Name:  Richard Carl Deuter
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Commander/US Navy
Unit:  Attack Squadron 196
 USS Ranger (CVA-61) 

Date of Birth: 15 February 1944
Home of Record: Chicago IL
Date of Loss: 22 November 1969 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  1610400N 1064500E (XC861963) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  A6A "Intruder"
Other Personnel in Incident: Cmdr. Richards (rescued)


SYNOPSIS:   With the addition of the Grumman A6A Intruder to its inventory, Navy and Marine Air Wings had the finest two-man, all-weather, low-altitude attack/bombing aircraft in the world. It displayed great versatility and lived up to the expectations of those who pushed for its development after the Korean War. At the time it was the only operational aircraft that had a self-contained all-weather bombing capacity including a moving target indicator mode. In this role it usually carried a bomb load of 14,000 pounds and was used rather extensively in the monsoon season not only in South Vietnam, but in Laos and over the heavily defended areas of North Vietnam. The Intruder was credited with successfully completing some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, and its' aircrews were among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.

On 22 November 1969 Cmdr. Richards, pilot, and then Lt. JG Richard C. Deuter, bombardier/navigator, comprised the crew of an A6A Intruder that launched from the deck of the USS Ranger. They were on a visual dive bombing mission under the control of an airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC) against an enemy position located in rugged, jungle covered mountains approximately 55 miles west of Hue, South Vietnam; 12 miles south of the La/North Vietnamese border and roughly 12 miles northeast of Ban Ralao, Salavan Province, Laos.

This area of eastern Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

At 1426 hours, the FAC assigned a target to the crew of the Intruder and they rolled into a normal dive bombing attack. At some point in the dive, probably just before bomb release, the aircraft was apparently hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire, became uncontrollable and began to disintegrate. Cmdr. Richards ordered Lt. JG Deuter to eject, then ejected himself. The aircraft continued to disintegrate and crashed into the rugged mountains below.

Cmdr. Richards immediately established radio contact with the FAC and transmissions from his emergency radio helped pinpoint his location for search and rescue (SAR) aircraft. He was rescued by helicopter approximately 30 minutes after landing. Search efforts continued for the bombardier/navigator, but no trace of him could be found. Richard Deuter was immediately listed Missing in Action.

Richard C. Deuter is among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. The Lao admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or the Paris Peace Accords since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, 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 and Laos were called upon to fly under 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.