Fred Lee Clarke

Chief Master Sergeant
United States Air Force
28 January 1932 - 28 May 1974
Troutman, NC
Panel 36W Line 014



USAF Aircrew

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Fred Lee Clarke

12 Apr 2003

A Prayer For Those Lost In Battle

O God and Father of us all, we gather in sincere gratitude for all those who, at their country's call, have met the rude shock of battle and have surrendered their lives amid the ruthless brutalities of war. Forbid that their suffering and death should be in vain. We beseech you that, through their devotion to duty and suffering, the horrors of war may pass from earth and that your kingdom of right and honor, of peace and brotherhood, may be established among men. Comfort, O Lord, all who mourn the loss of those near and dear to them, especially the families of our departed brothers. Support them by your love. Give them faith to look beyond the trials of the present and to know that neither life nor death can separate us from the love and care of Christ Jesus, in whose name we pray.


In Honor of Fred Lee Clarke and all of the brave men and women that never made it home. You have not been forgotten.

The Mission

On 13 December 1968 a C-123K PROVIDER of the 606th Special Operations Squadron launched from Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand, on a night FAC mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail area. The low-and-slow C-123K's mission was to obtain visual or infrared sightings of traffic along the Trail and to act as a controller for bombers - in this case, B-57 CANBERRA bombers from the 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, Phan Rang AB, SVN.

Weather conditions along the Trail were good - clear with a half moon, ground fog, no wind and no cloud ceiling. At 0300 hours, as a B-57 was executing an attack against ground targets, the B-57 collided with the upper surface of the circling C-123K. Both aircraft - and nine aircrewmen - went down.

Only one - 1st Lt Thomas M. Turner from the C-123 - was rescued. The others simply disappeared into the Laotian jungles about 30 miles southwest of the Ban Kari Pass. A ground search was impossible due to total enemy control of the area, but airborne search-and-rescue operations continued until termination on 15 December, when the formal SAR effort was terminated. At that point, the crewmen and their status were as follow:

  • 606th SOS, C-123K call sign CANDLESTICK 44
    • 1st Lt Thomas M. Turner, pilot, rescued;
    • 1st Lt Joseph P. Fanning, co-pilot, MIA;
    • 1st Lt John S. Albright, II, navigator, MIA;
    • 1st Lt Morgan J. Donahue, navigator, MIA;
    • SSgt Douglas V. Dailey, flight engineer, MIA;
    • TSgt Fred L. Clarke, loadmaster, MIA; and
    • SSgt Samuel F. Walker, Jr., loadmaster, MIA.
    • 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, B-57B call sign YELLOWBIRD 72
    • Major Thomas W Dugan, pilot, MIA, and
    • Major Francis J McGouldrick, co-pilot, MIA.
None of the men returned with other POWs in February 1973, nor did any of the released POWs have knowledge of the CANDLESTICK or YELLOWBIRD crewmen. As time passed, the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the eight missing crewmen - including Chief Master Sergeant Fred L. Clarke (28 May 1974).

None of the eight men have ever been repatriated.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Richard Riley 
14 Apr 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 04/14/2003