Herman Hiram Ritchie

310TH ACS, 315TH ACG, 13TH AF
United States Air Force
26 February 1935 - 13 January 1966
Okmulgee, OK
Panel 04E Line 071

13TH AF C-123 315TH ACG
USAF Pilot

DFC, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Herman H Ritchie

The database page for Herman Hiram Ritchie

25 Mar 2004

American Legion member Eddie Goliat found in his attic a box containing medals, citations, newspaper clippings, and a photograph of Captain Ritchie but was not able to find Captain Ritchie's relatives so the items could be returned to them. When a local search had no success The American Legion national headquarters were called for help. They published Captain Ritchie's photograph and a story in the April, 2004 "The American Legion" magazine with the headline "Air Force captain's survivors sought":

Air Force captain's survivors sought

Most people consider cleaning the attic to be a household drudgery. However, when Legionnaire Eddie Goliat of Indianapolis went to work on his, he uncovered a strange surprise: military decorations and other memorabilia belonging to U.S. Air Force Capt. Herman H. Ritchie, who was killed in 1966 in Vietnam.

Among the personal items, Goliat found citations for the Distinquished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart, all awarded posthumously, as well as some yellowed newspaper clippings describing the wedding ceremony of then-2nd Lt. Ritchie to Elizabeth Joann Coburn in June 1956 at an Air Force base in Harlingen, Texas. The citations were original copies, all in excellent condition. Goliat wanted to return the keepsakes to Ritchie's family, but wasn't sure how to locate survivors.

A member of Greenwood Post 252 near Indianapolis, Goliat talked to fellow Legionnaires hoping someone could find the family. Sons of The American Legion Squadron Adjutant Kevin Brislen contacted National Headquarters, which then contacted VA and learned that Ritchie and his wife had children before his death. After Ritchie's death, the children received VA benefits for a number of years. However, since the VA benefits ended several years ago, the last known addresses for Ritchie's children were no longer valid.

"Members of the post are hoping to locate someone in this man's family," Brislen said. "These are prestigious awards, and we're sure the family would want to have them as a remembrance. We're hoping to find a family member to return them to."

The newspaper clipping indicates that Ritchie and his bride graduated from Okmulgee High School in Oklahoma. Ritchie attended Oklahoma University. Coburn attended Texas Southmost College. At the time of the wedding, Ritchie's parents - the J. H. Ritchies - resided in Okmulgee. His bride's family, the Louis Morrison Coburns, resided in Brownsville, Texas.

Anyone with information about Ritchie's family is encouraged to contact Steve Smithson, American Legion National Headquarters, at (317) 630-1406 or ssmithson@legion.org.

National Headquarters quickly heard from several Legion members, have contacted Captain Ritchie's family and have made plans to get all the items back to the family.

Photo courtesy of Eddie Goliat
article courtesy of The American Legion
Both used with permission

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On the night of 13 Jan 1966 a C-123B transport (tail number 55-4519) of the 310th Air Commando Squadron was providing flareship support for a flight of A-1E Skyraiders from the 1st ACS. The Skyraiders in turn were attacking VC positions near An Khe.

As one of the Skyraiders pulled off target after delivering ordnance it collided with the circling flareship. Both aircraft crashed; there were no survivors. The dead were

  • Aboard C-123B 55-4519
    • Capt Herman H. Ritchie, Okmulgee, OK, 310th ACS, pilot
    • Capt Warren L. Anderson, San Jose, CA, 310th ACS, copilot
    • SSgt Byron H. Crotwell, Jackson, MS, 310th ACS
    • TSgt Thomas A. Fodaro, Syracuse, NY, 6253rd Cbt Spt Grp
    • SSgt Edward J. Hincewicz, Scranton, PA, 310th ACS
    • TSgt Irwin L. Hoffman, Elmhurst, NY, 310th ACS

  • Aboard A-1E 52-133989
    • Capt Robert N. Middlebrooks, Ariton, AL, 1st ACS
The 310th served in Vietnam for 6 years, under going several name changes. Activated as the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron, Assault, on 24 May 1963, it became the 310th Air Commando Squadron, Troop Carrier, on 8 Mar 1965; the 310th Air Commando Squadron, Tactical Airlift, on 1 Aug 1967; the 310th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Aug 1968; and the 310th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 Jan 1970. The squadron was inactivated on 15 Nov 1972.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
an American Legion member.
E-Mail may be forwarded via the
25 Mar 2004

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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 03/25/2004