Name: John Richard McDonough
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Reserves
Unit: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron, USS JOHN HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 10 May 1939 (Newark NJ)
Home City of Record: South Orange NJ
Date of Loss: 20 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 174459N 1072958E (YE650641)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident:
Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
The USS HANCOCK first saw action in Vietnam when aircraft from her decks flew strikes against enemy vessels in Saigon Harbor in late 1944. The Essex class carrier, extensively modernized, returned to Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam war. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. The HANCOCK was the smallest type of flattop to operate in the Vietnam theater, but pilots from her fighter and attack squadrons distinguished themselves throughout the duration of the war. On June 12, 1966, Commander Hal Marr, the CO of VF-211 gained the first F8 Russian MiG kill.
One of the aircraft which launched from the decks of the HANCOCK was the EA1F. The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The E model generally carried two crewmen. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used in a variety of roles, ranging from multi-seat electronic intelligence gathering to Navy antisubmarine warfare and rescue missions. The venerable fighter aircraft was retired in the spring of 1968 and had flown in more than twenty model variations, probably more than any other U.S. combat aircraft.
LT John R. McDonough was a pilot assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 13, Detachment 1 onboard the USS HANCOCK. On June 20, 1966, LT McDonough was on a night catapult launch. During the launch the bridle which connects the aircraft to the catapult broke. The aircraft las launched off the bow of the carrier with insufficient airspeed for flight. The aircraft ditched and sank immediately. An ejection was apparently not attempted by LT McDonough. Neither McDonough nor the aircraft were recovered. McDonough is listed among those Americans still prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Vietnam because his remains were not found.
(NOTE: Even though the EA1F was not a single-seat aircraft, no mention of other crewmembers is made in the U.S. Navy account of this incident. It is assumed that for some reason McDonough was alone in the aircraft, the other crewmembers were rescued, or the remainder of the crew died and their remains were recovered.)
For John R. McDonough, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace.
The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?