Richard E. Nyhof
Technical Sergeant
16TH SPECIAL OPS SQDN, 8TH TAC FTR WING, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
Fremont, California
August 12, 1949 to June 18, 1972
RICHARD E NYHOF is on the Wall at Panel W1, Line 46

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07 Oct 2006

I wore the MIA bracelet for Richard Nyhof during the 70's. I still have my bracelet and I've often wondered about him and what was the outcome of his time in Vietnam.

When I wore this bracelet I was more than likely 14 years old, and probably very naive about the War. I would like to say that I did keep the memory alive of this person and would like to return his bracelet to any family members who might want it.

If anyone from this family wants to contact me, please do so.

P. Johnson
pjjcox@bellsouth.net


 

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 16th Special Operations Squadron, based at Ubon, Thailand, flew the AC-130 SPECTRE gunship. On the night of 18 June 1972, an AC-130A Spectre gunship (tail number 55-0043, call sign "Spectre 11") launched on a night armed reconnaissance mission to attack NVA along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The crew consisted of 15 men:
  • Capt Paul F. Gilbert, pilot;
  • Capt. Robert A. Wilson, co-pilot;
  • Maj. Robert H. Harrison, navigator;
  • Major Gerald F. Ayres, sensor operator;
  • Capt. Mark G. Danielson, electronic warfare officer;
  • Capt. Gordon L. Bocher, fire control officer;
  • 2nd Lt. Robert V. Reid, low light sensor operator;
  • TSgt Richard M. Cole, flight engineer;
  • SSgt. Leon A. Hunt, aerial gunner;
  • SSgt. Richard E. Nyhof, aerial gunner;
  • SSgt. Larry J. Newman, aerial gunner;
  • MSgt. Jacob E. Mercer, aerial gunner;
  • SSgt. Stanley L. Lehrke, aerial gunner;
  • SSgt Donald H. Klinke, illuminator operator; and
  • SSgt. William B. Patterson, illuminator operator.
According to witnesses in another aircraft and survivor debriefs, the AC-130 was hit by an SA-7 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. The AC-130 then broke up in flight and crashed. Although initial reports placed the crash location in Laos, subsequent SAR efforts (and later on-the-ground investigation) placed the location just over the border within South Vietnam, near the village of A Hua in Thua Thien Province.

At least three men were thrown clear of the aircraft as it broke up and parachuted safely to the ground. SAR efforts were begun at daybreak and Capt. Bocher, 2nd Lt. Reid and SSgt. Patterson were successfully picked up. The three men are reported to have stated, during debrief, that they saw at least one additional parachute.

Although the SAR efforts continued for six days, no trace of the rest of the crew was found. No ground search was possible due to the intense enemy presence in the region. When the formal search was terminated, the remaining 12 crewmen were declared Missing in Action.

At this point, matters become less certain. There were reports that some of the Spectre 11 crewmen had been captured, but in a 12 November 1993 letter Major General Thomas H. Needham, then Commander, Joint Task Force - Full Accounting, stated that

"4. In June 1993, a joint investigation team located two witnesses who produced dog tags relating to two individuals (Harrison, Wilson) involved in this incident, along with three flight helmets. The team photographed the dog tags and helmets which were retained by the witnesses. The team traveled to the crash site and conducted a survey. During the survey, the team recovered portions of a flight suit and survival vest. The team also observed the tail assembly from a C-130 aircraft.

"5. During August and September 1993, a joint team excavated the crash site and recovered teeth, bone fragments, and ID media (Ayers) from the site. The material evidence recovered from the site confirms a minimum of four individuals were aboard the aircraft at impact. Additionally, a data plate, 20mm cannon, 40mm Bofers gun, and a UHF radio control panel recovered from the site, confirms that the aircraft was an AC-130 aircraft. According to JTF-FA records, the REFNO 1879 aircraft is the only AC-130 which crashed within 40 kilometers of this site.

"6. Analysis of the reporting from on-scene SAR forces, survivor statements, and testimony from villagers who visited the crash site, indicate that only three of the fifteen crew members exited the aircraft before impact. JTF-FA files contain no evidence which suggests that any of the twelve remaining crewmembers survived the crash of the aircraft."

The US government holds that the remains recovered and other evidence is sufficient evidence that the twelve men died in the crash. Three of the crewmen were identified individually from the recovered remains - Major Gerald F. Ayers, Captain Mark Danielson, and SMSgt Jacob Mercer. On 17 November 1994, a group burial of the co-mingled remains of the AC-130A Spectre gunship crew was held at Arlington National Cemetery.

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