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On 8 August 1966 two F-4C aircraft of the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron scrambled from Cam Ranh Air Base to provide close air support to a friendly force in contact. Captain Charles M. Walling, pilot, and First Lieutenant Aado Kommendant, co-pilot, were in "BOXER 06", flying the wing position.
The flight arrived in the target area, approximately 19 miles north-northeast of Bien Hoa Airbase, Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam, without incident. Weather conditions over the target were poor, with a broken ceiling at about 1,800 to 2,000 feet above ground. Since dive-bombing was out of the question, BOXER lead decided to use low altitude (1,500 feet AGL) level deliveries. At that altitude the F-4s would be vulnerable to enemy small-arms fire. Given the close proximity of the engaged ground forces, the F-4 crews had to be very careful in acquiring and setting up to deliver ordnance on the designated target.
BOXER 06's first three passes at the target were aborted without dropping due to unacceptable target set-ups. On the fourth pass, BOXER 06 released its ordnance and pulled up, wings level, into the overcast. Shortly thereafter, the Forward Air Controller saw an explosion about 1-1/2 miles southeast of the designated target.
When BOXER 06 failed to respond to radio calls, both the FAC and BOXER lead headed toward the area of the explosion and initiated a search and rescue (SAR) operation. No parachutes were seen or emergency beepers heard. Within minutes rescue helicopters and several A-1E Skyraiders arrived onscene and searched the entire area thoroughly. The crash site was identified in a relatively flat but densely jungled area. Although one of the helicopters hovered overhead for a visual examination of the wreckage, the helo crew saw no signs of the F-4 crewmen in or around the wreckage.
CAPT Walling and 1LT Kommendant were listed as Missing in Action when formal SAR efforts were terminated on 10 October 1966. Eventually the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the two men - Charles Walling on 17 March 1978 and Aado Kommendant on 15 January 1979.
As of 20 August 2002, the remains of the two men have not been recovered.
Information received on 6/15/2012 reported that remains of Maj. Kommendant and those of Maj. Walling have been identified. Both will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in August. Welcome home Gentleman! God Speed!