RICHARD A. WALSH, III, COL, USAF

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Richard Walsh, III '51

Date of birth: April 28, 1926

Date of death: February 15, 1969

Age: 42

Lucky Bag

From the 1951 Lucky Bag:

Remembrances

From Virtual Wall:

Richard Walsh was 41 years old and was a husband and a father of five children, now grown, who wonder why he was sent to fly such a dangerous aircraft where so many men were shot down out of the sky, in this A-1 propeller aircraft. His adult children now think like civilians, who never have served in the United States Armed Forces, in times of conflict. They think that family men should be spared such hazardous duty. "It is not like this," is the reply. It would not occur to him to ask to have that consideration, as many of these men had families also. These heroic men have a code of honor that transcends their personal safety. What is it? Honor among them, and uncommon personal courage, intelligence, wisdom, and youthful optimism about the task to be completed. The study of military history will show that throughout times past, there are hundreds of thousands of these human beings who know that there are evils to be fought to the death. We mourn our personal loss and this honorable person who was in our lives for a short time. We the survivors, are always with them now, and then at the hour of their death, to live our long goodbye, not to see their beloved faces again here, as they walk on. In Flanders Field where poppies grow, or near the Mekong river in the foothills of Laos they rest. Sharon Walsh, October 2004

For Our Dad From His Children

Richard A. Walsh III 1926-1969 Colonel USAF Pilot: A1-E aircraft 602nd Special Ops Squadron Nhakon Phenom Thailand 1968-69 Missing in Action Awarded Silver Star for heroism Awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses Awarded Order of the Purple Heart United States Naval Academy 1951 University of Colorado MBA 1967 North American Air Defense Command & Command Pilot Survived by brother, sisters, wife, five children. Rest In Peace: From all who remember and love you. RICHARD B. WALSH, 10/31/01

From Wall of Faces:

I hope you made it to heaven. And I love you very much. This is your granddaughter, Tara Christina. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and I wish I could have met you. I heard the stories about the brave things you did but I cried when I heard about you being shot down.

My dad, Christopher R. Walsh showed me your pictures in his photo album. Ones of you in uniform receiving medals from your commanding officers. He showed photos of you playing in the yard on Lincoln Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. I live in Florida now kind of like when you were stationed at Ft. Walton Beach. My dad loved that summer playing in the pool and on the Beach at the Ocean Lodge Hotel. Maybe, my dad will post some photos of you and me.

We want to thank all the wonderful people who posted remembrances here. It made my daddy cry. My dad tells me Bulgy Bear stories like you told him a long time ago.

I learned some patriotic songs here in the 3rd grade, like Grand Old Flag, the Star Spangled Banner, and "Off we go into the wild blue yonder . . ."

I will tell my classmates and do a report someday about you, a Great American Hero.

Love Tara. TARA AND CHRIS, CRWALSH11@GMAIL.COM, 1/13/16

Young Sgt at the time. Talked with LTC Walsh on many occassions. Usually about operations and at times about making the Air Force a career. Remember his mission, his loss and the hope we would rescue him. I know his wife never gave up hope that he would come home. JOHN MOMANEY, CMSGT USAF, RET, CMSGT92MOMANEY@AOL.COM, 5/27/13

Loss

1951 Walsh 1.jpg

From Virtual Wall:

On 14 February 1969 LtCol Stanley S. Clark was the section leader for a flight of two F-4D PHANTOM aircraft from the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Ubon RTAFB, Thailand. The section was tasked with a night strike mission in southern Laos near the border of Vietnam.

Clark's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while over the target. He climbed to about 12,000 feet and ordered his backseater to eject. As the backseater ejected the plane began a rapid descent, passing through a cloud layer at about 10,000 feet before breaking into the clear below the cloud layer. The aircraft was observed to impact in a river valley near the town of Ban Bac in Saravane Province. Although radio contact was established with the copilot, there was no contact with LtCol Clark nor was a second parachute observed.

A Search and Rescue force of four SANDY A-1 aircraft and two helicopters launched from Nakon Phanom RTAFB at 0500 15 February. On arrival, LtCol Richard A. Walsh of the 602nd Special Operations Squadron, 8th TFW, became on-scene commander.

LtCol Walsh and his wingman began a search pattern over the area while the second section of A-1s and the helos held clear. Walsh established radio contact with the downed pilot, called in the helicopters to pick him up, and reported receiving ground fire. Other aircrew observed muzzle flashes and 37mm anti-aircraft shell bursts fire behind Walsh's aircraft and along his flight path. No further transmissions were received from Walsh, no parachute was seen, and no emergency radio beeper signals were heard.

After the downed pilot was recovered he stated that he heard an anti-aircraft site open fire as Walsh's aircraft approached and shortly thereafter heard the the A-1 explode on impact. He estimated that less than 15 seconds elapsed between the AAA fire and aircraft impact. Dense jungle foliage prevented him from actually observing the incident.

Further SAR efforts were not successful in locating either LtCol Clark or LtCol Walsh and both men were initially were classed as Missing in Action. After considering all available evidence, an Air Force board concluded that LtCol Clark had died in the incident. LtCol Walsh was continued in MIA status until 04 October 1979, when a Presumptive Finding of Death was approved by the Secretary of the Air Force.

As of 05 March 2008 the remains of Stanley Clark and Richard Walsh have not been repatriated.

The POW Network bio pages for LtCol Clark and LtCol Walsh contain additional information, including the statement that "The area in which Clark and Walsh were lost was recaptured by friendly forces about three months later" and that the wreckage of both aircraft was located. The POW Network goes on to say that (1) Clark's ejection seat was not in the wreckage of the F-4D and (2) Walsh's remains were not found in the A-1 SKYRAIDER wreckage.

While it was common practice to insert ground teams whenever possible to search the wreckage of downed aircraft in an effort to recover aircrew remains, the area around Ban Bac, Laos, comprised part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and remained solidly in the hands of the North Vietnamese Army; the area was never "captured" by US or ARVN forces. The POW Network does not offer any documentation for the statements cited above.

Family

Richard was survived by his wife, then 34, and five children ages 6 to 12. That link also contains an extensive article about his wife's attempts to get answers to his fate.

Silver Star

The below citation is from Wall of Faces and may not be accurate. Richard's declaration of death didn't come until the late 1970s; if he was to be awarded a Silver Star it would likely have been done at the time. This citation was clearly written later — he was a Lt. Col. when shot down in 1969 — and the use of social security numbers in place of Air Force Service Numbers didn't occur until July of 1969.

There is no record of this award in the Hall of Valor database; it does not appear on his memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Richard Ambrose Walsh III (473447158), Colonel, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against a hostile force during an air mission in Laos. Colonel Walsh distinguished himself by intrepid actions while serving with the 602nd Special Operations Squadron, 56th Special Operations Wing, 7th Air Force. His unquestionable valor in close combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 7th Air Force, and the United States Air Force.


Class of 1951

Richard is one of 48 members of the Class of 1951 in Memorial Hall.