Name: David Louis Hrdlicka
Rank/Branch: 03/US Air Force
Unit: 563rd Tactical Fighter
Squadron, Takhli AB,
Date of Birth: 30 December 1931
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 18 May 1965
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Cordinates: 202240N 1041250E
Status (in 1973):
Other Personnel In Incident: None
May 18, 1965 Shot down, captured, well documented alive in captivity in Sam Neua, Laos, which was the Pathet Lao Headquarters.
October 7, 1965 Photo appeared in Vietnam Courier. Later identified as Hrdlicka.
May 22, 1966 Reports were received from the Pathet Lao on the Hrdlicka capture, two tape recordings allegedly made by Hrdlicka. Letter written to Prince Souphanouvong, asking to be released.
July 22, 1966 Hanoi publication, QUAN DOI NHAN DAN, printed capture photo. An article identified photo as Hrdlicka.
August 31, 1966 Capture photo appeared in Russian newspaper, Pravda.
May 5, 1967 A Laotian representative advised The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland that Hrdlicka had been captured.
1977 to 1990 In Nov 1977 there was a presumptive finding of death with no new evidence being presented at the hearing by the US Air Force Casualty. (Carol’s comments: The reason given for the (finding of death was to “terminate pay and allowances”. I received newsletters from Air Force Casualty assuring me they were continuing efforts to find out what happened to David. It was not until 1990 I realized they were not investigating–only debunking every report that was received indicating survival. In 30 years time the Defense Intelligence Agency made no effort to contact the Russian correspondent, Ivan Shchedrov, who actually talked to David in captivity in Sam Neua.)
June 1989 D.I.A, (Defense Intelligence Agency) received a report stating, “I am talking to Col. Chaeng (Brig Gen) PL Commmander of the 11th Regiment at Kham Keut, Kham Moname province suspected of holding D. Hrdlicka and friends. The outcome of my conversation will be relayed to you soon”.
(Carol’s comment: I have never received the outcome of that conversation.)
Feb 1990 I received a letter from DIA, stating Hrdlicka had escaped in 1989 but had been recaptured.
(Carol’s comments: The letter went on to debunk the statement. I have requested, many times, for the report this analysis came from and to date have not received the report. If the government is giving me all the information on David’s case why haven’t I received this report?)
July 1990 I did not receive the 1989 eyewitness report until July of 1990. (Carol’s comments; Upon receipt of the 1989 report I requested, by telephone, the “outcome of conversation” from DIA, to this day I have not received the report or answer. In 2008 I am still asking for this report.)
May 1991 I began sending Freedom of Information requests for information on what happened to David and requesting for specific reports. (Carol’s comments: On July 2, 1992 I sent another request for reports I had not received. I made a specific request for “code number” or whatever was carried by David for identification in case of his getting shot down and captured. There was a serial number carried for Hrdlicka, which was referenced to in a government report. No US government agency has been able to find or tell me what they used for identifying David in case of capture. No government agency is able to tell me what the number on David’s “Blood Chit” was. Each “Blood Chit” had a number on it so it could be correlated to the individual carrying it. Future casualties were assigned authenticator codes, which could be identified by satellite imagery.)
July 2, 1992 During the Senate Select Committee Hearings I sent a letter to the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Mr. Robert Sheets requesting information on documents the agency should have the answers to. Also, being an Intelligence Agency they should have access to what was carried as David’s “code number” in case of capture. I also requested the information on the satellite imagery USA walking “K” that had just come out in the US News & World Report during the 1992 hearings. (Carol’s comments: I should have been notified by the agency of this information but had to read about it in the magazine. The families were to be notified of any information concerning their family member. I should have been notified since this satellite imagery was in the Sam Neua area where it was known David was held.)
July 29, 1992 I continued to request specific information on a rescue attempt named “Duck Soup“.
(Carol’s comments: On Sept 21, 1992 I received a letter from Charles Trowbridge that there was no such operation in association with the Vietnam Era. In 1995 I received documents showing there was such an operation called “Duck Soup” and Hrdlicka was mentioned. I am still getting information on “Duck Soup”; it was a CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) run operation. General Secord testifies before the Senate Select Committee Hearings on POW/MIAs to rescue attempts for Hrdlicka and there should be a raft of cables in the CIA on the rescue attempts. To this day, in 2008, the DPMO (Department of POW/MIA Office) who are tasked with the investigation on David’s case, has not asked for that information.)
October 1992 In the October 1992 Department of Defense POW/MIA fact book there is a statement made that reports indicate that Hrdlicka died in captivity.
