Jon Keith Bodahl

United States Air Force
18 December 1937 - 30 May 1974
Boise, ID
Panel 16W Line 061



Jon K Bodahl

USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Jon Keith Bodahl

02 Apr 2003

I wear a POW/MIA bracelet bearing the name of Major Jon Keith Bodahl.
He and Major Harry W. Smith will never be forgotten for their service and heroism.

Boston, MA
E-mail will be forwarded by the

Notes from The Virtual Wall

11 and 12 November 1969 were hard times for the Air Force's Thailand-based squadrons - five aircraft and five aircrewmen were lost:
  • The first aircraft downed was an A-1E Skyraider (tail number 52-135211) of the 22nd Special Ops Squadron (Nakon Phanom RTAFB), hit by AAA fire while conducting a Barrel Roll strike mission near Ban Ban east of the Plaine des Jarres. The pilot, Captain G. H. Porter, was picked up by an HH-53 from the 40th ARRS.

  • Next down was an F-4D (tail number 65-0643) of the 497th Tac Ftr Sqd (Ubon RTAFB), hit while attacking a target in the Mu Gia Pass between Laos and North Vietnam. Although this area was very heavily defended, an HH-53 of the 40th ARRS was able to retrieve the crew, Major C W Killen and 1st Lt J G Hoyler.

  • A few hours later, an F-4D (tail number 66-8718) of the 13th Tac Ftr Sqd (Udorn RTAFB) was hit by AAA fire while attacking trucks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Ban Soppeng. Although the aircraft was observed to explode on ground impact and no parachutes were sighted or beeper signals heard, indicating that the crew (Captain Robert L Tucci and Major James E Dennany) probably had been killed, search and rescue forces began operations again.

  • Among the SAR forces was a section of F-4Es (call signs Packard 01 and Packard 02) from the 34th Tac Ftr Sqd (Korat RTAFB). Captains Jon K. Bodahl, pilot, and Harry W. Smith, weapons systems officer, were flying lead as Packard 01 in F-4E tail number 67-0219; they were shot down near Bam Senphan.
The circumstances surrounding Packard 01's loss are not clear. The biographies on the POW Network and Task Force Omega for Bodahl and Smith state that the Packard flight was part of the "(SAR) mission for the crew of 'Owl 07', a 2-man Army helicopter downed the day before". Hobson's "Vietnam Air Losses" states that
"A SAR helicopter was sent to search for possible survivors just in case Capt Tucci or Major Dennany [from F-4D 66-8718] had been able to escape from their aircraft. The helicopter was damaged by ground fire and a flight of F-4Es from Korat arrived to provide cover for the rescue forces. Unfortunately, one of the Phantoms was shot down by 37-mm anti-aircraft fire near Ban Senphan and the crew was killed."
The POW Network and Task Force Omega biographies are cast in doubt because there is no record of an Army helicopter (or, for that matter, anyone's helicopter) going down in Laos on 11/12 November 1969. Hobson's account is bolstered by the fact that two Air Force rescue helicopters (HH-3E tail number 65-12785 and HH-53C tail number 68-8286) are known to have been damaged on 12 Nov 69 while conducting SAR in the Lao/NVN border region.

In either case, Packard 01 was on the ground and further SAR efforts began. The 6th Special Ops Squadron at Pleiku contributed A-1 Skyraiders to the effort, and one of those aircraft was lost: Major Gerald R Helmich, in A-1H tail number 52-139821, went down about a mile south of Ban Senphan. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that any of the three men - Bodahl, Smith, or Helmich - had managed to get out of their aircraft.

Although search and rescue efforts continued throughout the day, at sundown on 12 November 1969 five aircrewmen were missing:

  • From A-1E tail number 52-135211:
        Captain G. H. Porter, picked up

  • From F-4D tail number 65-0643:
        Major C W Killen, picked up
        1st Lt J G Hoyler, picked up

  • From F-4D tail number 66-8718:
        Captain Robert L Tucci, missing, probably dead [KIA; Cas Date 11/12/69]
        Major James E Dennany, missing, probably dead [MIA; PFOD 6/21/78]

  • From F-4E tail number 67-0219:
        Captain Jon K. Bodahl, missing, probably dead [MIA; PFOD 5/30/74]
        Captain Harry W. Smith, missing, probably dead [MIA; PFOD 1/25/79]

  • From A-1H tail number 52-139821
        Major Gerald R Helmich, missing, probably dead [MIA; PFOD 9/1/78]
The Secretary of the Air Force eventually approved Presumptive Findings of Death for four of the men (the PFOD dates are shown above); for Captain Tucci, the SecAF accepted a review board's recommendation that he should be considered to have died in the crash on 11/12/69. The bodies of the five men have not been recovered.

It is noteworthy that Helmich's biography on Task Force Omega states that the search for 'Owl 07' was an entirely separate matter, and that Helmich had returned to Pleiku before launching on a second SAR mission in support of the search for Bodahl and Smith.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wore his MIA bracelet,
E-Mail may be forwarded via the
04 Apr 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 04/04/2003