CMS - Air Force - Regular
Rank/Branch: E6/US Air Force, gunner
Unit: 307th Strat Wing, Utapao AB TH
47 year old Married, Caucasian, Male
Date of Birth: 07 June 1932
Home City of Record: GIBSLAND, LOUISIANA
His tour of duty began on Dec 19, 1972
Casualty was on Jun 08, 1979
Date of Loss: 19 December 1972
Country of Loss: NORTH VIETNAM
Loss Coordinates: 205900N 1054359E (WJ762203)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Hostile, died while missing
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D
Body was not recovered
Panel 01W - - Line 96

Others In Incident: Richard W. Cooper (missing); Henry C. Barrows; Hal K.
Wilson; Fernando Alexander; Charles A. Brown, Jr. (all POWs released in 1973).
Category: 2

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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.


SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White
House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only
when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized
cease-fire was in force.

On the first day of Linebacker II, December 18, 129 B52s arrived over Hanoi
in three waves, four to five hours apart. They attacked the airfields at Hoa
Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen, the Kinh No complex and the Yen Vien railyards. The
aircraft flew in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual
support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to
stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the
military targets and not in civilian areas.

The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS"
surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The first night of bombing,
December 18 and 19, two B52s were shot down by SAMs.

Onboard the first aircraft shot down on December 18 was its pilot, LTCOL
Donald L. Rissi and crewmen MAJ Richard E. Johnson, CAPT Richard T. Simpson,
CAPT Robert G. Certain, 1LT Robert J. Thomas and SGT Walter L. Ferguson. Of
this crew, Certain, Simpson and Johnson were captured and shown the bodies
of the other crew members. Six years later, the bodies of Rissi, Thomas and
Ferguson were returned to U.S. control by the Vietnamese. Certain, Simpson
and Johnson were held prisoner in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, when they were
released in Operation Homecoming.

Capt. Hal K. Wilson was in the lead aircraft of a B52 cell from Utapao. Also
on board his aircraft were crew men MAJ Fernando Alexander, CAPT Charles A.
Brown, Jr., CAPT Henry C. Barrows, CAPT Richard W. Cooper Jr. (the
navigator), and SGT Charlie S. Poole (the tailgunner). Wilson's aircraft was
hit by a SAM near his target area and crashed in the early morning hours of
December 19, sustaining damage to the fuselage. In the ensuing fire, there
was no time for orderly bailout, but as later examination of radio tapes
indicated, all six crewmen deployed their parachutes and evidently safely
ejected. The aircraft damage report indicated that all six men were

Radio Hanoi announced in news broadcasts between 19 and 22 December that the
six crewmen had been captured. When the war ended, however, only four of the
crew returned from Hanoi prisons. Hanoi has remained silent about the fate
of Charlie Poole and Richard Cooper.

The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the
most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of
strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic
targets was so successful that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken
the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in
Hanoi and marching them southward."

To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick
to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes
were anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however,
flight paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile
threat from the ground.

Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at
Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapao
Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with
over one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not
conducted without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of
December 1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and
were captured or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men;
however, one B52 lost carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were
released in 1973. The others remained missing at the end of the war. Over
half of these survived to eject safely. What happened to them?

Reports mount that have convinced many authorities that Americans are still
held captive in Southeast Asia. Are Poole and Cooper among them? Do they
know the country they love has abandoned them? Isn't it time we found them
and brought them home?

Back to Jon-An's MIA's