Richard Joseph Mallon

United States Air Force
28 September 1942 - 23 September 1975
Portland, Oregon
Panel 14W Line 076

7TH AF F-105D 354TH TFS
USAF Pilot

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

The database page for Richard Joseph Mallon

04 May 2002

I've worn Captain Mallon's MIA bracelet since about 1972/73. When I went in the service in 1976, my Drill Sergeant DID NOT insist that I remove the Bracelet that I wore. Instead I was asked to address the platoon on Captain Mallon.

I am especially grateful to finally know the fate of Captain Richard Mallon, and I am going to Portland, Oregon, later this summer to lay a wreath at his grave.

My eldest daughter has asked that I pass his bracelet to her to wear. She has assured me that she will wear it with the same quiet pride that I do and that she will tell his story also.

This Man

This man was called upon to do a job.
Of his youth, they did rob.
He performed with all his heart.
He performed right from the start.
To a funny little country called Vietnam
They sent this young man, to do a job, of his youth they did rob.
He flew with all his might; he put up a good fight.
On the ground, his youth they did rob.
This young man was just doing his job.
His life was lost that day, his youth along the way.
His body was not to be found; eventually he was placed in hallowed ground.
His soul is in the hands of God, his youth they did rob.
His family at peace, his body at rest.
His Father next to him, whom guided him from the nest.
Just an ordinary man who did his job, of his youth, they did rob.
Rich Woods, Author

A memorial initiated by one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Rich Woods

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 28 January 1970 an F-105G "Wild Weasel" aircraft of the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, tail number 63-8329 and call sign SEABIRD 02, was shot down within North Vietnam. There are different stories with respect to why it was there:
  • Hobson's "Vietnam Air Losses" and the POW Network say the aircraft was part of a SAM supression flight protecting an RF-4C photo-recon aircraft, but
  • The Task Force Omega (TFO) site claims the Wild Weasel aircraft were on a dedicated SAM "hunt and destroy" mission.
In either case, the flight came under attack from the NVA air defenses and responded in kind. Hobson says SEABIRD 02 "was hit by AAA and burst into flames" while pulling off after a strike run, while TFO claims SEABIRD 02 "was struck by an air-to-air missile from a MiG-21". The POW Network is noncommittal, saying simply that SEABIRD 02 was shot down. Regardless of the exact cause, SEABIRD 02's two crewmen were forced to eject in the vicinity of the Mu Gia Pass.

Although other US aircrews spotted two good parachutes and heard two emergency beeper signals, they could not establish voice communications with the downed crewmen. Search and Rescue efforts were initiated at once, with HH-53B JOLLY GREEN rescue helicopters and supporting aircraft dispatched from Udorn and Nakon Phanom airfields in Thailand. The HH-53s were placed in a holding position about 20 miles northwest of the crash site while other aircraft attempted to locate Mallon and Panek.

Two MiG-21s, reportedly from the NVAF's 921st Flight Regiment, made a single pass at the holding area and were able to hit one of the HH-53s (serial # 66-14434, call sign JOLLY GREEN 71) with an air-to-air missile (the NVAF pilot reportedly was Vu Ngoc Dinh, a North Vietnamese ace with 6 kills). JOLLY GREEN 71 exploded and disintegrated in flight, involving its six crewmen in an apparently unsurvivable crash.

All eight men initially were classed as "Missing in Action":

  • F-105G 63-8329, 354th TFS:
    • Capt Richard J. Mallon, Portland, OR, pilot
    • Capt Robert J. Panek, Chicago, IL, EWO.

  • HH-53B 66-14434, 40th ARRS:
    • Major Holly G. Bell, Beaumont, TX, pilot;
    • Capt Leonard C. Leeser, Floral Park, NY, copilot;
    • SMSgt William D. Pruett, Bluefield, VA, pararescueman;
    • MSgt William C. Sutton, Goldsboro, NC, pararescueman;
    • SSgt William C. Shinn, Woodland, CA, flight engineer; and
    • SSgt Gregory L. Anderson, Wheaton, IL, 601st Photo Sqdn photographer

The Air Force convened a Board of Inquiry to consider the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss of JOLLY GREEN 71; in April 1970 the Board concluded that the crash was not survivable and the status of the six crewmen was changed to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered.

There are conflicting reports with respect to the SEABIRD 02 crew. Official reports indicate that neither the aircraft wreckage or the two crewmen were located, but the POW Network site includes an unofficial report attributed to another member of the 354th TFS that "both men were seen in a clearing within the hour, being surrounded [by enemy troops], stripped to their shorts, and holding their hands in the air." However, in 1992 National Security Agency radio intercepts were declassified; those intercepts included North Vietnamese radio messages to the effect that neither Mallon nor Panek survived the shootdown. In any case Mallon and Panek were not reported as captured by the North Vietnamese and the POWs released in 1973 had no knowledge of them. The Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the two men, Mallon on 23 September 1975 and Panek on 6 July 1978.

On 15 December 1988 a number of human remains were repatriated. Of these, 33 were ultimately identified, including the remains of Captain Richard Mallon (announced 18 Apr 1989), Captain Robert Panke (04 May 1989), and Major Holly Bell (01 Jun 1989). As of 02 Oct 2005 the remains of the other five men from JOLLY GREEN 71 have not been recovered.

Compiled from several sources, including
the POW Network
Task Force Omega
and VHPA/USAF records.

The remains of
Richard Joseph Mallon, Jr,
Captain, United States Air Force,
were buried on 24 April 1989 in Plot R-0-1829,
Willamette National Cemetery,
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon,
among other men of courage and integrity.

On 07 March 1998,
Richard Joseph Mallon,
Private First Class, United States Army (WW II),
was buried in Plot R-0-1829 beside his son.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009