The DPMO analyst spoke with Rick about his missing "loved one" in the lobby just outside the Regency Ballroom where the Department of Defense was hosting a regional meeting for families with relatives in the military who were missing in action {and presumed dead}.

The first question Rick had was what "Death by Misadventure," meant. The Analyst, an Iraqi-War veteran, hesitated then gave an example based on his understanding: "Well, for instance, if you are on the battlefield engaging the enemy and you step on a... land mine {he almost said I.E.D.} then it's a death under hostile circumstances; explosive or mine. If you're shot during an action its death by hostile fire; gunshot or small arms. If you are sleeping in your quarters and an enemy rocket or mortar kills you its still due to hostile caues; indirect fire: rocket, mortar or artillery... though these things are not always uniform and it my be said to be due to fragmentation." He saw that he was giving the civilian too much information; which was a problem he had in individual conferences. "Let's say someone went outside the wire of their camp... beyond the perimeter while off-duty and triggered an enemy device; that would be hostile; by misadventure." -- "Why would they go outside?" Rick wanted to know. The analyst didn't want to say to smoke dope, or chase women so he shrugged, "Maybe to explore..."

Then they turned their attention to the Family Conference Case Summary Information report which was most unusual:

On 3 June 1969 Marine Sgt [E-5] Randell Pratt III, who had several pilot lessons as a civilian took a Royal Australian Air Force DHC-4 Caribou {C-7 equivalent} originating at Vung Tau from its refueling station at Pleiku and with two other American serviceman Marine Cpl [E-4] Hedly Gargan McCoy and Air Force Sgt [E-4] Maisel Cain flew toward Danang for unknown reasons. Radio transmissions from the aircraft indicated that Sgt. Pratt had an M-2 {.50 caliber} heavy machine on board as cargo but it was his intention to attack, by air, unknown enemy or friendly Vietnamese forces that Sgt. Pratt blamed for the death of a comrade, also an adviser to South Vietnamese forces. It is unknown whether the other two service-members were willing participants or passengers. An hour into the flight Sgt. Pratt had difficulties with either the landing gear or the starboard engine and he radioed Danang tower explaining he could not land he would fly low, just above stall speed, but would evacuate his passengers into the surf at China Beach {there were no parachutes on board}. It was at this time that Sgt Pratt identified Cpl McCoy and Sgt Cain. A twin-engine propeller driven aircraft was reported to buzz the surf. It was believed unlikely that passengers hitting the water at approximately 65 miles an hour were able to survive and swim to shore. No witnesses saw the men in the water. Therefore Cpl McCoy and Sgt Cain [if indeed aboard] are presumed to have died by drowning.

The aircraft was found on 4 June 1969, intact, on the runway at Dak To II. The where-abouts and disposition of Sgt Pratt remains unknown. In 1992 a Vietnamese farmer Le Van Thro said he saw an American heading into the brush alone outside Dak To during 1968 or perhaps 1969. When asked what happened to this American the witness then denied everything and claimed he was confused. Sgt. Pratt is currently listed as AWOL and missing due to misadventure.

All the talk of service members separated, bewildered, captured, killed in ferocious battles or pilots lost or shot down and Rick was wondering about the whereabouts of a relative who was either a fool or a thief. Yet this gave him hope. Maybe such a man beat the odds and survived, establishing a new identity and a new life.