(Carol’s comments: Upon request for those documents I was told I had all the information. I have no report that states David Hrdlicka died. A JCRC (Joint Casualty Recovery Center) report dated Jul 1991 states there is no evidence of Hrdlicka’s fate. I asked the Defense Intelligence Agency to show me the reports that state Hrdlicka died and they admit they do not have any reports that state Hrdlicka died, yet they continue to this day to misinform anyone who inquires about David’s case.)
June 1993 My eldest son David and I traveled to Russia and met with the wife of the Russian reporter, Ivan Shchedrov, who had interviewed David in captivity.
(Carol’s comment: Mrs. Shchedrov told me that in 1969 Ivan Shchedrov had interviewed David at a press conference in Sam Neua, Laos. Mrs. Shchedrov gave me an article that had been written by her husband who refers to the 1969 press conference where David was present at the dedication of the underground city named “Hotel Friendship”. This city was designed to keep the people safe from the US bombings. It has just recently been opened to the public as a tourist attraction in Laos. In all the years since David was captured there were no attempt by the US government to interview Ivan Shchedrov.)
1993 Over the years, there have been multiple reports that state a POW died, the reports have been correlated to Hrdlicka.
(Carol’s comments: There was a report on a POW that died who was wearing a camouflaged flight suit and was buried at Ban Bac. This is clearly not Hrdlicka; Hrdlicka wore a green flight suit. A JCRC report shows excavation of a gravesite at Ban Bac thought to be Hrdlicka’s–it is not Hrdlicka as shown by other reports that show Hrdlicka alive in late 1966 early 1967. A report on a captured pilot that eluded capture died and was buried at Ban Bac, was not Hrdlicka as Hrdlicka did not try to elude capture. JCRC keeps excavating gravesites at Ban Bac trying to prove it is Hrdlicka. David was in a prison system and should be tracked through the captor’s records; they know what they did with him. There is no need to keep excavating gravesites on David’s case make his captors account for him first, it is a waste of taxpayer’s money and misleading the American public.)
1993 A report correlated to Hrdlicka where pilot was shot — not Hrdlicka, as date and description of the children do not fit Hrdlicka. This report is correlated to Hrdlicka even though the date or description of the children was wrong. There were many reports of men who survived their shoot down but were never were carried as a POW because they were correlated to Hrdlicka even though they did not fit time or date of Hrdlicka’s shoot down.
(Carol’s comment: This made it easier to declare those men dead and not cause a problem for the US government to account for those men at the end of the war. It is easier to for the government agencies to declare men dead if the men are listed as missing rather than captured.)
Aug 1993 Finally DOD (Department of Defense) admits they correlated reports to Hrdlicka that were not Hrdlicka, however these reports still remain in Hrdlicka’s file.
(Carol’s comments: CoI. Schlatter states there were no sightings of pilots in the caves after 1967 yet I have a report dated 1968 stating American Pilots were imprisoned in a cave. There is a report dated Jan 1970 on a prison camp containing about 20 US pilots at Sam Neua. Another report dated 1973 shows seven Caucasians, two had an audience with Prince Souphanavong. There is an Intelligence report on 54 confirmed enemy camps in Laos. If there are no prisoners in Laos what are these camps for? Over 500 men were lost in Laos, is it reasonable to think out of 500 plus men, only two men survived their incident? A report stating only known POWs to be in area are Hrdlicka and Shelton then who are all the other men referred to in the US governments own documents? In 1992 JTFFA (Joint Task Force for Full Accounting) excavation of another gravesite, they continue to waste taxpayer’s money when they have documents that show there was a highly classified record kept by the Laotians stating unless the USG abides by Nixon’s 17 pts there will be no information on the missing.)
Lists carrying Hrdlicka as POW
Sept 1994 I requested the US Air Force for a hearing to reinstate Hrdlicka as a POW.
(Carol’s comments: I have come into the possession of many documents showing survival of David that I did not possess when the initial presumptive finding of death hearing was held in 1977 (it shouldn’t be up to me to gather intelligence). The Air Force denied my request for a hearing or to change the status even though I had new information and Intelligence reports as evidence.)
Reports of POWs I found a report in the Library of Congress tracking 23 POWs in 1984.
