Name: Donald Richard Kemmerer 
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force 
Unit: 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron 
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 20 May 1941
Home of Record: Quakertown, PA
Date of Loss: 06 August 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 171300N 1070200E (YE162045) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: Albert L. Page, Jr. (missing) 


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 06 August 1967, Captain Albert L. Page, Jr., pilot, and then Captain Donald R. Kemmerer, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4C that departed DaNang Airbase on a morning strike mission over the southern portion of North Vietnam codenamed "Tally Ho." Their aircraft was the lead in a flight of two.

Upon arriving in the target area, Capt. Page established radio contact with the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) directing all air operations in the region. After providing the flight with currant mission information, the ABCCC handed the flight over to the on-site Forward Air Controller (FAC) who was responsible for directing their strike mission. Shortly thereafter, the FAC cleared the Phantoms to attack a specific target.

At 0955 hours, the flight made a pass on the enemy target when the lead aircraft was struck by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire. The wingman observed one engine on fire as lead pulled off target. As Capt. Page turned the crippled Phantom toward the sea where the crew would have a greater opportunity for rescue, he transmitted they were ejecting. At the time that transmission was made, Lead's position was still near the target area and over land.

By the time the ejection sequence had been completed, the aircraft was over water and it was seen to crash into the Gulf of Tonkin approximately 4 miles northeast of the shoreline, 10 miles north of the city of Vinh Linh, 12 miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Vietnam and 30 miles southeast of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

In the chaos of battle, no parachutes were seen and no emergency beeper signals heard. Because the location of loss was in close proximity to a heavy concentration of enemy troops on land and sampans in the water, no search and recovery (SAR) operation was possible. At the time the wingman's initial search was terminated, Albert Page and Donald Kemmerer were immediately declared Missing in Action.

If Donald Kemmerer and Albert Page died in the loss of their aircraft, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. However, if they successfully ejected, they most certainly could have been pickup up by enemy fishing boats operating along the coastline, and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 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 Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam were called upon to fly in may 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.