David Louis Hrdlicka

Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force

Unit: 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli AB, Thailand

Date of Birth: 30 December 1931

Home City of Record: Littleton CO

Date of Loss: 18 May 1965

Country of Loss: Laos

Loss Coordinates: 202240N 1041250E (VH160480)

Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War



Category: 1

Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

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.

SYNOPSIS: On May 18, 1965, Captain David L. Hrdlicka was the pilot of the lead F105 aircraft in a four-aircraft flight over Houa Phan Province, Laos when his aircraft was hit by ground fire. Capt. Hrdlicka radioed that he had a fire light, and other members of the flight confirmed his aircraft was on fire.

Capt. Hrdlicka successfully ejected and parachuted to the ground, landing in a small valley beside a village in the Sam Neua area. His parachute was seen opening and he was seen on the ground being led away by natives. Natives were observed rolling up Hrdlicka's parachute. A helicopter pilot landed at a nearby village and was told that the Pathet Lao picked him up.

On July 22, 1966, the Vietnamese newspaper, Quan Nhan Dan featured a story on his capture. On July 26, 1966, a tape recorded broadcast was made by Capt. Hrdlicka in which he read from a personal letter to Prince Souphanouvang. In this broadcast, a letter which attributed to Hrdlicka was read expressing his eagerness to see his wife and children. Radio Peking also broadcast a statement quoting Lao sources that Hrdlicka was their prisoner.

In August, 1966, the Russian news service, PRAVDA, ran a photograph of Hrdlicka, still in his flight suit, head bowed, and an armed guard behind him. Photos of Capt. Hrdlicka were received from several sources.

U.S. Intelligence reported that he was held in a cave near Sam Neua, Laos, and reports were monitored for several years believed to pertain to him. David Hrdlicka was photographed in captivity as late as 1968 or 1969.

The caves at Sam Neua have been said to be extensive and house a compound, including facilities for prisoners, rivaling a small city. The number of Americans held in these caves, hidden from surveillance, has been estimated by some to be in the hundreds.

When 591 Americans were released in 1973, David Hrdlicka was not among them. The Vietnamese claimed that the Pathet Lao had no facilities for holding prisoners, although there is ample intelligence to indicate otherwise. And, although the Lao publicly stated they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, the U.S. has never negotiated for these prisoners. Consequently, not one of the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos has ever been released.

According to the official Air Force account of the loss of David Hrdlicka, "no information was ever received regarding his fate". He remains on the rolls of the missing because "his remains have not been recovered and returned."

Hrdlicka is among nearly 2500 Americans still missing, prisoner or
unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Perhaps Vietnam and her puppet state, Laos, hoped that the photographs and tapes would be forgotten. David Hrdlicka is not forgotten, and will not be forgotten until the communist governments of Southeast Asia release all Prisoners of War and account for the missing.

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