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Help our POWs and MIAs

Bring them Home in '98

Remember Us, POW and MIA

                 PEARSON HOPPER, JR., EARL

                 Name: Earl Pearson Hopper, Jr.
                 Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
                 Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB TH
                 Date of Birth: 21 July 1943
                 Home City of Record: Glendale AZ
                 Date of Loss: 10 January 1968
                 Country of Loss: North Vietnam
                 Loss Coordinates: 202559N 1044659E (VH774777)
                 Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
                 Category: 2
                 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D

                 Other Personnel In Incident: Keith N. Hall (released POW)

                 Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 October 1990 
                 from information provided by Col. Earl P. Hopper, Sr. 
                 (USA, ret.) and Patty Skelly of Task Force Omega, Inc., 
                 as well as information from a December, 1984 article by 
                 Larry J. O'Daniel. Other information from one more of the 
                 following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, 
                 published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. 


                 SYNOPSIS: Capt. Keith N. Hall and 1Lt. Earl P. 
                 Hopper, Jr. were pilots assigned to the 13th Tactical 
                 Fighter Squadron based at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On 
                 January 10, 1968 the two flew their first mission 
                 together on an "aircap" mission over Hanoi. Hall was 
                 the pilot, and Hopper flew as Bombardier/Navigator on 
                 the flight. During the mission, the aircraft was 
                 damaged by a SAM missile exploding 100 feet below and 
                 to the right of the aircraft, knocking out the 
                 hydraulic system. Neither Hall nor Hopper was injured 
                 by the blast.

                 After some initial ejection problems, Capt. Hall, was 
                 able to bail out. [Note: Normal ejection sequence calls 
                 for the backseater to bail out first, followed a few 
                 seconds later by the pilot.] Other pilots in the flight 
                 marked Hall's position, then continued with Hopper as 
                 he headed for Laos.

                 Hopper was about 15 miles north of Muong Min in Hoa Binh 
                 Province and nearly to the border of Laos when he ejected. 
                 Hall had ejected about 20 miles to the east.

                 The accompanying pilots observed the canopy of the aircraft 
                 and Hopper's ejection seat leave the aircraft as the 
                 aircraft was about to enter a 5,000 foot overcast. The 
                 pilots also picked up two emergency radio signals, one very 
                 strong and the other rather weak, indicating that both men 
                 reached the ground.

                 Hall was captured about 40 minutes after he bailed out. 
                 Hopper's radio signal was tracked for three consecutive 
                 days in the rugged, mountainous area where the aircraft 
                 went down. On the second or third day, a pilot 
                 monitoring the beeper gave Hopper's recognition code 
                 and said, "Lt. Hopper, if that's you, give me 15-second 
                 intervals (in his radio signal)." The pilot received 
                 six 15-second intervals in a positive response. This 
                 information was released to the family in a February 
                 8, 1968 communique. On about the third day, a ground 
                 search team was inserted into the area, and recovered 
                 Hopper's radio, but no trace of Hopper was found.

                 Hall was captured by the North Vietnamese and released 
                 in 1973. Hall was closely interrogated regarding 
                 personal information about Hopper, but knew little. 
                 The Vietnamese guard was noncommittal when Hall asked 
                 if Hopper was also a prisoner.
                 On July 14, 1982, "due to the length of time missing and 
                 with no information to prove he is alive," Hopper's 
                 official status, Missing In Action, was changed to 
                 Presumed Killed In Action. Only two months later, a 
                 three-man judiciary committee from the U.S. Justice 
                 Department, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, found 
                 officially that Hopper should have been classified 
                 Prisoner of War, not Missing In Action.

                 During the first few months of 1984, the Hopper family 
                 learned that CIA had always listed Hopper as a POW. 
                 Further, CIA files revealed that the agency had tracked 
                 Hopper as he headed for a "safe" area in Laos, that 
                 there were heavy concentrations of NVA and Pathet Lao 
                 troops in the area searching for the downed pilot, 
                 and that the CIA sent a free Lao team to extract him. 
                 When Hopper knew he was in imminent danger of being 
                 captured, he locked the transmission key on his radio 
                 in the "on" position, extended the antenna, and hid 
                 it, thus marking his location of capture for 
                 the search team.

