John Calvin Clark II
Major, United States Air Force
Born at Brownsville, Texas, on January 30, 1943, he was serving in the Vietnam War when his fixed-wing aircraft was shot down on December 5, 1969.
His remains were recovered and identified in
1997 and on November 21, 1997 he was laid to rest in Arlington National
Cemetery with full military honors.
Name: John Calvin Clark II
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 30 January 1943
Home City of Record: Brownsville, Texas
Date of Loss: 05 December 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Patrick K. Harrold (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15
March 1990 with the assistance
In violation of the neutrality of Laos accorded at Geneva in a 14-nation protocol conference July 23, 1962, the North Vietnamese and supporting communist insurgent group, the Pathet Lao, lost no time in building strategic strongholds of defense in Northern Laos and establishing a steady flow of manpower and material to their revolutionary forces in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail on the eastern border of the Laotian panhandle.
As a result, the Royal Lao sought help from the U.S. In turn, U.S. involvement in Laos was justified by an expected quick victory in Vietnam. Every initiative had to be cleared through the U.S. Ambassador at Vientiane, so that the delicate balance of "look-the-other-way-neutrality" engaged in by the nations involved (including China) could be preserved. Before many years passed, however, it became clear that the U.S. would have no "quick victory" in Vietnam, and the secret war in Laos grew more difficult to contain.
Defense of non-communist activity in Laos generally fell into three categories: 1) U.S. Army and CIA's bolstering of the Meo (Hmong) army led by General Vang Pao; 2) Strategic U.S. Air Force bombing initiatives on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (Operations Commando Hunt, Steel Tiger, etc.); 3) U.S. Air Force bombing initiatives in northern Laos (Operation Barrell Roll, etc.) both against communist strongholds there, and in support of the Royal Lao and General Vang Pao's army.
First Lieutenant Patrick K. Harrold and Captain John C. Clark II were pilots assigned to an F4E Phantom fighter jet dispatched on an operational mission over Laos on February 5, 1969. Their mission would take them to the northeast edge of the Plain of Jars in Xiangkhoang Province in Military Region II.
At a point about 10 miles northwest of the city of Nong Het, the Phantom was shot down and both crew members declared Missing in Action. The Air Force told the Harrold and Clark families that there was every reason to believe the enemy knew the fate of both men; that perhaps they had been captured. It was too soon to tell.
When the war finally ended for the U.S. in Southeast Asia, families of the nearly 600 men lost in Laos were horrified to learn that no negotiations had been struck that would free Americans held in Laos. The Pathet Lao had stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, but they wished to be negotiated with. The U.S. was not willing to negotiate with the communist faction, even at the cost of abandoning some of their best men.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities have reluctantly concluded that there are hundreds of them who remain alive today, held captive by a long-ago enemy.
Whether Clark and Harrold are among those thought
to be still alive is not known. What is clear, however, is that we owe
these men our very best efforts to bring them home. What must they be thinking
of the country they proudly served?
The following Air Force personnel were declared identified. They are Major Thomas R. Allen of Woodward, Oklahoma; Captain Ronald L. Packard of Canon City, Colorado; Major John C. Clark of Brownfield, Texas.; and Major Bobby G. Huggins of Montgomery, Alabama.
According to records, Major Allen and Captain Packard were lost over North Vietnam on July 31, 1967. Major John Clark was lost over Laos on December 5, 1969. His crewmate Patrick Harrold was accounted for and announced in the last Bits 'N' Pieces. At that time we asked what about John Clark. Now we know.
Major Bobby Huggins and his crew member were lost over Vietnam on June 4, 1970. No mention was made of the crew member. All remains were accounted for based on mt-DNA testing.
To these families, we hold you in our hearts and offer our prayers during this difficult time. We hope you have the answers, you have waited so long for.