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USS Coral Sea Tribute Site
CV/CVB/CVA-43
USS Coral Sea
The USS Coral Sea Wall
USS Coral Sea


Most of the men listed on this page are classified POW, MIA or KIA. Please keep them and their families in mind. Also remember the flight crews and ship's company that supported these missions, it was devistating to these guys when one of ours was lost.

I am expanding this "wall" to include anyone that was killed or went missing while on board the ship. Please supply me with me full name and a few sentences in the style of other bios here.

Check your cruise books. Usally in the back, there is a list of shipmates that were lost on the cruise. Please, take a minute to send me an email with the a list of names from your cruise books. Thanks!


flag       "The USS Coral Sea Wall"       flag

 
Puckett Norman F. Ridley Peter MongilardI, Jr Eddie Ray Schimmels Stanley M. Jerome
Rodney M. Chapman Edward Andrew Dickson Michael John Allard Claude Douglas Clower Walter O. Estes
Theodore G. Stier James E. Teague Scott Ketchie John Jackson Parker Norman Philip Westwood
Thomas Earl Dunlop Andrew Anthony Horchar Larry Coleman Knight Brian L. Bushnell Charles B. Pfaffmann
James Reginal Bauder Michael George Hoff William Tamm Arnold David Allen Kardell Marvin Benjamin Wiles
Curtis Henry Cropper Thomas Holt Pilkington Don B. Parsons Dustin Cowles Trowbridge James Burton Mills
Larry James Stevens Joseph Patrick Dunn Frederick John Fortner Quinlen Roberts Orell James D. Hunt
Wilmer Paul Cook Richard Champ Clark Robert Harper Shumaker Fred Horatio Gates Jack L. Wright
Walter Henry Kosky Clarence William Stoddard Jackie Allen Young David Cornell Marvin Joel Naschek
Jim Gardner Thomas J. Bitter Tom Joseph Cress Carlyle B. Pomeroy, Jr. Victor R. Wooden
Ronald A. Hessman Donald D. Maki Kenneth Edward Hume William Marshall Roark Dwight Glenn Frakes
Andrew Lee Furrer Harry Eugene Thomas Edward B. Shaw Charles Bernard Goodwin Michael Steele Confer
Daniel Hagan Moran, Jr Timothy Bernard Sullivan Paul Henry Schultz Joseph William McDonald David Beryl Williams
Gilbert Chavaria Delmar D. Young R.C. Keating Gregorio Flores McWilliams
Joseph Mullany Jessey Roy Mundlin Michael L. Martin Roger E. Wilson Geoff. R. Shumway
Wendell B. Rivers Charles N. Tanner Ross R. Terry Robert F. Frishmann Charles R. Gillespie, Jr.
Earl G. Lewis Verlyne W. Daniels David E. McRae David G. Rehmann Norris A. Charles
David W. Hoffman Lawrence L. Gardner Maximiliano Miranda Gregory A. Watson William D. McGrath
James D. Hunt Larry Stevens Dennis R. Schmidt Albert E. Lee James M. Vescelius
Roger G. Emrich Herold T. Deardorff Dale D. Lingle Albert R Molinare James Burton Souder
Richard Stape John N. Summerlin LtJg. Waddell Michael Paul Cronin Michael Paul McWillimas
William H. Searfus Robert Rideout Dennis Paul Houser Harry Glen Morgan Floyd Eldon Cox
Jerry Jones Harold Edward Taylor Melvin George Neuhaus Joseph MacDonald William Angus
D.J. Anderson E.R. Conner E.H. Foard Lawrence Loftin E.S McNally
John Nordness R.R. Skeen Edwin W. Uptegrove Samuel E. Fleming Robert K. Grove
William M. Raymond Samuel L. Spires Marvin Ritz Harry Morgan Rod McGinnis

 Puckett - 4/63

I was on her from July 62 to July 64 - X Division - first worked in the MAA Office as the MAA Yeoman, made 3rd class April of 1963 on the Sydney (Battle of Coral Sea Celebration) cruise and was reassigned to the Captain's Office in May. Memory fails so I don't know if I was the MAA Yeoman who took a kid named Puckett to Mast while we were at sea or if I remember it from my buddies in the Legal Office; the point is that Puckett (best research indicates that he was from VAH-2) was sentenced to the brig and he overpowered the MAA who was taking him to his compartment to get personal gear, disappeared and was never found. As I said, we were at sea, had been for a few days, and he just disappeared! We held GQ many times in the next few days so the MAA's could search the ship but never found a trace. I believe some survival gear was found missing from some planes on the flight deck - there were some uninhabited islands a few miles off the starboard bow when he disappeared but a MARDET landing party found nothing and the Navigator said the prevailing winds and currents would have carried him away from them anyway.
When we returned to the states in November 63 (right after the President was killed) lots of brass and congressmen and Pucketts family met the ship in Alameda wanting answers. I'd like to know what the Navy said. I've posted notes in a lot of military guest books and some people remember the incident but nobody knows the outcome. If I can find the exact time frame that he jumped I can, presumably, look at deck logs, brig logs, etc.
This issue over Puckett has been bothering me for 37 years now, would sure like to know how the Navy handled it. Ship's Legal Officer at the time says I should just accept the Navy's view that he disappeared and drop it. I can't. Thanks for your help. Please Contact Jack Noble at pattyandjack@comcast.net if you have any information about this incident.

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 Norman Ridley - 1969

I too served onboard the Coral Sea between September 1968 to April 1972. I was an airman/crew leader in the Air Dept V-4 Div fuels. I want to ask you a very sensitive question. Just want to know if you were manning the catapult when AA Norman Ridley was struck by that last F-4 Phantom that we launched on that gloomy drizzling day? This is one incident that really got to me. Please don't get me wrong cause I'm not blaming anybody. It was just a freak accident but this is one that still stays with me and I guess it will for the rest of my life. Ridley only lasted 18 days in our division and he was what they call a "Kitty Cruise". I just found out last year that he was planning on getting married after that cruise in his hometown in Alaska. Sometimes I want to get in contact with someone in his family but I feel like I'll only be opening a can of worms, if you know what I mean. I have two friends that still stay in contact with me since all three of us got out at the same time. Paul Suarse from Providence, R.I. and Paul Brooks from Hazel Hurst, Mississippi and myself from Laredo, Texas. Paul Brooks and I got flown off the Coral Sea to Da Nang right after we had those two air strikes in Hiapong Harbor. I now live close to Washington D.C. and I go to visit Ridley at the Wall once a year. Just touching his name gives me some comfort. I really try not to go in November (Veterans Day) cause I don't think I could take it.

From the Vietnam Wall:

Name: AA Norman F. Ridley
Date of Birth: February 3, 1950
Date of Death: January 8, 1969
City: Metlakatla, Alaska
Panel No. 35W Line No. 54

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 Peter Mongilardi, Jr. - 6/25/65

Air Wing 15 deployed to Southeast Asia in November 1964 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA, participating in FLAMING DART's two raids in retaliation to North Vietnamese aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin. One of the attack squadrons in Air Wing 15 was the Blue Tails - Attack Squadron 153, so named because of the splash of blue on the tails of their A4 Skyhawks. CDR Peter Mongilardi Jr. was the skipper of VA 153 until May 1965, at which time he assumed duties as air wing commander (CAG), and was replaced by CDR Harry E. Thomas. Before the long cruise was over in December, both Mongilardi and Thomas were dead. It was during this period that the North Vietnamese, assisted by the Soviet Union and Chinese, was beginning to build its military from technology-poor and ground-oriented military to one with one of the world's strongest and most sophisticated air defense networks. As a defense against U.S. air stikes over North Vietnam (ROLLING THUNDER) North Vietnamese missile sites grew from ground zero in 1965 to estimates three years later of two hundred surface-to-air (SAM) sites nationwide and some thirty missile battalions in the Hanoi area alone. Each battalion contained up to six missile launchers plus accompanying radar, computers and generators. The U.S. discovered the first SAM site in April 1965, yet U.S. pilots were forbidden to take immediate defensive action. The CORAL SEA was in Japan in June 1965 on its way to the U.S. The ordnance and aircraft had already been offloaded, and Thomas and Mongilardi were on a last liberty together. While on liberty, they discovered they were shipping back to Vietnam. On the first day back, Mongilardi and his wingman, Paul Reyes, flew on an armed reconnaissance mission. CDR David Leue and his wingman were briefed at the same time in case one of the wingmen went down, and, as luck would have it, Leue's wingman could not transfer his drop tank and was sent back to the ship. Leue joined up with Pete and his wingman. Leue describes armed "recce" as "usually two people flying down a route, really target practice for the local AAA batteries as you come down the pike. I always said if I made it to admiral I would not have done traditional armed recce. To many people are lost." The three pilots were in the area of Thanh Hoa. Leue was flying with instrument problems, and had no air speed altimeter or pressurization. It was no problem except for determining the flight altitude. Through some broken clouds, Leue spotted a power plant below and radioed that he was rolling in on it. Mongilardi ordered him not to hit the plant because it was denied under the rules of engagement. By this time, Leue had pulled away from Mongilardi and his wingman, and he turned to rejoin them. As he did, Mongilardi radioed, "I'm rolling in on a little bridge," followed by, "Flak." Leue heard Mongilardi get hit and said, "He actually keyed the mike, I heard a couple of deep breaths, and I called Reyes to ask "Where are you?" Paul said, "We're by this rain storm and I've lost CAG [Mongilardi]. I don't know where he is." Well, he'd been shot and killed; a real tough loss." Leue was saddened to lose Mongilardi, whom he described as "a superior air wing commander, naval officer and warrior." It was less than two months later, on August 13, 1965, when CDR Harry Thomas was shot down 70 miles west of Hanoi on a low-level strike mission searchin for SAM sites. Thomas' aircraft flew into a volley of flak, was hit and crashed. Thomas did not survive. Leue was moved into the position of skipper for the Blue Tails, carrying with him the saddness of having lost two superior squadron commanders.

