Capt. Michael Wayne Marker U.S. Army
On March 4, 1971 Capt. Michael W. Marker, pilot of a JU21A, a twin engine
turbo prop (serial # 18065, call sign Vanguard 216) departed Phu Bai, Republic
of VietNam on an early morning combat support mission in the vicinity of the
Demilitarized Zone. His crew that morning consisted of WO1 Harold L Alguard/
co-pilot, SP5 Rodney D. Osborne/technical observer, SP5 Richard J. Hentz/crew-
man, and SP6 John T. Strawn/crewman.
The pilot and crew were assigned to the 138th Aviation Company, 224th Aviation
Battalion, 509th RR (Radio Research) Group, a cover designation for their real
unit in USASA. Radio Research was actually a secret cover designation for certain
units operating under the direction of the U,S, Army Security Agency Group. All
missions of this agency were highly classified. The 224th Aviation Battalion was
referred to as an aviation battalion in VietNam for security reasons only. The
JU21a's aircrew's actual unit designation was 138th ASA Company, 224th ASA
Battalion (Aviation) U.S. Army Security Agency Group, VietNam.
Two hours into the mission, at 0840 hours, radio and radar communication was
lost. When the craft failed to return from the mission at the appointed time search
efforts were initiated and continued for 2 days over a 300 mile area, but proved
negative. A reliable source indicated that an aerial detonation in the vicinity of the
DMZ occured on March 4, 1971 at the same flight altitude and pattern flown by
Vanguard 216. Hostile threat in the area precluded any visits to the suspected area
of the crash site--no trace was ever found of the aircraft or crew.
While the missing crew members were initially listed as Missing In Action, a
change in status to Killed In Action, Body Not Recovered occured within 90 days
of the incident. Reguarding the change in status, tha families were told that all
information pertinent to the incident was classified and would remain so for 10
Since that date the families have been told that the aircraft was involved in
electronic surveillance, and their mission was TOP SECRET. The aircraft was hit
by enemy artillery and was downed over North VietNam. A "classified source"
stated that the crew was killed. THE REST IS CLASSIFIED!
Efforts thru numerous inquireies, including a Congressional inquiry in 1982, to
reveal what information was contained in the "classified source" have been
fruitless. Through the Congressional inquiry, it was learned that information
reguarding the loss of Vanguard 216 would remain classified until the year 2010.
The crew of Vanguard 216 has been missing for nearly 20 years. The families of the
men aboard hold little hope that they are still alive, but they would like to
know--and deserve to know--what happened on that day!
If as the U.S. Government seems to believe, all the men are now dead, why the
cover of SECRECY reguarding their fates?
It's time we got answers, and it's time those who are left alive
are brought home!