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MARK JOHN RUHLING

Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force

Unit: 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn Airbase, Thailand

Date of Birth:

Home City of Record: Pittsburgh PA

Date of Loss: 23 November 1968

Country of Loss: North Vietnam

Loss Coordinates: 172700N 1063400E (XE565270)

Status (in 1973): Released POW

Category: 2

Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C

Missions: 84

Other Personnel In Incident: Bradley G. Cuthbert (remains returned)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 February 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.

Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.

REMARKS: 730314 RELSD BY DRV

SYNOPSIS: On his 28th birthday, Capt. Bradley G. Cuthbert and his backseater, Capt. Mark J. Ruhling departed Udorn Airfield, Thailand on a photo reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in their Phantom fighter jet. When the aircraft was in the vicinity of Dong Hoi, it was shot down. Their aircraft, the only one shot down that day, was the first plane shot down after a bombing halt had been announced. Ruhling ejected safely, made radio contact with other planes in the area and said that his capture was imminent. He was then captured by the North Vietnamese. Bradley Cuthbert's parachute was seen to open by both Ruhling and other aircraft in the area, indicating that he also successfully ejected. No radio contact was made to verify that he landed on the ground safely. A Hanoi news item on November 27 described the capture of one pilot hiding behind a bush and the aircraft's second pilot being shot while still sitting in the plane. As the Air Force stated that Brad's plane crashed and burned, leaving no chance a body would remain intact, this report was not attributed to the crew of Cuthbert's plane. Besides, both crewmen aboard Cuthbert's aircraft had successfully bailed out. A second news item described the capture of another pilot which could have been Cuthbert. A Christmas 1969 film contained frames of a POW Brad's family feels is him, yet neither the Vietnamese or the U.S. Department of Defense listed Brad as a POW.

When agreements were signed ending the war, 591 American POWs were released, including Mark Ruhling. Brad Cuthbert was not released, nor has substantial information been found on his fate since that time. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of him. Experts now believe that hundreds of Americans are still captive in Indochina. One of them could be Brad Cuthbert. It's time we brought him home.

In December 1990, the U.S. announced that the remains of Bradley G. Cuthbert had been returned by the Vietnamese.

December 1996 Mark Ruhling retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He and his wife Pat reside in Texas.


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North Vietnam

Bradley G. Cuthbert and Mark J. Ruhling (1327)

On November 23, 1968, Captains Cuthbert and Ruhling were in an RF-4C on a reconnaissance mission of a surface-to-air missile site in North Vietnam. While over Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Captain Cuthbert's wingman observed their aircraft hit, break apart and burst into flames. No chutes were observed. Two to three minutes later, Captain Ruhling was safely on the ground and in contact with his wingman. He was later captured alive by North Vietnamese ground forces. During his debriefing he reported seeing Captain Cuthbert alive in his chute with his hands up in the risers. Captain Cuthbert was not seen alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. On November 23, 1968 North Vietnam reported the shoot down of an RF-4C and the death of one of the aircraft's crewmen. In August 1989, Joint Casualty Resolution Center personnel interviewed witnesses in Quang Binh Province concerning this case. They recovered the dog-tag of Captain Cuthbert from local villagers. They also received hearsay information that after landing safely on the ground, Captain Cuthbert was beaten to death by local wood cutters. JCRC was taken to the purported grave site which appeared to relate to an entirely separate air loss incident. Captain Cuthbert was initially declared missing in action. In May 1975, he was declared dead/body not recovered. His remains have not yet been repatriated.

The above info. taken fromAll POW/MIA

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