USS Hancock Air Groups Casualties and MIAs

(Vietnam Era Only)
Hancock Vietnam War Casualty Memorial
Please be advised that this list may not be complete
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The Following List of Casualties Launched from the Deck of the U.S.S. HANCOCK was gleaned from a Search on the P.O.W. Network's Database located at http://www.pownetwork.org/ in conjunction with Operation Just Cause. The Following Permission was granted from the P.O.W. Network (see bottom of page). Mary Schantag of the P.O.W. Network states: "Bios change as news on our missing is received. Please check every few months for news at the POWNETWORK.ORG."

Note: If you have any additional information on any men listed here or know of someone who should be listed here please contact the Yeoman.

Note: For another Search Site that honors our Fallen in Vietnam, please go to:
"
Task Force Omega". If you find the person you believe should be listed on this Page at Task Force Omega, please let the Yeoman know by contacting Jake the Yeoman.


Read or Leave a Memorial to those Valiant Men who were lost and listed as MIA while Flying Sorties from the Hancock...

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The USS HANCOCK first saw action in Vietnam when aircraft from her decks flew strikes against enemy vessels in Saigon Harbor in late 1944. The Essex class carrier, extensively modernized, returned to Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam war. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. The HANCOCK was the smallest type of flattop to operate in the Vietnam theater, but pilots from her fighter and attack squadrons distinguished themselves throughout the duration of the war. On June 12, 1966, Commander Hal Marr, the CO of VF-211 gained the first F8 Russian MiG kill.

9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (Aug 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975) and 2,594,000 served in the country of Vietnam and where  more than 58,202 never returned home. All of these brave men were some of them. See the Vietnam Statistics Page for more details.

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McDONOUGH, JOHN RICHARD

LT John R. McDonough, USNR (Deceased)

LT John Richard McDonough, USNR (Deceased)
Photo courtesy of New Jersey, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

"He which hath no stomach to this fight let him depart. But we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!! For he today, that sheds his blood with me, shall always be my brother." - William Shakespeare

See our Shipmate Dan "Blev" Blevins own Memorial and Story about Lt. McDonough's loss here

Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Reserves
Unit: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-13 Det 1, USS JOHN HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 10 May 1939 (Newark NJ)
Home City of Record: South Orange, Essex County, NJ
Date of Loss: 20 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 174459N 1072958E (YE650641)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: EA1F

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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:

One of the aircraft which launched from the decks of the HANCOCK was the EA1F. The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The E model generally carried two crewmen. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counter insurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used in a variety of roles, ranging from multi-seat electronic intelligence gathering to Navy antisubmarine warfare and rescue missions.

The venerable fighter aircraft was retired in the spring of 1968 and had flown in more than twenty model variations, probably more than any other U.S. combat aircraft. The A1D (the Fighter designation) held the highest Kill Ratio in Vietnam. She was an ept Aircraft and when seen from the ground by the enemy, it was a source of great fear and dread.

LT John R. McDonough was a pilot assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 13, Detachment 1 onboard the USS HANCOCK. On June 20, 1966, LT McDonough was on a night catapult launch. During the launch the bridle which connects the aircraft to the catapult broke. The aircraft was launched off the bow of the carrier with insufficient airspeed for flight. The aircraft ditched and sank immediately. An ejection was apparently not attempted by LT McDonough. Neither McDonough nor the aircraft were recovered. McDonough is listed among those Americans still prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Vietnam
because his remains were not found.

(
NOTE: Even though the EA1F was not a single-seat aircraft, no mention of other crewmembers is made in the U.S. Navy account of this incident. It is assumed that for some reason McDonough was alone in the aircraft, the other crew members were rescued, or the remainder of the crew died and their remains were recovered; however read new Light...

FURTHER INFORMATION WHICH HAS COME TO LIGHT was sent to Jake Jaccard, Web Yeoman of this Website - the USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial on 29 April 2009 which he regards as valid and true.

Ron Jones, a member of V-6 LOX Crew who kept a daily log was on deck during this tragedy wrote:

Greetings,

I was just perusing your USS Hancock Air Groups Casualties and MIAs web page and noted the comments regarding LT. John R. McDonough’s accident. I was the V-6 LOX crew leader during Hancock’s ’65-’66 & ‘67 cruises, and kept a daily log during the ’65-’66 cruise.

My log entry for Monday, 20 June 1966 contains the following entry:

"EA-1F (779) was lost due to a port cold cat shot at 0300, pilot drowned BNR (Body Not Recovered), navigator and radarman rescued."

Perhaps this information is of value to you in bringing clarification to the following section of your web article: “(NOTE: Even though the EA1F was not a single-seat aircraft, no mention of other crewmembers is made in the U.S. Navy account of this incident. It is assumed that for some reason McDonough was alone in the aircraft, the other crew members were rescued, or the remainder of the crew died and their remains were recovered.)”

Regards,

Ron Jones, AMS2 V-6 LOX CVA-19

Other References to this casualty are located on this site at:

This Website's USS Hancock Post Recommissioning Casualties Page
Dan Blevin's Memorial - in our Oral History Section
The LT_John_R_McDonough Casualty Threaded Email Page



For John R. McDonough, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace.

The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war.

Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?

Note: See a complete Email Thread on this Casualty here.

