russell, richard lee

Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: CCK Air Force Base, Taiwan - TDY to 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Tan Son Nhut ABSV
Date of Birth: 06 November 1946
Home City of Record: Snyder TX
Loss Date: 26 April 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 113803N 1063547E (XT745866)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: C130E
Refno: 1837

Other Personnel In Incident:
Harry Amesbury; Calvin E. Cooke; Richard E. Dunn; Donald R. Hoskins (all missing); Kurt F. Weisman (remains returned 1975).

Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.


From the CCK Air Force Base base in Taiwan, C-130 crews flew to different locations, including Korea, Borneo, Indonesia, Japan, Africa, etc. But most trips were to various bases in Vietnam for 3 week stays. Then the men would return to the
base in Taiwan for 3 days. On one such Vietnam tour, one C130E had a crew consisting of Harry A. Amesbury, pilot;
Richard L. Russell, navigator, Richard E. Dunn, loadmaster, Calvin C. Cooke, Donald R. Hoskins, and Kurt F. Weisman, crew members. This crew was TDY to 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam. On April 26, 1972, Amesbury's aircraft and crew were making a night drop of supplies to South Vietnamese forces trapped in An Loc,
South Vietnam (about 65 miles from Saigon). The provincial capitol had been under seige by North Vietnamese and
Viet Cong forces off and on since early April. Supply drops and air support were critically needed and often hampered by hostile forces outside the city. Upon approach to the drop site at a very low level, the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and was reported to be down. The men on-board the aircraft were declared Missing in Action. Supply drops were generally accomplished in one of two ways, both requiring that the plane be airborne, and flying at very low altitudes. Using one method, parachutes attached to the supply pallets were deployed. As the plane flew over, the parachutes pulled the cargo from the plane. Using another method, a hook attached to the cargo was dropped from the plane, affixed to some firm fixture on the ground. As the plane departed the area, the cargo was pulled out of the plane. Both required considerable skill under the best of circumstances.

​According to the Department of the Air Force, it received unspecified information that contained evidence of death for the crew members on May 5, 1972. The status of the missing men was changed to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. In February, 1975, non-American friendly forces recovered and returned the remains of Kurt Weisman. No information surfaced on the rest of the crew. All on-board had been assumed killed in the downing of the plane. If this is the case, why weren't the other remains recovered as well? Of the nearly 2500 Americans still missing in Southeast Asia, most can be accounted for one way or another. The U.S. Government has received nearly 10,000 reports of Americans still held prisoner in Southeast Asia, yet has not been able to find a way to free them, or to obtain information on a significant number of other Americans who may have perished.

The story:

While cleaning out the attic and going through old boxes, one of the owners here at Tempest Cycles, Inc. found a couple of POW/MIA wrist bands from the Vietnam War. We would love to get them back to the service members themselves or to the families. Please share this so that as many people as possible will see it. If you are the family of the service member please contact us at Tempest Cycles, Inc on Facebook or at

1) CMS Henry G. Gish of Pennsylvania USAF - Missing from LAOS as of 3/11/1968

2) 1st Lt. Richard L. Russell of Texas USAF – Missing from South Vietnam as of 4/26/1972

Please share the whole status, not just individual pictures or the contact info will not go out. Thanks

Gish, Henry Gerald

Name: Henry Gerald Gish
Rank/Branch: E5/US Air Force
Unit: TDY-Civilian/Lockheed
Date of Birth: 18 December 1946
Home City of Record: Lancaster PA
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (YH680600)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground:
Ground Refno: 2052

Other Personnel In Incident:
Clarence Blanton; James Calfee; James Davis; Willis Hall; Melvin Holland; Herbert Kirk; David Price; Patrick Shannon; Donald Springsteadah; Don Worley (all missing from Lima 85); Donald Westbrook (missing from SAR 13 March)

Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.

​When Henry Gish volunteered for a sensitive assignment called Project Heavy Green, his wife had to sign a secrecy agreement too. Gish, an Air Force man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian job with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be running Lima Site 85, a radar base in Laos, whose neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence. No one was to know. Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on a 5860-foot mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by sheer cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA. Unarmed US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin Delta to Hanoi. For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the men in place. When the attack came March 11, some were rescued by helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam. Donald Westbrook was flying one of 4 A1E's orbiting on stand-by to search for survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down March 13. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force destroyed Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of the enemy.

In mid-March, Doris Jean Gish was notified that Lima 85 had been overrun by enemy forces, and that her husband and the others who had not escaped had been killed. Many years later, she learned that was not the whole truth. Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and another indicates that 6 were captured. Information has been hard to get. The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was only declassified in 1983, and finally the wives could be believed when they said their husbands were missing in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown to their families for the first time in 1985. Doris Jean Gish and the other wives have talked and compared notes. They still feel there is a lot of information to be had. They think someone survived the attack on Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if their country will bring those men home.