WILSON, CLAUDE DAVID, JR.
Remains Returned - ID Announced 23 June 1989
Name: Claude David Wilson, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Date of Birth: 14 August 1935
Home City of Record: Stockton CA
Date of Loss: 14 December 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 195959N 1055158E (WH906115)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk was a carrier based attack
bomber. Called the "Scooter" by some pilots, it was favored onboard carriers
because it was troublefree. The aircraft was widely used by the Navy and
Marine Corps as well as the Air Force as a lightweight attack and ground
support aircraft. Its design emphasized low-speed control and stability
during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch
and carrier landings. The aircraft was so compact that it did not need
folding wings for aboardship storage and handling.
Claude D. Wilson, Jr. was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 72 onboard the
aircraft carrier USS ROOSEVELT (CVA 42). On December 14, 1966 he launched in
his A4E Skyhawk attack aircraft as the leader of a section of missile
suppression aircraft in support of a major strike in the Hanoi area. The
mission took him over Thanh Hoa Province near the famed Dragon Jaw Bridge,
an object of several multi-service attacks.
In spite of intense anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air missile (SAM)
attacks in the target area, the mission was highly successful. During the
retirement phase, and as Wilson approached the coast, other members of the
strike group observed two SAMs approaching his aircraft from the 9 o'clock
position. In spite of repeated warnings given by these aircraft, he
continued in straight and level flight. The first SAM passed close aboard
and the second scored a direct hit. The aircraft exploded, cartwheeled and
disintegrated. No attempt at ejection or parachute was observed. The crash
site was searched from the air with negative results. No ground search and
rescue efforts were initiated. Lieutenant Commander Wilson had good two-way
radio communication a few minutes before the incident. He had been kinking
hard up until a few moments prior to missile impact.
Wilson was listed as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered, but it was felt
that the Vietnamese probably knew his fate, and could recover his remains if
he was dead. His family went on with life, always with the nagging doubt
that comes with uncertainty.
On June 23, 1989, the U.S. announced that remains that had been previously
given them by the Vietnamese had been positively identified as those of
Capt. Claude D. Wilson, Jr. For over 20 years, Claude D. Wilson - alive or
dead - had been a prisoner in enemy hands.
Wilson's family is now able to grieve and lay their son to rest. But for
nearly 2500 other American families, however, the agony continues. As
reports mount that Americans are still alive, all must wonder who they are -
and what we are doing to bring them home.
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