COOK, DENNIS PHILIP
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 212, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 01 November 1936
Home City of Record: Santa Barbara CA
Date of Loss: 06 April 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water (See Text)
Loss Coordinates: 175831N 1080133E (AK850900)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 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:

LT Dennis P. Cook was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 212 onboard the aircraft carrier USS HANCOCK, then stationed off Dixie Station in the South China Sea. On April 6, 1966, he was preparing to launch in his A4E Skyhawk light attack aircraft. due to a catapult malfunction his aircraft did not have sufficient acceleration on launch and the aircraft settled into the water with no apparent ejection attempted. An extensive search was conducted throughout the crash site area, but no remains of LT Cook were located.

(NOTE: Although all government data states that the country of loss for LT Cook was South Vietnam/Over Water, the loss coordinates given above, obtained from government data, are located in the Gulf of Tonkin, offshore from North Vietnam approximately 100 miles east of the city of Ron. The grid coordinates [AK850 900] indicate a loss in the South China Sea. No explanation can be found for this apparent discrepancy, but the weight of data indicates that the loss did occur offshore from South Vietnam in spite of the discrepancy.)

LT Cook was placed in a Dead/Non-battle casualty status. Because his remains were never recovered he is listed among the unaccounted for U.S. servicemen from the Vietnam War.

During the period of July-September 1973 an overwater/at sea casualty resolution operation was conducted to determine the feasibility of pursuing recovery on incidents such as that of LT Dennis Cook. Because of the lack of any positive results whatsoever, the at-sea operations were terminated. It was decided that LT Cook and others lost at sea would never be recovered.

BROWN, THOMAS EDWARD
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 211, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 21 September 1941
Home City of Record: Danville IL
Date of Loss: 29 April 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204458N 1070757E (YH220957)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8E
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The Vought F-8 "Crusader" represented half or more of the carrier fighters in the Tonkin Gulf in the first four years of the Vietnam war. The Crusader sometimes played the role of decoy in battles against SAMs (surface to air missiles), tricking the radar controlled SAM battery to follow the F8 and allow following fighter/bombers to reach their targets. On these type missions the F8 carried no external armament, to attain better maneuverability and airspeed.

The F8 also did much work in Vietnam in the ground attack role, and were used in the myriad attacks against strategic targets in North Vietnam (Rolling Thunder).

The Crusader was also a MiG fighter, either escorting strike and reconnaissance aircraft or patrolling sectors in hope of engaging MiGs enroute to intercepting U.S. formations. The Crusader was credited with nearly 53% of all MiG kills during the war. From 1964 to 1973, 83 Crusaders were either lost or destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 aircraft needed major rebuilding.

On April 29, 1966 LtJG Thomas E. Brown launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock in his F8E Crusader fighter aircraft with others from his squadron on a strike mission against targets in North Vietnam. Lt. Brown's aircraft was engaged in a strafing run on a surface vessel when his aircraft was seen to collide with a karst rock jutting out of the water 300 yards past the target. No ejection was seen by the wingman. Brown and the rest of the flight were striking in the vicinity of Haiphong Harbor, near the coastal city of Pho Cat Ba in North Vietnam.

LtJG Brown was classified Killed/Body Not Recovered. The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the KIA/BNR classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 3. Category 3 indicates "doubtful knowledge" and includes personnel whose loss incident is such that it is doubtful that the enemy wound have knowledge of the specific individuals (e.g. aircrews lost over water or remote areas).

Brown's name is carried on the rolls of the missing because his body was not found to be returned home. His family can be as certain as it is possible to be that he died a swift death on April 29, 1966. Other families of the missing, however cannot be so consoled. They are taunted by nearly 10,000 reports received which have convinced many authorities that hundreds of Americans remain alive in enemy hands in Southeast Asia. Brown may not be among those said to be alive, but what would he think of our efforts to bring these American fighting men home?

Prepared by Homecoming II Project 01 December 1989

EVANS, JAMES JOSEPH
Remains Returned 711108, ID'd 770422

Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 215, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 09 May 1930
Home City of Record: Valley Falls KS
Date of Loss: 02 April 1965
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165500N 1055000E (WD861703)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.

REMARKS: REMS REC 711108, ID'D 770422

SYNOPSIS: Commander James J. Evans was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 215 onboard the aircraft carrier USS HANCOCK (CVA-19). On April 2, 1965, while on a
reconnaissance mission over Laos, his aircraft was lost, and he was placed in a Missing in Action Status. He was operating over Savannakhet Province, about 5 miles southeast of the city of Ban Muong Sen.

At some point following the loss of Cdr. Evans, U.S. intelligence sources reported that he was captured. Although the information was never confirmed, Cdr. Evans was reclassified Prisoner of War. The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded Evans' classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2 indicates "suspect knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been involved in loss incidents with individuals reported in Category 1 (confirmed knowledge), or who were lost in areas or under conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected with an incident which was discussed but not identified by names in enemy news media; or identified (by elimination, but not 100% positively) through analysis of all-source intelligence.

In November 1971, skeletal remains were returned from Vietnam and subsequently, the Armed Services Graves Registration Office (ASGRO) Board of Review approved the identification of the remains on April 22, 1974 as being those of James Joseph Evans. No explanation is given in public record as to the nature of the information that was received precipitating Evans'status change to POW or how Evans died, or when. Even though his 1973 status was Prisoner of War, the "enemy knowledge" category assigned to him is Category 2, which does not correlate with a known Prisoner of War, but rather of someone whom it is merely strongly suspected the enemy has knowledge.

