On 20 February 1998 Herbert Benjamin Ringsdorf, Captain, United States Air Force, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with Full military honors.
Captain Ringsdorf was held prisoner by the Vietnamese for more than six years before his return in 1973. Rest in peace Herbert, your sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Thanks to Keith Barnes for remembering this American hero.
RINGSDORF, HERBERT BENJAMIN
Name: Herbert Benjamin Ringsdorf
Rank/Branch: Captain, United States Air Force
Unit: 47th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 16 September 1939
Home City of Record: Elba Alabama
Date of Loss: 11 November 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170000N 1065800E (YD108825)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Richard L. Butt (remains returned); nearby F4C same day: Robert I. Biss; Harold D. Monlux (both released)
Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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 with information from Lillian Ringsdorf.
The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 – 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the “hottest” planes around.
On November 11, 1966, two F4C aircraft were shot down about 5 miles west of the city of Vinh Linh in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The crew of one consisted of pilot 1Lt. Herbert B. Ringsdorf and weapons/system operator First Lieutenant Richard L. Butt. Of this crew, both were apparently captured, but only Ringsdorf was released at the end of the war. The Department of Defense received intelligence that Butt was dead, but evidently did not feel it was compelling enough to declare Butt Killed in Action, as he remained in Prisoner of War status for several years.
On April 10, 1986, Butt's remains were “discovered” and returned by the Vietnamese and positively identified. For twenty years, Richard L. Butt was a prisoner of war – alive or dead.
The crew of the second F4C to be shot down on November 11, 1966 was First Lieuetnant Harold D. Monlux and Captain Robert I. Biss. Both men were captured and released at the end of the war.
There is some confusion as to the location of the loss incidents of these four individuals. While the loss coordinates place all four in Quang Binh Province, certain records indicate that Biss and Monlux were lost in the next province to the north, Ha Tinh. Their grid coordinates (YD108825 and YD093804) are close enough to be all in Quang Binh Province.
Richard Butt, Herbert Ringsdorf and Harold Monlux were promoted to the rank of Captain during the period they were maintained Prisoner of War. Robert Biss was promoted to the rank of Major.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).
UPDATE – 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
HERBERT B. RINGSDORF
Captain – United States Air Force
Shot Down: November 11, 1966
Released: February 12, 1973
Captain Ringsdorf was shot down in his F4C aircraft on a combat mission over North Vietnam on November 11, 1966. He joined the Air Force in 1963 shortly after graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in Chemistry. Until his return from North Vietnam, Captain Ringsdorf had remained a bachelor. Then, Governor and Mrs. George Wallace introduced him to Gloria Gayden. On May 3, 1973 they were married in the Maxwell Air Force Base Chapel, Montgomery, Alabama with Governor Wallace and his wife, Cornelia Wallace, as members of the wedding party.
Dr. Herbert Ringsdorf, M.D. resided in Alabama until his death from a heart attack in February of 1998. He is survived by his daughter, Lillian.
Letter to the editor:
Dr. Ben treated patients for free
I am writing in response to the February 20 article about Dr Herbert Benjamin Ringsdorf, the Vietnam veteran who was found dead of an apparent heart attack. Dr. Ben had a side to him that the article failed to recognize. He was an outstanding, caring physician. 17 years ago when Dr. Ben opened his practiced, he became our family doctor and friend. My son was 1 year old at the time and very ill. Dr. Ben left a party one night to make a house call to see my son. I didn't find out until later that it was his own party of congratulations for opening his own private practice.
Several years later I helped in his office one week while his secretary was on vacation. He had me bill numerous patients $3 or no charge. I asked him why. He told me they were on fixed incomes or that they just couldn't pay. How many doctors do that?
This man was an outstanding doctor in too many ways to even begin to write about. I know many Mobilians will remember him in this way, not as the POW who owed the government money.
Vicki L. Stambuk
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard