Diary

LtCdr. John S. McCain III Deployment Onboard USS Oriskany (CV-34) October 1967

On 16 June 1967, USS Oriskany (CV-34) with CVW-16 embarked home ported at Naval Air Station pier at Alameda, California while anchored in San Francisco Bay, departed on her tenth “Westpac” deployment, operating with the Pacific Fleet, her third Vietnam combat cruise and tenth tour of duty with the 7th Fleet in the Far East, her fourth reported South China Sea deployment. Prior to her deployment Oriskany underwent training upon completion of fire repairs at San Francisco Naval Shipyard (16 November 1966 to 23 March 1967). Her sixth deployment since her first recommission 7 March 1959, first decommissioning at San Francisco Naval Shipyard 2 January 1957, while she underwent a SCB-125A modernization that included a new angled flight deck and enclosed hurricane bow, while new, powerful steam catapults were installed by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington (steam catapult experts assembled and deployed to San Francisco, Ca. from Bremerton, Wash. or the ship steamed to Bremerton from San Francisco and back again in order to have steam catapults installed by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard) (16 June 1967 to 31 January 1968). Her 13th deployment since her commission in the New York Naval Shipyard 25 September 1950, Capt. Percy H. Lyon in command, having remained in a state of preservation until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950, then was rushed to completion; construction was suspended 12 August 1947; launched 13 October 1945, and sponsored by Mrs. Clarence Cannon; an attack aircraft carrier, keel was laid down 1 May 1944 by the New York Naval Shipyard, becoming the 34th aircraft carrier of the United States Navy.

CVW-16 squadrons consisted of VF-111 Fighter Squadron, Sundowners flying Vought Crusader F-8C Jet Fighter and VF-162 Fighter Squadron, Hunters flying Crusader F-8E Jet Fighter; VA-163 Attack Squadron, Saints, VA-164 Attack Squadron, Ghost Riders and VA-152 Attack Squadron, Friendlies flying Douglas Skyhawk A-4E Jet Attack Bomber; VFP-63 Det G/34 Light Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, Eyes of the Fleet flying Vought Crusader RF-8GRF-8G Jet Fighter/Reconnaissance; VAH-4 Det G/34 Heavy Attack Squadron, Fourrunners flying Douglas Skywarrior KA-3B Jet Attack/Tanker; VAW-111 Det G/34 Carrier Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron, Willy Fudd flying Grumman E-1B Traacer. On 20 April 1967 Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 111 (VAW-111) was established and VAW-11 detachments became part of VAW-111. VAW-13 Det Carrier Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron, flying Douglas EA-1F Attack Fighter/Special electronic installation . VAW-13 did not submit a Command History Report for 1967; consequently, it is not possible to verify all the squadron’s detachments operating aboard carriers on Yankee Station in 1967. HC-1 Det 34 Helicopter Combat Support Squadron, Pacific Fleet Angels, flying Kaman UH-2A & UH-2B Seasprite/Transport (Utility). HC-7 was established on 1 September 1967. VAP-61 Det Heavy Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron or VA(P) Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy)or Heavy Photographic Squadron.flying Douglas RA-3B /A3D-2P (RA-3B)Skywarrior/Photographic Reconnaissance/Survey

“Designated flagship of Carrier Division 9 in Subic B ay 9 July 1967, Oriskany commenced “Yankee Station” operations 14 July 1967 and while on the line, on 18 July 1967, the aircraft flown by Lieutenant Commander RICHARD DANNER HARTMAN fell victim to anti-aircraft fire near Phu Ly in Nam Ha Province, North Vietnam.

Hartman, from VA 164, ejected safely, but could not be rescued due to the hostile threat in the area.

Others in the flight were in radio contact with him and resupplied him for about three days.

He was on a karst hill in a difficult recovery area.

Eventually the North Vietnamese moved in a lot of troops and AAA guns, making rescue almost impossible.

One of the rescue helicopters attempting to recover LCDR Hartman on 19 June was a SH3A SIKORSKY SEA KING helicopter flown by Navy Lieutenant DENNIS WILLIAM PETERSON.

The crew onboard the helicopter included Ensign DONALD PATRICK FRYE and AX2 WILLIAM BRAXTON JACKSON and AX2 DONALD PAUL McGRANE.