The Navy is not required to release more than basic information on American Navy personnel missing in Southeast Asia. Many of their files, like other branches of the service, are still classified after many years. The Defense Intelligence Agency is mandated to classify most of the reports received (which by the end of 1989 total nearly 10,000) relating to these same men, except in cases where it is deemed suitable to release this information to the appropriate family member. Thus, many of the cases of the missing in Southeast Asia may forever be clouded with doubt, until and unless all information is publicly available.

MEYERS, ROGER ALLEN
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 164, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 10 December 1933 (Eau Claire WI)
Home City of Record: Chicago IL
Date of Loss: 09 February 1969
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 173900N 1074430E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E

See VA-164 History Inset Below

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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:

One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the HANCOCK was the Douglas Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. When the Skyhawk was built, the intent was to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential.

LCDR Roger A. Meyers was an A4 pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 164 onboard the USS HANCOCK. On the night of February 9, 1969, he was preparing to launch on an attack strike mission into North Vietnam in his A4E Skyhawk. The aircraft was positioned on the catapult system and launched off the ship. Immediately after the launch, the aircraft had some undetermined difficulty and crashed into the sea. Search and rescue helicopters and boats were on the scene within minutes, but were unable to find the pilot of wreckage of the aircraft.

LCDR Meyers was listed in a casualty status of Killed/Body Not Recovered. It is not believed that his body will ever be found. At the time of loss, the HANCOCK was stationed some 125 miles from North Vietnam, east of the city of Thanh Hoa.

For Roger A. Meyers, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace.

The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war.

Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?

CARTER, GERALD LYNN
LT(jg) - O2 - Navy - Reserve
28 year old Married, Caucasian, Male
Born on Feb 14, 1942
From WINSTON, OREGON
Length of service 3 years.
His tour of duty began on Jan 26, 1971
Casualty was on Jan 26, 1971
in OFFSHORE, NORTH VIETNAM
NON-HOSTILE, FIXED WING - PILOT
AIR LOSS, CRASH AT SEA
Body was not recovered
Religion PROTESTANT

Loss Coordinates: 173900N 1074430E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E

January 26, 1971:
Commanding Officer, Commander George Boaz, United States Navy, was on the angle deck elevator 2 firing up his A-4F Skyhawk. After applying external power, attaching the "huffer" hose, and completing all the necessary control surface checks the Skipper's Skyhawk went "down" for a secure communication failure. The Ghost Rider spare was Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve.

Thus Lieutenant Carter taxied A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154930 forward to the port catapult, hooked up and went to tension. With 100% thrust Carter saluted for the catapult shot. Half way down the cat-track, one of the bridle hooks catastrophically failed. Lieutenant Carter had the immediate foresight to pull his emergency jettison handle; there were six olive drab streaks on the flight deck where his MK-82 bomb load slid across the cat-track non-skid paint and over the side. The Ghost Rider Skyhawk dribbled over the side and down into the sea where the carrier ran over the sinking Skyhawk.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve did not survive the accident. Though this crash was technically classified an "operational accident," it still hit home to the plane captains, ordnance men and other flight deck crew as Lieutenant Carter had be-friended the men in the line division. Although shy and quiet, Lieutenant Carter exemplified many of the positive values described by the Admiral at the end of "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" when describing the character, Lieutenant Brubacker. We will not forget Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve.

Reported by John R. Nelson (former) VA-164 AT-AN -
From the Skyhawk Association - VA-164 Page

LAMBTON, BENNIE RICHARD
Rank/Branch: E7/US Navy
Unit: Heavy Photo Squadron 61, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 07 August 1930 (Harrisburg IL)
Home City of Record: Indianapolis IN
Date of Loss: 13 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 181557N 1060659E (XF180198)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA3B

Other Personnel In Incident: George G. Gierak; John T. Glanville (both missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: HIT-N TRACE-FBIS SEZ DED-J

SYNOPSIS: On June 13, 1966, LCDR John Glanville, pilot; LTJG George Gierak, co-pilot; and Chief Petty Officer Bennie R. Lambton, photographic intelligenceman, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in their RA3B Skywarrior aircraft on a night low-level photo reconnaissance mission in the Ha Tinh province of North Vietnam.

The flight was directed by Heavy Photographic Squadron 61, to which the crew was attached. During their mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and it was assumed they went down under heave fire. No communication or distress signals were received. The escort aircraft observed a bright orange flash near the mouth of the Gia Hoi River and thereafter radio contact with the aircraft had been lost.

An extensive search was conducted in the immediate area, as well as over the adjacent waters by various aircraft, but results were negative.

On June 15, 1966, Radio Peking stated that a photo reconnaissance jet was shot down and the crew killed in the crash.

The crew escape system of this type aircraft does not provide ejection seats, and makes high speed bailout extremely difficult. Low-altitude bailout is virtually impossible. All information taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer of the squadron changed the crew's initial classification from Missing in Action to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered on June 17, 1966.

The crew of the RA3B shot down on June 13, 1966 are listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply vanished without a trace.

Reports continue to mount that we abandoned hundreds of Americans to the enemy when we left Southeast Asia. While the crew of the RA3B may not be among them, one can imagine their proud willingness to fly one more mission to bring in the intelligence needed to secure their rescue and flight to freedom.

