Ryder, John Leslie - M.I.A.

John Leslie Ryder

Rank/Branch: O2/ U.S. Air Force
Date of Birth: July 5, 1946
Home City of Record: Chisholm, MN
Date of Loss: June 9, 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 1043419N 1074243E (YB785205)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft: O1F
Refno: 1632
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.
Other Personnel In Incident: Barry W. Hilbrich (missing)

Air Force First Lt. John L. Ryder was the pilot of an O1F spotter aircraft on which Special Forces Operations Officer Capt. Barry W. Hilbrich was serving as observer. The two departed Pleiku Airbase on a visual reconnaissance mission on June 9, 1970 south of Ben Het in South Vietnam with an ultimate destination of Camp Dak Saeng.

The aircraft was located just north of Pleiku and was in radio contact with the tactical air control center. Their next scheduled radio contact was at 1327 hours, but no further communication was established. Ryder and Hilbrich were reported missing.

No immediate visual search could be initiated because of incliment weather, and an electronic search conducted produced no trace of the aircraft of the crew. During the period of June 10-19 an extensive search was carried out extending from Pleiku north to the I Corps boundary and west of the Cambodian border, with no sightings of either aircraft or its two officers. The two were officially classified Missing In Action. It cannot be determined whether the enemy knew their fates.

It was thought by the families of most of the men missing that even though they got no word of their loved one, there every chance they had been captured. When the war ended in 1973, and 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming, military experts expressed their dismay that "some hundreds" of POWs did not come home with them. Many families were devastated.

John Ryder's mother went to see the Vietnamese in England in 1976. While they were very cordial to her, she says, "they repeated over and over again, they will give out no information on the missing men until the U.S.A. has rebuilt Vietnam."

Reconstruction aid promised by Nixon and Kissinger to Vietnam in 1973 has not been appropriated by Congress, and no aid has been given. Since 1973, the Vietnamese continue to link the issue of aid to that of the American POWs, although the U.S. continues to insist it is a separate, humanitarian issue.

Tragically, thousands of reports continue to flow in regarding the Americans still prisoner, missing or unaccounted for. Some of them specifically refer to an American by name and location, yet no solution for bringing these men home has been found.

Those of us who remember that talks between nations can be tied up indefinitely over the shape of the negotiating table wonder how long our captive servicemen will be able to endure.

First Lt. John L. Ryder graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1968.

All Biographical and loss information on POW's provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with http://www.asde.com/~pownet/ regularly for updates.

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