While attempting to rescue LCDR Hartman, this aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed killing all onboard.

The remains of all but the pilot, Peterson, were returned by the Vietnamese on 14 October 1982.

The remains of Lieutenent Peterson are still missing.

The decision was made to leave Hartman before more men were killed trying to rescue him.

It was not an easy decision, and one squadron mate said, ” To this day, I can remember his voice pleading, ‘ Please don’t leave me.’ We had to, and it was a heart breaker.”

Hartman was captured and news returned home that he was in a POW camp.

However, he was not released in 1973.

The Vietnamese finally returned his remains on 5 March 1974.

Hartman had died in captivity from unknown causes.

In July 1967, Lieutenant Commander DONALD VANCE DAVIS was one of the SAINTS of VA 163 onboard the USS ORISKANY, and he was an aggressive pilot.

On the night of 25 July 1967, Davis was assigned a mission over North Vietnam.

The procedure for these night attacks was to drop flares over a suspected target, then fly beneath them to attack the target in the light of the flares.

Davis and another pilot were conducting the mission about 10 miles south of Ha Tinh when Davis radioed that he had spotted a couple of trucks.

He dropped the flares and went in.

On his strafing run, he drove his A4E SKYHAWK straight into the ground and was killed immediately.

Davis is listed among the missing because his remains were never recovered.

On 26 July, Oriskany provided medical assistance to the fire-ravaged attack carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59).

Lieutenant JG RALPH CAMPION BISZ was also assigned to Attack Squadron 163.

On 4 August 1967, Bisz launched on a strike mission against a petroleum storage area near Haiphong.

Approximately a minute and a half from the target area, four surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were observed lifting from the area northeast of Haiphong.

The flight maneuvered to avoid the SAMs, however, Bisz’ aircraft was observed as it was hit by a SAM by a wingman.

Bisz’ aircraft exploded, burst into flames, and spun downward in a large ball of fire.

Remnants of the aircraft were observed falling down in the large ball of fire until reaching an altitude estimated to be 5,000 feet and then appeared to almost completely burn out prior to reaching the ground.

No parachute or ejection was observed.

No emergency beeper or voice communications were received.

His aircraft went down in a heavily populated area in Hai Duong Province, Vietnam.

Information from an indigenous source which closely parallels his incident indicated that his remains were recovered from the wreckage and taken to Hanoi for burial.

The U.S. Government listed Ralph Bisz as a Prisoner of War with certain knowledge that the Vietnamese know his fate.

Bisz was placed in a casualty status of Captured on 4 August 1967.

The Navy now says that the possibility of Bisz ejecting was slim.

If he had ejected, his capture would have taken place in a matter of seconds due to the heavy population concentration in the area and that due to the lack of additional information it is believed that Bisz did not eject from his aircraft and that he was killed on impact of the SAM.

Classified information on Bisz’ case was presented to the Vietnamese by General JOHN VESSEY in the fall of 1987 in hopes that the Vietnamese would be able to resolve the mystery of Bisz’ fate.

His case is one of what are called “discrepancy” cases, which should be readily resolved.

The Vietnamese have not been forthcoming with information on Ralph Bisz.

On 31 August, three pilots from the USS ORISKANY were shot down on a particularly wild raid over Haiphong.

The Air Wing had been conducting strikes on Haiphong for two consecutive days.

On this, the third day, ten aircraft launched in three flights; four from VA 164 (call sign GHOSTRIDER), four from VA 163 (call sign OLD SALT) and two from VA 163 ( call sign SAINTS).

As the flight turned to go into Haiphong, one of the section leaders spotted two SAMs lifting off from north of Haiphong.

They were headed towards the SAINTS section leader and the GHOSTRIDERS section leader, Lieutenant Commander RICHARD CLARK PERRY.

The SAINTS section leader and his wingman pitched up and to the right, while Old Salt 3, Lieutenant Commander HUGH ALLEN STAFFORD, turned down, his wingman, Lieutenant JG DAVID JAY CAREY close behind him.

Carey, an Air Force Academy graduate, was on his first operational mission.

The missile detonated right in front of them and aircraft pieces went everywhere.

The other SAM headed towards Perry’s section, and he had frozen in the cockpit.