WILLIAM PATRICK EGAN

Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Commander/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 215
USS Hancock (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 20 January 1931 (Houston, TX)
Home of Record: Fort Worth, TX
Date of Loss: 29 April 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 172900N 1054200E (WE743330)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H "Skyraider"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: With its fantastic capability to carry a wide range of ordnance (8,000 pounds of external armament), great flight range (out to 3,000 miles), and the ability to absorb punishment, the single-seat Douglas A1 Skyraider became one of the premier performers in the close air support and attack mission role (nickname: Spad) and RESCAP mission role (nickname: Sandy). The Skyraider served the Air Force, Navy and Marines faithfully throughout the war in Southeast Asia.

On 29 April 1966, Lt. Cmdr. William P. Egan was the pilot of a A1H Spad that launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hancock as the lead aircraft in a flight of two on an bombing mission against a pre-assigned target. The target, a military complex used by the communists as a truck stop and supply depot, was located in the foothills on the south side of a jungle-covered mountain range approximately 62 miles due west of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi, 14 miles southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border and 1 mile southwest of Ban Senphon, Khammouan Province, Laos.

This area of eastern Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

The pilots had been briefed to make one bomb run from 10,000 feet and then leave the area. At approximately 1600 hours, Lt. Cmdr. Egan identified the target as they approached it at the attack altitude. The flight immediately rolled in on the enemy depot with Lt. Cmdr. Egan in the lead and his wingman following a few seconds later. His wingman observed William Egan drop his bomb, but instead of pulling up and away from the target, he watched in horror as the Spad continued down at a 30 degree dive angle and explode upon impact with the ground. The wingman orbited the wreckage several times before being forced to depart the area. He believed Lt. Cmdr. Egan did not have time to bail out of his crippled aircraft, and after observing the crash site, he reported there was no chance of survival. William Egan was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

While the fate of LCDR William Egan is in little doubt, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different. Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

ERWIN, DONALD EDWARD
Remains Returned - ID Announced March 1990

Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 164, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 01 January 1929
Home City of Record: Hobart IN
Date of Loss: 02 October 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 184957N 1052958E (WF680970)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
Date Compiled: 15 March 1990

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk was intended to provide the Navy and Marhne Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing, as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling.

Commander Donald Edward Erwin was the pilot of an A-4E "SKYHAWK" attack aircraft assigned to Attack Squadron ONE SIX FOUR on board the USS HANCOCK (CVA-19). On October 2, 1968 he launched on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. He received a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire, forcing him to guide his aircraft over the water. Commander Erwin was observed ejecting by his wingman and land in the water. On a later pass the wingman saw only the pilot's helmet and parachute in the water. No emergency radio transmission were received. There were numerous small fishing boats observed in the area of the ejection. Search and Rescue helicopters had no success in locating Commander Erwin.

Defense Department loss coordinates (184957N 1052958E) place Commander Erwin's last position about 20 miles northwest of the city of Vinh in Nghe An Province, North Vietnam. This location is about 15 miles inland from the Gulf of Tonkin. Other U.S. Government records state that Commander Erwin's aircraft was lost over water, and that he was killed in the crash, and his remains were determined to be non-recoverable (indicating a disastrous sea crash where no trace could be found of the pilot).

In March, 1990, the Defense Department announced that a number of American remains had been returned by Vietnam and had been positively identified. Among them were those of Donald E. Erwin.

Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in captivity. As in the case of Commander Erwin, Vietnam and her communist allies can account for most of them. Current "negotiations" between the U.S. and Vietnam have yielded the remains of nearly 300 Americans. The families of these men at least now have the peace of knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead.

In the total view of the issue of the missing, however, the return of remains signals no progress. In the early 1980's the very credible Congressional testimony of a Vietnamese mortician indicated that the Vietnamese are in possession of over 400 sets of remains. In 15 years, they have returned barely half of them -- others coming from joint excavations of aircraft crash sites. More importantly, the same credible witness, whose testimony is believed throughout Congress, stated that he had seen live Americans held at the same location where the remains were stored -- after the war was over for the U.S.

As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, the only issue is that living man. We must bring them home before there are only remains to negotiate for.

GREEN, FRANK CLIFFORD JR.
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 212, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 05 June 1935
Home City of Record: Waskom TX
Date of Loss: 10 July 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 201100N 1055700E (WH871207)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4F

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 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:

Commander Frank C. Green was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 212 onboard the USS HANCOCK. On July 10, 1972, CDR Green was launched in his A4F Skyhawk aircraft to lead a night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.

Green and his wingman had completed the armed reconnaissance of an assigned road segment and proceeded on their secondary mission to locate and destroy any targets of opportunity they might find. They sighted vehicle lights some distance south of their position and flew in that direction in order to make an unlighted bomb attack. Shortly after the attack, the wingman observed a small flash in the general target area immediately followed by a large, fuel type, secondary explosion on the ground. Not hearing an acknowledgement that CDR Green was off the target or a reply to his comments about the explosion, the wingman suspected that the explosion might be CDR Green's aircraft.

Search and rescue efforts were initiated immediately, but attempts made to contact CDR Green met with negative results. The crash site was located, and shortly after, the crash site had been camouflaged. It was believed that Green would not have camouflaged the site before he could be rescued. Since it was not known if CDR Green was killed in the crash of his aircraft or survived to be captured, Green was placed in a casualty status of Missing in Action. Since the area in which he crashed (about 5 miles southwest of the city of Ninh Binh in Ninh Binh Province) was near a heavily populated area, there is every reason to believe the North Vietnamese could tell us what happened to CDR Frank C. Green.

