Name: William Louis "Bill" Kinkade 
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force 
Unit: 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Udorn Airbase, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 27 April 1944
Home of Record: Corvallis, OR
Date of Loss: 01 September 1968 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173100N 1061300E (XE294383)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: Jack Wilson (rescued) 


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.

The Ban Karai Pass was considered a major gateway into 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.

On 1 September 1968, Capt. Jack Wilson, aircraft commander; and then 1st Lt. William L. "Bill" Kinkade, pilot; comprised the crew of an F4D, call sign "Carter 02," that departed Udorn Airbase as the #2 aircraft in a flight of two. Carter flight was conducting a pre-dawn armed reconnaissance mission over the "Judy Area" of southwestern North Vietnam, which included the rugged jungle covered mountains north of the Ban Karai Pass. Weather conditions in the target area included 15,000-foot overcast of clouds with variable winds from 5 to 10 knots and visibility of 9 miles.

After arriving in the target area, the pilot of Carter 01 contacted the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control (ABCCC) aircraft and the onsite Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft. Carter flight was directed to attack a target located approximately 8 nautical miles from Xuan Son at coordinates 173145N 1061310E. As the lead aircraft made its pass on the target, it was struck by intense and accurate ground fire forcing the crew to eject.

Capt. Wilson and 1st Lt. Kinkade were immediately reported the situation to the ABCCC and was cleared into the area to conduct an electronic search for the crew of Carter 01. Within minutes Capt. Wilson had established voice contact with both downed crewmen. He told them the search and rescue (SAR) operation had been initiated and to "expect Sandys within an hour."

At 0440 hours, as part of the overall rescue operation, Carter 02 attacked NVA forces attempting to move into the area where the crew of lead aircraft was located. At they did so, Carter 02 sustained extensive battle damage from NVA ground fire. Jack Wilson notified the ABCCC of their emergency prior to both he and Bill Kincade safely ejecting their crippled Phantom. Capt. Wilson heard a garbled transmission from 1st Lt. Kincade just before ejecting as the aircraft disintegrated and exploded. The FAC established voice contact with Jack Wilson, but was unable to raise Bill Kinkade on his survival radio.

The SAR aircraft arrived at first light. They were able to rescue Jack Wilson as well as the crew of Carter 01 shortly after arriving in the target area. As the search effort continued for Bill Kincade, the weather decreased to an overcast of clouds with their base at 6,000 feet. The search effort was terminated later that day due to hostile ground fire and no contact established with 1st Lt. Kinkade. At the time the visual and electronic search ended, Bill Kinkade was listed Missing in Action.

In his after action debriefing, Jack Wilson reported that he had no idea what happened to Bill Kinkade. After the aircraft sustained battle damage, there was very little time to notify the other aircraft of their status before ejecting. This was because of the tactical situation and darkness.

The location of Carter 02's loss was in the heavily forested mountains approximately 4 miles northwest of Route 137, 10 miles northeast of the North Vietnamese/Lao border, 15 miles due north of the Ban Karai Pass and 29 miles west-northwest of Dong Hoi, Binh Dinh Province, North Vietnam.

If Bill Kincade died as a result of his loss, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, he most certainly could have been captured by NVA forces operating throughout the region and his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no question the Vietnamese could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.

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.