[Follow up - R.W. Tucker] - Just a short note from my days as a Plane Captain with VA-153 during the long South China Sea cruise on the Coral Sea during 1964-65. My assigned plane was #306 and of course the pilots shared whatever aircraft were up and running at the time. It looked as though we were going home in May or June of '65 but we turned south out of Yokuska instead of east and went back to Subic Bay to reload and off to Yankee Station. The first day of bombing operations, the Commander of the Air Wing 15, was our former VA-153 squadron Commander, Peter Mongilardi. He was to fly my plane 306 so I helped him strap in and off he went with the rest of the launch. When the planes returned, they announced that 306 would not be returning. What an awful feeling it was to hear that, and it was liked the war hit home for sure. I guess they looked for him a few days but had no success. After serving on one more cruise on the USS Constellation the following year, my Navy tour ended. So here it was years later, I do remember seeing his name on a list of men missing in action. But in Feb of 2007 I happened to key his name into Google. Low and behold they had gone over there to the crash site in 1994 I believe and found some remains. These were not enough to confirm that they were him with the normal DNA tests, but in Jan of 2007, using Nuclear DNA they came up with a positive match. His funeral was on April 11, 2007 and I attended it at Arlington Cemetery. I was able to meet his former wife, son and daughter and some of the former pilots of VA-153. The service was moving and professional, a final closure to his last flight back in June of 1965. Like all the others there and whereever they may rest, they were all great Americans and I am proud to have served with such fine men. God Bless America and our servicemen and woman. Thanks for your work on this fine web site. R W Tucker
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 Eddie Ray Schimmels, Stanley M. Jerome, Rodney M. Chapman - 2/18/69

LTCDR Rodney M. Chapman was a pilot assigned to VAQ-130 flying the EKA-3B onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On February 18, 1969, Chapman's aircraft was acting as the recovery tanker aircraft, prepared to render valuable assistance to other aircraft returning to the ship with very little fuel. This was an extremely important job, as some types of fighter aircraft launched with a minimum amount of fuel in order to accomodate a heavier bomb load, and sometimes arrived back at ship low on fuel. This was Chapman's 90th flight mission in Vietnam. Chapman's crew included Petty Officers Stanley M. Jerome and Eddie R. Schimmels.
As the aircraft immediately ahead of Chapman's was landing, he advised that his approach would be from overhead the ship, proceeding away from the ship a short distance while descending, then turning toward the ship for a precision radar control landing. Chapman's approach was being monitored on radar. There was a two-way conversation between Chapman and the radar operator. Chapman descended from overhead the ship and flew outbound as instructed. He was then told to turn toward the ship. He failed to acknowledge this radio transmission. A second attempt was made to contact him which failed. About this time, Chapman's aircraft disappeared from the radar and further attempts to regain contact were of no avail.
Within minutes of his disappearance the CORAL SEA airborne helicopter was sent to the area approximately ten miles behind the ship and ordered to commence a search. Shortly thereafter, one of the CORAL SEA's escorting destroyers was also dispatched to assist in the search. The destroyer and the helicopter were unable to locate either the aircraft or its crewmen. An organized search continued throughout the night by three more ships and additional aircraft, both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
The following day at first light, an even more intensive search by ships and aircraft was conducted. These combined units searched extensively over an area of over 1,000 miles with no results. It was concluded that the airplane crashed and the crew of the KA3 were lost at sea.

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 Edward Andrew Dickson - 2/7/65

By early January, 1965, following two significant military defeats at the hands of North Vietnamese guerrilla forces, the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam was near collapse; U.S. options were either to leave the country or increase its military activity. President Johnson chose to escalate. Plans were authorized for a "limited war" that included a bombing campaign in North Vietnam.
The first major air strike over North Vietnam took place in reaction to Viet Cong mortaring of an American advisor's compound at Pleiku on February 7, 1965. Eight Americans died in the attack, more than one hundred were wounded, and ten aircraft were destroyed. President Johnson immediately launched FLAMING DART I, a strike against the Vit Thu Lu staging area, fifteen miles inland and five miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Thirty-four aircraft launched from the USS RANGER, but were prevented from carrying out that attack by poor weather, and the RANGER aircraft were not allowed to join the forty-nine planes from the USS CORAL SEA and USS HANCOCK, which struck the North Vietnamese army barracks and port facilities at Dong Hoi.
LT Edward A. Dickson was an A4E Skyhawk pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 155 onboard the CORAL SEA. Dickson was a section leader in a four-plane flight on the strike at Dong Hoi. About 5 miles south of the target area, LT Dickson reported that his aircraft had been hit by ground fire. His wingman was instructed to look his aircraft over for damage as they continued to approach the final run-in to the target.
Just prior to reaching the bomb release point, LT Dickson's left wing burst into flames and the wingman notified of that fact. At this time the flight leader gave the signal to drop the bombs. Dickson continued in his bomb run, turning out to sea only after his last bomb had left the aircraft. Upon completing the bombing run, the flight made an immediate turn to head for the sea, and for easier rescue. As the flight continued to the coastline it was noted that the left wing of Dickson's aircraft was completely engulfed in flames. He was instructed to eject, and upon ejection, the canopy and ejection seat were observed to leave the plane.
Partly because the aircraft were traveling at a high rate of speed, no one was sure Dickson himself left the aircraft, nor was a parachute seen deployed. The crippled A4 crashed into the Gulf of Tonkin approximately one-half mile off shore. Search and rescue facilities were alerted and accompanying aircraft circled in the vicinity of the crash site for roughly 15 minutes without being able to locate their downed comrade. Weather conditions in the target area were overcast with multiple stratus cloud layers. The search was terminated two days later with no results.

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 Michael John Allard - 08/30/67

Lt. Michael John Allard USN was buried at Arlington National Cemetary on Monday March 19, 2001. Lt. Allard was a native of Wausau, Wisconsin and a 1963 graduate of Marquette University. He was shot down August 30, 1967 just north of Vietnam's DMZ while flying an A-4 on his second attack mission from USS Coral Sea (CVA-43). He was 26 years old and was survived by a wife and three children. His remains were returned by the Vietnamese in 1996 and recently identified.
Lt. Michael Allard of VA-155 (the "Bluetails") was flying an A-4E Bu No 151025 modex NL 313.

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 Claude Douglas Clower, Walter O. Estes, Theodore G. Stier, James E. Teague - 11/19/67

LTJG James E. Teague and LTCDR Claude D. Clower were F4 pilots assigned to Fighter Squadron 151 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On November 19, 1967, the two were launched in F4B Phantom aircraft with their Radar Intercept Officers (RIO) on a mission near Haiphong, North Vietnam. Teague's RIO was LTJG Theodore G. Stier, and Clower's RIO was LTJG Walter O Estes. Clower and Estes were aboard the lead aircraft in the flight section of two aircraft. They were assigned to protect a strike group being launched from the USS INTREPID. Teague and Clower proceeded to the assigned target, and while over the target they were attacked by enemy MiG aircraft. Both aircraft were shot down. Teague's aircraft was hit first. He began an immediate course change towards the coast. His aircraft was intact except for small fires burning around the radome and air conditioning. LTJG Stier was seen to eject, but Clower did not see another parachute and did not notice if the front canopy was still on the aircraft. (NOTE: The ejection sequence on the F4 is for the rear seater to eject first, followed by the pilot in the front.) All four crewmen were initially placed in Missing in Action casualty status. Radio Hanoi broadcasts and other information led the Navy to believe that all four crewmen had survived their shootdown and were captured by the North Vietnamese. The Vietnamese released the identification cards of Estes, Stier and Teague. The status of the four was changed to Prisoner of War. In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming from prisons in and around Hanoi. Stier and Clower were among those released. During the years of their captivity, Stier had been advanced in rank to Lieutenant and Clower to the rank of Commander. Estes and Teague had also been advanced in rank; Estes to Lieutenant Commander and Teague to Lieutenant. Estes and Teague were not returned in 1973. They were among a group of hundreds of Americans who were known or suspected to be held prisoner who were not released at the end of the war. In this case, the Vietnamese acknowledged the capture of Stier and Clower and denied knowledge of Estes and Teague, even though an AP wire photo originated by the Vietnam News Agency (North Vietnam) clearly showed their ID cards with the caption that they were "captured in Haiphong." In late September 1970, the remains of James E. Teague and Walter O Estes II were returned by the Vietnamese to U.S. control. For 10 years, dead or alive, they had been held prisoner.

