Name: Ronald Alan Bois Claire 
Rank/Branch: Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class/US Navy 
Unit: Heavy Photo Reconnaissance Squadron 62 
Date of Birth: 7 December 1938 (Cleveland, OH)
Home of Record: Tucson, AZ
Date of Loss: 25 August 1967 
Country of Loss: SNorth Vietnam/Over water
Loss Coordinates: 191958N 1055159E (WG910377) 
Click coordinates to view (3) maps

Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA3B "Skywarrior"
Other Personnel In Incident: Edward Jacobs, Jr. and James Zavocky (missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  The Douglas RA3B was the reconnaissance version of the venerable A3 Skywarrior attack bomber. Operating from DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam and Don Muang Airbase, Thailand, the RA3s provided surveillance along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail with their infrared and video real-time cameras. Working with attack aircraft from the carrier air groups, the Skywarrior "fingered" the truck traffic for the bombers during the night when they were moving and during the day when they were hiding. They also carried COIR (camouflage detection) film that could detect the difference between living and dead foliage thereby spotlighting camouflaged enemy truck parks. Other conversions of the Skywarrior, which was nicknamed the "whale" because of its size, included airborne jamming and refueling tanker
On 25 August 1967, Cmdr. Edward J. Jacobs, Jr., pilot, Lt. JG James J. Zavocky, photo/navigator, and Petty Officer Ronald A. Bois Claire, flight mechanic/navigator, comprised the crew of an RA3B Skywarrior that was conducting a night reconnaissance mission. The flight route to the mission area required the aircrew to fly over water.

Radar contact was lost as the aircraft was nearing the North Vietnamese coastline. Their last known position was approximately 2 miles west of a small cluster of islands known as Hon Nghi Son, within a mile of mainland North Vietnam, and approximately 30 miles south of the major port city of Thanh Hoa. At the time radar contact was lost, there was also no radio transmission from Edward Jacobs, James Zavocky or Ronald Bois Claire indicating they were experiencing trouble with the aircraft. Further, there was no report made by any of the crew indicating they were receiving any enemy fire.

When no radio checks were initiated by the crew of the Skywarrior, which was standard operating procedure, the command and control center responsible for monitoring this mission tried to establish radio contact. When that failed, the center began a systematic check of all the airfields where it might have diverted to in case they experienced an in-flight emergency. When those efforts yielded no information about the missing aircraft, search and rescue (SAR) operations were immediately initiated. Electronic and visual searches were unable to locate any sign of the aircraft or its crew either in the off-shore water, along the coastline or over land. The reconnaissance aircraft simply vanished without a trace.

On 30 August, five days after the formal search operation began, it was terminated. At the same time, Cmdr. Jacobs, Lt. JG Zavocky and Petty Officer Bois Claire were declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered with the additional notation their remains were probably not recoverable.

While the fate of Edward Jacobs, James Zavocky and Ronald Bois Claire appears to be in little doubt since the US Navy believes they disappeared over water, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family and friends, and country if at all possible. However, for other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

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.

Pilots and aircrews 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.