Richard C Yeend, Jr

United States Air Force
11 October 1938 - 09 June 1968
Mobile, AL
Panel 58W Line 017



Silver Star

USAF Pilot

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

The database page for Richard C Yeend, Jr

05 Feb 2003

I have recently adopted this POW/MIA from Operation Just Cause . I would just like to have his name placed on The Virtual Wall. He is located on the real Wall at Panel 58W -- Line 17.

From a friend of POW/MIAs,
Erik Veenkant
1428 Ridgewood Dr., Lillian Al 36549

Mission Notes

On 9 June 1968 a section of Marine A-4 Skyhawks were targeted against a NVA base area southwest of Hue. One of the Marines, 1st Lt Walter R. Schmidt (A-4E BuNo 151080), was hit while on a delivery run and ejected, landing in the middle of the NVA encampment area. He established contact via emergency radio, advising that he had a broken leg and that NVA troops were approaching. An Air Force HH-3E, Jolly Green 22, made three attempts to pick Schmidt up before being forced from the area due to low fuel. Following suppressive air strikes a second HH-3E (hull number 67-14710, piloted by USCG LT Jack C. Rittichier) made another attempt. As Jolly Green 23 approached Schmidt's position it was hit by enemy fire and burst into flame. Other aircrew watched as the HH-3E crashed and exploded in a small clearing; no-one escaped from the burning wreckage.

Two things became apparent during further attempts to pick up 1st Lt Schmidt -

  • the NVA troops were too well dug in to be forced away by air strikes, and
  • they had established a very effective "flak trap" around the downed Marine, effectively using him as bait for the SAR helicopters.
Schmidt had gone down at about 1020 local time; voice contact with him was lost at about 1415 local and was not regained. During the final pick-up attempt at about 1700 local, the HH-3's flight engineer spotted 1st Lt Schmidt lying prone on the ground, unmoving and partially covered by his parachute.

At this point the Danang SAR coordination center, acting on recommendations from the on-scene commander, halted further SAR efforts and directed the SAR forces to return to base. According to one report, ground forces inserted on 10 June failed to locate any sign of 1st Lt Schmidt.

Five men were lost, four dead and one missing in action:

  • From the 37th ARRS (HH-3E 67-14710):
  • From VMA-121 (A-4E BuNo 151080):
    • 1st Lt Walter R. Schmidt, USMC (MIA)
The crewmen of Jolly Green 23 were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. 1st Lt Schmidt was never reported as being in enemy hands, and it was concluded that he probably had been killed while resisting capture. The Secretary of the Navy approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Schmidt on 24 Oct 1973.

Thomas Pilsch's site contains considerable documentation regarding the SAR effort, including scanned copies of the after-action report and SAR coordinator logs. The "Check Six" site has a well-written narrative description of the events and a compilation of the aircraft and units involved in the SAR effort. Finally, the Jolly Green site contains a report that the wreckage of Jolly Green 23 has been located and crew gear recovered.

20 April 2003

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The wreckage of Jolly Green 23 was located in 2002 and excavated in early 2003. Human remains were recovered from the wreckage and repatriated:
"Two flag-draped caskets ceremoniously carried off a C-130 transport contained remains that could be those of an F-4 Phantom crewman shot down in March of 1972, and a Coast Guard and three Air Force crew members of an HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter that was lost in June of 1968."
From The Honolulu Advertiser,
Saturday, February 15, 2003
If the remains from the F-4 do turn out to be those of a crewman it will be one of the following four F-4 aircrewmen lost in Laos in March 1972:
  • F-4E 69-7552, 4th TFS (Da Nang), 6 March 1972, 1LT Carter A. Howell and 1LT Stephen A. Rusch
  • F-4D 66-8792, 8th TFS (Ubon), 23 Mar 1972, Maj James E. Whitt and Capt James T. Jackson
The Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu will do the forensic testing to identify the remains.


The remains of the Jolly Green crew were repatriated on 14 Feb 2003 and identification announced on 12 Sep 2003. Walter Schmidt still is missing.

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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