(Carol’s comments: if all the men were returned, who are these men? The agencies this document was sent to was removed. This hampers the effort of families to request the agencies to abide by the law and give the information to family members. It shows 20 POWs being moved, I have since received message traffic to back up this document and the transporting of POWs. In 1988 a distress signal was picked up by satellite in the Sam Neua area. It is called a “Walking K” because pilots were trained to use this “K” as a distress signal if captured. The pilots were trained to put these signals down. In 1992 when the DPMO (Department of POW/MIA Office) analysts were asked what investigation they had done on this imagery they testified to the Senate Select Committee they were still analyzing it!! In other words they made no attempt to rescue or immediately go to the location to investigate this distress signal, 4 years later they are still analyzing it!)
May 13, 1996 I received a letter from DPMO including a report showing the deaths of two POWs that they correlated to Hrdlicka.
(Carol’s comments: I have asked to see reports for years that correlate to Hrdlicka dying, –Hrdlicka was identified alive after this report in Ban Na Kay, Houa Phan Province is the same area Sam Neua. Tham Sua Cave is also in Sam Neua area. A report dated 1969; states only U.S. PW’s known to have been held in the Sam Neua area prior to Homecoming is Hrdlicka & Shelton. The DPMO finally admitted that these reports did not correlate to Hrdlicka.)
EVIDENCE OF MANY POWS
In a 1974 CIA report –they knew there were 8 to l0 POW’s in the Sam Neua area until 1973 (no one returned from this area). Hand written notes from the State Department mention live Americans, there are also hand written notes referring to NRO, (National Reconnaissance Office) 1967 air shots of people playing “volleyball”. There is an Ariel photo of men playing volleyball dated Oct 1969 (who are all these men?). There is a memo admitting groups of American prisoners held by Laotians, assuring Hrdlicka alive and treated well.
(Carol’s comments: None of the 1973 Homecoming POW’s were ever held in the caves of Laos. After Homecoming, there is a 1973 report stating , “the fate of Hrdlicka and Debruin must await the formation of a new coalition government”. Another report states that the American officials are aware that the Laotian’s will use MIA search as leverage and want repatriations. Yet the American officials refuse to pay for POWs even though each man carried a called a “Blood Chit” stating in 13 different languages “see that I am returned to my people. My government will reward you.” However, the US government does pay to excavate gravesites. American officials were told prisoners held in Laos would not be released through Vietnam. American officials knew men were captured that were never released. Admission by Lao officials that there were “that some tens of prisoners were held” by Pathet Lao.)
DIA Memo In a 1985 DIA memo they admit to the mishandling of the POW/MIA issue and in the memo state they will not look good under scrutiny. In 1990 there is a report on possible information on Hrdlicka, when the person comes forward with this information he is told there are no rewards.
(Carol’s comments: This is misinformation, as the informant should have been advised about the “Blood Chit” which is a reward for a live man.) In the 1991 resignation of POW/MIA Chief, Millard Peck points out the deliberate actions to make sure information on live POWs is not followed up on.
(Carol’s comments: Over the years I have been told I have all information on David’s case, yet a researcher found a document in the archives concerning David that had never been given to me by the USAF (United States Air Force), DIA, or DPMO. The U S. Officials deny any rewards for POWs and state they do not pay for remains however, they pay millions of dollars under the guise of humanitarian aid to excavate crash sites. I call that paying for remains yet the US government won’t pay the same amount for a live man!)
JTF-FA In a 1993 message it states that “no records were kept by the Lao”.
(Carol’s comments: I have a US government document that I placed in the record at the Dornan hearings which shows there was a highly classified record kept of capture and dispersal of POWs. Wouldn’t that be a good place to start investigating what happened to the men in captivity?)
In a 1981 Pentagon report a source that passed a polygraph test, saw 2l American POWs as recently as August ’80. An 1982 DIA letter confirms they know about the prisoners and know the location of the prisoners.
(Carol’s comment: None of the US government agencies seem to be doing their job when then have a mountain of evidence of live men but they will act on only gravesites.)
White House Memo A 1973 memo acknowledges that after Homecoming in 1973 Hrdlicka is still a POW.
(Carol’s comments: A researcher found this memo.
I have been told may times I have all information concerning David’s case. Over the years I have requested any and all documents mentioning Hrdlicka’s name. Yet there are still documents found that have never been given to me by the government agencies tasked with doing the investigation on David’s case. After handing this memo to Mr. Wold, DPMO Chief. I received a letter dated Nov 1994 admitting Hrdlicka was a POW at Homecoming.)
Sept 1994 I started mailing complaints to the Department of Defense Inspector General Office.
