The Honorable Chuck Hagel
346 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20510

29 July 2000

Senator Hagel,

Good day. I am writing to you this day in the hopes that you can help in my search for Jack Columbus Rittichier. Rittichier, an 03 in the Coast Guard, was Killed In Action in Vietnam on 09 June 1968. Rittichier, along with Elmer Holden, James Locker, and Richard Yeend, were conducting a rescue mission in their HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter when it crashed. The men were searching for a downed attack pilot, who also is unaccounted for. I am pleased that as late as November 1998, the Air Force was using flight simulations to help locate possible crash sites of the Jolly Green 23. Subsequently, a military team in Vietnam searched for four days (monsoon season forced them to stop), but they did not find any signs of the Jolly Green 23.

I quite realize that searching for a helicopter that went down thirty-two years ago is a arduous task, but I know that neither the family of Rittichier nor I will rest peacefully until more is learned of his fate. These four men lost their lives while trying to save that of another, and as St. John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends." These men certainly did that, and we should do all we can, no matter how trying it is, to find answers to the whereabouts of Rittichier and the other men. All of those left behind deserve the support of those who also fought in Vietnam, yet returned alive -- people such as yourself. Every person, man or woman, enlisted or civilian, who fought in Vietnam was, and forever will be, scarred by what happened. Some, such as yourself and other Purple Heart recipients, were physically scarred, and others perhaps more psychologically than physically. What about those who have been left behind ... think of how hard it is on them to know that while they sacrificed themselves to go serve in a far off country, they have been abandoned by the very people who sent them there in the first place. Whether alive or dead, these people deserve to be home, and the family of Rittichier deserves a grave to visit. My thanks for your reading this, and may you continue your commendable work as a Senator.


Stacey N. Jones

letters | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06