We Remember is dedicated to the Wild Weasel crews that died in combat either as Missing in Action (MIA) or Killed in Action (KIA) and their bravery. In addition, we will have a page dedicated to the Prisoners of War (POWs) that “Returned with Honor” from a place where they must carry on the fight every minute. We urge you to read these stories and if you have something to add please let us know. Also see, POWs that Returned with Honor.
Captain Robert D. Trier
20 December 1965
On December 20, 1965, then Captain Robert Douglas Trier was the Electronic Weapons Officer on an F-100F (Aircraft # 58-1231) over North Vietnam piloted by Captain John J. Pitchford, Jr.
His fighter plane was shot down deep into North Vietnamese territory. Both airmen ejected. Captain Pitchford was captured and became a POW. Capt Pitchford and Capt Trier were the first Weasels shot down in Vietnam. Capt Pitchford is in the POW section and Capt Trier was lost evading capture in a gun battle with the North Vietnamese.
Captain Trier was listed as MIA (Missing in Action) until 1973 when the North Vietnamese reported that he had been killed resisting capture. He was then declared dead, but his remains were not recovered until October 14th of 1982, and returned to his family on October 26, 1982. He was posthumously promoted to Major during the period he was MIA.
The first Wild Weasel I F-100F was lost to combat while leading a strike by twelve F-105s on Kep Airfield (JCS 9.1). This target was part of the Rolling Thunder 45 strike on the Vu Chua Bridge (JCS 18.74). The specific target for the Wild Weasel flight was SA-2 site VN 33 at location 21-20- 15N and 106-20-15E, 30 miles from Hanoi. On their third mission, 28-year old Capt John Joseph Pitchford and 32-year old EWO Capt Robert Douglas Trier, in F-100F 58-1231, call sign “Apple 05”, were hit by heavy 100-mm AAA. Their plane crashed at location 21-25N and 107-05E. . The North Vietnamese also captured Capt Trier but they shot and killed him as he tried to defend himself.
His remains were returned to the U.S. on 3 November 1982. His name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall is on Panel 04E, Line 32. The Wild Weasel I Final Report described what happened.
“This mission was in support of a JCS strike, and was to seek out and destroy any radiating SAM installations in the area 30 to 40 miles NE of Hanoi.
The Weasel aircraft took the lead when 35 – 40 miles SE of Haiphong, heading to the north. Weather along the coast forced flight to descend to 1500 feet AGL, but flight proceeded on westward heading because weather ahead was improving. Moderate flak was observed while on westerly heading, approximately 30 miles ENE of Kep Airfield. Flak was extremely heavy, and appeared to be concentrated on Weasel lead. Altitudes were varied between 4000 and 6000 feet MSL. The F-105 lead saw Weasel pitch up when 5 miles SE of Kep, break right, then roll level to the left and fire marking rockets. Weasel then pulled off to the right and called, ‘I am hit.’
Although F-105 lead saw only some small buildings and trees, he fired his rockets into the area marked by 562 Compiled byhis wingman also fired his rockets into the same area. Second element F-105 lead got separated from the flight when passing Kep on southerly heading, circled once, and flew, while in right turn, over Kep Airfield. At this point, he spotted the F-100F heading to ENE, and observed pieces of the aircraft falling off. The F-105 followed the F-100F to approximately 21-25N and 107- 05E, at which point the pilot saw the canopy come off the F-100, saw one parachute open, then observed the F-100F pitch forward and disappear into the clouds. No further reports were received on the aircraft or crew.”
Major Clyde Dawson
23 March 1966
On March 23, 1966, he was the pilot of an F-100F Super Sabre #58-1212 on a combat mission over North Vietnam, when his aircraft crashed and he was killed, while on an attack mission against a surface to air missile site. Also in the aircraft was Captain Donald E Clark Jr, his Electronic Warfare Officer. Died through hostile action, air crash on land, Body not recovered until 1977. His remains were recovered on September 30, 1977 and identified on October 25, 1977. He has been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery
Captain Donald Clarke
23 March 1966
Major Roosevelt Hestle
6 July 1966
Major Roosevelt Hestle and EWO, Capt. Charles E. Morgan were leading a flight of four F105 Thunderchief jets on July 6, 1966, when Hestle’s aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire about 35 miles north of Hanoi.