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 1ST Lieutenant Scott Ketchie - 4/9/72

On April 9, 1972, First Lieuenant Scott D. Ketchie was the co-pilot of an A6A Intruder which was sent on a mission in Laos near the DMZ. At a point about 10 miles inside Laos' Savannakhet Province, the aircraft was hit by antiaircraft fire and crashed. The pilot successfully ejected and was subsequently rescued, but Ketchie was not. He was listed Missing in Action.

The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded Ketchie's 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.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified material have reluctantly concluded that there are still hundreds of these men alive today.

Although the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American was ever released that was held in Laos. Laos was not part of the peace agreements ending American involvement in Southeast Asia, and the U.S. has never negotiated for these prisoners since that time.

It is not clear what happened to Scott D. Ketchie on April 9, 1972. According to a list composed by the National League of Families of POW/MIA in Southeast Asia, Scott Ketchie survived the crash of his aircraft. Perhaps he was killed by enemy fire upon ejection.

Scott D. Ketchie was postmously promoted to Captain. Although his remains have yet to be recovered there is an "In Memory Of" stone placed in his memory in Arlington National Cemetery.

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 John Jackson Parker - 3/4/70

Lt. John J. Parker was an A7A pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 86 on board the USS COARL SEA. In early March, 1970, the carrier was conducting flight operations in the South China Sea. On March 4, Parker launched in his A7A, and immediatley after takeoff, crashed into the sea. A search and rescue helicopter was immediately on the scene, but was unable to find LT. Parker. He was initially listed as Missing, but later changed to Reported Dead.

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 Norman Philip Westwood Jr. - 5/17/70

LT Norman P. Westwood Jr. was an F4B pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron 161 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On May 17, 1970, LT Westwood and his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) LT Kane were briefed for a night bombing mission. During their catapult launch sequence, their F4B developed a fire on the right side. The master ejection system was initiated. The aircraft was airborne only 4-6 seconds prior to water impact. Only one ejecton seat was observed leaving the aircraft, with LT Kane immediately rescued by the standby helicopter. An extensive search by the destroyer USS GEORGE K. MACKENZIE and other helicopters failed to locate LT Westwood.

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 Thomas Earl Dunlop - 4/6/72

The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the Communists as early as February 1965. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first U.S.Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1 Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. 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. One of the aircraft that launched off the decks of the CORAL SEA was the Vought A7 Corsair II, a single-seat attack jet. According to pilots, forward air controllers (FAC) loved the A7, especially in North Vietnam. Whenever A7s were around, they'd try to get them because of their ability to put the ordnance right where it was supposed to be. The accuracy had little to do with pilot technique, it was the bombing computers onboard the aircraft at the time. The Corsair manufacturer had as many technical reps onboard the ship as there were pilots, and they reps had the airplanes tuned to perfection. A7s were also good on fuel, with an exceptionally long range over 700 miles. In the early weeks of the CORAL SEA's 1972 tour, its attack squadrons started going after targets in North Vietnam in April. There were a lot of missiles, and a lot of bullets. The action was faster than it had been in previous tours. The Air Wing commander of Attack Squadron 22 when it departed on its 1972 cruise was CDR Thomas E. Dunlop, an A7 pilot. Early in May, Dunlop launched on a mission over Quang Binh Province. When he was about 5 miles south of the city of Dong Hoi, Dunlop's aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) and he was forced to eject.

[Follow up - Harold Ballenger] - In 1972 I was assigned to OP-1 (Air Intelligence) on the Coral Sea.  My main job was running the closed circuit tv system for briefing pilots in the ready rooms.  One of my jobs was plotting SAM sites for pilot info.  The map was quite full. One morning after the first alpha strike was launched Commander Dunlop came into the briefing room saying that he wished someone had woke him before the launch.  He then looked at the SAM plots and said, "I'm worried about those SAMs." He went out on the second of three alpha strikes.
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 Andrew Anthony Horchar, Jr., Larry C. Knight, Brian L. Bushnell, Charles B. Pfaffmann, Jack L. Wright - 4/9/70

LTJG Charles B. Pfaffmann was an E2A pilot assigned to Carrier Early Warning Squadron 116 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On April 9, 1970, he and his co-pilot LT Larry C. Knight and technicians Seamen Brian L. Bushnell and Andrew A. Horchar Jr. were launched in their E2A Hawkeye on a routine mission over Vietnam. Immediately after launch, the aircraft crew reported a fire and their intention to return to the ship. LT Pfaffmann's aircraft impacted the water about three miles ahead of the CORAL SEA. A rescue helicopter and escort destroyer were on the scene within minutes. No survivors were seen, and no remains were recovered.

[Follow up - Tommy L. Wright] - Actually, my father (Jack L. Wright) was aboard this aircraft as well. My family was told that his body was the only one recovered. He was buried with military honors in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 33 years of age and had just taken and passed his exam for Senior Chief.
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 James Reginal Bauder, James B. Mills, - 9/21/66

Lt.Cdr. James R. Bauder was a pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron 21 onboard the USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43). On September 21, 1966, Bauder and Lt.JG James B. Mills, the Naval Fighter Officer, launched with another F4B fighter jet from the USS CORAL SEA on a night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Bauder was the flight leader of the flight. The assigned route was from Cua Can to Thach Luyen along a river adjacent to Highway 1A. Bauder briefed the mission for the two aircraft to penetrate the coast. The wingman, Lt. Hanley, was in a 4-5 mile radar trail. Capt. Bauder dropped his six flares at 3500 feet to illuminate the river for barges. His aircraft then executed a starboard turn to watch for flak and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) as the wingman bombed targets of opportunity under the illumination of the flares. The wingman was then to proceed straight ahead off the target for 45 seconds and drop his flares. Bauder and Mills would follow him north in a 4-5 mile radar trail with the intention of bombing targets illuminated by the second series of flares. The wingman attempted to contact Bauder by radio, but was unsucessful. He then checked with the USS CHICAGO and the E2A air control aircraft to see if they had radar contact with the leader's aircraft, but they did not. At no time were any flak or SAM firings observed by the crew of the wing aircraft. Neither crew member observed any explosions in the air or on the ground. No signals were detected from the emergency radios carried by both Bauder and Mills. An extensive search was conducted in the area during the night and early morning with negative results. Bauder and Mills and their aircraft disappeared. The two were placed in a Missing In Action category.

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 Michael George Hoff - 1/7/70

On January 7, 1970, LtCdr. Michael Hoff was launched from the USS Coral Sea as the pilot of a an A7-A Corsair II aircraft. His mission was to perform armed reconnaissance over Laos. The weather in the area was clear and visibility was about 10 miles. Hoff's aircraft was completing a strafing run near the city of Sepone when Commander Hoff radioed that he had a fire warning light and was going to have to bail out. The flight leader could not see the aircraft at that time. The leader did sight the aircraft just as it impacted in an area which was flat with dense vegetation and high trees. The pilot of another aircraft reported sighting Hoff's aircraft below him, when it was approximately 2,000 feet above the ground. The aircraft at that time commenced a roll and, prior to reaching an inverted position, a flash was observed which was initially thought to be the ejection seat leaving the aircraft. Immediately afterwards, the aircraft impacted and exploded. No parachute was seen, nor were emergency transmissions received. During ensuing search operations, aircraft reported that they received heavy enemy automatic weapons fire. Two aircraft were able to make repeated low passes in the crash area looking for a parachute or survivor, but the results were negative.

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 William Tamm Arnold - 11/18/66

Lt. William T. Arnold was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On November 8, 1966, Arnold was flying as wingman in an A4C Skyhawk aircraft, "Beef Eater 222", during a coastal weather reconnaissance mission. The flight approached the North Vietnamese coast 15 to 20 miles south of Cap Mui Ron. The weather was overcast and was solid up to approximately 7,000 feet. Flying beneath the overcast approximately 7 miles from the coast, the flight leader determined that the cloud base was of sufficient height to effect a bombing maneuver. The flight leader completed his maneuver, staying beneath the overcast, and was turning east when he heard the transmission, "I'm in the clouds, coming down." The leader looked back, but did not see Arnold's aircraft. The flight leader called to Arnold but received no response. He saw no evidence of an ejection nor any debris which would indicate a crash. Search and rescue efforts were initiated from the USS CORAL SEA, but were negative. It is the assumption of the wingman that Arnold became disoriented in his maneuver and in trying to recover, crashed into the sea. Further, the possibility that he ejected in the proximity of land and was captured was considered very remote. Arnold's last known location, however, was quite near the coast of North Vietnam off Quang Binh Province, just south of the halfway point between the cities of Quang Khe and Dong Hoi. A report was received from the Vietnamese that a pilot parachuted down on shore in the general vicinity of Arnold's disappearance, hit his head on a rock which killed him and was then buried. This report was tentatively correlated with Arnold's case, although the date of this alleged event was in December, and did not match date-wise to Arnold's loss.