When 591 Americans were released from POW camps at the end of the war, CDR Green was not among them. Military officials were startled that "hundreds" suspected to be prisoner or expected to be released, were not freed. Since that time, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having reviewed this largely classified information, believe that there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity today.

Whether CDR Frank C. Green, Jr. survived to be captured is not known. If he is among those believed to still be alive is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that the United States has a legal and moral obligation to the men she sent to war in her name. If there is even one American held alive against his will, we must do everything in our power to bring him home.

GIERAK, GEORGE GREGORY JR.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Heavy Photo Squadron 61, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 25 July 1940
Home City of Record: Springfield NY
Date of Loss: 13 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 181557N 1060659E (XF180198)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA3B

Other Personnel In Incident: John T. Glanville; Bennie R. Lambton (both missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: HIT-N TRACE-FBIS SEZ DED-J

SYNOPSIS: On June 13, 1966, LTCDR John Glanville, pilot; LTJG George Gierak, co-pilot; and Chief Petty Officer Bennie R. Lambton, photographic intelligenceman, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in their RA3B Skywarrior aircraft on a night low-level photo reconnaissance mission in the Ha Tinh province of North Vietnam.

The flight was directed by Heavy Photographic Squadron 61, to which the crew was attached. During their mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and it was assumed they went down under heave fire. No communication or distress signals were received. The escort aircraft observed a bright orange flash near the mouth of the Gia Hoi River and thereafter radio contact with the aircraft had been lost.

An extensive search was conducted in the immediate area, as well as over the adjacent waters by various aircraft, but results were negative.

On June 15, 1966, Radio Peking stated that a photo  reconnaissance jet was shot down and the crew killed in the crash.

The crew escape system of this type aircraft does not provide ejection seats, and makes high speed bailout extremely difficult.  Low-altitude bailout is virtually impossible. All information taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer of the squadron changed the crew's initial classification from Missing in Action to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered on June 17, 1966.

The crew of the RA3B shot down on June 13, 1966 are listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply vanished without a trace.

Reports continue to mount that we abandoned hundreds of Americans to the enemy when we left Southeast Asia. While the crew of the RA3B may not be among them, one can imagine their proud willingness to fly one more mission to bring in the intelligence needed to secure their rescue and flight to freedom.

GLANVILLE, JOHN TURNER JR.
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Heavy Photo Squadron 61, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19)
Date of Birth: 18 March 1934
Home City of Record: Mandham NJ
Date of Loss: 13 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 181557N 1060659E (XF180198)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA3B

Other Personnel In Incident: George G. Gierak; Bennie R. Lambton (both missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: HIT-N TRACE-FBIS SEZ DED-J

SYNOPSIS: On June 13, 1966, LTCDR John Glanville, pilot; LTJG George Gierak, co-pilot; and Chief Petty Officer Bennie R. Lambton, photographic intelligenceman, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in their RA3B Skywarrior aircraft on a night low-level photo reconnaissance mission in the Ha Tinh province of North Vietnam.

The flight was directed by Heavy Photographic Squadron 61, to which the crew was attached. During their mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and it was assumed they went down under heave fire. No communication or distress signals were received. The escort aircraft observed a bright orange flash near the mouth of the Gia Hoi River and thereafter radio contact with the aircraft had been lost.

An extensive search was conducted in the immediate area, as well as over the adjacent waters by various aircraft, but results were negative.

On June 15, 1966, Radio Peking stated that a photo reconnaissance jet was shot down and the crew killed in the crash.

The crew escape system of this type aircraft does not provide ejection seats, and makes high speed bailout extremely difficult. Low-altitude bailout is virtually impossible. All information taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer of the squadron changed the crew's initial classification from Missing in Action to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered on June 17, 1966.

The crew of the RA3B shot down on June 13, 1966 are listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply vanished without a trace.

Reports continue to mount that we abandoned hundreds of Americans to the enemy when we left Southeast Asia. While the crew of the RA3B may not be among them, one can imagine their proud willingness to fly one more mission to bring in the intelligence needed to secure their rescue and flight to freedom.

McKINLEY, GERALD WAYNE
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Reserves
Unit: Attack Squadron 215, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 22 May 1940 (Columbus OH)
Home City of Record: Danbury CT (or Fairfield CT)
Date of Loss: 31 March 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175659N 1962959E (XE588851)
Status (in 1973): Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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: CRASH ON TGT RUN

One of the aircraft launched from the HANCOCK was Douglas Aircraft's A1 Skyraider ("Spad"). The Spad is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The H model is a single-seat aircraft. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used the aircraft as escort for rescue units.

LTJG Gerald W. McKinley was a Spad pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 215 onboard the USS HANCOCK. On March 31, 1965, McKinley was launched on a bombing mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

During the mission near the city of Ron, McKinley was making bombing runs on a target, when, on his last pass, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed. Search and rescue efforts were unable to locate McKinley. He was listed Reported Deceased the same day.

McKinley is listed among the prisoners and missing in Southeast Asia because his 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.

Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.

Over 1000 eye-witness reports of living American prisoners were received by 1989. 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?

Casualty List WestPac '69 -70

MERRICK, James L., Ltjg, USN

Subject: Casualty for WestPac 68-69

Ltjg James L. Merrick, Light Photographic Squadron 63 Det-19
Flying an RF-8G while in the Tonkin Gulf -KIA, Oct. 68

Memorial submitted by EDWARD VELASQUEZ
VFP-63 Det-19
EDVEL1@msn.com (Edward Velasquez)

Subject: The Last Marines KIA in Vietnam - HMM-164 aboard the USS Hancock

Action: Operation "Frequent Wind" and the Evacuation of Saigon -
YT-14 –
The Last Helicopter and Crew Lost in The Republic of Vietnam,
Submitted by Alan H. Barbour, Historian USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association.