During evasive action, the plane apparently hit the side of a mountain. The other pilots did not see the crash and heard no emergency alerts after Hestle’s initial warning of a surface-to-air attack and saw no parachutes. One saw a fireball and black smoke, but it was not proof of fatalities. Helicopters searched the area as well as they could in the presence of hostile forces, but found nothing, so both men were listed as missing in action.
Captain Charles Morgan
6 July 1966
Major Gene Pemberton
23 July 1966
Major Gene T. Pemberton flew as Lead for a flight of four F-105s on a SAM suppression mission with his EWO, Major Benjamin B. Newson, in an area of SAM activity 30 miles west of Hanoi. The flight departed at 14:27 hours, 23 July 66. The flight call sign was ‘Drill.’ The assigned target was a known area of suspected SAM activity (approximately 20-58N/105-35E) which was located approximately 30 miles west of Hanoi. The flight proceeded into the target area and after crossing the Red River, Lead indicated that he was receiving a ‘contact’ at approximately 330 degrees in the vicinity of Phu Tho. The flight then turned toward that direction and shortly thereafter Lead reported that the contact signal had gone off the air. Almost immediately Lead reported another contact on a heading of 360 degrees. The flight turned in that direction and as the contact stayed on the air, the Lead aircraft launched a SHRIKE missile toward it. Continuing on a heading of 360 degrees to 010 degrees to observe the missile strike, Lead called another contact at approximately 040 degrees to 050 digrees which he turned into. Shortly afterwards Lead called a contact Yellow (indicating an increase in missile activity), followed by a contact Red (indicating a missile launch) and a launch. When the launch was called, it appeared that Lead was positioning himself for another strike. At that time, 2 – 3 SAMs were seen to explode in the vicinity of Drill Lead and Drill 2. In addition to the SAMs, some flak was observed by Drill 2. Just prior to the missiles exploding in the vicinity of Drill Lead and Drill 2, Drill 2 called for Lead to break left, which he did. Lead was observed to continue a diving left turn and disappear behind a cloud. No further radio contact was made with Drill Lead; the aircraft was not seen again; and no parachutes were seen. Drill 2’s aircraft received severe damage and was forced to withdraw from the area.
Major Benjamin Newson
23 July 1966
Major Joseph W. Brand
17 August 1966
On 17 August 1966 Major Joseph W. Brand, pilot, and Major Donald M. Singer, electronic warfare officer (EWO), both of the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, departed Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, flying lead in a flight of four F-105F aircraft. The flight’s assigned mission was to search out and destroy surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and antiaircraft artillery (AAA) sites in North Vietnam. Brand and Singer were in F-105F tail number 63-8308. The flight had just departed the primary target area when the flight leader sighted a lucrative target and directed an attack by lead and his wingman to expend their remaining ordnance. Immediately after lead released his ordnance, number three observed canopy jettison and ejection by both crew members, with the aircraft impacting in the vicinity of the ground target. Number three saw one parachute blossom; number four saw one fully deployed parachute and a second partially open parachute. One voice call was received from Major Brand, and an emergency beeper was heard, but two-way radio contact was not established with either downed crewman. The crew was downed in a populated rural area with numerous rice paddies.
When search-and-rescue aircraft (A-1E SKYRAIDERS) arrived, they made repeated low passes looking for signs of the crew (flares, smoke, or other signals) and continued efforts to establish radio contact, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The two crewmen were classed as Missing in Action on termination of the formal SAR effort. On 30 September 1977 Col Brand’s and Col Singer’s remains were repatriated.
Major Donald M. Singer
17 August 1966
Major Robert E. Brinckmann
4 November 1966
On 4 November 1966, Major Robert E. Brinckmann and Captain Vincent A. Scungio, both assigned to the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat RTAFB, took off on a surface-to-air missile (SAM) suppression mission in support of a strike on the Kep Airfield north-northeast of Hanoi. The SAM suppressors, known as “Wild Weasels”, flew specially equipped two-seat F-105F aircraft; Brinckmann and Scungio were in F-105F tail number 63-8273.
