COOK, KELLY FRANCIS

Name: Kelly Francis Cook
Rank/Branch: Colonel/US Air Force
Unit: 366th Tactical Fighter Wing 
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam                      

Date of Birth: 02 May 1922
Home of Record: Sioux City, IA
Date of Loss: 10 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171909N 1064629E (XE886156) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: James A. Crew (missing); 

REMARKS:  NO CONTACT

SYNOPSIS:   The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

On 10 November 1967, then Lt. Col. Kelly F. Cook, pilot, and 1st Lt. James A. Crew, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4C, call sign "Baffle 2," which departed DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam as the second aircraft in a flight of two. They were participating in a night strike operational mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Their intended flight path was from DaNang up the coastline to the target, which was located 14 miles southeast of major port city of Dong Hoi, and then return to DaNang.

The crew of the lead aircraft, "Baffle 1," consisted of Maj. James S. Morgan, pilot, and 1st Lt. Charles J. Huneycutt, co-pilot.

The two aircraft of Baffle flight had a time on target of 1815 Hours. Hillsboro, the airborne command and control aircraft, notified them that weather conditions in the target area precluded them from hitting their primary target. Hillsboro then directed Baffle flight to strike their alternate target since the weather conditions of an 8,000-foot high ceiling of broken cloud cover made it accessible.

According to the ground radar controller, Baffle flight was handed over to them so the flight could be monitored on radar for the attack run. At 1806 hours, a positive radar contact was made with both aircraft's radar beacons. The flight was turned to a heading that placed it on the desired flight path to the target at an altitude of 26,000 feet at a ground speed of 482 knots.

When Baffle flight was 3 minutes out from the target, they were on the correct heading. Baffle lead acknowledged the 3 minute, 1 minute and 30 second countdown to the bomb release point over the target. At 10 seconds away from the bomb release point, Baffle lead made his last radio call. Three seconds after the bombs should have been released, the radar operator monitoring the progress of this mission lost contact with both aircraft. Further, no "bombs away" call from Baffle flight was heard by the ground controller or the airborne control aircraft.

Several attempts were made by ground control to contact Baffle 1 and 2 without success. Hillsboro was then contacted to notify them of the situation, and its crew also tried to make radio contact with the missing flight members on all radio frequencies plus guard channel. When no one could raise Baffle 1 and 2 on the radio, ground control plotted the point where radar contact was lost, and that information was passed to the other on site aircraft so they could begin a visual and electronic search for Baffle flight.

The wreckage of Baffle 1 was found at Gia Ninh village, and the wreckage of Baffle 2 was located at Hong Thui village, which were adjacent villages. Because of the location of loss, no search and rescue effort was possible. Kelly Cook, James Crew, James Morgan and Charles Huneycutt were all immediately listed Missing in Action.

On 13 November 1967, Hanoi radio reported "3" American aircraft were shot down over Quang Binh Province on 10 November and US pilots were captured. In addition to the number of aircraft discrepancy, the time specified for the downing was off by more than 2 hours, and no names of the captured crewmen were given. According to a US intelligence report, it was believed that both Charles Huneycutt and James Crew safely ejected their respective aircraft, and it was suspected that Kelly Cook and James Morgan may not have been able to bail out although nothing was presented to support that statement.

On 3 November 1988, the Vietnamese returned the remains of Charles Huneycutt to US control. According to the US Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, those remains were positively identified on 28 September 1989 and returned to his family accordingly.

During a January 1993 Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) trip to Vietnam, US personnel conducted research in the North Vietnamese War Museum located in Hanoi. While there they found references in the Vietnamese "Accession Record", a logbook maintained during the war, pertaining to this loss incident.

In addition to that logbook, they found 2 brass 12.7mm shell casings reportedly those which shot down one of the Baffle flight aircraft by an all female detachment from Bo Ninh Hamlet, Quang Ninh District, Quang Binh Province. It also made reference to a plaque set up there which says that on 10 November 1967, at that spot, for the first time the female detachment shot down an American aircraft and captured the pilot. It goes on to say the detachment was given the North Vietnamese Government and Council's Exploitation Medal - their highest award, and that each girl was personally given an insignia by Ho Chi Minh.

Also in January 1993, partial remains reportedly of James Crew were brought out by JTFFA team members. To date those remains cannot be identified as him, or of any other American POW/MIA for that matter.

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.

Kelly Cook was an instructor at the US Air Force Academy prior to volunteering to go to Vietnam