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 David Allen Kardell - 1965 - Submitted by Randy Kelso

"We were off the coast of North Vietnam, in the Gulf of Tonkin. I was below, on the O3 level in the Fire Control Shop during flight ops. A big raid was ready to launch and there were birds turning all over the roof. One of the plane captains stuck his head in the shop and said, "We need an AQ topside. Lt. Kardell has a radar problem!". I followed him to the flight deck and worked my way around sucking intakes and blasting exhausts to one of our VF-154 F-8s which also had its engine turning. The canopy was open and Mr. Kardell was going through his strap-in ritual in the cockpit. I climbed the ladder and asked what was wrong at the top of my lungs. He screamed back over the din of jet engines that his radar scope needed adjusting. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a "tweaker", a small screwdriver, and removed the four screws which held the scope cover. I then carefully lifted the cover straight up to avoid getting into the 4500 volts I knew was present inside. I found the proper symbology vertical position potentiometer and began to turn it. Mr. Kardell nodded his head, and I turned the pot until he gave me a "thumbs up". I then carefully replaced the cover and the four screws, stepped down the ladder and went below. Routine. All in a day's work. But after they launched Mr. Kardell I never saw him again. Scuttlebutt had it he got "target fixation" and flew into the target. Years later I located Lt. Jack Terhune and spoke with him on the telephone. Mr. Kardell was flying Jack Terhune's wing that day, and Mr. Terhune told me the story: Mr. Kardell made a strafing pass at some trucks, spraying them with 20mm. He heard VA-155's skipper, who could see Mr. Kardell's shadow converging with the ground from above in his A-4, call 'Watch the ground!'. Mr. Terhune looked down to see Mr. Kardell pulling up for all he was worth, generating contrails off his F-8's wings, but it was no use. He hit the ground in what Mr. Terhune said was the biggest fireball he had ever seen. Mr. Terhune overflew the area, hoping, but he said there was nothing down there bigger than a bushel basket. He had to fly back to the ship, understandably shaken up, and write the official action report."

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 Marvin Benjamin Christopher Wiles - 11/18/66

LT Marvin B.C. Wiles was a Corsair pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22 onboard the CORAL SEA. On May 6, 1972, Wiles and his Air Wing Commander, CDR Roger "Binkie" Sheets, launched in their A7E aircraft on a day armed reconnaissance mission. (Armed reconnaissance meant search for targets and destroy them, primarily truck convoys and the like, on this sort of general mission.) Wiles and Sheets crossed the coast of North Vietnam just south of Vinh, a common navigation point, and they saw a surface-to-air missile (SAM) lift-off about ten miles to the left. Sheets radioed, "Okay Marv, do you have the lift-off?" and Wiles responded, "I got it." Sheets said, "Arm your bombs and let's go get 'em" making the decision to bomb the SAM site rather than conduct reconnaissance as planned. Wiles took up a standard formation of about 3,000 to 4,000 feet away from sheets. The smoke had drifted away from the SAM site, so Sheets planned to go in as fast as possible, confirm the site, pop up and go bomb it. In the meantime, another aircraft - an "Iron Hand" SAM strike mission aircraft - in the area had picked up the SAM launch signal and was monitoring the site as well. Sheets flew over the site, confirmed it, rolled in, and bombed. As he was pulling off, some three thousand feet off the ground, he rolled over to wait for the bombs to hit. Before they struck, he saw a complete peppering of the whole area, followed about two seconds later by his string of bombs that went right across the upper half of the circular site. What had happened was that the Iron Hand had launched a SHRIKE missile that effectively covered the entire site. It had hit the radar van perfectly and spread over the area, followed by Sheets' bombs. Sheets pulled off to the left and came back to the right and heard SAM signals again. He radioed Wiles to see if he was in on the target. When Sheets looked back, he saw an airplane going into the ground. Wiles had been hit by a SAM from another site which Sheets had picked up on his scope but had not yet seen visually. Shortly thereafter, Sheets saw Wiles' parachute and he followed it down right into a village a few miles from the city of Quang Khe and about 14 miles northwest of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Wiles landed right in the middle of the village. Sheets began to receive ground fire and was forced to leave the area. The Air Wing Commander never saw Wiles again. The Navy assumed Wiles had been captured, and in June 1972, notified his family that he had been captured. For the next months, they awaited his release. When 591 Americans were released at the end of the war in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973, Marvin Wiles was not among them. Although he landed uninjured in the middle of a village, the Vietnamese deny any knowledge of him. Subsequent information received by the U.S. revealed that Wiles was killed in the village while resisting capture, almost immediately after he landed.

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 Curtis Henry Cropper - 04/05/70

LT Curtis Cropper was a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) assigned to Fighter Squadron 151 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On april 5, 1970, he launched with his pilot, LT. Tom Terrill, in their F4B Phantom fighter/bomber on a combat mission into North Vietnam. Following the mission, Terrill and Cropper were returning to ship when their aircraft suddenly caught fire and they were forced to eject. The forces of the ejection, combined with the high speed, stunned them both. LT Terrill was recovered alive in the water, but LT Cropper was unconscious when he hit the water, and was unable to inflate his life jacket and raft or to detach himself from his parachute. The parachute disappeared from the surface of the water in no more than a minute's time. Search efforts did not locate LT Cropper. He was listed as Reported Dead. Because no remains were found, LT Cropper is also listed as Body Not Recovered, and his name is maintained among the rolls of the missing. The incident is not considered to be battle-related.

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 Thomas Holt Pilkington, Don B. Parsons - 09/19/66

LTJG Don B. Parsons was an F4B pilot and LTJG Thomas H. Pilkington a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) assigned to Fighter Squadron 154 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. Historically, pilots from fighter squadrons have been associated with dramatic duels in the skies, and have held the attention of aviation enthusiasts and the public; a fondness dating back to the days of the exploits of the Red Baron in World War I. But Vietnam was largely an "air-to-mud" war. There were a considerable number of air duels over North Vietnam and the exploits of MiG killers have been well documented. But those aerial duels were only a minute part of air combat in Vietnam. The bulk of naval air activity consisted of various attack aircraft dropping bombs and firing rockets and bullets on the fields, factories and bridges of North Vietnam. Fighter pilots, not wanting their talents to go to waste, also flew air-to-ground missions. On September 19, 1966, Parsons and Pilkington were assigned to a two-plane night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Parsons' aircraft trailed the flight leader by about 4 miles. "Armed reconnaissance" meant look for targets and destroy them--usually truck convoys or similar small enemy targets. Shortly after crossing the coast at 4,000 feet, the flight leader saw a possible surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch approximately two miles southeast of his position and near Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam. He called for defensive maneuvers back to the coast, but Parsons did not respond. Although no explosion was noticed, an A4C flight reported seeing an unexplained flash on the ground in the general area of the missing aircraft. [NOTE: U.S. Navy accounts give the lead aircraft position as two miles northwest of the city of Thanh Hoa. Defense Department records list the loss of Parsons and Pilkington at 191700N 1054700E, which is a full 25 miles south of Thanh Hoa. If Parsons remained four miles behind the flight leader and if he heard the call for defensive maneuvers, it seems unlikely that he would have approached the sea on this flight path. No explanation can be found for this discrepancy.] Search and rescue efforts were made by helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. These efforts were unsuccessful. Both Parsons and Pilkington were classified Missing in Action.

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 Dustin Cowles Trowbridge, Walter Henry Kosky - 12/26/69 Submitted by - Mike Benjamin

The Grumman A6 Intruder is one of the aircraft which launched from the decks of the CORAL SEA. This two-man plane could be adapted as aerial tanker or electronic warfare. LTJG Dustin C. Trowbridge was a bombardier/navigator assigned to Attack Squadron 35 onboard the CORAL SEA. On December 26, 1969, Trowbridge and his pilot launched on a tanker combat support mission in a KA6 tanker. While airborne, there was an undetermined accident which caused the loss of the aircraft. The accident was not combat related, and at the time of loss, the aircraft was about 110 miles offshore in the South China Sea. The aircraft and its crew were lost with no possibility of recovering their remains. [NOTE: Although U.S. Navy accounts of this loss incident describe the loss of two crewmen, there is no other U.S. military personnel missing on December 26, 1969. Also, coordinates place the loss in the South China Sea rather than the Gulf of Tonkin, where the U.S. Navy accounts place it. No reason for this discrepancy can be determined. Further, a most unusual promotion was given to Dustin Trowbridge to the rank of Lieutenant. This seems to indicate that he was in Missing in Action status for some period before he was declared dead. Additionally, all other government records ascribe the loss to an A6A Intruder attack aircraft version rather than the tanker version.] Because of the discrepancies in Dustin Trowbridge's loss incident, it is impossible to know what actually happened to him on December 26, 1969. His family has been told that he was killed, and that there is no possibility of recovering his remains.

