METZGER, WILLIAM JOHN JR.
Name: William John Metzger, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: VF 24
Date of Birth: 1942
Home City of Record: Wisconsin Rapids WI
Date of Loss: 19 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205800N 1053800E (WJ658183)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Kay Russell at close coordinates (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 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, interviews. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK.
REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.
The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF models were equipped for
The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.
Lt.JG William J. Metzger, Jr. was the pilot of an F8C sent on a combat
mission over North Vietnam on May 19, 1967. His flight route took him to Ha
Tay Province, North Vietnam, where his aircraft was shot down about 10 miles
southwest of Hanoi. Undoubtedly from the same flight, Lt.Cdr. Kay Russell's
F8E aircraft was shot down the same day a short distance away. Both Metzger
and Russell were captured by the North Vietnamese.
For the next 6 years, Metzger and Russell were held in various prisoner of
war camps, including the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" complex in Hanoi. They were
released in the general prisoner release in 1973.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
WILLIAM J. METZGER JR.
Lieutenant - United States Navy
Shot Down: May 19, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973
To coin an old fighter pilot expression being a POW is hours and hours
(sometimes years and years) of endless boredom interrupted occasionally by a
few brief moments (sometimes days) of stark terror." This to me describes
in the fewest words my thoughts concerning my 5 years 10 months in the hands
of the North Vietnamese.
My story begins on 19 May 1967, a memorable day for me, needless to say, and
also for the North Vietnamese. The leader of their country, Ho Chi Minh, was
born on May 19. This "dooms date" for me and for those who believe in the
message of significant dates is later to display its irony. That fateful
"Black Friday" saw a 25 year old Lt. JG leave the deck of the USS Bon Homme
Richard in his F-8 Crusader in quest of the raw excitement of State-side
fighter pilot sorties. It was a picture book story all the way to the
outskirts of Hanoi, including an exciting pursuit of a Mig 17. Here the
story becomes terribly real as my plane was hit twice by anti-aircraft
artillery. The second explosion was in the left side of the cockpit leaving
me with a left arm and leg ripped open by shrapnel and my right leg broken.
After six months of neglect from the North Vietnamese and lots of TLC from
my first cellmate, my open wounds healed. My unset right leg was strong
enough to walk on after about a year. With the rather uncomfortable physical
battle behind me, the seemingly endless years of boredom set in. That second
significant date of my story shows itself on the 3rd of September 1969. Ho
Chi Minh died on my birthday.
My escape from the boredom took the form of daily exercise. Perhaps it was a
reaction to my first year of helplessness, but it paid big dividends and a
true appreciation for the necessity of good physical conditioning. The
expense of this POW experience was not greater than its rewards. From that
unique perspective, I have a more visible understanding of the values of
life. Glistening from within that dark void of captivity shines the steel
bonds of lasting friendship with those men who I consider to be the finest I
will ever know.
March 4, 1973 marked my rebirth and a giant step toward becoming a husband
again to the most wonderful girl in the world. Bonnie was waiting for me at
Bethesda Naval Hospital with a most selfless account of trust, patience and
hard work. Happiness is feeling the outpouring of welcome and concern by
Americans everywhere in the world.
Thank You America!
William Metzger retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and his
wife Bonnie reside in Indiana.
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