All three planes in the division pulled away, while he continued straight and level.

His helpless flightmates watched as the missile came right up and hit the aircraft.

The aircraft was generally whole and heading for open water.

Old Salt Three and Old Salt Four, Stafford and Carey, had by that time ejected from their ruined planes and were heading towards the ground.

Both were okay, but Stafford had landed in a tree near a village, making rescue impossible.

Stafford and Carey were captured and held in various prisoner of war camps until their release in Operation Homecoming on 14 March 1973.

Richard Perry had also ejected and was over open water.

But as Perry entered the water, his parachute went flat and he did not come up.

A helicopter was on scene within minutes, and a crewman went into the water after Perry.

He had suffered massive chest wounds, either in the aircraft or during descent in his parachute and was dead.

To recover his body was too dangerous because the North Vietnamese were mortaring the helicopter.

The helicopter left the area.

Richard Perry’s remains were recovered by the Vietnamese and held until February 1987, at which time they were returned to U.S. control.

Flight members were outraged that they had lost three pilots to SAMs that they were forbidden to attack.

Policy was soon changed to allow the pilots to strike the sites, although never to the extent that they were disabled completely.

On 7 October 1967, VA 164 pilot Lieutenant DAVID LAWTON HODGES was killed when his A4E SKYHAWK was hit by a SAM about twelve miles southwest of Hanoi.

His remains were never recovered and he is listed among those Missing In Action in Vietnam.

On 18 October 1967, VA 164 pilot Lieutenant Commander JOHN FREDERICK BARR was killed when his A4E SKYHAWK was hit by enemy fire and slammed into the ground while on a strike mission at Haiphong. His remains were not recovered.

On 2 November 1967, VA 164 pilot Lieutenant JG FREDERIC WOODROW KNAPP launched as the lead of a flight of two aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.

The wingman reported that during an attack run, the aircraft appeared to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire.

The wingman saw Knapp’s aircraft impact the ground and did not see the canopy separate from the aircraft.

There was no parachute sighted or emergency radio beeper heard.

The aircraft crashed about 9 kilometers west-southwest of Cho Giat, near route 116, in Nghe An Province.

A source later reported that people from his village had removed the remains of a dead pilot from his aircraft and buried the remains nearby.

These remains are believed to be those of Knapp.

On 14 October 1982, Vietnamese officials turned over to U.S. authorities a Geneva Convention card belonging to Lieutenant JG Knapp.

To date, no remains have been repatriated” (Ref. 1)).

“LTJG James E. Dooley was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 163 onboard the USS ORISKANY. On October 22, 1967, Dooley was flying an A4E aircraft in the second division of Attack Squadron 163. The aircraft was on a strike mission over North Vietnam. The target was the Haiphong railroad yard.

It is believed that Dooley’s aircraft hit anti-aircraft fire as he pulled off the target.

Witnesses observed his aircraft straight and level and streaming fuel while heading eastward toward open water at approximately 6,000 feet. The aircraft then commenced a gradual descent heading toward the water and crashed. The aircraft impacted in the water in a nose and wing down attitude about one mile from land. A thorough search of the area was conducted by the strike group but there was no evidence of a survivor. There was no parachute seen, nor any radio transmissions from the target area to the site of impact. The surrounding land area was densely populated and if he had ejected he most certainly would have been captured immediately.

James E. Dooley was placed in a status of Missing in Action. After six years, and following the end of the war, Dooley’s status was changed to Presumed Killed in Action because there was no evidence that he was alive.

Nearly 2500 Americans are missing in Southeast Asia. Unlike the MIAs from other wars, most of these men can be accounted for. Tragically, thousands of reports have been received, and continue to be received, that indicate Americans are still captive in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Whether James Dooley survived the crash of his plane or died that day in October 1967 is not known. What is apparent, however, is that someone knows what happened to James Dooley. Someone knows what happened to the others who disappeared. Even though men are alive and held captive, the U.S. has been unable to secure their freedom. Even though American aircraft litter the countryside of Vietnam, the U.S. has been unable to investigate these sites.

For those men and their families, the war is not over” (Ref. (2)).