Update: I was on board and witnessed this incident. The pilot of the A-6 was Walter Henry Kosky. The captain came over the 1-mc to announce a crippled bird was returning and word was passed to me that it was the plane of my friend - Kosky- the ac was approaching the deck from forward port side...as Kosky appeared to begin his final appproach the ac from only a few hundred feet altitude and about 300 yards off the port side took a 90 degree nose dive. Both men ejected...as I recall their chutes did not have time to deploy. The chopper could not locate Trowbridge but the crew retrieved the body of my friend.


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 Larry James Stevens - 02/14/69

LTJG Larry J. Stevens, a U.S. Navy pilot, was assigned to Attack Squadron 216 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On Valentine's Day, 1969, he launched in his A4C Skyhawk attack aircraft on a night strike mission over Laos. With him was another A4C piloted by LTCDR J.F. Meehan. A Forward Air Controller (FAC) aircraft and an A6 Intruder were also in the area. The flight was assigned a ground target -- a group of trucks carrying ammunition and supplies to enemy forces fighting in South Vietnam. While maneuvering in the target area, the two A4's were fired upon by anti-aircraft artillery. The two aircraft were at 10,000 feet, when LTCDR Meehan, in the lead aircraft, heard and felt a double explosion with an accompanying white flash from the left side of his aircraft. This explosion caused damage to Meehan's aircraft. He was able to regain control of the damaged plane, flew out to sea, ejected safely and was picked up by a search and rescue helicopter. LTJG Stevens had been flying close formation when the flash and explosions were experienced. No transmissions were heard from Stevens at that time and no further voice contact was established. About one minute after the explosion, his aircraft was seen by the FAC and the crew of the A6 aircraft to impact the ground. Initial reports indicated that there might have been a mid-air collision between the two aircraft, but this was later discounted. Stevens made no radio transmission after his plane was hit, nor was there any sighting of a parachute. However, a few minutes after his plane crashed, a five to ten second beeper signal was picked up by the other planes and was assumed to come from Stevens. Subsequent visual and electronic sweeps of the area failed to pick up any sign of him or his plane. Hostile threat in this area, near Tchepone, Laos, precluded any further search and rescue efforts. In his official report of the incident, Steven's squadron commander advanced the strong possibility that he could well have survived the crash, in which case he would almost certainly been captured. There has been no further word of Larry Stevens received by his family.

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 Joseph Patrick Dunn - 02/14/68

LTJG Joseph P. Dunn joined the Navy in 1964. He received orders for Vietnam in July 1967, where he was assigned to Attack Squadron 25 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On February 14, 1968, Dunn launched in his A1H Skyraider attack aircraft from Cubi Point Naval Air Station, Republic of the Philippines, to relieve another aircraft from his squadron. The flight was a ferry flight, returning a repaired A1 aircraft to the USS CORAL SEA, accompanied by a second unarmed radar plane. During the flight to the aircraft carrier on station in the Gulf of Tonkin, both Dunn and his wingman drifted north of their proposed flight route and wound up off the east coast of Hainan Island, China. The Chinese, having tracked the aircraft on radar, sent MiG 17 aircraft to turn the intruders away. Fire from one of them struck Dunn's aircraft. The pilot of the second plane, along with three other crewmen, saw Dunn descend with a fully opened parachute and heard the manual UHF emergency beeper sound for two to three minutes, but then they were forced evade the attacking MiG aircraft and flew toward the security of South Vietnam. The wingman immediately reported the shootdown and U.S. aircraft responded within minutes of the call. Unfortunately, due to the wingman's perception that he was off the coast of North Vietnam and not China, the U.S. aircraft searched the wrong area for hours. Upon his landing in South Vietnam, the mistake was discovered and other aircraft were correctly deployed, but without success. Eight hours after the shootdown, an electronic surveillance plane picked up a beeper signal for 20 minutes from the vicinity of Hainan Island. It is believed that Dunn would take approximately 8 hours to reach the island in his emergency life raft. There were a number of junks in the region which might have picked him up. Had he drowned, his body would have reached the island and probably have been seen by villagers. The Chinese reported the shootdown in their radio broadcasts. Numerous newspapers related the incident, and U.S. State Department efforts were initiated to try to get more information. Despite the evidence that Dunn could have been captured, the Chinese will say nothing about his fate.

[Follow up - Bob Nicholas] - Joe was a good man and I certainly hated what happened. His wingman in the EA1F was LT Bob Stoddard and Bob's Navigator was LTJG Vic Brown. Strong southerly winds blew them off course north toward Hainan which made "dead reckoning" navigation very difficult as they thought that they were near Chu Lai when in reality they had drifted off the coast of Hainan. As soon as Stoddard saw that Joe had been hit and had bailed out, he "dove for the deck and pulled out at about 100 ft. above the water"....followed his way back down south of Hainan and then headed to the east coast of Vietnam and landed in Chu Lai. The MIGs apparently lost Stoddard and Stoddard felt that the steep dive saved both of their lives. Bob's adrenalin was going while executing the dive and he really thought that they might not pull out in time but as it happened, they did. I knew both of them and had a chance to talk to both of them about that situation.

Bob Nicholas
Navigator, EA1F, VAW-13.
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 Frederick John Fortner - 10/17/67

LtCdr. Frederick Fortner was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 155 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43). On October 17, 1967, LtCdr. Fortner launched in his A4E "Skyhawk" on an attack mission over North Vietnam. After firing his rockets at a target, Fortner's aircraft was seen to be streaming smoke or fuel and his wingman radioed for him to clear the area and begin heading for the open sea. Fortner called that his flight controls were locked and no further transmissions were received from him. No ejection or parachute was seen and it was uncertain that he survived the air crash in the thick jungle terrain. Fortner was categorized as Missing in Action. When the war ended, Fortner's family thought it would be possible that he had been captured, and that he would be released with other American POWs, but he was not. The Vietnamese denied having any knowledge of him. Following the war, refugees fled Vietnam, bringing with them reports of American aircraft crash sites, dog tags they had found, and shockingly, reports of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. By the end of 1988, the U.S. had received over 8,000 such reports. On November 3, 1988, the Vietnamese discovered the remains of LtCdr. Frederick Fortner and returned them to U.S. control.

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 Quinlen Roberts Orell, James D. Hunt - 10/13/68

Commander Quinlen R. Orell was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 52 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On October 13, 1968, he launched in his A6A Intruder attack aircraft with his Bombardier/Navigator, Lt. James D. Hunt, on an armed reconnaissaince mission over North Vietnam. During their egress from the target area the aircraft passed through an area of reported anti-aircraft fire. Orell's aircraft was successfully tracked by U.S. surface ship radar as having crossed the coast and back out to sea. Immediately thereafter, radar and IFF contact was lost and no further radio transmissions were received. Search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful. The last known location of the plane was near the coast of North Vietnam about 25 miles southwest of the city of Vinh and about 10 miles north of the city of Ha Tinh. The plane is listed as an over/water loss. Hunt and Orell were classified Missing in Action, a status which was maintained for the next ten years. Finally, in 1978, both were declared Presumed Killed in Action, based on no proof that they were any longer alive.

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 Wilmer Paul Cook - 12/22/67

LCdr. Wilmer P. Cook was the pilot of an A4E from Attack Squadron 155 on board the USS CORAL SEA. On December 22, 1967, LCdr. Cook launched from the carrier on a combat mission over North Vietnam. His was the only aircraft assigned to the mission. According to the U.S. Navy, because no other aircraft accompanied LCdr. Cook that day, it is not known exactly what happened to him on that day. LCdr. Cook was lost, but no details are available. He was classified Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered, even though no information explaining this determination is included in public records available from the U.S. Navy. The last known position of Cook and his aircraft was over Ha Tinh Province, approximately 20 miles southeast of the city of Vinh. (NOTE: In a second U.S. Navy summary of this incident, Cook's aircraft was hit by ground fire and crashed north, northwest of Ha Tinh, Nghe Tinh, Province Vietnam, and "the other crewmember of another aircraft observed the aircraft crash.Search and rescue helicopter was driven away by small arms fire.") The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the classification of Killed in Action by adding an enemy knowledge factor indicator of 2. Category 2 was generally applied to cases in which personnel were "lost in areas or under such conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy", of "identified through analysis of all-source intelligence." The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of his fate. On June 21, 1988, the Vietnamese returned the remains of LCdr. Wilmer P. Cook to U.S. control. For over 22 years - dead or alive - LCdr. Cook had been a captive in enemy hands.

