David Joseph Phillips, Jr

United States Air Force
02 May 1934 - 03 July 1966
Miami Beach, Florida
Panel 08E Line 126

USAF Pilot

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

The database page for David Joseph Phillips, Jr

25 Apr 2003

YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN DAVID, your bracelet is worn with great pride and I will keep the vigil for you, until "YOU" are brought back home.


Vikki L. Wells

Notes from The Virtaul Wall

There is no dispute that Captain David J. Phillips, flying F-5C tail number 64-13319 out of Bien Hoa Air Base, was shot down on 03 July 1966, nor that it was decided that he died in the crash with the status of Killed in Action/Body not recovered with a casualty date of 03 July 1966.

However, there are conflicting views on the details of his loss. The POW Network biography states that

"Capt. David J. Phillips Jr. was a Freedom Fighter pilot in Vietnam. On July 3, 1966, he was flying near the western coastline of South Vietnam several miles south of the Cambodian border when his aircraft was hit by enemy fire, crashed and exploded. Capt. Phillips was declared Killed, Body Not Recovered. His aircraft crashed on the coastline about 15 miles northwest of the city of Rach Gia in Kien Giang Province, South Vietnam."
while Hobson's Vietnam Air Losses contains the following:
"The [10th Fighter Commando Squadron] lost its second aircraft and pilot on 3 July when Capt Phillips was shot down by small arms fire as he was about to drop napalm on a VC position five miles west of Ben Cat, 20 miles north of Saigon."
The following news story was placed on the wires in March 2003:

Dogs enlist in hunt for elusive Vietnam War dead

On July 3, 1966, David Joseph Phillips's fighter jet was hit by automatic weapons fire during a mission over Vietnam.

He has been listed as missing in action ever since.

His case is like many from the Vietnam War in which investigators often have to work with very little information to try to locate remains.

In Phillips's case, a witness told provincial authorities he had retrieved and buried body parts but the witness has since been rendered silent by a stroke.

Now investigators for the first time are using sniffer dogs. . . .

The search in Hon Dat, a rural area of rice and fruit farmers in southernmost Kien Giang province, is one of the tough cases, classified as an "isolated burial" of the suspected remains of 32-year-old Phillips.

"After the dogs scanned the area, the dogs actually alerted us to this one place," anthropologist Sam Connell said, patting the patch of dirt next to a 40-square-foot pit being scoured for bones, personal effects and wreckage fragments.

The dogs have stirred up hope among the volunteers of the Joint Task Force Full Accounting whose mission since 1992 has been to recover Vietnam War era remains from Southeast Asia. . . .

Like hundreds of others before, the mission in Hon Dat, a former Viet Cong stronghold, involves hard manual labor of digging, transferring buckets of dirt and sifting for clues in hot weather. A dozen U.S. military members are on this team.

About 35 villagers have been hired for the bucket brigade and sifting, with the Americans who have been trained to recognize bones doing the digging, which is taking place in an orchard. But even the experts are sometimes fooled.

"We had some nice looking roots that we thought were remains," Connell said. . . .

By about a week into the dig, the team had uncovered pieces of wreckage but no human remains. Near the pit, tiny yellow flags dot the ground where the jet was reported to have crashed.

Capt. Octave MacDonald, the team leader, who has been on a dozen MIA missions, concedes it can be disappointing to go away from a site without having found any traces of a serviceman. But he believes the effort should not stop.

"I'd like to think that if I fall in combat that my brothers will come out there looking for me," he said.

The Vietnamese say they hope their own dead might also be recovered during the process and that they sympathize with the families of MIAs.

"We know that relatives of those who died in Vietnam are waiting for their remains," said Nguyen Van Hung, a Kien Giang province official.

By Christina Toh-Pantin.
Copyright Reuters News Agency
March 2003
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

In this instance it appears that the POW Network correctly located the site of the loss, and that Hobson is incorrect ... Hon Dat District, Kien Giang Province, is well to the southwest of Saigon.

Captain Phillips' remains were repatriated on 20 April 2004 and identified on 14 Sep 2004. The Defense Department publicly announced Captain Phillips' identification in a press release dated 22 Jun 2005. The following article is from the 03 July 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Soldier gets proper burial after 39 years
By David A. Markiewicz

Davida Josephine Stubbs never got to meet her father, the man she was named for, when he was alive.

Friday, she finally got to bring him home.

Thirty-nine years after U.S. Air Force Capt. David Joseph Phillips was shot down and reported missing during combat in South Vietnam, his recently discovered remains were returned to Savannah in a green wool military blanket pinned to a decorated soldier's uniform like the kind he would have worn.

"I slid my hand in there between the blanket and the suit," said Stubbs who, with her two sisters, had helped bring their father's remains back this week from a military laboratory in Hawaii where they had been conclusively identified.

"Let me tell you," she said, "that was a moment."

There will be plenty more moments today when Phillips is laid to rest during a full military graveside service in a historic cemetery along the Savannah River.

The theme of the ceremony, which will feature a military flyover in the missing man formation, is "Home at Last."

Phillips' closest survivors, his three daughters and his brother, say that's fitting.

Since July 3, 1966, when Phillips' F5 Tiger jet went down in a thicket of mangrove trees near Pho Son, relatives have wondered whether he would ever return.

For a long, torturous time, they even wondered whether he might return alive.

In 1984, Phillips' wife, Peggy, was notified that her husband had been seen alive in a POW camp. The rumor was soon discredited, but the hope that it created threw the family into upheaval.

Stubbs recalls her mother considering a trip to Vietnam to try and find the truth herself.

"Mom went through a roller coaster," she said. "She talked so many times about getting on a plane and going over there."

Phillips' brother, Richard, said their mother could never believe her son was dead. One time, Richard Phillips recalled, she was sure she saw him in a Savannah restaurant, obviously injured and bandaged in hospital garb, escorted by other soldiers.

"She was convinced it was him," he said.

Richard Phillips said he never believed anyone could survive a crash in the plane his brother flew, as it was delicate.

Still, there was no answer. Not for Peggy Phillips, who died in 1989 never knowing for sure if her husband was alive or dead.

The hardest part for her mother, Stubbs recalled, was worrying that her husband was undergoing daily torture, as the years turned into decades. The truth came when an excavation of the crash site in spring 2004 uncovered human remains.

Neither Phillips' wife nor his mother will be at Bonaventure Cemetery. But those who remember him, like Richard, and those who don't, like Stubbs, unborn when her father was killed, will be there. And they will have some peace at last.

"I'm so happy we have some resolution to this," Richard Phillips said. "We finally have an answer."

David A. Markiewicz
© The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
03 July 2005
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

Bonaventure Cemetery is located in Savannah, Georgia.

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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