“On 29 July 1967, a devastating fire and series of chain-reaction explosions caused great loss of life on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59) after an unusual electrical anomaly discharged a Zuni rocket on the flight deck. One hundred thirty-four sailors were killed, and 161 were injured. Forrestal was engaged in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War at the time, and the damage totaled $72 million (not including damage to aircraft). The launch that was scheduled for a short time later was never made. Lt. Cmdr. John S. John McCain III, piloting a A-4 Skyhawk, No. 416, said later he heard a “whooshy” sound then a “low-order explosion” in front of him.

Suddenly, two A-4s ahead of his plane were engulfed in flaming jet fuel — JP-5 — spewed from them.

With his aircraft surrounded by flames, McCain escaped by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down the nose and jumping off the refueling probe.

Reassigned to USS Oriskany (CV-34) that deployed 16 June 1967 some time after the awful conflagration or devastation onboard USS Forrestal (CV-59), her self deploying 6 June 1967, LtCdr. John S. McCain III was assigned to VA-163 Attack Squadron, Saints, one of three squadrons flying Douglas Skyhawk A-4E Jet Attack Bomber; VA-164 Attack Squadron, Ghost Riders and VA-152 Attack Squadron, Friendlies.

LtCdr. John S. McCain III who would become a U.S. Senator from Arizona, and Presidential candidate during November 2008 Presidential election second test of Leadership would result in the events that would befall a veteran naval pilot downed behind enemy lines during a mission, launched in his A4E “Skyhawk” attack aircraft as the number three aircraft in the first division of a strike group against the Hanoi Thermal Power Plant October 26, 1967” (Ref. 3)).

“ In the words of McCain III “on my 23rd mission, flying right over the heart of Hanoi in a dive at about 4,500 feet, when a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole came up—the sky was full of them—and blew the right wing off my Skyhawk dive bomber. It went into an inverted, almost straight-down spin” (Ref. (4)).

“The flight met with considerable resistance in the form of anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) approaching the target. As McCain III rolled into his dive, his aircraft was observed by his wingman to take a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire and to burst into flames. McCain was able to eject from his crippled aircraft and made brief emergency contact before his parachute landed in a nearby lake in Hanoi” (Ref. (5)).

“As stated by McCain III, “I pulled the ejection handle, and was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection—the air speed was about 500 knots. I didn’t realize it at the moment, but I had broken my right leg around the knee, my right arm in three places, and my left arm. I regained consciousness just before I landed by parachute in a lake right in the corner of Hanoi, one they called the Western Lake. My helmet and my oxygen mask had been blown off.

I hit the water and sank to the bottom. I think the lake is about 15 feet deep, maybe 20. I kicked off the bottom. I did not feel any pain at the time, and was able to rise to the surface. I took a breath of air and started sinking again. Of course, I was wearing 50 pounds, at least, of equipment and gear. I went down and managed to kick up to the surface once more. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t use my right leg or my arm. I was in a dazed condition. I went up to the top again and sank back down. This time I couldn’t get back to the surface. I was wearing an inflatable life-preserver-type thing that looked like water wings. I reached down with my mouth and got the toggle between my teeth and inflated the preserver and finally floated to the top.

Some North Vietnamese swam out and pulled me to the side of the lake and immediately started stripping me, which is their standard procedure. Of course, this being in the center of town, a huge crowd of people gathered, and they were all hollering and screaming and cursing and spitting and kicking at me.

When they had most of my clothes off, I felt a twinge in my right knee. I sat up and looked at it, and my right foot was resting next to my left knee, just in a 90-degree position. I said, “My God–my leg!” That seemed to enrage them —I don’t know why. One of them slammed a rifle butt down on my shoulder, and smashed it pretty badly. Another stuck a bayonet in my foot. The mob was really getting up-tight” (Ref. (6)).

He was captured immediately and confined in the Hanoi prison system, as was verified by Radio Hanoi broadcasts and later information gathered during his years of imprisonment. McCain was severely injured, having broken both arms and his right leg, and his strength in coping through his recouperation was inspiring to many of his fellow POWs.” (Ref. (7)).

“Six of the thirteen pilots and crewmen lost in 1967 off the deck of the USS ORISKANY remain listed as a prisoner, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for in Vietnam.

Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese “stockpiled” the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times (Ref. (1)).

