On November 15, 1966, US Army Capt. Harry M. Ravenna, pilot; and US Marine Corps Cpl. John C.Keiper, passenger, were flying a U6A aircraft (serial #541723) on a routine flight from Dong Ha to Da Nang. Keiper was assigned to Helicopter Attack Maintenance Squadron 16, Marine Air Group 16. His role on this mission is unclear from public record.
Ravenna was assigned to the 138th Aviation Company, 224th U.S. Army Security Agency Battalion (Aviation), U.S. Army Security Agency Group, Vietnam. All missions of this agency were highly classified during the war, and secret cover designations (Radio Research Units) were used instead of the actual unit designations on station lists and reports. The 138th was based at Da Nang.
Ravenna filed a VFR (visual flight rules) flight plan, but ran into poor weather conditions. He radioed Dong Ha and requested radar guidance. At 1430 hours, he passed into Da Nang airfield radar control and radioed, "Lonely Ranger 723, heading 125, 3000 feet, estimating Da Nang at 40, request radar. Presently on instruments."
Having trouble bringing him onto radar screen, Da Nang instructed Ravenna to activate his transponder, but this did not improve radar contact, so they asked his location, which he gave as 45 nautical miles from Dong Ha. Da Nang instructed him to recontact Dong Ha (believing he was out of Da Nang range and still in that of Dong Ha). Ravenna acknowledged the transmission, radio contact was broken, and never resumed.
Ravenna and Keiper were last believed to be in South Vietnam about halfway between Da Nang and the city of Hue. Later investigation concluded that on his present course, had it been followed, Ravenna's aircraft would have impacted with the side of a mountain in that vicinity. The hostile threat in the area prevented extensive search, and all efforts to discover the fate of Ravenna and Keiper have failed.
Keiper and Ravenna are among nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from the war in Vietnam. Today, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government that indicate that men are alive still, held in captivity in Southeast Asia. Thus far, official policy is to state that "conclusive proof" is not yet available. Detractors state that proof is in hand, but the will to act on that proof does not exist. As long as even ONE American is alive, held against his will, we must do everything in our power to achieve his release. Never Forget those our Government left behind.
They Belong Walking On or Planted In AMERICAN SOIL--Nothing Less!
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