Richard Michael Mancini

Aviation Electrician 2nd Class
United States Navy
17 February 1937 - 11 January 1968
Amsterdam, NY
Panel 34E Line 030



Richard M Mancini

Navy Aircrew

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

The database page for Richard Michael Mancini

14 May 2003

After 35 years we welcome you home to Amsterdam and to a hero's reception. You did your duty as all of Amsterdam's sons did during that awful time. We knew you would one day return. We never forgot you, but always remembered your sacrifice. Our lives went forward with the knowledge that this was possible because of men like you. May God grant you and your family the peace so deserved.

A memorial initiated by a resident of Amsterdam, NY,
Joseph Inglese

Mission Notes

NVA and VC elements in South Vietnam were absolutely dependent on men and materiel transported down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos ... if these supplies could be cut off, the enemy forces in South Vietnam would wither in place. Accordingly, the Trail was of considerable interest throughout the war. One method of intelligence gathering involved the emplacement of acoustic and seismic sensors along the trail; these sensors transmitted data by radio to a processing facility at Nakon Phanom RTAFB in Thailand, where the "take" was used to direct strike missions.

Navy Observation Squadron 67 (VO-67) was formed to provide a highly accurate method of delivering the sensors. VO-67 flew modified SP-2E Neptune aircraft, designated the OP-2E, and took up residence at Nakon Phanom in November 1967. VO-67's first loss occurred on 11 January 1968, when OP-2E BuNo 131436 failed to return from a sensor seeding mission conducted in Laos during a period of bad weather. Since search-and-rescue operations failed to locate either aircraft or crew, the crewmen were classed as Missing in Action. On 23 January a USAF A-1 pilot spotted aircraft wreckage on a mountainside near Ban Napoung. An O-2 from the 23rd TASS took handheld photography of the crash site, which was on a sheer cliffside about 200 feet below the top of a 4600' peak. Topography and enemy presence made a ground search impractical, but it was determined that the aircraft was indeed the missing OP-2E and that the crash was not survivable. On 23 Feb 1968 the crew's status was changed from MIA to Killed in Action, Body not Recovered. The crew consisted of

  • CDR Delbert Austin Olson, pilot
  • LTJG Denis Leon Anderson, copilot
  • LTJG Arthur Charles Buck, navigator
  • LTJG Philip Paul Stevens, copilot
  • Aviation Electrician 2nd Class Richard Michael Mancini
  • Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Michael Land Roberts
  • Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Donald Nellis Thoresen
  • Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Kenneth Harry Widon
  • Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Gale Robert Siow
In addition to the nine men, the squadron's mascot, a small dog named Snoopy, was aboard the aircraft.

So matters stood for some 25 years. Beginning in 1993, JTFFA teams attempted to locate and excavate the wreckage. After three failures, a fourth team located the wreckage in 1996 and retrieved human remains, two dogtags, and one ID card. Additional excavations were carried out in March 2001 and February/March 2002; these excavations recovered additional remains. Although a large proportion of the remains could not be individually identified, there were identifiable remains from each of the nine men. Three bone fragments came from a small-to-medium-sized domestic dog ... Snoopy too had come home.

Petty Officer Mancini's remains were turned over to his son in May 2003 for transportation home. He will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on May 20, 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 08/10/2009