Fallen Soldier: Karl W. Richter

Karl W. Richter
Dates: Died July 28, 1967
Branch of Service: Air Force
Rank: Lieutenant
Player: Isaac Layne

Air Force Lt Karl W. Richter died on July 28, 1967 flying his F-105 over North Vietnam when anti-aircraft fire forced him to eject. In foggy conditions, he impacted a rocky outcropping in his descent, and was in critical condition when his rescue team arrived. He succumbed to his injuries during transport to the hospital.

Richter graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1964, He went on to 53 weeks of Undergraduate Pilot Training at Craig Air Force Base and then to Combat Crew Replacement Training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in the F-105 Thunderchief. Lt. Richter was immediately assigned to the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron. Four days later was flying missions over North Vietnam. 

At the age of 23, Lt. Richter had become the youngest American pilot to shoot down a MiG over Vietnam. As he approached the 100-mission mark, he asked permission to fly a second 100 missions, believing his combat experience should be used to advance the war effort.

On April 20, 1967, while leading a defense-suppression flight of F-105’s, his team destroyed or pinned down a number of enemy anti-aircraft crews. This enabled the strike force to eliminate an important railroad target in spite of intense enemy fire and weather that hindered navigation, for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross for heroism.

At the time of his death, Lt. Richter had flown more missions over North Vietnam than any other airman—198 in all officially credited.