North High School Wall of Honor
Richard Clair Swift
Class of June, 1949
Research done by Rick Nehrling, class of 1963 and Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953.
Richard graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He went on to receive his Masters degree at Mississippi State University. During this time, he was an Apollo Space Program instructor pilot and a U.S. Air Force navigator, pilot, and command pilot.

Richard enlisted in the US Air Force. He arrived in Vietnam on November 22, 1968. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 1115 or Pilot, and his rank was Major. He was assigned to the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron, 504th Tactical Air Support Group, 7th Air Force headquartered at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB (Royal Thailand Air Force Base), Thailand.

He was a forward air controller. On November 22, 1968, Major Swift and Captain Ivan J. Campbell were flying O-2A S/N 68-6859 when the aircraft struck a tree and crashed. The crash occurred in Thailand and killed both Major Swift and Captain Campbell. Both bodies were recovered.

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, and numerous other military honors. Major Swift made the ultimate sacrifice with his life in the line of duty in the Vietnam War on November 22, 1968. On the virtual wall at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.: Panel 38W, Line 039. His service number was 00047246. For Richard's specific record:
Richard Clair Swift
Year   Rank   Status
1944-1949 x Employed x Des Moines Register & Tribune newspaper
June, 1949 x x x Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA.
Placed sixth academically in class of 216. N Club, football, basketball, baseball. Register and Tribune Academic Scholarship to Iowa State College
  Schooling x Iowa State College, Ames, IA. Degree in industrial engineering. Air Force ROTC, Cardinal Key academic award, Tomahawk Honor Society, President of Dodds House, President of Student Union, ISU Baseball Team
Sept 6, 1952 x Family x Married Barbara Gilbert, 1949 North High graduate
1953 x US Air Force x U.S. Air Force navigator. Pilot.
1959 x Training x Command Pilot. Strategic Air Command during Cold War air defenses. Flying refueling KC-135 aircraft.
1960-67 x Training x Apollo Eastern Test Range, Patrick AFB, FL. Instructor pilot, Flight Examiner, Assistant Test Director for Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft.
1967 x Training/ x Vietnam. Forward Air Controller (FAC)
1968 x Event x Major Swift participated superbly in accomplishing highly intricate missions to support Free World Forces that were combatting aggression. Major Swift made the ultimate sacrifice with his life on November 22, 1968.
Nov 22, 1968 x Died x Over Thailand, Major Swift made the ultimate sacrifice with his life on November 22, 1968. Surviving: Wife: Barbara; son: Michael; daughters: Pamela, Sandra, Teresa, Mary
1960's: Patrick AFB, FL with KC-135 Instrumentation Aircraft
1967-68: Major Swift in Vietnam with 0-2 Skymaster Aircraft
left : Brick Memorial Wall; Gold Star Museum, Johnston, IA
right: 1952; Dick and Barbara Gilbert Swift
above: Urbandale Tree Park with Memorial Pavers for
Joe Boitnott, Robert L Gates, Theodore L Hatfield,
Robert D Long, Robert Niffenegger, Richard C Swift
left : Forward Air Controllers Memorial, Colorado Springs, CO
right: Swift Gravesite; Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, IA
Major Richard Clair Swift
23rd TAC Air Support Squadron,
504th Tac Air Support Group, 7th Air Force
United States Air Force
7th Air Force

504th Tac Air Support
23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron

Air Force Pilot Wings

(1) Information was obtained from the Records on Military Personnel Who Died, were Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War as a result of the Vietnam War. This document can be found online at the National Archives and Records Administration at

(2) Information was obtained from the virtual wall that can be found online at

(3) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Richard Clair Swift's 1949 class page is:
Born 07/14/31. Deceased: 11/22/68; Thailand; Died; Non-hostile; Died; Other
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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