(Carol’s comments: I sent mailings for the next several months with attachments showing examples of misconduct by government agencies tasked with doing the investigations on the POW/MIA issue. Addressing the fraud and waste of taxpayer’s money in seven different violations by these agencies.)
(Carol’s comment: Yet the US government still denies that men are there.)
1996 Viewing of File (Carol’s comments: As my son, David, and I viewed the classified file kept for my husband, David, it became evident that there had been no investigation by the lack of materials that should be in an investigative file such as radio intercepts, notes from interviews of individuals, of cables from CIA as testified to by General Secord ”there should be a mountain of message traffic” on the Hrdlicka case. No government agency has requested that information. The effort was never made by any government agency to interview the Russian reporter, Ivan Shchedrov, who had interviewed David in captivity several times. It became evident as, my son, David and I went through the file there was never any follow-up done on any information that they received. The only thing that DPMO continues to do is go to excavate gravesites that have already been proven were not Hrdlicka’s. During the file review we asked what training was needed to become an analyst. The analyst tells us, he had no special training to become an analyst. So why are untrained people being used to do this “high priority” job? I asked Warren Gray, during the file review, if the DIA had ever followed up on the La Bounty 1992 live sighting report. Mr. Gray stated there had been no follow up or investigation. This is another example of reports that concern live men being ignored. The DPMO has not done the very basic investigation or the tasking of other agencies to give them the information those agencies posses on the Hrdlicka case. The only thing to conclude is the DPMO is not interested in doing a real investigation of live men only interested if the individual is dead and trying to make those dead who have survived many years in captivity. )
1981 offer to sell
POWs to USG
An investigative reporter found the deposition of Richard Allen (National Security Advisor in the Reagan Administration) and hand written notes on an offer to sell 57 men for $4.5 billion to the USG in the archives.
(Carol’s comments: When men are offered to USG why is the “Blood Chit” not honored or mentioned? The US government says they don’t pay for hostages but these men carried a “Blood Chit” that states there is a reward. Why does the US government then default on their contract with the men, by denying payment?)
Mar 1996 After filing a FOIA (Freedom of Information) request I am told in a 14 Mar 1996 letter that DPMO have no records of MACVSOG Daily Summaries.
(Carol’s comment: Yet, another family member receives a letter from DPMO stating the MACVSOG daily summaries are being reviewed for declassification. Example of how families are misled and the Freedom of Information law is ignored by government agencies. MACVSOG was Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Special Operations Group (later renamed Studies and Observations Group). MACVSOG provided intelligence information to the Pentagon, rescued downed pilots and destroyed large amounts of enemy material. The US government denied for years the existence of MACVSOG. There should have been information on POWs in the daily summaries. There is a book named SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam [Simon & Schuster New York, 1997])
June 10,1996 I received a letter from Ivan Loboda a Russian correspondent that accompanied Ivan Shchedrov to Laos in 1969, Mr. Loboda verified that there were American pilots physically present at the 1969 press conference held in San Neua for the dedication of the underground city named “Hotel Friendship”.
(Carol’s comments: The USG has insisted for over 20 years that David died in1966, 1967, or 1968. The DPMO has finally picked the date they “believe” David died as 1968. The press conference was held in 1969 after DPMO believed David died. Note the DPMO has no evidence that David died only the “belief”—is that enough to declare someone dead? The DPMO finally admitted they used reports that did not correlate to David to prove he had died.)
2008 (Carol’s comments: There has been no credible evidence to date that proves David L. Hrdlicka has died but there have been live sighting reports that show him to be alive in the early 1990′s. After all the testimony given before Senate and House hearings over the years showing themisconduct and criminal activity in the government agencies no one has been held accountable. The POW/MIA families have no one to protect them from these injustices or investigate the possibility of criminal activities in these agencies. The POW/MIA families tried to correct this problem by updating the Missing Personnel Act in 1996. The families worked for 6 months at our own expense to get this legislation passed and into law. There were provisions in this legislation that addressed the fact there had to be evidence that an individual was dead before you could declare a person dead. The Speicher case, from the Gulf War, is an example that the US government is still of declaring men dead before there is evidence. Another provision would penalize anyone lying to family members about their loved ones. A recent example of the agencies lying to a family is the Tilman case from the, Afghanistan conflict, the family was lied to right at the beginning of his loss. This legislation would protect future generations from enduring what the Vietnam Era families have endured just trying to get the truth about our loved ones. Senator John McCain single handedly gutted this legislation so the future generations will not be protected. Senator McCain has been an obstructionist to the POW/MIA families since he came to congress as a congressman in 1982.)