Casualties: Capt. William C. Nystul and 1stLt. Michael J. Shea, USMC

At 06:00 on the morning of 29 April 1975, the Boeing Vertol CH-46D SeaKnight YT-14 prepared to launch as the overwater SAR (search and rescue) aircraft from the carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) for Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American and Vietnamese personnel from the American Embassy in Saigon. Normally, a fixed wing carrier such as the Hancock executing helicopter operations would not launch a helicopter SAR aircraft as any helicopter could perform SAR duties. However for an operation of this magnitude, a designated rescue helicopter provided the task force with the capability of responding instantly to any emergency. This was a special day however, because of the air traffic potential. Emergency USMC helicopter operations were planned all day as necessary for the evacuation as the North Vietnamese Army entered Saigon. Much of the air traffic would be of South Vietnamese origin, as had been witnessed the previous day.

Vietnamese helicopters and fixed wing were expected to arrive at any time. Some Vietnamese pilots, with their families and friends attempting to escape South Vietnam, ditched adjacent to the shipping, while others attempted to land on the various decks, some on top of other aircraft. There were many times during the day that the decks of various ships were fouled with aircraft, sometimes intentionally, including both helicopters and fixed wing. YT-14 was designated the Angel Flight (Naval term for overwater SAR) for operation Frequent Wind, to be used for any eventuality. YT was the designation given to all aircraft assigned to Marine helicopter squadron HMM-164. Cpl. Stephen R. Wills was the Crewchief/Right Gunner of YT-14, an aircraft affectionately known to the Marines who flew it as a Phrog. Cpl. Richard L. Scott was his 1st Mechanic/Left Gunner for this early-morning SAR mission. The aircraft and these men were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164. The two Marines remained with their aircraft in orbit over the South China Sea through the entire day and into the night, for 17 hours, refueling every couple of hours, without shutting down. According to Steve Wills, throughout the day during several hot refuelings on the deck of the USS Hancock, Vietnamese aircraft were “trying to land on top of us.”

“Conversations during the day between crew members aboard YT-14 were strictly that of Marines carrying out their routine duties, and wishing they were someplace else.” As the day advanced, at approximately 13:00, during a hot refueling, Capt. William C. Nystul and 1stLt. Michael J. Shea relieved the originally assigned pilot and copilot aboard YT-14. Bill Nystul was a recent WestPac [Marine operating area – western Pacific] arrival to Okinawa when HMM-164 deployed with the remaining UH-46D’s and UH-1E’s from MCAS Futenma, Okinawa. He had just completed schooling, and had re-fammed in the H-46. Bill had been a fixed wing instructor in the Naval Aviation Training Command at Pensacola, and had since accumulated approximately 20 hours of refamiliarization time on the CH-46. Mike Shea had accumulated approximately 25 CH-46 hours in Futenma before deploying, and was previously a designated CH-53 pilot (7564). Capt. Chic Schoener was assigned to H&MS-36 as a pilot in Okinawa and did his CH-46 flying with both HMM-164 and HMM-165. He remembers giving Bill Nystul an Okinawa island Fam hop before they embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41) for cross decking to the USS Hancock and had known both he and Mike Shea before and while embarked. Chic, like many other squadron pilots, flew 13 or more hours during this day.

“A typical CH-46D carried 2400 lbs. of jet fuel (JP-4 or 5)(1200 in each stub wing) and had a routine flight endurance of 2 hours. Under certain flight conditions that time could be stretched to 2+15 hours. However, NATOPS and safety dictated refueling when the fuel quantity was no lower than 200 lbs per side (approximately 20 minutes fuel remaining). The fuel “low caution lights” usually came on with 340 lbs of fuel remaining. This operation was not routine (by any standards) with many aircraft and crewmembers' limitations being stretched well beyond stated limits. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts.”

According to Steve Wills, maintaining the SAR orbit was not simply a “watch.” The crew had been active all day with various tasks. “I would just be guessing as to the number of times that we refueled that day. But it would have to have been six or seven times, maybe even more. On one of our landings to refuel, we were loaded with about twenty or so refugees that were to be transferred to the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).”

“Just as we landed on the Blue Ridge, we were told to launch immediately, as there was a small aircraft that had crashed aft of the Blue Ridge. We off loaded our passengers, took off and CPL Scott and I readied the rescue hoist, and opened the hellhole. We spotted three personnel in the water and lowered the hoist. It was very evident that two of the people where in bad shape with what looked to be massive head injuries. All three of them tried to get in the hoist, as they were only a few feet apart from each other. The one that wasn't hurt got in.

“We started to bring him up, when I saw that one of the injured men slipped under the water. I told Capt. Nystul to back off as our rotor wash was pushing them under. I told Captain Nystul that I was going to go into the water to try to help the other man. He told me to send in Scott. I informed him that Scott couldn’t swim. By the time we got the first man in, we lost sight of the last man. We started to circle to see if we could find the third man but couldn’t find him. A small Navy launch from the Blue Ridge was now on site, and we were released to return to the Hancock to refuel, and return to our SAR orbit point.”

