Ralph Harold Angstadt
Lieutenant Colonel
37TH ARRS, 3RD AIR RESCUE GROUP, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
September 03, 1932 to July 18, 1973
(Incident Date October 18, 1966)
RALPH H ANGSTADT is on the Wall at Panel 11E, Line 85

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Ralph H Angstadt
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29 Jun 2006

I was blessed to wear Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Angstadt's MIA bracelet. I prayed for him every day during the Vietnam War, always hoping he would be found and come home. GOD BLESS YOU!

Susan E. Reed
sukana31@yahoo.com


 
06 Sep 2006

The photo and article appeared in "THANKS, WE REMEMBER" on September 24, 1988. It was republished by the Reading (PA) Eagle for the dedication of the Berks County Viet Nam Veterans Memorial.

Ralph H. Angstadt
LtCol, USAF
9/3/32 - M.I.A. 10/8/66

Ralph was born in Oley and was a member of Frieden's Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was a 1951 graduate of Oley High School, where he played varsity basketball.

He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation and served as an enlisted man until 1954 when he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and made a flight observer. He received his pilot's wings in 1957.

He attended Florida State University.

In 1963, while stationed in Okinawa, Ralph served as Project Officer during the Mercury Space Program. He was one of the pilots deployed for pickup duty during the flight of L. Gordon Cooper in May 1963.

In Vietnam, Ralph served as the pilot of an HU-16 helicopter [sic], stationed at Da Nang Air Base. In letters to his family he wrote that he liked what he was doing and was glad to be able to serve his country.

Ralph and his crew of six took off to participate in a rescue mission over North Vietnam and after the mission was completed he radioed that the plane (?) was returning to base. No futher communications were received and the craft failed to return. A one week search over land and water found no trace of the aircraft or crew.

Ralph holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star.

His family, at the time, included his wife, Charlsie, three daughters, his mother, a sister and two brothers.

Ralph was in Vietnam five months.

He was 34 years old at the time of his disappearance.

"Until I know what happened to my brother, I will not give up hope he may be somewhere...," Mrs. Janet Clauser, sister of Angstadt.

From another Vietnam veteran,
Jim McIlhenney
christianamacks@comcast.net


 
03 Sep 2007

Happy Birthday Ralph...we share the same date,
your 75th and my 50th.
A new bracelet is on its way.
Trudy Kreider
Schaefferstown, Pa
E-mail address is not available.


 

Notes from The Virtual Wall

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While it is clear that a USAF HU-16 Albatross (serial 51-7145) went down offshore North Vietnam on 18 Oct 1966, there is conflicting information with respect to exactly what happened. The twin-engined, fixed-wing Albatross, an amphibious aircraft capable of landing on water or runway, was crewed by

Except for John Shoneck and Steven Adams the crewmen were from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, based at Danang. Shoneck was an HH-53 helicopter mechanic assigned to the 38th ARRS, also at Danang, while Adams was assigned to the 33rd ARRS and on temporary duty with the 37th ARRS.

Chris Hobson's authoritative work "Vietnam Air Losses" gives the following account of the loss:

"An Albatross amphibian took off from Da Nang in poor weather for a patrol over the Gulf of Tonkin. Using the call sign CROWN BRAVO, a name that was assigned to the afternoon patrol of each day, the aircraft encountered worsening weather and failed to make a routine radio report. As soon as the weather cleared enough a second Albatross left Da Nang to search for Maj Angstadt's aircraft. The Albatross was joined by Navy ships and aircraft but no trace of the aircraft or of its crew was ever found. The aircraft's last known position was about 40 miles off Dong Hoi [a North Vietnam coastal town a bit north of the DMZ] and it was suspected that the aircraft was lost due to extreme weather rather than enemy action." (Hobson, p.78)
The Jolly Green Organization ("JOLLY GREEN" was the Vietnam nickname for the USAF SAR helicopters) carries the following note on 51-7145:
"The aircraft was on a SAR orbit north of the DMZ and reported to a Navy ship he was returning to his home station, Danang. This was the last contact with the aircraft and no trace of the aircraft or crew was ever found." (http://www.jollygreen.org/jltnc.htm)
The POW Network and Task Force Omega sites carry a more complex story. In summary, the two sites report that the HU-16
  • Was from the 33rd ARRS.
  • Was on a SAR mission to pick up a downed aircrew about 80 miles off the China coast in the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • Was escorted by "two A1E Skyhawks", which parted company with the Albatross after a successful SAR pick-up.
  • Last made radio contact at "5:45 p.m." or "1745 hours" (the same time), although Task Force Omega goes on to say that "At 2231 hours, all contact was lost with the amphibious aircraft".
There are some mis-statements in both the POW Network and TFO summaries that call into question the other undocumented statements made in the biographic reports:
  • The 33rd ARRS was based at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, not at Da Nang. Both Hobson and the Jolly Greens assign the aircraft to the 37th ARRS, Danang. USAF casualty records indicate only Adams was associated with the 33rd ARRS, and he was TDY to the 37th ARRS.
  • TFO says that the Albatross was "capable of making vertical recoveries on land or over water" and of course it was not. As a fixed-wing amphibian it could land on water but it certainly couldn't hover for a vertical recovery.
  • Both sites say the Albatross was escorted by "A1E Skyhawks"; the A-1 Skyraider (USN/USAF) and the A-4 Skyhawk (USN/USMC) were two very different aircraft.
  • Both sites state that the last radio contact was made at 5:45/1745 hours but TFO implies that other contact (radio? radar?) continued for nearly five hours after 1745.
  • Both sites indicate a successful SAR pick-up but then dismiss the absence of any personnel aboard the HU-16 other than its crew. The POW Network simply says "There is no available information on the downed crewman the Albatross was sent to rescue." while TFO says "Because there is no record of the identity of the pilot recovered during this missing, it is believed he was a member of an allied force". No other US aircraft went down over the Gulf of Tonkin on 18 Oct 1966, and no allied (i.e., South Vietnamese) air operations were conducted in the northern Gulf of Tonkin.
Overall, it appears that the HU-16 was on a routine SAR patrol offshore Route Package 1 in North Vietnam and that it went down due to weather conditions. What is uncontested is that seven Air Force aircrewmen were lost.

The UH-16 crew received promotions during the period they were maintained Missing in Action: Angstadt and Rackley were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; Long to the rank of Captain; Clark and Hill to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant; Shoneck to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant; and Adams to the rank of Master Sergeant.

On 18 July 1973, the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for all seven men. Their remains have not been repatriated.


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