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RONALD JACK WARD


is honored on Panel 1W, Line 95 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • FELLOW PILOT

    Posted on 9/12/17 - by Keith B. Connolly kbpacon@comcast.net
    Jack Ward was a fellow pilot and comrade. We flew together in several squadrons while flying the F-100 Super Saber. He was great friend and a real patriot that was a personal motivator that had exceptional leadership. He and his family are the very best this country has to offer. I miss his quick wit, smile and unique personality. KEITH B. CONNOLLY
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  • Operational History of the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark in Vietnam

    Posted on 7/25/14 - by wkillian@smjuhsd.org
    The F-111 was first used in Southeast Asia in March 1968 during Operation Combat Lancer and flew nearly 3,000 missions during the war despite frequent periods of grounding. From 1968 to 1973, the F-111 was grounded several months because of excess losses of aircraft. By 1969, there had been 15 F-111's downed by malfunction or enemy fire. The major malfunctions involved engine problems and problems with the terrain following radar (TFR) which reads the terrain ahead and flies over any obstructions. Eight of the F-111's downed during the war were flown by crews that were captured or declared missing. The first was one of two F-111's downed during Operation Combat Lancer, during which the F-111 crews conducted night and all-weather attacks against targets in North Vietnam. On March 28, the F-111A flown by MAJ Henry E. MacCann and CAPT Dennis L. Graham was downed near the airfield at Phu Xa, about 5 miles northwest of the city of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Both MacCann and Graham were declared Missing in Action. Graham had been a graduate of Texas A & M in 1963. The crew of the second F-111 downed during March 1968 was recovered. On April 22, 1968 at about 7:30 p.m., Navy LCR David L. Cooley and Air Force LTC Edwin D. Palmgren departed the 428th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Air Base, Thailand to fly an attack mission against the Mi Le Highway Ferry over Dai Giang along Route 101. They were to pass over very heavily defended areas of Laos at rather low altitude. Although searches continued for four days, no wreckage was ever found. The loss coordinates are located near Quang Bien, in Laos, although the two men are listed as Missing in Action in North Vietnam. As a result of the loss of the Cooley/Palmgren F-111A, the Air Force suspended use of the aircraft for a limited period to investigate the cause of the losses and make any necessary modifications. After the aircraft returned to the air, the crashes resumed. When the 15th F-111 went down in late 1969 because of mechanical failure, all F-111's were grounded and the plane did not return to Vietnam service for several months. In September 1972 F-111A's were returned to Southeast Asia. On September 29, 1972, the F111A flown by MAJ William C. Coltman and commanded by 1LT Robert A. Brett, Jr. went down in North Vietnam on the Red River about 10 miles southwest of the city of Yen Bai. Inexplicably, the National League of Families published a list in 1974 that indicated that Robert A. Brett had survived the downing of his aircraft, and that the loss location was in Laos, not North Vietnam. Both men remain Missing in Action. On October 17, 1972, CAPT James A. Hockridge and 1LT Allen U. Graham were flying an F-111A near the city of Cho Moi in Bac Thai Province, North Vietnam, when their aircraft went down. Both men were listed as Missing in Action, until their remains were returned September 30, 1977. On November 7, 1972, MAJ Robert M. Brown was the pilot and MAJ Robert D. Morrissey the weapons system officer abord an F-111A sent on a mission over North Vietnam. Morrissey, on his second tour of Vietnam, was a 20 year veteran of the Air Force. The aircraft was first reported lost over North Vietnam, but loss coordinates released later indicated that the aircraft was lost in Khammouane Province, Laos, near the city of Ban Phaphilang. Both Brown and Morrissey remained missing after the war ended. In 1995 Brown’s remains were recovered, and were positively identified in 2011. On November 21, 1972, the F-111A flown by CAPT Ronald D. Stafford and CAPT Charles J. Caffarelli went down about halfway between Hue and Da Nang in South Vietnam. Both the pilot and backseater were thought to have died in the crash into the South China Sea, but no remains were ever found. On December 18, 1972, LTC Ronald J. Ward and MAJ James R. McElvain were flying an F-111 on a combat mission over North Vietnam when their aircraft was forced to ditch in the Gulf of Tonkin near the coastline at Hoanh Dong. It was suspected that these two airmen may have ejected. They remain Missing in Action. The last missing F-111A team to be shot down was Capt. Robert D. Sponeyberger and 1Lt. William W. Wilson. Sponeyberger and Wilson were flying a typical F-111 tactical mission when they were hit flying at supersonic speed only a few hundred feet altitude. They were declared Missing in Action. In 1973, however, Sponeyberger and Wilson were released by the North Vietnamese, who had held them prisoner since the day their aircraft was shot down. Their story revealed another possibility as to why so many F-111's had been lost. Air Force officials had suspected mechanical problems, but really had no idea why the planes were lost because they fly singly and out of radio contact. CAPT Sponeyberger and 1LT Wilson had ruled out mechanical problems. "It seems logical that we were hit by small arms," Wilson said, "By what you would classify as a 'Golden BB' - just a lucky shot." Sponeyberger added that small arms at low level were the most feared weapons by F-111 pilots. The SAM-25 used in North Vietnam was ineffective at the low altitudes flown by the F-111, and anti-aircraft cannot sweep the sky fast enough to keep up with the aircraft. That a 91,000 pound aircraft flying at supersonic speeds could be knocked out of the air by an ordinary bullet from a hand-held rifle or machine gun is a David and Goliath-type story the Vietnamese must love to tell and retell. [Narrative taken from pownetwork.org; image from wikipedia.org]
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  • Final Mission of LTC Ronald J. Ward

    Posted on 5/15/14 - by wkillian@smjuhsd.org
    Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. On the first day of Linebacker II, December 18, 129 B-52s arrived over Hanoi in three waves, four to five hours apart. They attacked the airfields at Hoa Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen, the Kinh No complex and the Yen Vien railyards. The aircraft flew in tight cells of three to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas. Protecting their flight were fighter jets, both serving as SAM suppression, ECM protection, and laying a chaff corridor for the B-52s. The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. On the first night of bombing, December 18, only one TACAIR aircraft was lost. The plane was an F-111 flown by LTC Ronald J. Ward and co-pilot MAJ James R. McElvain. They were scheduled to strike the Hanoi International Radio Communication (RADCOM) Transmitter at 0853 hours, Hanoi time. The last radio call contact was received by an orbiting Moonbeam C-130 command and control aircraft at 0854 hours after bomb release on the target. No trace was ever found of the aircraft, and both Ward and McElvain were declared Missing in Action. The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S. "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching it southward." To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to maintain a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B-52 strikes were anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however, flight paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from the ground. The survival rate of the B-52 crews downed during the Christmas bombings was surprisingly high, and many were released in 1973. Many others were known to survive the crash of the aircraft, only to disappear. The fate of Ward and McElvain is uncertain. [Narrative taken from pownetwork.org; image from wikipedia.com]
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  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 11/13/13 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear Colonel Ronald Jack Ward, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

    With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

    Curt Carter
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  • Honoring Oklahoma Veterans who Died in Vietnam

    Posted on 12/13/11 - by Billy M. Brown bmbrown@grandecom.net
    May his sacrifice not be forgotten.
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The Wall of Faces

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