“During this mission there was a Navy officer on board taking pictures of the rescue … I had to keep pushing him away from me, as he kept getting in my way while we were trying to rescue those downed men.” The weight of the helicopter and the temperature of the day had significant effects on the operation that day.

“Twice we had to dump fuel because of our weight. After we departed the USS Hancock we where losing altitude due to our weight and the heat of the day. Capt. Nystul told me that he was going to dump fuel. I informed him that there should be no problem with the system, as I had personally checked it out a few days before. “That’s what we heard” was the comeback from Capt. Nystul.”

“Several days before the evac, I pre-flighted YT-14 for a test flight after replacing the rotor pitch-change link bearings. The flight was to take place later in the afternoon. After going down to the maintenance office, I was told that the test flight would take place in about 20 minutes. I was told to have YT-14 spotted and to unfold the blades.”

“We had the deck crew spot her on the #1 spot. I got in and fired up the aircraft APP [auxiliary power plant] and when I brought the electrical power on line, I switched it from DC current to AC current. Right then the ship’s deck came alive with people trying to get me to shut down the aircraft. My 1st Mech, Cpl. Scott came in yelling that we were dumping fuel on the flight deck. I reached up and hit the APP switch to shut it off. Still we were dumping fuel. I told Cpl. Scott to go back and put his hand over one of the dump pipes and to have one of the other mechanics out side do the same to the other side. I guess you could imagine the double hand gestures I received.”

“I looked up and saw that the fuel jettison switch was in the open position. I fired the APP back up, reached up and moved it back to the closed position, flipped the APP off. Still, we were dumping fuel. Then it came to me that I didn't bring the electrical system on line with the AC current.”

“Again I fired the APP up, only this time when she lit off - there was a ball of flame that shot out the back at least ten or fifteen feet from the APP. I could see people running everywhere away from the A/C. I switched the system to AC and toggled the switch, shut down the APP, and vacated the A/C.”

“By then, the crash crew was there. Needless to say, I was asked to go visit the CO and the ships Captain. That’s why I told Capt. Nystul I knew that the system worked.”

The second time they had to dump fuel was when a Marine CH-53 was losing altitude. It had over 30 people in it and they feared that it was going to go in. “We were vectored to its location and could see that she was dropping and at the same time dumping fuel. We dropped half or more of our fuel as we knew that there was no way we could maintain altitude while trying to hover if we were to try and rescue any survivors. The H-53 couldn't have been more than a hundred feet off the deck. This was during the hottest part of the day. Thankfully it started to gain its altitude back and we were not needed.” The day had progressed to evening. The Ambassador still refused to leave Saigon. It was dark and it was getting later. All crews were pushing their safe flight time limits. Twice in the final hour of their SAR flight they were on final approach to the USS Hancock when they were sent back out to their orbit point for another possible mission. They were to report when they were down to 30 minutes fuel remaining. The fatigued pilots on the flight crew had been flying continuously for ten hours and the aircrew had been working continuously for seventeen hours when, in Steve Wills’ own words, the following happened: “We were at our orbit point when Capt. Nystul radioed for clearance for a landing approach back to the USS Hancock. We were down to about 30 minutes of fuel. We were given the OK to return, refuel and then go back out.”

“On our inbound approach, I looked out the rear of the ship and saw a light at our 6 o’clock position coming in on us. I made it out to be another aircraft. I told the Captain and I then cleared him for a hard right turn. That other aircraft missed hitting us by less than 100 ft. “For the next 15 minutes there was no conversation in our aircraft, except for a comment made by Captain Nystul that "Some one is going to die up here tonight."

“On returning to the ship I was asked if we were clear for a left turn. I gave the OK and no sooner than that, I heard “Pick it up, Pick it up, Pick it up.” I did not hear “Pull-up” as was stated in the KIA incident report. I braced myself, thinking that we were about to be in a mid-air with another aircraft. That day we must have had five or six close calls with other aircraft; not those of the Marines but of the Vietnamese.”

“I don't remember any sudden descent or that of pulling in power. The only thing I remember was that of the hard landing lights coming on. That's when every thing went black.” Concurrently Sgt. Chris Woods, Crew Chief of Swift 22 aboard the USS Hancock witnessed the following: “The traffic pattern around the Hancock was very congested with aircraft landing, dropping off passengers, refueling, etc. Helicopters were continuously landing and taking off. Swift 22 had been refueled and stashed behind the [carrier] island to free up landing spots.”

“I can't remember if I was doing a turnaround inspection or trying to get some rest. “ PULL UP, PULL UP, PULL UP” the air boss said over the 5MC (flight deck) speakers. The air boss kept yelling "PULL UP" until the aircraft impacted the water. I ran out in front of my aircraft to see a left running light (red) angling towards the water, it continued until there was "flash" caused by the aircraft impacting the water. I remember hearing several helicopters hovering trying to pick up survivors. Pandemonium was everywhere. There had been an immediate response from the personnel aboard the Hancock aware of the distressing situation. There were at least four helicopters that made attempts to get the survivors out; two Navy rescue SH-3's, one Marine CH-53 and finally another CH-46. Cpl. Wills related: “I came to under water. That’s when the Water Survival Training took over. I was only able to inflate one side of my LPA. The right side of it was torn. When I hit the surface I found that my radio was gone, along with my pistol. I found my pen flares and fired two of them. I started yelling to see if any one else got out. Cpl. Scott yelled back. He was about fifty yards from me.”

