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Name: Herman Ludwig Knapp
Rank/Branch: O4/USAF
Unit: 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 11 April 1929
Home City of Record: Rosemont NJ
Date of Loss: 24 April 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205300N 1051000E (WJ173090)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Others In Incident:
Charles D. Austin (missing)

Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.


Charles Austin was lucky. All his life, according to his sister, Judy, he always managed to get out of tough situations. "He was like Houdini", she said.

On April 24, 1967, Charles Austin's luck ran out. On that day, Austin was serving as bombardier/navigator onboard Maj. Herman L. Knapp's F4C Phantom fighter/bomber. The aircraft was the lead in a flight of four dispatched from Ubon Airfield, Thailand on a strike mission over Vietnam. The strike was on a five-span bridge four miles north of the center of Hanoi. The raid's purpose was to sever North Vietnam's rail links with Communist China. An electrical transformer station seven miles north of Hanoi was also attacked.

During the strike, Knapp and Austin's aircraft was struck by a flak burst, disintegrated, and two large pieces of flaming wreckage were seen to strike the gound in a fireball. No parachutes were seen and no beepers were heard. Nevertheless, it was apparently believed that Knapp and Austin may have exited the aircraft, as both men were classified Missing in Action, rather than Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. Eleven years later, based on no information to indicate the two were alive, they were administratively declared dead.

Austin and Knapp are among over 2300 Americans who remain missing from American involvement in Southeast Asia. Unlike "MIA's" from other wars, most of these men could be accounted for, dead or alive.

Were it not for nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia, missing men like Knapp and Austin could be forgotten. But many officials who have seen these largely classified reports, believe there are still hundreds of Americans alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. As long as even one man is alive, we owe him our very best efforts to bring him home.


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