FREDERICK, JOHN WILLIAM JR
Remains returned 03/13/74
Name: John William Frederick Jr
Rank/Branch: W4/United States Marine Corps
Unit: VMFA 323
Date of Birth: 13 December 23
Home City of Record: Manito, IL
Date of Loss: 07 December 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 194000N 1080229E
Status (in 1973): KR
NOTE: Served in WWII, AF9J as a radio/radar/tail gunner in TBM torpedo
Other Personnel in Incident: John Dunn, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 23 March 1997 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated in '98 with
information from grandson, John Frederick Wertz and in '99 with information
from his friend, LtCol. Orson Swindle.
REMARKS: 03/13/74 Remains returned
John Frederick flew in one of the very early radar-equipped fighters for the
Marine Corps during the Korean War. He flew in the rear "cockpit" of the
Grumman F7F (two seat version) Tiger Cat.
He was an enlisted man operating a very small and limited capability air
intercept radar system. His squadron flew night intercept and interdiction
missions. The aircraft apparently had no, or almost no, air conditioning
system. John essentially sat on a box with this gadget before him on
missions over North Korea in the dead of winter. Warmth came from an
electric flight suit that was plugged into the aircraft's electrical system
which did not work very well.
Private John Frederick fought in WWII in the Pacific then stayed in Asia as
a China Marine, flying as crew in a TBF or TBM. He would tell of the
immense frustration in post WWII of flying overhead the Mao Communist troops
and being unable to fire on them "unless fired at". He said they would fly
armed recce missions, find Mao's troops and could actually observed them
stowing their weapons (knowing the "ground rules") and then as soon as the
recce would leave the scene, the war was on again.
John's experience in those early (USMC) days of radar intercept would later
take him to Pax River where, as Gunnery Sgt and Master Sgt (E-7 & E-8) he
would be significantly involved in the development of the F-4 radar
Col. Dunn had been the pilot of the F4B with the VMFA-323 when he was shot
down over North Vietnam. John Frederick was the "GIB" or guy in back on the
high-altitude classified fighter escort mission.
When Dunn was captured 13 December 1965, he lived in seven different POW
camps (prisons and jails); and spent 34 months in solitary confinement.
Dunn said detention could be characterized as "months of nothingness,
punctuated by moments of stark terror." Treatment prior to November 1969 was
bad. Food was insufficient in quantity. Many men were in solitary; no time
outside of cells and frequent torture and harsh punishment.
Prisoners were tortured primarily to force participation in propaganda
efforts that would benefit the North Vietnamese government and to attempt to
break up our prisoner of war organization, which is provided for under
International Law, Dunn says.
After Sontay Raid by a combined ARForce/Army Elite Force, December 1970 no
mass torture purges; food was adequate but quality remained poor, Dunn
remembers. Prisoners were allowed to live 20 to 40 men to a room and two to
four hours daily of outdoor time. No textbooks, pens, paper or outdoor
athletic games were allowed until August-September 1972 except for selected
groups for very brief periods. These actions were designed to garner
favorable publicity for North Vietnamese government.
Beginning in 1966, the USMC was converting lots of senior NCOs to Warrant
Officers. MSGT Frederick was selected for WO-1, after he and Col. Dunn
were shot down. A fellow P.O.W. stated "I think he first heard of it from
me when I showed up and had the privilege and honor of getting to know this
incredibly tough, kind and gentle man."
John William Frederick Jr. severely burned his hands upon ejection. Years
later, the EGRESS reports stated returning POWs told debriefers that while
in captivity, Frederick contracted typhoid fever and slipped into a coma.
Camps guards decided to move him to Hanoi in 1972 when he had a prolonged
104 degree fever. It is believed he died en route to Hanoi. His remains were
returned March 13, 1974.
Lt. Col. Orson Swindle recalls, "I had the privilege of meeting his
beautiful wife, Lorraine, and his kids as I delivered his decorations to
them in the mid-to-late 70s. They and we lost a good one when we lost John
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