CLARK, JERRY PROSPER

Name:  Jerry Prosper Clark
Rank/Branch: Warrant Officer 3rd Class/US Army
Unit:  568th Signal Company,
41st Signal Battalion




Date of Birth: 08 August 1940 (Pine Bluff, AR)
Home of Record: Davenport, IA
Date of Loss: 15 December 1965
Country of Loss:  South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates:  133834N 1091351E (CR087088)
Click coordinates to view maps




Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  O1D "Bird Dog"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   Because the Cessna O1D Bird Dog was built to withstand a great deal of punishment and suited to conduct a wide variety of tasks, it was used virtually throughout the entire war. The US Army used the Bird Dog primarily as a liaison and observation aircraft. It brought not only an aerial method of locating targets, but the rudiments of a system of strike coordination between different types of aircraft employed in the air war, as well as coordination between different branches of the service who were operating in the same area. The Bird Dog was also used very successfully as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) since it could fly low and slow carrying marker rounds of ammunition to identify enemy positions for the attack aircraft.

On 15 December 1965, then WO1 Jerry P. Clark was the pilot of an O1D aircraft (serial #55-4686) conducting a reconnaissance mission over jungle covered mountains south of the major port city of Qui Nhon, Khanh Hoa Province, South Vietnam. During the flight WO1 Clark experienced an in-flight emergency and radioed Qui Nhon Airfield stating his engine battery exploded and he was low on fuel.

1st Lt. Robert L. Taylor, the pilot of a UH1B helicopter operating nearby, heard WO1 Clark's emergency call and tried to intercept Clark to provide him with whatever assistance he might need in his attempt to return to Qui Nhon airfield. Shortly thereafter, Jerry Clark transmitted again reporting that the Bird Dog's engine "quit" and he was heading for the beach.

Within a short time, 1st Lt. Taylor flew over the beach. He had no trouble in locating the Bird Dog's fuselage in shallow water near the hamlet of Tuy Phong approximately 8 miles due south of Qui Nhon Airfield. Immediately additional search and rescue (SAR) ground personnel, aircraft and vessels were dispatched to the area.

When search teams examined the crash site, they did not find Jerry Clark's survival gear in or around the crash site. Further, they found no blood in the aircraft or signs of an enemy attack upon it. Under the circumstances, even though the US Army believed there was an excellent chance he had been captured by communist forces known to be operating in the area, Jerry Clark was listed Missing in Action.

During the search, villages in the surrounding area were canvassed for information about the missing pilot. Stories compiled from villagers about his fate differ. One indicated WO1 Clark safely evacuated the aircraft, swam to shore, and then swam back to the aircraft to get a weapon. He then returned to shore and fled into the hills without incident. Another villager's report claimed that Jerry Clark swam ashore, returned to the aircraft, but before returning to land once again was shot by a sniper and fell into the water as though mortally wounded. In this version there was no indication that the Vietnamese made an attempt to capture him if he were only wounded, or to recover his remains if he had been killed. Likewise, no additional information surfaced about his fate.

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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam were call 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.