Notes and Caveats
As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the information contained herein is a re-compilation of Chris Hobson's book Vietnam Air Losses. He did all the research and the incredible work of compiling all that data from many sources (see the Bibliography), determining what was credible, and writing the explanations. The book was published in 2001, but Chris was kind enough to do a substantial update in 2019. Many of the changes were related to identification of remains, but there was new information available in other realms, as well.
The explanations of the website itself, these Notes, Hints on How to Search, and other such administrative details are the product of Dave Lovelady's hand, as is the design of the website itself. In addition, the design, construction, and inputs into the database were done by him. He developed the Search Forms and the programming behind the scenes to enable the various types of searches, the presentation of search results, and the display of the details of a record from the database. Any errors or omissions or malfunction of the website or database are his fault.
The steely-eyed among us will notice that the spellings in the book and, therefore, in this website are British, rather than American. That's because Chris Hobson is British. You will notice words such as defence, organisation, programme, harbour, tyre, etc. Those are not typos. After all, we Americans are the ones that changed things. Deal with it.
Yes, we know the difference between Phantom and Phantom II, as well as Corsair and Corsair II. Since there were no original Phantoms (McDonnell FH-1, the first US jet aircraft to take off and land on an aircraft carrier) or Corsairs (F4U, venerable WWII and Korea veteran, which was still in service with Honduras in the late 60's) in the Southeast Asia theater, we saved ourselves, literally, thousands of keystrokes by referring to the modern versions as Phantom and Corsair. Besides, when pilots refer to those aircraft, they do not normally say "Phantom II" or "Corsair II".
We refer to "Disposition," which is the outcome for an individual involved in an aircraft loss. The terms require some explanation.
- "Survived" indicates that the individual did not die as a result of the incident being recorded.
- "POW" means that the individual was captured and became a Prisoner of War.
- "POW (died)" means that the individual was verified as captured but did not survive imprisonment and was not released.
- "POW (escaped)" means that the individual was verified as captured but subsequently escaped and remained free to make it back to friendly forces without being recaptured.
- "KIA" means Killed in Action, which is to say killed because enemy action is a contributory cause of the death or is most likely a contributing factor.
- "KWF" means Killed While Flying, which is reserved for those that died in theater, but there was no evidence that enemy action contributed to the death. Sometimes, distinguishing between KIA and KWF was a judgment call, and we take responsibility. We based our determination on the best verifiable evidence available.
- "DOW" means Died of Wounds. The difference between KIA or KWF and DOW is often whether the individual survived long enough to reach medical care in a clinic or hospital setting and subsequently died. It normally does not refer to an individual that was rescued but died in the SAR helicopter during the return flight.
- "Unknown" simply means that there is no verifiable record of what happened to the individual. This Disposition is not used to refer to someone that was known to be alive on the ground, in the presence of villagers or enemy troops, and subsequently was never heard from again. In those instances, we followed the judgment of the US government and declared them KIA.
- Note that we do not have a Disposition category of "MIA" for Missing in Action. There remains a great deal of controversy over the lack of accounting for many lost aviators; however, our designation of the fate of an individual should not be construed as concluding that the person is not alive and enduring prison to this day. We simply do not have sufficient evidence that the person is still alive to make that call any more than the US government does.
There are many sites around the internet with information about Vietnam, the aircraft, the squadrons, and the aircrews. A look at the Bibliography will hint at the size of the cache of information. There are also a great many memories of events that are now half a century along from those days. The data we have on this site came from a variety of sources and through diligent research efforts. We believe it is all true. We have not included anything that we don't believe to be true unless we include a caveat or an alternative explanation.
We anticipate that we will receive inputs from some that know a different story from the official version we have in our records (or one with more details). We invite those that were eye witnesses to an event to contact us and explain your vantage point. If we're satisfied that the eye witness account should be added to the record, we will do so while retaining the original text from Chris's research. A real world example of how that will be treated can be seen by putting the word "Lovelady" in the Narrative Search Form, where you will see how Dave Lovelady's experience as an on-scene SAR commander was added to the Narrative of a loss.
When a combat mission or set of missions occurred across two days, the record reflects the date of only the second day. The database does not have the ability to contain more than one date for one record, so that was our compromise.
There is no capability to search across a range of dates except by searching for an entire month or an entire year. One cannot search for events that occurred from 10-15 October 1968, for example.
"Home Base" refers to the home of the aircraft. "Base" also means "Ship." One can search for all losses originating from, for example, the USS Bon Homme Richard during the 1967 deployment by putting "bon homme" (without quotes—if you use quotes in the Upper Search Form, you will retrieve zero results) in the Home Base box and selecting 1967 from the Year dropdown.
Any of the search boxes in the Upper Search Form will accept parts of words; however, none of those boxes will accept any punctuation. The Boolean Search Operators are functional only in the Narrative Search Form at the bottom of the Search Forms page. See the Hints on How to Search for more details.
The First/Middle Name and Last Name search boxes will retrieve names of only aircrew or passengers in the aircraft that were lost. Searching those boxes will not retrieve the names of other persons involved in the event that were not in the lost aircraft. In a few instances, we did not know which aircraft the individuals were in, so their names are listed in the Narrative. Additionally, often individuals that were part of a mission (wingman or lead) or a rescue are mentioned in the Narrative. Accordingly, if one cannot find an individual by searching the Name boxes, try the Narrative Search Form. Just remember that the rules for using those two search forms are different. In the Upper Form, you can input portions of a name and cannot use any punctuation marks; in the Narrative Search Form, you cannot enter part of a name except by adding a wild card asterisk (*) at the end of the word, and you are encouraged to use the Boolean Search Operators to refine the search. Please refer to Hints on How to Search to improve your chances of finding what you seek.
© Chris Hobson and David Lovelady. All rights reserved.