Last Known Activity|
In the pre-dawn hours of 28 October, Capt. William H. Stroven, pilot; and then Capt. Kenneth A. Stronebraker, navigator, comprised the crew of an RF4C, call sign "Diode," that departed Udorn Airfield on a single aircraft photo reconnaissance flight. Their target was the Quang Khe Ferry near the major communist port city of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The weather conditions in the target area consisted of overcast cloud cover with a 2,000 feet ceiling with 6,000 foot tops and rain showers.
The flight proceeded to its assigned weather check point, then turned north toward their destination. Once on station, Capt. Stroven checked in with the on sight Forward Air Controller (FAC), "Alleycat," requesting clearance to initiate their photo run from 0505 hours to 0515 hours on the Quang Khe Ferry. Once Diode commenced its photo run, Alleycat turned his attention to another aircraft for weather reconnaissance information.
Once Capt. Stroven and Capt. Stonebraker completed their mission, they contacted "Waterboy," the airborne command and control aircraft, to receive instructions for their new flight path into the existing traffic pattern and current weather advisories. Waterboy passed along those directions which, in turn, were acknowledged by Capt. Stroven. At 0519 hours Waterboy lost both radar and voice contact with Diode. The location of loss placed Diode over jungle covered mountains approximately 13 miles west-southwest of Dong Hoi as he egressed in that direction.
When all attempts to re-establish contact failed, search and rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated. Further, the commander of 7th Air Force instructed all units to conduct an electronic search for the missing aircraft and crew. When no trace of the William Stroven and Kenneth Stonebraker could be found, both men were listed Missing in Action.