During the attack the Wild Weasels identified a SAM site about 3 miles NW of Kep and took it under attack. Brinckmann’s aircraft was hit by an SA-2 missile and crashed near the target. No ejections were noted and there were neither emergency beepers nor voice contact with the downed crew. Brinckmann and Scungio were classed as Missing in Action and remained in that status until the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the two men on 28 May 1974.
In 1989 the Vietnamese government turned over remains which were identified on 20 December 1989 as those of Colonel Robert Brinckmann. As of March 2007, Major Scungio’s remains have not been repatriated.
Captain Vincent A. Scungio
4 November 1966
Major Larry W. Biediger
29 January 1967
Crashed in RP-6A 45 nautical miles north of Hanoi, North Vietnam on 29 January 1967. Call sign: “Tico 01”. Major Larry W. Biediger and his EWO 1Lt Claude A. Silva flew as Tico 1 on a SAM suppression mission in support of a strike mission to a target at location 21-33N and 105-51E. The flight, from the 354 TFS, took off from Takhli at 13:26 and Maj Biediger and Lt Silva were lost over the target area 30 miles NW of Thai Nguyen at 15:08. The flight, designated Tico, was a SAM suppression flight in support of a bombing mission. Flight progress to the area of the incident was uneventful. Shortly after passing over a suspected SAM site, Tico Lead jettisoned his tanks. It is possible that he may have been hit by ground fire from an unknown source; however, the right tank did strike the left half of the horizontal stabilizer, rendering the aircraft uncontrollable. Both crew members ejected, both chutes were good and two distinct beepers were heard. Tico 2 transmitted a May Day call and the position of the downed crew. After determining that the chutes were down, the remainder of Tico Flight proceeded with the mission, returning approximately 10 minutes later to the area of the downed crew. The beepers were still transmitting, but all attempts to establish voice contact on guard met with negative results. The chutes were observed approximately 100 yards apart in the tree line approximately 500 yards from a clearing. The downed crew members were not sighted and there did not appear to be any ground action in their vicinity. Bingo fuel level forced the flight to depart the area.
No rescue forces were launched and the mission was suspended because the area was deemed not accessible for SAR effort due to the extreme distance and heavy enemy defenses.” Maj Biediger was born 23 April 1933 in Castroville, Texas, and entered the service from La Coste, Texas. He was declared dead on 8 January 1974. His remains were returned on 3 June 1983. 1Lt Silva was born 12 May 1936 at and entered the service from Monte Vista, Colorado. He was declared dead on 11 June 1979.
1Lt Claude A. Silva
29 January 1967
Major John Dudash
26 April 1967
Maj Dudash and Capt Meyer, were hit and downed by a SAM after firing a Shrike missile at the SAM siteMaj John Francis Dudash 333 TFS pilot was KIA in the crash. Capt Alton Benno Meyer 333 TFS EWO became a POW. Released 4 Mar 73.
Major Dudash was flying in number Two slot off the right wing approximately 1000 feet out and in a slight trail position. After crossing the Red River at 13,000 feet altitude, we descended to approximately 6000 feet and picked up signals (SAM) from our 2 and 3 o’clock positions. Lead positioned the flight for a launch of a Shrike missile and using afterburner to gain airspeed and altitude, launched a missile at the SAM signal. The flight immediately received indications of SAM launch and took it down to a lower altitude. The launch had been accomplished and Zipper 02 (Maj Dudash) called he was hit. Lead observed two detonations off my left wing 3000 feet out and slightly high. Hearing a beeper I called on Guard that Zipper 02 was down and gave coordinates of general area. My flight remained in the area continuing to fire missiles at signals and attempting a visual reconnaissance of the downed pilot and EWO. We left the area after twenty minutes, refueled in the air and returned to the location of the downed aircraft after 45 minutes. Again UHF contact on Guard was attempted with negative results. The Rescap was discontinued after fifteen minutes due to low fuel and two aircraft returned to Takhli. His remains were returned on 3 June 1983. Capt Meyer was released in 1973 and his picture and mission will be in the POW section.