                 From 1981 to 1984, Major Mark A. Smith (a returned POW 
                 from Vietnam) and SFC Melvin McIntyre, both attached 
                 to Special Forces Detachment, Korea (SFDK) were 
                 pursuing DIA instructions to gather intelligence on 
                 American POWs who remained in captivity in Southeast 
                 Asia. Smith and McIntyre, who did not believe 
                 Americans were held, obtained specific information 
                 which convinced them that Americans were still alive 
                 at that time, held captive. Among other evidence 
                 presented to the U.S. was a list of some 26 Americans 
                 by name and captivity location. Earl Hopper's name was 
                 on the list.

                 In 1984, Maj. Smith received word that on 11 May 
                 three U.S. POWs would be brought to a given location 
                 on the Lao/Thai border. The only prerequisite was 
                 that the POWs be received by an American. Smith's 
                 request to stand on the border and wait for delivery 
                 was refused, and he and his team were commanded to 
                 remain in Korea. If the three Americans were brought 
                 to the border no one was there to receive them. Smith 
                 and McIntyre believed Hopper to be one of the three men.

                 The information obtained by Smith and McIntyre was 
                 provided under oath to the Senate Veterans Affairs 
                 Committee on January 28, 1986, and included in a 
                 lawsuit the two initiated against the U.S. 
                 Government for its failure to protect the rights 
                 of live American POWs in Southeast Asia.

                 Parents Earl and Betty Hopper have diligently sought 
                 information on their son and others who disappeared 
                 in Southeast Asia. They believe there is actionable 
                 evidence that some are still alive in captivity. 
                 Until that evidence is acted upon, and proof is
                 obtained to the contrary, they will not give up 
                 hope that their son is alive.

                 1Lt. Earl Hopper graduated from the Air Force Academy 
                 in 1965 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 
                 Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.

                 This in from Task Force Omega:
                 18 February 1998

                 Bette Lee Hopper, mother of Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper, 
                 Jr., Missing in Action over North Vietnam since 10 
                 January 1968, passed away at 4:25 AM, 17 February 1998, 
                 at age 74.  She suffered for many years with Alzheimer's 
                 and died due to complications of that disease.

                 Bette Hopper is survived by her husband, Col. Earl P. 
                 Hopper, Sr., US Army, Retired; sons Michael B. Hopper, 
                 Larry D. Hopper, Daniel W. Hopper and D. David Hopper.  
                 She also leaves 11 grandchildren and 1 great 

                 For many years Bette was very active in the National 
                 League of Families of Prisoners of War and Missing 
                 in Action.  During those years, she worked tirelessly 
                 for not only the return of her oldest son, but also
                 for the return of all POW/MIAs from throughout 
                 Southeast Asia.  She was always very adamant in her 
                 belief that Live Prisoners of War were abandoned for 
                 political expediency at the conclusion of the Vietnam 
                 War, and often voiced her opinion to US Government and 
                 military officials, POW/MIA families and to the 
                 American public.  Further, she was certain that her 
                 missing son, along with many other POW/MIAs, remained 
                 alive and held captive by enemy forces in Southeast Asia.

                 Bette, though frank and outspoken, had many friends in 
                 the POW/MIA community.  Her untiring efforts earned her 
                 great respect throughout the country.  Prior to her 
                 illness, her advise and counsel were sought by many.

                 Bette will be remembered by family and friends alike for 
                 her unwavering love of family, devotion to her children 
                 and grandchildren and her great tenacity in her unending 
                 quest to find and return her first-born son to the nation 
                 he fought so valiantly for.  She believed, as did many 
                 other POW/MIA family members, that it was her strong 
                 responsibility to do everything within her power to learn 
                 the truth about what happened to her son.

                 We ask that her fight for the return of all Prisoners of 
                 War - both alive and dead - be continued in her absence.

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