Name: Theodore Springston, Jr.
Rank/Branch: Colonel/US Air Force
Unit: 13th Bomb Squadron 
Phan Rang Airbase, 
South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 23 November 1931
Home of Record: San Francisco, CA
Date of Loss: 03 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174000N 1062000E (XE533769)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B57B "Canberra"
Other Personnel in Incident: Joseph T. Kearns, Jr. (missing)


SYNOPSIS:   The B57 Canberra was a light tactical bomber that played a varied role in the Vietnam conflict. A veteran of operations Rolling Thunder and Steel Tiger, B57's from the 8th Tactical Bombing Squadron at Phan Rang, South Vietnam had also been equipped with infrared sensors for night strike operations in Tropic Moon II and III in the spring of 1967.

On 3 June 1967, then Major Theodore Springston, Jr., pilot; and Capt. Joseph T. Kearns, navigator, comprised the crew of a B57B, call sign Tanner," on a solo armed road reconnaissance mission. Their flight path was from Phan Rang Airbase to the target area and back to Phan Rang. The intended target was any target of opportunity in Route Package 1, the southernmost section of North Vietnam.

Tanner flight rendezvoused at a prearranged location with Alleycat flight, the on-site airborne control aircraft. At 1945 hours, Alleycat cleared Tanner flight into North Vietnam airspace to begin their mission. The last contact and known position placed Major Springston and Capt. Kearns in the area of the Ron Ferry located approximately 2 miles inland from the coastline, 3 miles southwest of Vinh Son and 32 miles north-northeast of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.

When Theodore Springston and Joseph Kearns failed to make further contact with the airborne controller, an electronic and visual search was initiated. No emergency beeper signals were heard, and no parachutes or wreckage was found. Because the loss was deep within enemy-held and heavily populated territory, no formal search and rescue (SAR) operation was possible. Both Theodore Springston and Joseph Kearns were immediately listed Missing in Action.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.