Richard Girard Morin
On 20 December 1968 Captain Robert D "Bobbie" Kent, pilot, and 1stLt Richard G. Morin, systems operator, departed Chu Lai in F-4B BuNo 149427 for a night interdiction mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos. As Captain Kent was prosecuting an attack against several trucks his aircraft was struck by AAA fire and crashed. There was no indication that either crewman ejected before impact.
There are several minor oddities regarding this incident. First, 1stLt Morin apparently wasn't a qualified F-4B Radar Intercept Officer; his officer qualification code is "7582" - Naval Flight Officer, EA-6A/B Electronic Warfare qualified. That's not to suggest that he was incapable of functioning perfectly well as an F-4B rear-seater while the aircraft was being used for ground attack, but it is unusual.
Second, although both men apparently were classed as Missing in Action, and 1stLt Morin was promoted while in that status, their cases ended differently. At some point the Marine Corps determined that 1stLt Morin died in the crash - his date of death is 20 Dec 1968. Captain Kent, on the other hand, was not promoted while in MIA status and he was declared dead by action of the Secretary of the Navy with a date of death of 24 June 1974.
Third, while all available government records are consistent in placing this incident on 20 December, Hobson's usually authoritative Vietnam Air Losses puts it on the night of 24/25 December 1968.
None of that changes the blunt facts that the aircraft went down in Laos, and that both men went with it. As of 17 Oct 2005 their remains have not been repatriated.
There was no additional information about the fate of Bob Kent and Richard Morin until 24 July 1992 when Capt. Kent's cousin reviewed his casualty file during an annual meeting of family members in Washington, DC. When she opened the cover of his records, she found Bob Kent's military ID card, his Geneva Convention card and his drivers license inside a 3"x4" manila photo envelope.
Each one of these pieces of personal identification, which were carried by Bob Kent in his flight suit during that last mission, was in perfect, undamaged condition. When asked, "When were these documents returned?" "By whom and under what circumstances?" "How, when and by whom were they placed in his records?" and "Why was the family not notified when they were returned?" The Marine Corps had no answers. To date they still have no answers.
In the October 4, 1973 issue of the Lowell Sun, the Department of Defense declared the missing pilot dead. Details were:
In Memory of Marker at Arlington National Cemetery - notice the date is when the family was notified of Richard's 'death' by US Marine Corps as announced in the Lowell Sun article of October 4, 1973.
In 2007, the Captain Richard G. Morin USMC Memorial Scholarship was established at the Marine Scholarship Foundation by his good friend Robert Lund. In 2008, Dick's brother, Armand O Morin, pledged additional support for his brother's scholarship to help inspire a new generation of scholars with the courage and patriotism demonstrated by the life of Captain Richard Girard Morin.
- - - The Virtual Wall, April 8, 2014.
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