“Lt. Ralph E. Foulks, Jr. was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 163 onboard the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY (CVA-34). On January 5, 1968, he launched in his A4E “Skyhawk” attack aircraft as the wingman on a two-plane night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Shortly after crossing the coast, the flight leader took a column of trucks under attack. Lt. Foulks acknowledged that he had the bomb impacts of his flight leader in sight. The time was 6:10 a.m. and that was the last communication received from him. At that time, Foulks was located at Phat Diem in Ninh Binh Province, North Vietnam.

No crash was observed, nor were ejection or parachute seen. If Foulks radioed or transmitted emergency signals, they were not heard. All Search and Rescue efforts were unsuccessful in locating Lt. Foulks. Both Da Nang and Chu Lai airfields, the two designated emergency locations, were contacted with no results. Lt. Ralph E. Foulks, Jr. was placed in Missing in Action status” (Ref. (7)).

On 31 January 1968, Oriskany with CVW-16 embarked arrived Naval Air Station pier at Alameda, California, earning near legendary status by virtue of extensive losses suffered in the ship’s squadrons, including among the GHOSTRIDERS of VA 164, and SAINTS of VA 163.

Ref. (1): LIEUTENANT COMMANDER DONALD VANCE DAVIS

remains returned 1997 identified 04/01/1998

Name: DONALD VANCE DAVIS Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 163 USS ORISKANY ( CVA – 34 ) Date of Birth: 08 November 1934 Home City of Record: Salisbury NC Date of Loss: 25 July 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 181259N 1055500E (WF828272) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E SKYHAWK http://www.thevirtualwall.org/index.cfm?SectionID=110&anClip=213476

Ref. (1): LIEUTENANT DAVID LAWTON HODGES

Remains Identified 04/16/99

Name: DAVID LAWTON HODGES Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 164 USS ORISKANY ( CVA – 43 ) Date of Birth: 21 November 1937 Home City of Record: Chevy Chase MD Date of Loss: 07 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204400N 1054158E (WH728926) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E SKYHAWK Refno: 0854

20 January 1999 Posted by: CLAY MARSTON Email: [email protected] Relationship: BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCHER – NAVY Saturday, June 21, 2008 http://www.thevirtualwall.org/index.cfm?SectionID=110&anClip=213391

Ref. (2): James Edward Dooley Rank/Branch: Lieutenant (JG)/USN Unit: Attack Squadron 163, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) Date of Birth: 14 November 1942 (Middlebury VT) Home City of Record: Manchester Center VT Date of Loss: 22 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205100N 1064000E (XH860893) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 5 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Refno: 0872 Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. http://www.scopesys.com/cgi-bin/bio2.cgi?bio=D033

Ref. (3) Http://www.uscarhistory.com ; U. S. Navy Aircraft Carriers and en.wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967USSForrestal_fire

Ref. (4): Department of Veterans Affairs Prepares to Strip John McCain of Vietnam Veteran Title http://bluewaternavy.org/Reclassifies%20John%20McCain.pdf

Ref. (5) : McCAIN, JOHN SIDNEY III Name: John Sidney McCain III Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 163, USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) Date of Birth: 29 August 1936 Home City of Record: Coco Sole, Canal Zone, Panama (family in Norfolk VA at time of release; resides in AZ 1999) Date of Loss: 26 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210100N 1055100E (WJ876270) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: 730314 RELEASED BY DRV Source: Compiled by from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews, information from John McCain III, Arlington National Cemetery. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2008. http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/m/m125.htm

Ref. (6): John McCain, Prisoner of War: A First-Person Account By John S. McCain III, Lieut. Commander, U.S. Navy By John S. McCain Posted January 28, 2008 http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/2008/01/28/john-mccain-prisoner-of-war-a-fir st-person-account.html?PageNr=1

Ref . (7): FOULKS, RALPH EUGENE JR. The symbol next to Ralph’s name on the Wall was changed from a cross (MIA) to a star (KIA) April 30, 1994. Remains were identified 12 JAN 93. Name: Ralph Eugene Foulks, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 163, USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) Date of Birth: 21 July 1943 Home City of Record: Ridgecrest CA Date of Loss: 05 January 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 200600N 1060400E (XH167227) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Refno: 0968 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviewsd: 01 January 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/f/f030.htm