Woodrow Wilson Parker
18 April 1943 – ????
On April 24, 1968, then-LTC Bobby G. Vinson (pilot) and 1LT Woodrow W. Parker (WSO) launched from Da Nang Airbase, South Vietnam, lead in a flight of two F-4D Phantoms on night strike mission against a storage area near Van Loc, some 10 miles northwest of Dong Hoi in North Vietnam. Vinson and Parker were in F-4D tail number 66-7541.
As the flight approached the target area Vinson advised his wingman that he, Vinson, was beginning a descent to visually acquire the target and to drop flares to illuminate it. Shortly thereafter, the wingman sighted a fireball on the ground and was unable to contact his lead by radio. No parachutes were observed, nor was an emergency radio signal detected. However, given the possibility that the two safely ejected from the aircraft they were listed as Missing in Action. Hostile threats in the area precluded airborne or ground search and rescue operations.
In April 1992, a joint U.S.-Vietnam team interviewed several local informants in a village near the location of the loss. Three informants turned over human remains and survival-related items that had been collected at the crash site years earlier. In July of 1992, a second joint U.S.-Vietnam team returned to the site and recovered aircraft wreckage and crew-related equipment. A third joint team excavated the crash site during Aug-Sep 1993 and recovered aircraft wreckage, life support equipment, and skeletal fragments.
Based on anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence, the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed that the remains were those of LTC Vinson and 1LT Parker.
Woody Parker graduated from The Citadel in 1965. His remains were recovered and now rest in Arlington National Cemetery.