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 Richard Champ Clarke, Robert Frishmann,Charles R. Gillespie, Earl Lewis - 10/24/67

On October 24, 1967, Ltjg. Richard Clark was flying as backseater aboard the F4B Phantom fighter jet flown by Commander Charles R. Gillespie on a bombing mission over the Hanoi, Haiphong and Vinh Phuc region of North Vietnam. The aircraft was one in a flight of two. Clark and Gillespie's aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile and crashed in Vinh Phu Province. Other members of the flight observed two good parachutes, heard one electronic beacon signal, and observed one unidentified crew member on the ground. On the same day, the F4 flown by Earl Lewis and Robert Frishmann was shot down at the same coordinates. Frishmann relates that he "wasn't even diving when they hit me. I was flying. Bad luck!" Frishmann sustained a serious injury to his arm by missile fragments. Frishmann believed Lewis was dead, but after 4 hours, located him. Both were captured by the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese were able to save Frishmann's arm, but he lost his elbow, leaving the arm nearly 8 inches shorter than the other. A reporter, Oriana Fallaci, interviewed Frishmann for Look Magazine in July 1969. At that time, he had been held in solitary confinement for 18 months. Lewis, Frishmann and Gillespie were held in various locations in and around Hanoi as prisoners. At no time did any of them see Richard Clark, who had successfully ejected from the aircraft. Lt. Frishmann was released in August 1969 with the blessings of the POW community. His message to the world would reveal the torture endured by Americans held in Vietnam and cause a public outcry which would eventually help stop the torture and result in better treatment for the prisoners. Gillespie and Lewis were both released from Hanoi March 14, 1973 in the general prisoner release nearing the end of American involvement in the war in Vietnam. Cdr. Gillespie, in his debrief, stated that after the missile hit, smoke filled the cockpit, and as the intercom system failed, he gave an emergency hand signal to eject and he did not see Lt. Clark again. On October 24, Radio Hanoi announced that in the afternoon of October 24, eight U.S. war planes had been shot down and that a number of U.S. pilots had been captured. The U.S. correlates this information to Lt. Clark and placed him in prisoner of war classification. (Inexplicably, however, the Defense Intelligence Agency codes Clark as "category 2" which means only "suspected" enemy knowledge of his fate.)

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 Robert Harper Shumaker - 2/11/65 Submitted by - Clarence Cassler

On February 11, 1965 Ninety-nine planes from the Ranger, Hancock and the Coral Sea were dispatched against the enemy barracks at Chanh Hoa. At 1400 Skyraiders and Skyhawks descended on Chanh Hoa dropping 1,000 and 250-pound bombs and firing rockets into the camp. The massed squadrons from the Handcock and Coral Sea followed up the first wave and added their firepower.Meanwhile F8E Crusaders and F-4B Phantoms rocked and strafed the numerous AAA sites around Chanh Hoa. Some planes were hit from ground fire and limped towards the coast where they were rescued by an Air Force HU-16. LCDR Shumaker of Fighter Squadron 154 was not so fortunate. While attacking a gun position at Chanh Hoa, his Crusader was hit. It spun out of control. Unable to reach the relative safety of the sea, Shumaker ejected in North Veitnam. He was immediately captured and imprisoned ". About a month later the ship received a picture from Hanoi showing Commander Shumaker which was posted on the bulletin board on the mess deck. He had two guards on each side holding him up and was in terrible looking condition. He was the second naval aviator to be shot down in Vietnam.

For the next 8 years, Shumaker was held in various prisoner of war camps, including the infamous Hoa Lo complex in Hanoi. Shumaker, in fact, dubbed this complex the "Hanoi Hilton". Shumaker, as a prisoner, was known for devising all sorts of communications systems and never getting caught. Like other POWs, he was badgered to write a request for amnesty from Ho Chi Minh, which he refused to do. As punishment, the Vietnamese forced Shumaker to stay in a cell with no heat and no blankets during the winter. After about a week, Shumaker had not relented, and it was forced to kneel for another week. Finally, he was kneeling on broom handles with boards on his shoulders. After a month the Vietnamese finally broke him and went on to the next POW.

Shumaker was was released in Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He had been promoted to the rank of Commander during his captivity. He retired in 1988 as a Rear Admiral. An F-8 Crusader with all the markings, numbers, of the Coral Sea and his name is on display on the flight deck of the USS Yorktown at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

[POW]
[Image Source - Clarence Cassler]
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 Fred Horatio Gates II - 8/19/67

Commander Gates, 35, was operations officer of Attack Squadron 25, operating from the USS Coral Sea in the South China Sea en route to Vietnam.

He was killed after his propeller-driven airplane[A-1H]developed engine trouble during a landing approach. Commander Gates went down with the airplane after ditching it about a quarter mile astern of the aircraft carrier.

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Cdr. Clarence William "Billy" Stoddard was remembered in a ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on 26 May, 2005.

On 14 Sept 1966, on a mission in Vietnam, Cdr. William "Billy" Stoddard's Skyraider was hit by a SAM. He got as far as the Gulf of Tonkin before his plane went down. Cdr. Stoddard was listed as MIA until 1973, when his status was changed to Killed in Action.

The Marine Band from Albany, GA, Color and Honor Guards from NAS Marietta, and a special Navy flyover highlighted the occasion. Admiral James Ellis, USN (Ret) led the Memorial Service to honor all who served and those who gave all.

A native of Atlanta, Commander Stoddard served on the Coral Sea as Commander, VA-25.

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 Jackie Allen Young - 1960-61 Submitted by - Darwin "Hap" Litzell

Jackie was attached to VAH2 during the 1960-61 cruise. He was manning the brakes in the cockpit of an A3D Skywarrior on the forward starboard elevator. We were in heavy seas and the plane broke loose from the towing tractor and flipped off the elevator backwards taking Jackie to his death. He was as AN at the time. If memory serves, he was just recently married before the cruise.

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 David Cornell - 1988 Submitted by - Scott Miller

I was stationed aboard the Coral Sea from 1987-89 in the Ordnance Division. I witnessed the mishap that AN David Cornell was involved in. We were in some really rough seas at the time. It was so bad that the aircraft on the flight deck had double tie-downs on them and waves were almost coming over the flight deck. I was assigned to the flight deck crew for the Ordnance dept's G-2 division and the Weapons officer decided we needed more 20mm up there. I think the Coral Sea was the only carrier that had a weapons elevator behind the Island or "bomb farm" as it was referred to. All sponsons and weather decks were secure at the time but we had orders to get the 20mm up there. An Cornell was a weapons elevator operator in G-4 division and was sent to operate the elevator at the sponson level. There were 3 skids of 20mm ready to send up and up on the flight deck we were waiting for the ok from AN Cornell to send the elevator down. There were small hatches on each corner of the elevator that had to be opened to "unlock" it from it normal position. We were looking thru them when all of the sudden a wave came over the sponson and hit the skids of 20mm. One was pushed into the elevator pit, the 2nd was left hanging off the edge of the sponson tangled up in the safety chains and the 3rd was pushed into AN Cornell pinning him between the handle of the skid and one of the at sea refueling stations and basically crushed his chest. It was a horrific accident that I will never forget. AN Cornell and I had become friends because he always worked that elevator. He was a good sailor and the U.S. Navy lost a good man that day.

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On 25 October 1967, a 5-inch ZUNI rocket exploded in a below-decks rocket assembly area aboard USS CORAL SEA. Nine men were seriously injured by burns and fragments. Four of the men died of their injuries:

  • On 10/29/67, SA Carlyle B. Pomeroy, Jr., Denver, Co
  • On 10/30/67, AO3 Victor R. Wooden, White City, Or, and SN Ronald A. Hessman, Los Angeles, Ca
  • On 12/7/67, AO3 Donald D. Maki, Hutchinson, Mn
Read more about the Zuni Rocket mishap here.

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 Marvin Joel Naschek - 1968 - 1967 Submitted by - Tom Mitchell

LCDR Marvin Joel Naschek, XO of VA-216, the Black Diamonds is officially listed as KIA after crashing his A-4C Skyhawk (Bupers NL148608) into the sea after a night launch on 21 November 1968 from the deck of the CoralSea. His body was not recovered. The cause of the crash was never determined. After clearing the deck he started to climb, suddenly veered off to the right, right wing down then went nose down and into the sea. Maintenance records showed that the AJB-3 (attitude indicator) had a previous gripe of locking left wing down, nose up. The part that was replaced to fix the problem was examined and found that it would cause this problem so the guy that trouble shot the plane and fixed that gripe (me) was off the hook. One of the guys on the cat crew told me that just before he was shot off, he seemed to lean forward and look down to his right. Very unusual. He thought that because of this LCDR Naschek's head snapped back on the launch and broke his neck or something. We will never know.

