O3/US Air Force
563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli AB, Thailand
Birth: 30 December 1931
Home City of
Record: Littleton CO
Date of Loss:
18 May 1965
Country of Loss:
Coordinates: 202240N 1041250E (VH160480)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
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.
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
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
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.