Capt Alton Meyer
26 April 1967
Colonel Morris McDaniel
3 October 1967
McDaniel and Lillund were flying an F105F “Wild Weasel” toward a target area northwest of Hanoi. Maj. Morris L. McDaniel had flown nearly 100 combat missions when he and Capt. William A. Lillund were sent on a bombing mission into North Vietnam. From Col Morris’s Silver Star Citation, “In action over North Vietnam, on 3 October 1967. On that date, while under a concentrated Surface-to-Air missile attack from opposing forces, Major McDaniel heroically countered the threat to the main strike force by drawing the missile fire and successfully attacking a missile site.”
Major William Lillund
3 October 1967
Major Dick Dutton
5 November 1967
On 5th November 1967, Major Dick Dutton, pilot and Captain Glen Cabeil EWO briefed for their mission as a spare aircraft in the event a plane would have to abort. The Wild Weasel aircraft’s job was to seek out the guided missile sites, knock them out before they could launch the “flying telephone poles” (name given to enemy missiles). When one of the Weasels aborted Maj Dutton and Capt Cobeil took their place and preceeded with the flight . Hit by 37-mm AAA while supporting the third attack on Phuc Yen Airfield. Phuc Yen was the first major jet base for North Vietnam and is 19 miles north of Hanoi and included MIG 17,19 and 21 aircraft and was heavily defended by SA-2s and AAA.
“As I made a wide sweeping turn, after releasing one of my bombs, the missile radar started working on me. A 37mm hit my tail and I was on fire. I was seven minutes from the Red River. We tried to nurse the stricken plane, but the time came when we knew we had to eject. Both Maj Dutton and Capt Cobeil were captured and tortured and resisted their captors. Capt Cobeil was tortured by Cuban experts later called “Fidel” by his captives and earned the Air Force Cross for his resistance. From the citation, “Earl Glenn Cobeil, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from 5 November 1967 until his death while still in captivity on or about 5 November 1970. During this period, Lieutenant Colonel Cobeil demonstrated his extremely strong personal fortitude and maximum persistence in the face of severe enemy harassment and torture, suffering critical injuries and wounds.” Maj Dutton was released in 1973 and Capt Cobeil’s remains were returned.
Capt Glenn Cobeil
5 November 1967
Major Oscar Moise Dardeau, Jr.
18 November 1967
On 18 November 1967, the 388 TFW flew their third Commando Club mission using the TSQ-81 radar at LS-85 in Laos. Korat’s target was the MiG airfield at Phuc Yen (JCS 6), 14 nautical miles northwest of Hanoi in Route Pack 6A. Using regular daylight bombing attacks, both Korat and Takhli had hit Phuc Yen, the home of MiG-21s and IL-28 bombers, for the first time on 24 and 25 October 1967. The mission on 18 November included the large force typical of those assembled for conventional strikes against major targets in North Vietnam. Since clouds obscured the target, sixteen F-105s from Korat, flying at 18,000 feet, were to bomb the airfield shortly after 8 a.m. using the Commando Club radar.
The force also included one flight of Wild Weasels from Korat with call sign “Waco” consisting of three F-105Fs and an F-105D. The Weasels flew 25 miles ahead of the strike force to suppress SAM sites around the airfield. Waco 1 was F-105F 63-8295 with Major Oscar Moise Dardeau, Jr. and EWO Capt Edward William “Tiny” Lehnhoff, Jr. The flight was attacked by two MiG21s which swooped down on the Wild Weasels. The first MiG fired a missile at Waco 4 and the second launched one at Waco 1. Both missiles hit their targets and the MiGs headed north at high speed — a hit and run tactic that was becoming all too successful. Waco 1’s airplane immediately began shedding parts and trailing black smoke then disappeared into the clouds below. Both men died in the crash. Their remains were returned to the U.S. on 25 November 1987. “Edward W. Lehnhoff, Jr. was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, (and) Oscar M. Dardeau, Jr. … (was) promoted to the rank of Colonel, during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.”
