of these bands off unless your name is written on the bracelet. Don't ever ask anyone else to remove a POW/MIA bracelet, period.
You may pass, sir. Welcome home."
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thanks to the brave who serve their Country
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2009, 05:37 PM
bimperio bimperio is offline
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Default Lt Col Burkart is always with me

When I was 18 years old I walked by the BX at Lackland AFB and picked up a bracelet with William Burkart's name on it. I never took it off and it finally broke, but I kept the pieces. Fast forward about 20 years later and they were selling them again in Italy where I lived. What are the chances I could find his name again. I found his family and sent one to his son and still have the other. In the mean time, I married a Viet Nam vet. Thanks to Lt Col Burkart, my friend and hero that I never met.
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  #15  
Old 11-05-2009, 06:14 PM
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Thumbs up

Sharp hand salute. Our sons and daughters are finding and bringing home our brothers , hope he comes home soon.
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  #16  
Old 07-12-2010, 04:01 PM
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Default Little late,...

...

...Little late Charles,...

... Been busy with all the blessings here, apoligize,...

..it's been nine years for us here, and the best part is the we continue to believe that your mission continues, you have served well above the call of duty, and will never be forgotten, your spirit flies with all that serve, all that shall read this, and other tributes to our other eagles, time does stand still as those who's heart embraces you,...

...Your Brothers, and Sisters await to meet you again, and shall never give up hope,...

...May you sit at the right side of God this perpetual day, as you've served your time in Hell,...

...
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..."Have I got a story for you!"

Tom "ANDY" Andrzejczyk

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  #17  
Old 06-10-2011, 04:23 AM
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Default Good Morning Charles,...

...

...I'm up early as most of us are now days, sleep is limited ,...

...Few more nicks in the armor, but the sword remains sharp,...

...Our thoughts, and prayers are with you, and so many others these long nights to continue to guide you through your journey,...

...I'm sure your well aware of the world at present as those that join you, and your fellow warriors stand tall above us, there are those still here that know of all of the sacrifices of your brothers, and sisters, We shall never forget,...

...As this days sun rises, and in the coming nights, our humbling rememberence will serve to be a guiding light for all of you to rise unto the heavens, and rest upon the love of God almighty,...

...Many more shall join you as our time here is troubling, see them through the rocky path to eternity,...

...Our days are granted, by all of your sacrifices,...

...Amen,...

...
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"Let me tell you a story"
..."Have I got a story for you!"

Tom "ANDY" Andrzejczyk

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  #18  
Old 06-10-2011, 01:39 PM
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Thumbs up

Thanks for keeping this going all these years Curtis." If you are wounded , I will carry you. If you are captured I will come for you and if you are killed I will always remember you " Thank you sir !
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  #19  
Old 06-11-2011, 10:41 AM
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Boats, here's a Remembrance one of our guys prepared for Maj. Elzinga:

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/80114

Seat, here's one for Col. Burkart:

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/79749


Stick, here's one for Capt Bunker:

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/79742
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  #20  
Old 07-22-2012, 05:25 PM
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Default As the years pass,...

...

...Charlie,

...As time has passed, those here with us have lives burdened with everyday tasks that overshadow what is important,.......

...The present has us busied with jobs, children, modern day responsibilities of such,...

...Your name adorns both our wrists, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you, and the other 58,212 that have sacrificed their all,...

...Pardon my tardiness as you will, I know that your time has been one that has waited much longer then my 40 days late here, gather at Fidlers Green, and continue to welcome your brothers, join together with Andy, Torch, Psyco Fred, and all that we have known together as brothers here on earth, your bond brings you together as one,...

...I know after all this time that the thoughts of family beliefs ebb slowly towards realizing that your home now comforts them, bask in the glow of the heavens, you've all served your time in hell,...

...
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..."Have I got a story for you!"

Tom "ANDY" Andrzejczyk

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