Tom Mitchell AE-2
VA-216

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 Jim Gardner, Tom Bitter - 1968 Submitted by - Chuck Wothke

There were 3 men that also died while I was on board the Coral Sea.

One was Jim Gardner. He was driving a tractor on the flight deck after flight ops respotting aircraft. He lost control of his tractor and went over the side and was never found.

Another was Jim Bitter of Indiana. We were getting underway from Alameda air station for the pilots to practice landing. They couldn't get the line lose from the dock. He was waving to his wife on the beach when the line snapped and came back through the hole he was looking out of and it cut him in half.

The third I remember was a young lad working on the flight deck. They were getting ready to launch a phantom when his hat flew off and he went onto the flight deck. He went out to retrieve it just when they launched the plane. He was a fuel operator.

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 Tom Joseph Cress - January 6, 1961 Submitted by - John McCuen

I served with Attack Squadron 153 (VA 153) from '59 to '62 as a Plane Captain and then an AO3 in the shop. Our sleeping quarters were just under the flight deck and the arresting gear. We were off the coast of Japan and the ship was recovering aircraft. It was just before taps if I remember correctly. I was secured and in the process of climbing up into my top rack when I heard a much louder then usual screech on the flight deck above me as the ship seemed to dip at the stern. I recall saying to my buddies, "What the hell was that?"

It was Lt. Tom Cress, one of our pilots in my A4-D, "Blue Tail Flies" squadron. On his attempted recovery I was told he hit the stern of the ship and his plane skidded forward on it's underside all the way to the right side of the angle deck. The aircraft hit at least two or three aircraft spotted just forward of the angle deck, and plummeted into the sea forward of the front of the angle deck. I understand two sailors happened to be on the catwalk forward of the angle deck at that instant. One was killed instantly and the other lived through the night but died just before reveille. I remember that I was carrying practice bombs across the flight deck the next morning. We stopped as the Chaplain said a prayer for our shipmates.

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  Kenneth E. Hume - March 29, 1965

Lt.Cdr. Kenneth E. Hume was the pilot of an F-8D. On March 29, 1965, Hume's aircraft crashed at sea at a point near Dao Bach Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin. No parachute was observed, nor was an ejection seat seen. Hume was declared Killed/Body Not Recovered. As Defense Department records list Hume's loss as hostile loss, it is presumed that he was either launching or returning from a combat mission when he crashed.

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  William Marshall Roark - April 7, 1965

LT Roark was killed in action attacking targets near Dong Hoi, North Vietnam as pilot of a Navy A-4C Skyhawk jet of Attack Squadron 153. He was flying from the Aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea on April 7, 1965 , while on his second deployment to the Vietnam conflict. Roark had served as cadet colonel and commanding officer of Central High School JROTC regiment and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1960. For his heroism in combat, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Destroyer/ Frigate USS Roark (FF-1053) was named in his honor in 1967. A plaque on the USS Roark quotes from a letter Lt. Roark sent his wife. "I don't want my sons to fight a war I should have fought. I wish more Americans felt that way. I will not live in a totalitarian society and I don't want you to, either. I believe in God and will resist any force that attempts to remove God from society, no matter what the name. Provided by his son, LCDR Bill Roark.

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 Dwight Glenn Frakes - February 24, 1965 Submitted by - Harry DoBell

One man was lost and three rescued after their A3B plunged into the ocean 45 minutes following take off from the flight deck of Coral Sea on the 24th of February. The lost member of the crew was identified as Dwight Glenn Frakes, RMCA, USN, a member of Coral Sea's ship company. Shortly after being catapulted from Coral Sea, the aircraft developed a malfunction. Following numerous unsuccessful attempts to correct the situation, Lieutenant Commander G. Gedney, pilot of the plane, ordered his crew to bail out of the aircraft approximately eight miles from Coral sea. Helicopters from Coral Sea and USS Yorktown CVS-10, alerted ten minutes prior to the crew's bailing out, were on scene and immediately rescued two members of the crew. They were Lieutenant (jg) John D. Berry, co-pilot, and Everett Bishop, AQB2, crewmember/navigator. Minutes later, LCDR Gedney was safely recovered. The fourth member of the crew, Frakes, is assumed to have drowned when he became entangled in the shroud lines of his water-soaked, sinking parachute shortly after dropping intothe water following a seemingly successful parachute jump. Numerous attempts to rescue Frakes by the Coral Sea and Yorktown helicopters were unsuccessful.

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 Andrew Lee Furrer - 1965 Submitted by - Moe Wadle

Someone please help remember this shipmate and what happened.

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 Harry E. Thomas - August 13, 1965

One of the pilots lost on August 13 were Navy CDR Harry E. Thomas, skipper of the "Blue Tails -- VA 153, an attack squadron flying off the carrier CORAL SEA. Thomas, a Korean War veteran had been skipper of the squadron since May. He had a lot of air combat experience, and important to the squadron, a lot of night experience. He taught the younger officers night flying, which in Vietnam, proved to be not only highly successful, but also safer than day strikes. The method used was to fly low at about 100 or 200 feet beneath the flares to find the target and, using low-level, lay-down ordnance such as snakeyes, cluster bombs or gun pods, to destroy such targets as enemy truck convoys. On the August 13 mission, Blue Tail members went on a mass, low-level strike looking for SAM sites. Thomas' aircraft flew into a volley of flak and was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and crashed. Observers noted that the canopy was still intact on the aircraft, thus precluding any chance that Thomas survived. He was listed Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.

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 Edward B. Shaw - September 5,1965

Several Attack Squadron 165 planes flying from the USS Coral Sea aircraft were conducting an armed reconnaissance mission south of Vinh when they spotted a number of supply barges in the mouth of the Song Gia Hoi River. During the subsequent attack on the barges, LTJG Edward B. Shaw (flying A-1H BuNo 139693) was hit by antiaircraft fire and went in. LTJG Shaw was not seen to escape his aircraft before impact. That fact, and the failure of search and rescue efforts to locate any sign of him, led to the conclusion that he died in the crash. His remains have not been repatriated.

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 Charles Bernard Goodwin - September 7, 1965

Charles B. Goodwin was a Lt(jg) flying RF-8A Crusader (unarmed-photo reconnaissance) from the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) when he was lost over North Vietnam on 7 Sept 1965. He was attached to VFP-63 Det D.

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 Michael Steele Confer - October 10, 1966

On 10 October 1967, Lt. JG Michael S. Confer was the pilot of an A4F Skyhawk (serial #151150, tail number NE# 340) that launched from the deck of the USS Coral Sea as the #2 aircraft in a section of two conducting a routine night road reconnaissance mission. The briefed flight path covered a waterway system formed by the Song Hong Ha River, better known as the Red River, south of Hanoi, Nam Ha Province, North Vietnam.

Near the end of the mission, Lead dropped flares over a pre-brief target located in the Red River Delta southeast of Hanoi near the coastline. The target was well illuminated and Lt. JG Confer rolled into a dive to deliver rockets on the target. Lead observed his wingman fire his rockets. He also continued to watch in horror as Michael Confer did not pull out of his dive, but continued downward until he crashed into the very shallow water approximately mile south of the shore.

The flight leader saw no ejection in the light of the flare before the aircraft impacted the water, nor did he see a parachute. The flight leader initiated an immediate visual and electronic search for LT. JG Confer and continued it until other aircraft arrived onsite to assist with the search and rescue (SAR) operation. At no time were electronic emergency beeper signals heard emanating from the area of loss. At the time the search effort was terminated, Michael Confer was listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

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Sullivan and Schultz were assigned to Fighter Squadron 151, flying F-4B Phantoms aboard the USS Coral Sea. In November, 1967, the crew were shot down over North Vietnam fifteen miles from Haiphong by a SAM. Both crewmen were captured - and began their long and difficult term of over five years as prisoners of war in North Vietnam.

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KIA. A-6A 155709 VMA(AW)-224 . Someone please help remember these shipmates and what happened.

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Killed in flight deck mishap. Read story here.

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 Delmar D. Young -1963

Died while launching in his F-8. Read story here.

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 R.C. Keating - 1970

Died while launching in his F-4. Read story here.

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 Gregorio Flores - 1970

Died in gun turret. Read story here.

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 McWilliams - 1982

Died in compartment below flight deck. Read story here.

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 Joseph Mullany - 1988

Died flying mission. Read story here.

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 Jesse Roy Mundlin - July 31, 1963

Jesse R. Mundlin was fatally injured when he walked in to the propeller of an A-1 on the flight deck.

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Died in air mishap. Read story here.

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 G.R. Schumway - June 25, 1972

Redcock A-7E Corsair BuNo. 157437 side number NL 311 was shot down by triple A fire over North Vietnam. The pilot, Lieutenant G. R. Shumway was never heard from again - Missing in Action.

