|Name:||Carl Wilson Drake|
|Rank/Branch:||Major/US Air Force|
366th Tactical Fighter Wing
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||06 June 1933|
|Home of Record:||Roseville, OH|
|Date of Loss:||18 June 1970|
|Country of Loss:||Cambodia|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered|
|Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:||F4E "Phantom II"|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Harry L. McLamb (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell F4 Phantom II, which was flown 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 to 2300 miles depending on stores and type of mission. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable, and handled well at all 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 to be one of the "hottest" planes around.
When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos and Cambodia 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.
On 18 June 1970, Major Harry L. McLamb, pilot; and Major Carl W. Drake, navigator, comprised the crew of an F4E that was conducting an interdiction mission to stop the flow of NVA supplies through the southern end of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail in Kratie Province, Cambodia. Their aircraft, call sign "Gunfighter 21," was the lead aircraft in a flight of two under the control of the on sight Forward Air Controller (FAC), "Covey 517." Weather conditions during this day mission were scattered to broken clouds to 3500 feet with 6 miles plus visibility.
Gunfighter flight was directed to attack an enemy truck that was spotted traveling along Route 13, a primary north-south road running through generally flat and extremely dense jungle. Gunfighter 21 rolled in on the target at a 15 to 20 degree dive angle and at a speed of 400 to 450 knots. As Harry McLamb and Carl Drake approached the target, the Phantom was struck by enemy ground fire and broke into pieces when it hit the ground just to the east of Route 13. At the time of loss, it was suspected that Gunfighter 21 was downed by small arms fire. The loss location was also 5 miles north of Phum Prak Preah, 8 miles east of the Mekong River, 22 miles south-southeast of Streng Treng and 54 miles north of Kratie.
Gunfighter 22 searched the area for signs of survivors for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, the wingman saw no parachutes and heard no emergency beepers emanating from the jungle floor below. Because of the heavy enemy activity in the area, no ground search was possible. Harry McLamb and Carl Drake were immediately listed Missing in Action. Two days later, on 20 June, evidence of death was received through US intelligence sources indicating that both men died in the crash of their aircraft, and each man's status was changed to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
While the fate of Maj. McLamb and Maj. Drake is not in doubt, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. 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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam and Cambodia were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances both on and off duty, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably ever occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.