Russell Burr Luker

Staff Sergeant
VMGR-152, MAG-15, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
17 February 1933 - 01 February 1966
Lancaster, Ohio
Panel 04E Line 130



USMC Aircrew

Purple Heart, Air Medal, USMC Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Russell Burr Luker

8 May 2002


On 01 Feb 1966, a KC-130F HERCULES of VMGR-152 departed DaNang Air Base to provide airborne refueling support for tactical aircraft scheduled to conduct operations in the vicinity of Haiphong, North Vietnam. The aircraft was crewed by

  • Maj Richard A. Alm, copilot;
  • 1st Lt Albert M. Prevost, pilot;
  • G/Sgt Galen Humphrey, navigator;
  • S/Sgt Donald L. Coates, radio operator;
  • S/Sgt Peter G. Vlahakos, flight engineer; and
  • S/Sgt Russell B. Luker, 1st mechanic.

Throughout the mission the aircraft was under radar observation by the DaNang Air Operations Center.

The strike missions were cancelled due to target area weather conditions and the KC-130 was cleared to return to base. At 1845 hours the aircraft neared Hon Co Island ("Tiger Island") north-northeast of the NVN/SVN border area. Although Hon Co Island was thought to be uninhabited, one report indicates that the KC-130 crew sighted signs of activity on the island and advised DaNang that they were going to take a closer look. At 1849 the KC-130 failed to respond to DaNang's radio call and shortly afterwards it disappeared from radar.

Search and rescue efforts were mounted immediately but no trace of the aircraft or crew was found. The six Marines aboard were classed as Missing in Action.

Unofficial reports claim that the North Vietnamese had secretly emplaced radar-controlled 37mm anti-aircraft cannons on the island with the express intention of shooting down US aircraft which routinely passed the island enroute to/from the carrier operating area known as Yankee Station and that the KC-130 was shot down by North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire. (Note: One The Virtual Wall staff member can state from first-hand experience that 37/57mm AAA cannons were on the island by 1968.)

A Marine Board of Inquiry reviewed the KC-130 loss and concluded that all evidence indicated the aircraft was lost at sea with all hands due to enemy action. The status of the aircrewmen was changed from Missing in Action to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered on the basis of the Board's findings.

Bobbi Carpenter

28 July 2002

Randy, I have always wondered if they found your dad.
Sorry they didn't.

Randy and I were friends in Hawaii when our dads went to Vietnam.

Denice Branson (Perry)

21 Mar 2004

For the family of SSgt Luker:

I proudly still wear his bracelet every day, dressed up or dressed down. I fought at work to wear your remembrance (out of uniform, they tried to tell me). Mr. Luker, you were my neighbor, my Mom and Dad's friend in Lancaster.

Thank you for fighting for my freedoms, we need to bring you home! Family - I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN!

Sincerely and thankful for your sacrifice,

From one who wears his Bracelet and a former neighbor,
DeBe Wilson

25 May 2007


Whenever I visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC, and see his name, I say a prayer for your father and your family. May God Bless those brave men and women who are willing to serve, and who made the ultimate sacrifice.

From a high school friend of his daughter Lisa,
Mike Murphy

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The VMGR-152 Command Chronology for February 1966 contains the following entry:

The location given is the coordinates of Hon Co Island, 27 kilometers northeast of the Demilitarized Zone.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 8 May 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009