Name: Fredric Moore Mellor 
Rank/Branch: Colonel/US Air Force 
Unit: 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing 
Udorn Airfield, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 05 April 1935
Home of Record: Cranston, RI
Date of Loss: 13 August 1965 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210138N 1045120E (VJ850250)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF-101C "Voodoo"
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  The first American combat aircraft in Vietnam were the single-seat McDonnell RF-101 Voodoos of the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron that arrived at Tan Son Nhut Airport on 18 October 1961. That same day the Mekong River overflowed its banks flooding hundreds of squared miles of countryside. The sleek, heavy, powerful Voodoos began photographing both the floods and the Viet Cong on 20 October. The community of men who flew the RF-101 was small and its losses high. At one point a Voodoo squadron had more aircraft than pilots, yet kept up a daily schedule of two combat missions per aircraft daily. Most of their missions were up north and a disproportionate number of RF-101 pilots were languishing in the Hanoi Hilton.

Throughout its participation in Vietnam, the Voodoo flew the fastest missions ever carried out in any war - routinely carrying out its reconnaissance sorties at speeds up around 1,400 mph (Mach 2.0) - much faster than other jets under actual fighting conditions. The last RF-101 departed Tan Son Nhut on 16 November 1970 ending the Voodoo chapter in Southeast Asia.

On 13 August 1965, then Capt. Fredric M. Mellor departed Udorn Airfield as the pilot of the lead aircraft in a flight of two to conduct an early morning photo reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. After arriving in the target area, Capt. Mellor established radio contact with the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Aircraft (ABCCC) who provided the flight with updated mission data before turning them over to the onsite Forward Air Controller (FAC) directing all air operations in this sector.

During the mission, the Voodoo sustained battle damage from hostile ground fire that disabled the aircraft's radio and caused a fire in the nose wheel. Capt. Mellor was able to keep his crippled aircraft under control as both aircraft turned to a heading to return to Udorn Airfield. Using hand signals, Fredric Mellor instructed his wingman to take the lead. After doing so, the wingman looked back, but could find no trace of his flight leader.

The area in which the Voodoo vanished was over the Song Da, the Black River, in an area where the river flowed through a steep and rugged canyon approximately 28 miles northeast of the North Vietnam/Lao border, 40 miles due west of the Hoa Lac MiG base and 61 miles due west of Hanoi, Son La Province, North Vietnam.

The wingman notified the FAC and ABCCC of Lead's disappearance and a search and rescue (SAR) operation was immediately initiated. Another RF-101 arrived on the scene to assist the wingman with the initial visual and electronic search. That pilot was able to establish radio and beeper contact with Fredric Mellor who reported he successfully ejected and landed in good condition in the water near the south bank of the Black River. After pinpointing his exact location, Capt. Mellor was advised to conceal himself and avoid further radio contact until the rescue force arrived.

Later that morning when the SAR force including a rescue helicopter approached the area in which Capt. Mellor was hiding, the SAR commander attempted to establish contact with the downed pilot, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Subsequent visual and electronic searches of the area also proved negative. At the time the formal search was terminated, Fredric Mellor was reported as Missing in Action.

In February 1991, a joint team under the auspices of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) traveled to Son La Province to investigate the loss of Fredric Mellor. American team members interviewed witnesses to the downing of an American aircraft corresponding to this loss incident.

According to the Joint Field Activity (JFA) report, the witnesses stated that the pilot ejected safely and was able to evade capture for half a day. Late on the afternoon they claimed he was located by local militia and when the pilot opened fire on them the militia returned fire wounding the pilot. The witnesses added that the American was subsequently captured and taken away. They were later told that the pilot died apparently from loss of blood. The investigators tried to track the report further, but were unsuccessful in determining its validity. Further, they were unable to locate remains or a gravesite associated with this report of death.

If Fredric Mellor died of his reported wounds he received at the hand of the North Vietnamese, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if the report of his death was not true, his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no doubt the Vietnamese know what happened and 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.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam and Laos 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.