Name: Ralph Jim Chipman Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: VMA 533, MAG 15, 1st Marine Air Wing
Date of Birth: 15 August 1943
Home City of Record: Orem UT
Date of Loss: 27 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171500N 1064500E (XD985800)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Ronald W. Forrester (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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 1998.
REMARKS: DEAD/QUAN DOI NHAN DAN
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is an all weather, low-altitude,
carrier-based attack plane. The A6A primarily flew close air support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as
DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small
precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located
and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were
credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war,
including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong
by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most
talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
Capt. Ralph J. Chipman was the pilot of an Intruder assigned a mission over
North Vietnam on December 27, 1972. His co-pilot on the flight was 1Lt.
Ronald W. Forrester. The aircraft did not return from the mission, and last
contact was made with the crew over the target area.
A subsequent article in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, a daily Vietnamese newspaper
described an aircraft downed by the Vietnamese. Apparently the pilot was
reported to be dead, and possibly the co-pilot as well. Although this
article was thought to possibly relate to Chipman and Forrester, it was not
definite enough for proof of death. Both men were classified Missing in
Action. It is believed that the Vietnamese could account for them.
Forrester and Chipman are among nearly 2500 Americans who remained missing
from the Vietnam war. Many experts, having seen the "several million"
documents relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in
Southeast Asia, believe that hundreds of these men are still alive in
In our haste to leave Southeast Asia, we abandoned some of our best men.
Surprisingly, in 1990, overtures by many U.S. government officials hint at
normalization of relations with Vietnam, yet no agreements have been reached
which would free those Americans still held in Southeast Asia. In our haste
to return to Indochina will we again abandon our men?
Ronald W. Forrester graduated from Texas A & M in 1969. He was promoted
the rank of Captain during the period he was maintained missing.