“Cpl Scott was yelling that he couldn't swim. I was yelling back to him, to pop his LPA and finally he did. We both tried to get to each other, but the current was pulling him farther from me. I couldn’t move because my right hip was dislocated, and my left leg had a compound fracture 8" above the knee.”

“The first two Navy SH-3’s tried to get us out with their hoist, but we couldn’t hook up. The rotor wash from the CH-53 that came over us just kept pushing us under the water. The two SH-3's and the H-53 tried to drown me and then backed off.”

“After firing my pen flares, I was able to light up my strobe light. I do remember that Scotty fired his pen flare at the first or second helicopter almost hitting it. I yelled to him to get his strobe out and light it up. That would have been the only way that he could be seen.”

"Another CH-46D, call sign Swift 07, from HMM-164 was on the deck of the USS Hancock undergoing hot refueling, piloted by Capt. Steve Haley and 1stLt. Dean Koontz. They launched immediately, and picked up Cpl. Richard Scott by hoist. They completed a water-landing at night near the crash scene in pitch-black conditions and water-taxied up to the struggling and seriously injured Cpl. Wills. He was unable to get into the rescue harness due to his injuries. “

"In all of our training we were told that PHROGS don't float. But I can sure tell you of the one that can swim.”

“When the rescue aircraft tried to get me out, and when being pushed under water by the rotor wash, I remember covering my strobe light so they couldn't see me. They would then have to back off, letting me come back to the surface. I did that more than one time. I was blacking out from loss of blood and shock when I came to and saw those rotor blades over my head.”

“There was seawater in the cabin section [of Swift 07] when they pulled me by hand thru the cabin door of the CH-46. I heard the emergency throttles come up and remember the whine of the engines and the slapping of the blades ... I still can look up and see the rotor blades and thinking that H-46 was crashing on top of me.”

“The hand that reached out to me was that of the rescue aircraft Crewchief, Sgt. Lon Chaney … we spent approximately 45 minutes in the water before they got us out.” Continuing the account of the rescue as witnessed by Chris Woods on the deck of the USS Hancock: Then all of a sudden I watched as the bottom anti-collision light on a Phrog went underwater. I thought, GOD, not another crash. I watched as I realized that the aircraft was in the water to pick up survivors. Moments later Swift 07 was on the flight deck with Cpl Stephen R. Wills and Cpl Richard L. Scott. Capt. Nystul and Lt. Shea went down with the aircraft. The mood was not good. Everyone was exhausted and now we had to accept the deaths of two squadron mates.”

"The rescue was completed at about 23:30 on 29 Apr 1975. The bodies of Capt. Nystul and Lt. Shea were never recovered. Estimates from the ship were that they were in 65-100 feet of water [the ship had been moving all day]. The only items that were found after the incident were the four flight crew helmets and the front landing strut with the tires on it. At twilight on 30 Apr 1975, a very moving and traditional Burial at Sea was conducted for Capt. Bill Nystul and 1stLt. Mike Shea aboard the USS Hancock. They escorted one of the surviving crewmembers, Cpl. Richard Scott, across the deck for the Memorial Service. Cpl. Steve Wills was resting in double traction of both left and right legs on the 03 level of the ship and could not be moved. He was later very appreciative of the aircrew members for dropping in on him during his recovery.

“If it were up to me, Capt. Haley and Lt Koontz would have received the CMH. But in saying that, please don't forget the hand that reached out, with seawater flowing in the cabin section, pulling me in … not with the hoist but by his hand. The aircrew of that ship will always live in my heart and mind as my guardian angel, even though I was flying the Angel Flight.” Operation Frequent Wind ended on the morning of the 30th of April with the extraction of Ambassador Graham Martin, followed by the extraction of the Marine Security Detachment, as did all U.S. involvement in the Republic of Vietnam.

YT-14 (BuNo 154042) of HMM-164 was the last Marine helicopter lost in Vietnam, and still sits at the bottom of the South China Sea in 65 - 100 feet of water at coordinates N 09 55’ 32” E 107 20’ 06”, or at approximately 30 nautical miles on the 150 o radial of the Vung Tau NDB.

“One last thought. If we know approximately where YT-14 lies, why couldn't there be an attempt to see if there are any remains. With today’s technologies, it might be a simple operation. We dig up mountains at crash sites to find remains no matter how small. To bring back the remains of the last two American service men, the last two Marines, to have been killed in action in Vietnam would mean a lot.” ~ Cpl. Steve Wills, USMCR (med/ret), surviving Crewchief of YT-14

Submitted by: Alan H. Barbour

Email Address: popasmoke@erols.com

USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association



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Website Tributes and Memorials

Visit my Memorial and Website Dedication to Dewey L. Alexander, LTJG, USNR

Visit my Memorial to Greg Kelly, Schoolmate and Friend, La Crescenta, California

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Visit my Memorial to my good friend Brian Robert Koehn, Sgt., US ARMY

Visit my Memorial to Gary Nels Nelson, USMC, Glendale, California

Visit Memorial to Andrew G. "Andy" Kirchmayer, Capt., US ARMY

Visit Memorial to Stephen Golsh, Sgt., US ARMY

 Permisssion to use USS HANCOCK CVA-19 Casualties from the P.O.W. Network was given by Mary Schantag (info@pownetwork.org) on 8-24-07:

Jake,
Fell free to use what you need. All we ask is a note that states something like:
Bios change as news on our missing is received. Please check every few months for news at pownetwork.org
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