Captain Edward William Lehnhoff, Jr.
18 November 1967
Major Jim Hartney
5 January 1968
On 5 January 1968 Maj. James C. Hartney, pilot, and Capt. Samuel Fantle III, electronics warfare officer, were the crew of the lead F105F. (#63-8356), in a flight of four aircraft on a combat mission over North Vietnam. Their mission took them over the Hanoi region and at a point about 35 miles northeast of Hanoi, near the Kep Airfield. After firing a missile on their target, the leader was hit by cannon fire from a MIG-17. Their aircraft was struck in the left wing, causing the plane to go out of control and forcing the crew to eject. The wingman observed that the flight leader’s left wing, was smoking and burning. Members of the flight heard the flightleader call that he was bailing out and two good parachutes were seen and beeper signals were heard. The wingman saw Fantle landing on the ground, and Hartney about to land, but no voice contact was made with them. Intense hostilities prevented rescue. Samuel Fantle, was classified Prisoner of War, then later Killed in Captivity. Hartney was not declared prisoner of war, but Missing in Action. Fantle’s remains were returned in 1978 and Hartney’s in 1989.
Editor’s notes for pictures: These were the best pictures available for Capt Hartney and Capt Fantle, we are in the process of looking for better ones.
Capt Sam Fantle
5 January 1968
Major Crosley Fitton
29 February 1968
Taking off out of Korat as a member of Ozark flight in F-105F 638312 44 TFS 388 TFW Hit by a SAM while attacking a Hanoi vehicle facility during an Iron Hand mission. Major Fitton and Capt Harris had just fired their missiles at a SAM site when the aircraft was hit by a SAM from another site. The aircraft began to stream fuel, started burning and went out of control. Both Major Fitton and Captain Harris ejected less than a minute after being hit. Major R. S. Beale, Ozark Lead, recounted the sequence of events as follows: ‘… Downed member was hit by SAM at 0747Z in the vicinity of 20-52N 105-46E. I last saw him in the vicinity of same coordinates. I did not see them eject. I did see man-seat separation. I did see good chutes. I did hear beepers. Weather in the area where member is down was 5500’ overcast. Type of terrain is flat and heavily populated. Ozark 3 made a transmission after he was hit saying his ATM had dropped off the line. He made several more transmissions after this that I did not understand. Shortly afterward, he bailed out. I do not believe that either crew member was injured before bailout.” Both were declared Missing in Action.
In 1975, the Vietnamese discovered and returned the remains of Crosley J. Fitton. Capt Harris remains were turned over to U.S. control in April of 1985.
Capt Cleveland Harris
29 February 1968
Captain Larry Martin
15 September 1968
F-105F 638353 44 TFS 388 TFW Korat Hit by 37-mm AAA while attacking a suspected SAM site. Crashed in RP-1, North Vietnam. 17-29N 106-38E Maj Gobel Dale James 44 TFS pilot ejected and rescue attempt failed. He became a POW and is highlighted in the POW section. Released 14 Mar 73. Capt Larry Eugene Martin 44 TFS EWO ejected and was KIA. Downed member was hit by 37MM at 0935 in the vicinity of 17-30N/106-31E. After we came off the target we observed a large secondary explosion. #2 rolled in on the secondary (on a southerly heading) and came off the target toward the coast (heading 270 degrees). As he was climbing to rejoin us, I observed two white puffs behind him and a third which seemed to detonate on the left aft of the airplane. Shortly after I observed one person eject. The airplane rolled over and started a rapid descent toward the ground. I observed the crewmember’s chute begin its descent and heard his beeper. Shortly after Major James contacted us on Guard Frequency with no contact with Capt Martin. His remains were recovered on July 31, 1989.
