MATEJA, ALAN PAUL
Name: Alan Paul Mateja
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 29 July 1945
Home City of Record: Louisville KY
Date of Loss: 16 April 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205500N 1064700E (XJ854137)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Orvin C. Jones, Jr. (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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.
SYNOPSIS: By February 1972, the North Vietnamese had positioned thirteen
divisions for a spring offensive into the south. Timing this to coincide
with the monsoon season severely restricted U.S. air power due to weather
conditions. Friendly ground forces met for the first time with a North
Vietnamese force equipped with many first-line Soviet weapons, including a
number of new tanks, heavy artillery pieces, anti-aircraft missiles, and
anti-tank missiles. As allied forces fell back, air power was called on to
turn the tide.
The U.S. Air Force response to the invasion was immediate as B52 Arc Light
missions and TACAIR attacks intensified during brief respites in the
weather. Since the intensity of ground combat was high, it became clear that
an aggressive air-interdiction program would have a decisive impact in
preventing resupply and rearmament of the communist troops. The invasion was
checked, but the lessons were learned and interdiction programs were
instituted. The effort lead to Operation Freedom Train against targets south
of the 20th Parallel, and later to Freedom Porch Bravo against targets in
the Hanoi/Haiphong area.
The first wave of Freedom Porch Bravo strikes began in the predawn hours of
April 16, 1972 and achieved respectable success over the highest threat
areas within North Vietnam. Fifteen Navy A6As struck SAM sites in the
Haiphong area and 20 Air Force F4s laid a chaff corridor to screen the B52s'
entry into the threat zones. With Air Force and Navy providing MIGCAP, SAM
suppression, and ECM support, 17 B52s attacked the Haiphong Petroleum
Products Storage area.
The second and third waves, composed of TACAIR assets, followed up with
attacks on ten other targets in the Hanoi/Haiphong areas. Enemy reaction to
the strike penetrations were formidable, but largely ineffective. Even
though more than 250 SAMs were launched and heavy anti-artillery fire was
reported, only two TACAIR losses occurred. Two Air Force personnel were
missing as a result.
The F105G, flown by Capt. Alan P. Mateja, crashed in the Haiphong Harbor
area. The weapons/systems officer on the aircraft was Capt. Orvin C. Jones,
Jr. The Air Force believed there was a possibility that both crewmen escaped
the crippled aircraft, and they were declared Missing in Action.
When the war ended, and 591 Americans were released from prisons in Hanoi,
Mateja and Jones were not among them. Military officials were dismayed that
hundreds of known or suspected prisoners had not been released.
It is unlikely that the Mateja and Jones aircraft would have escaped the
attention of the many North Vietnamese soldiers defending the Haiphong
Harbor. There is every reason to believe that the Vietnamese could tell us
what happened to Mateja and Jones on April 16, 1972. Alive or dead, they are
Prisoners of War.
Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as
prisoners in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs"
from other wars, most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in
Southeast Asia can be accounted for. Mateja and Jones could still be alive.
It's time we brought our men home.
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