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Leonard L. Kaster

 

 

In memory of Leonard L. Kaster


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UPDATE !
Remains Identified: October 30, 2001 

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  • Name: Leonard Lee Kaster
  • Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
  • Unit: 405th Fighter Wing
  • Date of Birth: 24 September 1938
  • Home City of Record: Holyoke MA
  • Date of Loss: 06 August 1964
  • Country of Loss: South Vietnam
  • Loss Coordinates: 110953N 1070444E (YT270349)
  • Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
  • Category: 2
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B57B
  • Other Personnel in Incident: Frec C. Cutrer Jr. (missing)


Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.


REMARKS: AC CRASH EXPLODE HVY VC - J
SYNOPSIS: The B57 Canberra was one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Canberra first came to the Vietnam theater at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. It proved too vulnerable and difficult to repair for working targets over North Vietnam, but proved effective in the armed reconnaissance Trail operations of Operation Steel Tiger. The Canberra was sometimes used in conjunction with other, more sophisticated aircraft, such as the C130, and was especially effective on night missions.

 

Capt. Fred C. Cutrer Jr. was the pilot of a Canberra sent on an operational mission over South Vietnam on August 6, 1964. The navigator onboard the aircraft was 1Lt. Leonard L. Kaster. Aircraft control last heard from the aircraft by radio when it was northeast of Tan Son Nhut.
The aircraft went down near the Sang Dong Nai River in Long Khan Province, South Vietnam. According to Defense Intelligence data, it received heavy fire from Viet Cong forces, crashed and exploded. Neither crewman was believed to have survived. Both were classified Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.
Cutrer and Kaster are listed among the missing because their remains were never recovered. Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?
Fred C. Cutrer, Jr. was promoted to the rank of Major before a determination of death was made.
========================
UPDATE LINE: OCTOBER 30, 2001
AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  The League learned today that the remains of seven
US personnel previously unaccounted for from the Vietnam War had been
identified.  The remains of Navy CDR John A. Feldhaus of TN were jointly
recovered in North Vietnam on April 26, 2000.  The remains of Air Force
Reservists Capt Fred C. Cutrer, Jr, of MS and 1LT Leonard L. Kaster of MA
were jointly recovered in South Vietnam and repatriated on May 22, 1997. The
February 11, 2000, joint recovery in Laos of the remains of four Americans
brought identification of WO1 Barry F. Fivelson of IL, Specialists 4th Class
Willis C. Crear of AL, Donald E. Crone of CA and John L. Powers of Idaho.
Comment:  The League offers support to each family, recognizing the end to
many years of uncertainty for all. This brings the number accounted for
since the end of the war to 636: 455 from Vietnam, 156 from Laos, 23 from
Cambodia and 2 from the PRC.  Of the 1949 still missing and unaccounted for,
1470 are in Vietnam, 411 in Laos, 60 in Cambodia and 8 in the territorial
waters of the PRC.  Of the total number, roughly 90% were lost in areas
under Vietnam's wartime control.
===============
Monday, April 29, 2002
Remains of first U.S. pilot recorded killed in Vietnam to be buried in
Arlington
McCOMB (AP) -- The remains of Capt. Fred "Potlick" Clay Cutrer lay buried
one meter beneath the surface of a jungle bog for 33 years, mired in
obscurity and hidden from his family's grasp for closure.
But in the spring of 1997, the Department of Defense, with the aid of a
Vietnamese native who witnessed Cutrer's B-57 Bomber plummet to earth in
Dong Nai Province Aug. 5, 1964, made a discovery and started the Cutrer
family's healing.
And on June 6, Cutrer's sister Lillie Cutrer Gould, and his sons Don and
Fred II, will travel to Washington D.C., where they will officially end the
uncertainty. On that day, at 11 a.m., the Osyka native will be buried in
Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., with full military honors.
The Air Force will place Capt. Cutrer's remains in a coffin that will also
bear the name of his co-pilot, Lt. Leonard L. Kaster.
Kaster's body was never found, though the military excavated the plane's two
seats near the crash site, indicating the men did not eject.
Later this summer, the body of Cutrer's wife, Shirley, an Air Force nurse,
will be placed next to Fred's remains. Shirley died Sept. 10, 1998, when her
car collided with an 18-wheeler in Pennsylvania.
During the funeral, five Air Force jets will perform a "missing man" fly
over, according to son Fred, where the plane positioned in the middle point
of a "V" formation peels away from the group, signifying a missing soldier.
The decision to bury Cutrer in Washington and not Osyka had as much to do
with honoring Kaster as it did Cutrer, according to Gould. She said military
officials told her Kaster would not have his own military funeral because
his remains were never found. But they said Kaster could be honored at her
brother's Arlington Cemetery burial.
Gould worried that because no one from the Kaster family is left to make
burial arrangements, his heroism and presumed death might pass unnoticed.
"My brother asked me before he ever went overseas if anything happened, to
take him back to Osyka," said Gould, 70, a retired grade school teacher
living in Metairie, La. "I always wanted to get him home, but I just can't
let that poor man (Kaster) go unnoticed."
Gould's three children, their spouses, two grandchildren, other family
members and friends are making the trip to Washington. Twenty-five people
from Pike County and Kentwood, La., recently bought their plane tickets, she
said.
================
Date sent: Wed, 22 May 2002 11:09:48 -0500
YOUR STORY TAKEN FROM THE MCCOMB PAPER IS INACCURATE ON SOME MAJOR INFO. THE
REMAINS OF MY FATHER AND LT. KASTER WERE NEVER IDENTIFIED DUE TO THE SIZE OF
ALL THE REMIANS WHICH I HAVE PERSONNALY SEEN WHILE AT CILHI.  A DOG TAG OF
MY DADS AND THE AIRCRAFT IDENTIFICATION PLATE WERE FOUND AMONGST OTHER
AIRCRAFT PARTS....  BOTH MEN WILL BE BURIED AS A GROUP BURIAL ON JUNE 6,
2002 AT 1100 HOURS, ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY..
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE ASK....
GOD BLESS AMERICA
DONALD J. CUTRER, SMSgt, AFRES
CHIEF RESERVE LOADMASTER,
757th AIRLIFT WING


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"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."

 

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