Capt. Clifford W. Fieszel
30 September 1968
On 30 September 1968, then Capt. Clifford W. Fieszel, pilot, and Major Howard H. Smith, electronics warfare officer, comprised the crew of an F105F Thunderchief Wild Weasel, call sign “Bison 01.” At 1519 hours, Bison flight departed Takhli Airbase as the lead aircraft in a flight of two on an operational “Iron Hand Troll” mission to kill a surface-to-air missile (SAM) site in Route Package 1; 5 ¼ nautical miles west of the major port city of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.
After arriving in the operational area, Capt. Fieszel contacted the on-site airborne control center for clearance into the target. Bison flight was cleared in on the identified SAM site and proceeded to execute their mission. While ingressing Route Package 1, the wingman received 37mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) hits forcing Bison 02 to abort the mission and head out to sea with battle damage. While departing the area, the pilot of Bison 02 attempted to contact Bison Lead; but was unable to make contact. Bison 02 was then diverted by the airborne controller to DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam – some 100 miles to the south-southeast – where they were safely recovered.
Approximately 3 minutes later the pilot of an aircraft in another flight picked up an emergency radio transmission and identified the voice as that of Clifford Fieszel. Shortly thereafter a beeper signal was heard emanating from the jungle foothills approximately 1 mile west of the railroad track. Likewise, the other pilots could not tell whether it was from Capt. Fieszel or Maj. Smith. At 1805 hours, the command center at Takhli was notified that Bison Lead was missing.
Search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated and continued into 1 October when another unidentified emergency beeper signal was heard from the target area by SAR aircraft. Later that day when no additional beeper signals were heard and no sightings of the aircraft or crew made, all organized SAR efforts were terminated. At that time both Clifford Fieszel and Howard Smith were listed Missing in Action.
Major Howard H. Smith
30 September 1968
Captain Richard Mallon
28 January 1970
On 28 January 1970, Capt. Richard J. Mallon, pilot; and Capt. Robert J. Panek, Sr., electronic warfare officer, comprised the crew of an F-105G aircraft (serial #38-341/8329), call sign “Seabird 02,” that departed Udorn Airfield as the #2 aircraft in a flight of 2 conducting a wild weasel SAM suppression mission to locate and destroy surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites near Nui Dai Ninh, Ha Tinh Province, North Vietnam. The mission identifier was Steel Tiger, Cricket Area 4; and the location included rugged mountains covered in thick forest and heavily populated with communist military forces approximately 20 miles northeast of the Mu Gia Pass, one of the two major gateways into the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail.
A forward air controller cleared Seabird flight into the target area to initiate their search for SAM sites located along Route 15, the primary road running through the Mu Gia Pass. Seabird 01 and 02 pressed forward with one aircraft flying low over the countryside trolling for the enemy gunners to turn on their radarscopes to paint it with radar waves prior to launching missiles at it. The second aircraft remained high prepared to strike the SAM site once it could obtain a lock on its radar emission. While a simple maneuver, it was also extremely dangerous for the aircrews who intentionally exposed themselves to enemy gunners.
Seabird flight identified an active SAM site and as Seabird 02 attacked it, the Thunderchief was struck by an air-to-air missile from a MiG-21 whose pilot was assigned to the North Vietnamese Air Force’s 921st Flight Regiment. Richard Mallon and Robert Panek were immediately forced to eject from their crippled Thunderchief. Other aircrews saw both parachutes deployed and heard two emergency radio beepers from the aircrew on the ground; but no voice contact could be established with either crewman. Immediately the lead pilot requested a search and rescue (SAR) mission be initiated. Within minutes the rescue force, including two HH-53B rescue helicopters, were dispatched from Udorn Airfield, Thailand, to pick up Capt. Mallon and Capt. Panek.
Once the rescue force arrived in the target area, the FAC directed them into a holding area located approximately 23 miles northwest of the downed wild weasel aircrew. As Jolly Green 71 waited for clearance from the FAC to enter the rescue area, the helicopter was attacked and shot down by another air-to-air missile from a second MiG-21t.
