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May 5, 1965: From May through July 1965, VA-164 it flew close air support missions in South Vietnam. November 7, 1965: Commander J. D. Shaw, VA-164, commanding officer, was awarded the Silver Star for successfully leading a strike against a North Vietnamese SAM site. October 26,1966: A major fire broke out in USS Oriskany on Yankee Station. VA-164 lost four officers in the fire. October 1967: Commander D. F. Mow, VA-164's commanding officer, was awarded the Silver Star for combat over North Vietnam. October 1967 Commander W.F. Span VA-164's Executive Officer was awarded the Silver Star for combat over North Vietnam. October 1968 Commander W.F. Span VA-164's Commanding Officer was awarded his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross for combat over North Vietnam. March 1970: The squadron completed the last of its five combat deployments to Vietnam the first combat deployment without losing a pilot. June 1973: VA-164 flew in Operation End Sweep, the clearing of mines in the territorial waters of North Vietnam.

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On July 18, 1967, LCDR Richard D. Hartman's aircraft 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 the 19th was a Sikorsky SH3A helicopter flown by Navy LT Dennis W. Peterson. The crew onboard the aircraft included ENS Donald P. Frye and AX2 William B. Jackson and AX2 Donald P. 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 October 14, 1982. Peterson remains 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 heartbreaker." 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 March 5, 1974. Hartman had died in captivity from unknown causes.

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On August 31, 1967 three pilots from the 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. 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 Ghostrider section leader, LCDR Richard C. Perry.

The Saints section leader and his wingman pitched up and to the right, while Old Salt 3 (LCDR Hugh A. Stafford) turned down, his wingman, LTJG David J. 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, and 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 from an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Both were okay, but Stafford had landed in a tree near a village, making rescue impossible. Carey had landed about a mile away near a small village. Stafford and Carey were captured and held in various prisoner of war camps until their release in Operation Homecoming on March 14, 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.

Correction sent in by CDR John C. Davis, II, USN (Ret):

One input I'd like to make now, though, with respect to the downing of LCDR
Dick Perry as stated on the Readyroom page. I think it may be from a book
written by someone in Lemoore -- I don't know for sure, but that's the best
I've been able to narrow the incorrect info to over the years.

Problem is, this account of his downing is very, very inaccurate, and the
account has caused Dick's son, Steve, a great deal of worry and
apprehension over the years.

Let me set the record straight -- LCDR Perry did not freeze in the cockpit.
We did not "pull away and he continued straight and level." We did not
"watch as the missile came right up and hit the aircraft."

Here's what happened (I'll leave what happened to Hal Stafford and Dave Carey to them):

Our division was:
LCDR Dick Perry - Lead
Ltjg Mike Mullane - Wingman
LT John Davis - Section Lead
Ltjg George Schindelar - Wingman

The missile that hit Dick Perry was fired from very close-in to the SAM
site, and none of us saw it coming until the last millisecond. It was at a
very steep angle and detonated under Dick's aircraft, opening a large
hole(s) underneath, aft of the hell-hole. Fuel, of course, started
streaming from the wing immediately. The blast buffeted all of us for a
second or two.

Dick immediately started a left turn into me, back towards the Gulf. He
announced he was hit and his intent to get back to the Gulf in a clear and normal voice. He jettisoned all stores. I believe Mike went off to the right and joined another division. I stayed with Dick, George stayed with me. I went under, around, up on the starboard side of Dick's aircraft and checked him over thoroughly. There were no other holes/hits in his aircraft other than those underneath from the missile, and in any case, no holes/hits forward of the wing.

As we proceeded towards the Gulf, Dick pulled ahead of me (he had
jettisoned stores, we did not, so our drag was much higher). He stayed at a very high airspeed.

As he approached the shoreline, I could see fire start to emanate from the engine bay vents just forward of the fuselage break, and I told him so. He didn't respond on the radio (highly possible he'd lost electrical by this point). As he crossed the shoreline, Dick's plane started a right hand roll. I told him time to get out. His plane completed a full 360 degree role, now about 1-1.5 miles offshore, and as it came through wings level, he ejected. The chute was immediately normal. As I remember, altitude was on the order of 10,000 feet.

I set up an orbit with George around him. Some minutes passed. Then
George reminded me that Dick should be up on the hand-held radio, and I concurred. I put full flaps down and slowed as much as possible (to just above buffet) and made a pass close aboard to Dick in his chute. He was limp and lifeless, and I'm certain he was dead at that point.

After a long descent, Dick went into the water. He slowly went under, it
was about five-ten minutes after water entry before the helo got there.
The helo sent a swimmer down to him, who surfaced and declared Dick KIA. The helo came under fire from shore batteries and retreated before Dick's body could be recovered. We learned when back on Oriskany that the swimmer had seen a large hole in Dick's chest.

We will never know what happened to Dick. However, if pressed to give a probable cause, I would attribute his death to something going wrong in a very high speed ejection. I have heard alot of speculation, but as the one closest to him throughout the whole sequence, this is the best that can or should be said.

If you know the source of the account on the Readyroom page, I'd appreciate knowing so I can communicate with the source. In any case, I think the account on the Readyroom page should be deleted and/or replaced with this one. George Schindelar will verify this account if desired.

CDR John C. Davis, II, USN (Ret)

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On October 7, 1967, VA 164 pilot LT David L. Hodges was killed when his 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 Vietnam. Remains returned April 16, 1999

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On October 18, 1967, VA 164 pilot LCDR John F. Barr was killed when his Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire and slammed into the ground while on a strike mission at Haiphong. Barr's remains were not recovered.

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On November 2, 1967, VA 164 pilot LTJG Frederic 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 October 14, 1982, Vietnamese officials turned over to U.S. authorities a Geneva Convention card belonging to Ltjg. Knapp. To date, no remains have been repatriated.

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