Donald King had been in the Air Force 13 years when he went to
Vietnam to fly with "Satan's Angels" out of Ubon, Thailand. His 43rd
Tactical Fighter Squadron was among the first fighter squadrons sent to
Vietnam. His wife and four children were accustomed to his frequent
absences, but eagerly awaited his return. King was regarded as a top pilot
and had been invited to join the Air Force aerial performance team, the
Thunderbirds. He was a former test pilot, and had learned Russian in a Naval
Frank Dalzell Ralston III had a promising career in the Air Force. A 1963
graduate of the Air Force Academy whom classmates called "Brank", Frank was
well liked and excelled in athletics. When he shipped out to Vietnam and a
young officer, he joined "Satan's Angels" fighter squadron.
On May 14, 1966 King was the wing commander and the pilot of an F4C aircraft
sent on a night mission over North Vietnam. He and backseater Frank Ralston
were about 10 miles behind another F4 Phantom when a flash of light streaked
across the predawn sky and the aircraft vanished.
A garbled radio message from King's aircraft prompted one jet pilot in the
formation to change course over the Gulf. Heading back, he spotted the
intense light shooting 20 degrees above the horizon. King's plane, carrying
a full load of bombs, was last tracked in the air 20 miles west of the
coastal city of Dong Hoi North Vietnam.
King and Ralston are among nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from
Southeast Asia at the end of the war. Some were known to have been taken
prisoner. Most can be accounted for by the communist governments of the
The Vietnamese have continually raised the issue of accountability in the
context of aid and/or diplomatic and trade relations, but the U.S.
Government has been reluctant to negotiate on this basis, preferring instead
to maintain a strict "humanitarian" level of discussion, which has resulted
in the return of a few remains, but no American prisoners of war.
Our American soldiers go to war prepared to be wounded, taken prisoner, even
prepared to die. They do not go prepared to be abandoned. If there is even
ONE American alive, we must do everything possible to bring him home.
Donald L. King was promoted to the rank of Colonel and Frank D. Ralston III
to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained Missing in