Capt. Mallon and Capt. Panek were attempting to evade capture in an area heavily infiltrated with enemy troops. Other pilots who were providing RESCAP (Rescue Combat Air Patrol) during the SAR operation observed enemy forces recover one of the parachutes on the ground, but saw no sign of the pilot it belonged to. Likewise, during the remainder of the search operation, no trace of the wild weasel aircrew was found. At the time the formal SAR effort was terminated, both Richard Mallon and Robert Panek were also listed Missing in Action. In December 1988, the Vietnamese the remains of Capt. Mallon and Capt. Panek.
Capt Robert Panek, Sr
28 January 1970
Captain Alvin Majeta
16 April 1972
On 16 April 1972, then Capt. Alan P. Mateja, pilot, and Capt. Orvin C. Jones, Jr., electronic warfare officer; comprised the crew of the #2 RF105G (serial #63-8342), call sign “Suntan 02,” in a flight of 2 conducting a night SAM suppression mission over Haiphong Province, North Vietnam. After arriving in their area of operation, the flight leader established radio contact with the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) directing all air operations in this region of North Vietnam. After receiving updated information, Suntan flight was cleared to begin their mission.
At 0310 hours, Suntan flight was trolling for SAM sites located in the densely populated and heavily defended sector northeast of the city of Haiphong. Suntan Lead observed his wingman as he flew low over the countryside. Lead continued to watch as Suntan 02 was struck by enemy fire and crashed into the sand and mudflats on the edge of the Song Da Bach River. The crash site was located approximately 3 miles south of Quang Yen and 7 miles northeast of Haiphong.
Suntan Lead immediately notified the ABCCC of the situation and then initiated an electronic search and rescue (SAR) for Capt. Mateja and Capt. Jones. In the night’s darkness, Suntan Lead saw no parachutes and heard no emergency beeper signals emanating from the area of loss. Due to the location of loss being deep within enemy held territory, no ground search was possible. At the time the electron search was terminated, Alan Mateja and Orvin Jones were reported as Missing in Action.
Captain Orvin Jones
16 April 1972
Captain Thomas O'Neal Zorn
17 Sept 1972
On 17 September 1972, while escorting a strike force en route to a strategic target near Hanoi, North Vietnam, Captain Zorn and Lt Turose repeatedly exposed themselves to enemy anti-aircraft defenses in order to draw fire away from the main force. From Capt Zorn’s Silver Star “His courageous and aggressive attacks on two key surface-to-air missile sites enabled the American Forces to penetrate the target area defenses, successfully complete their mission and safely withdraw. They were hit by a SAM after attacking a Fansong radar in North Vietnam. Capt Thomas O’Neal “Zoomer” Zorn, Jr. 17 WWS pilot was KIA. 1Lt Michael Stephen Turose 17 WWS EWO ejected but was KIA.
First Lieutenant Michael Stephen Turose
17 Sept 1972
Capt Michael Bosiljevac
29 Sept 1972
Lt.Col. James W. O’Neil was the pilot and Capt. Michael J. Bosiljevac the EWO of an F105G jet fighter which was shot down by a Soviet SAM (Surface to Air Missile) on September 29, 1972 while attacking a Fan Song Radar. :Both Bosiljevac and O’Neil ejected successfully, and landed 23 miles southwest of Hanoi. A rescue attempt was unsuccessful. Radio Hanoi/Moscow/Cuba reported the capture of both “pilots” alive on 29 September 1972. O’Neil was subsequently transferred to Hoa Lo(the “Hanoi Hilton”) and repatriated March 29, 1973 and his bio is in the POW section.
From Capt Bosiljevac’s Silver Star Citation
“Captain Michael J. Bosiljevac distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105G Electronic Warfare Officer near Phuc Yen Airfield, North Vietnam, on 29 September 1972. On that date, while supporting air strikes against enemy storage areas, Captain Bosiljevac repeatedly exposed himself to enemy antiaircraft defenses in order to draw fire away from nearby American Forces. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Bosiljevac continued to engage a surface-to-air missile site despite indications of a missile accurately tracking his aircraft. This courageous and aggressive attack enabled the strike forces to penetrate the target area defenses, successfully complete their mission, and safely withdraw.”