Name:  John Russell Hills
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force
Unit:  1st Air Commando Squadron
2nd Air Division 
Pleiku Airbase, South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 25 November 1925
Home of Record: South Bend, IN
Date of Loss: 14 February 1966
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  152558N 1070100E (YC164071)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  A1E "Skyraider"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)


SYNOPSIS:   With its fantastic capability to carry a wide range of ordnance (8,000 pounds of external armament), great flight range (out to 3,000 miles), and the ability to absorb punishment, the single-seat Douglas A1 Skyraider became one of the premier performers in the close air support and attack mission role (nickname: Spad) and RESCAP mission role (nickname: Sandy). The Skyraider served the Air Force, Navy and Marines faithfully throughout the war in Southeast Asia.

On 14 February 1966, Major John R. Hills, pilot, departed Pleiku Airbase, South Vietnam in a flight conducting an armed reconnaissance mission over the extremely rugged, isolated jungle covered mountains approximately 22 miles west-southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border, Saravane Province, Laos; and 50 miles west-southwest of Kham Duc, South Vietnam.

As Major Hills made his third attack pass against an enemy target, his aircraft was seen to crash into the top of a hill and explode upon impact. Because another aircraft attacking the same target an hour earlier was hit in the engine by ground fire, it was believed that John Hills' Spad was struck by the enemy gun from the same emplacement that crippled the first aircraft.

An aerial search operation immediately examined the crash site for any signs of the downed pilot, but found none. Likewise, the heavy enemy presence in the area prevented a ground search in and around the Spad's wreckage. Because it was believed there was virtually no chance the pilot ejected his damaged aircraft prior to the crash, John Hills was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

While the fate of Major Hills is in little doubt, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, 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, 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.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and were prepared to be wounded, killed, or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they proudly served.