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 Wendell B. Rivers - Sep 10, 1965

I deployed on my last cruise from Alameda, California to Vietnam on 7 December 1964 aboard USS Coral Sea as a member of Air Wing 15, Attack Squadron 155. I commenced flying combat missions over North Vietnam on 11 February 1965. On my 96th mission, 10 September 1965, I was shot down and captured at Vinh, Democratic Republic of North Vietnam.

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 Charles Tanner, Ross Terry - Oct 9, 1966

I was flying an F-4B from VF-154 off the USS Coral Sea. Commander Ross Terry was flying as my Radar Intercept Officer. We were shot down and captured near Phu Ly, North Vietnam on 9 October 1966. The internment was typical, with torture, solitary, etc. We were not injured prior to capture. We were released March 14, 1973.

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 Verlyne W. Daniels - Oct 26, 1967

Commander Verlyne W. Daniels was shot down by a SAM over North Vietnam he ejected and was captured by the North Vietnamese. Released in 1973.

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F-4B 151014 VF-154 USS CORAL SEA NE-461 AAA.

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No Information.

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No Information.

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 Milton J. Vescelius - Sep 21, 1967

Lt.Cdr. Milton J. Vescelius was the pilot of an RF-8A on a combat mission over North Vietnam on September 21, 1967. As he was about 5 miles west-southwest of the city of Quang Yen, and near the borders of Thai Binh and Quang Ninh Provinces, his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Vescelius was seen to eject, and other pilots in the area reported that when he reached the ground he was surrounded by Vietnamese. The following day, a Radio Hanoi broadcast described the incident and stated that the pilot had been captured. The U.S. classified Milton Vescelius as a Prisoner of War. For the next 6 years, Vescelius' family waited for the war to end. In 1973, when 591 Americans were released from POW camps in Vietnam, Vescelius was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him. Then in August 1985, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Milton Vescelius and returned them to U.S. control.

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 Richard Stape - 1956 [Submitted by - Ken Schmitz]

In 1955 or '56, I was working with a sailor by the name of Richard Stape from PA on the arresting gear on the flight deck.  We had taken turns welding down in one of those holes that the big arm for the arresting gear is stationed when not in use.  I can not remember if the ship was still in Portsmouth or if we had moved over to Norfolk, and I can't really remember what we were fixing on it.  Any how some one on the bridge hit the switch to lower that big arm and Richard Stape was in that hole welding, and was crushed.  He was a metalsmith striker out of "R" division.  A second class Metalsmith by the name of W. J. O'Brian, escorted the body home to PA, for a full military furneral.  Wish I could tell you the approximate date this happened, but that's 50 some years ago.  It was pretty sad for me, as I was from Minnesota and had spent a couple weekends at his home. I believe his father was already dead then, and he lived with his Mom and a younger brother, and I believe in Harrisburg, PA. 

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 LtJg Waddell - 1971 [Submitted by - Kent Damon/Daniel Sauceda]

1971 ,we lost a plane  doing practice landings.  I was in the hurricane bridge lifting weights, maybe early evening, when I heard an unusually loud jet engine noise, then the announcement over the 1MC of "pilot in the water". The pilot (LTJG Waddell) did manage to eject but drowned before recovery.  The funny thing about this was that the pilot's name was LTJG Waddell and the destroyer that picked him out of the water was the U.S.S. Waddell.

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 John N. Summerlin - Jan 8, 1986 [Submitted by - Ray Johnson]

In Memory of John N. Summerlin, Major,  VMFA 314, January 8, 1986. I believe his plane went missing on a low level "Practice" bombing mission.... while on the 85-86 med cruise.... this may not be totaly accurate....but just a memmory of what happened. sorry no other info.

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 Dennis Schmidt - 1967 [Submitted by - Jack McBride]

Killed on the flight deck. Pulled in an intake on a jet.

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 Robert Rideout - 1967 [Submitted by - Pat Leonard]

Killed on the flight deck. Walked in to prop.

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 Daniel Hagan Moran, Jr - January 15, 1967

LTJG Moran's A-4E (BuNo 151168) was hit by antiaircraft fire while he was participating in a strike on the Qui Vinh railroad yard about 10 miles southwest of Van Yen. Although the Skyhawk had a large hole in the starboard nose under the cockpit it remained flyable - and LTJG Moran took it out to sea. Escorting aircrewmen saw him move in the cockpit, but Moran was flying erratically and did not respond to radio or hand signals. Moran took his aircraft to the North SAR destroyer and ejected close alongside, but he was dead when a boat crew from the destroyer pulled him from the water. LTJG Daniel Moran was CORAL SEA's last loss on her 66/67 cruise - the 16th combat loss and the 19th overall.

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 Michael P. Cronin - 1967 [Submitted by - Mike Cronin]

Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy
Shot down: January 13, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 1, 1941. Some years later my family moved to Pittsburgh where I graduated from Carrick High. I have an older sister, Maureen, who is married and has five children, a younger sister who is a social worker in Washington D. C. and a younger brother who is a college student. I attended the Naval Academy where I met my wife, the former Miss Alice Bouic of Rockville, Maryland. I graduated in 1963 and then went through Naval Flight training which I finished in October 1964. After the completion of pilot training, I received training in the A4 "Skyhawk" at Cecil Field, Florida. In May of 1965 I reported to VA-23 (Attack Squadron twenty-three) aboard USS Midway on "Yankee Station." The Midway returned to the US on November 23, 1965. Alice and I were married on December 4, 1965. In August 1966 I returned to Vietnam on USS Coral Sea. I was shot down on Friday, 13 January 1967 by anti-aircraft fire about twenty miles south of Than Hoa. The aircraft broke up and for a while I was pinned in the cockpit and was quite lucky to escape. When my parachute opened I was over the sea, but a strong east wind blew me inland as I descended and I landed one half mile from the water. I was quickly captured by an Army unit which had seen me land. I was released on 4 March 1973. In prison I was sustained by the belief that I would eventually return home and although the war might last a very long time, the United States would never cease efforts on our behalf, and also, by a simple desire to live to enjoy freedom again. Our experience is an eloquent testimony to the fact that Americans do not forget those who serve their country. l think it is impossible to appreciate the United States until you have lived where freedom is only a theory. I think that there are few, if any, countries in the world in which so much concern would be shown for such a small number of men. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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 William Angus, Roger Wilson - June 12 , 1972

In Vietnam, Capt. Roger E. Wilson was an A6A pilot from Detachment C, VMA 224.
On June 11, 1972, he and Capt. Willam Angus were sent on a combat mission
over Nam Ha Province, North Vietnam. The aircraft was hit by ground fire,
and crashed in a lake on the north edge of the city of Nam Dinh. Wilson was
listed as Missing in Action. Although further details are unknown, the
latitude and longitude of loss for the two men are different in government
records.

Reports received through intelligence sources indicate that Wilson was probably
dead, and U.S. analysts concluded that, alive or dead, the Vietnamese
definitely knew his fate. Inexplicably, however, Capt. Wilson was maintained in
a Missing in Action status, rather than that of Prisoner of War. Wilson's name
was not on the 1973 list compiled by Henry Kissinger of "discrepancy" cases on
which it was felt the Vietnamese had ready information.

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Det Delta lost an E-1B shortly after take off from the carrier at night. There were 4 missing, LCDR Jerry Jones, LT Bud Taylor, LTJG Rod McGinnis (sp) and an enlisted airman Harry Morgan.

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Lost in flight deck mishap. Read story here.

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 John Wantz - Dec 15, 1974 [Source - Honolulu Star-Bulletin]

On Dec. 15, 1974, a Navy RF-8 reconnaissance jet crashed into the northeast face of the mountain at the 11,300-foot elevation, facing Laupahoehoe.

The remains of the pilot, 29-year-old Navy Lt. John Wantz, were recovered by the Hawaii County Fire Department and taken to Hilo Hospital, where they were identified, police said. He was the only person on the plane.

Johnie Webb, deputy director of CIL, said the military was able to recover what they had thought was most of Wantz remains in 1974.

"However, the weather then was extremely bad," Webb said, "and they could not spend much time there."

Wantz was flying off the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea when he crashed.

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A U.S. Air Force C-141A Starlifter crashed into Mount Constance, on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State killing all 16 servicemen on board, on March 20, 1975. Among those onboard were three USS Coral Sea sailors who had just left the ship and were returning home.

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 Marvin Ritz- 1977

Lost overbaord in accident on Hanger Deck . Read more here.

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Overcome by fumes on 5th deck. Read more here.

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!!!!!!!!!! Help !!!!!!!!!!
I need YOUR help to make this site great. I need any stories, photo's or ships information that you have on the Coral Sea. I can scan photo's for you if you don't have a scanner, email me for details. Please donate your memories so all Coral Sea crew members and their family's can enjoy this site to its fullest. Also let me know if anything you see here is in error. Thanks!!!

Contact me, Bob Dorais, at: cv43@usscoralsea.net
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