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VP-26 Memorial
VP-26 Crew - In Memorium - VP-26 Crew

"Eternal Father Strong To Save"
The Navy Hymn
Sailor Aviators Version

Eternal Father, Strong to Save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its' own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In dark'ning storms or sunlight fair.
O, Hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air.

But when at length our course is run,
Our work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that flew and sailed,
Let not one life in thee be failed,
But hear from heaven our sailors cry,
And grant eternal life on high.

May all our departed shipmates rest in peace.

Eternal Father by the U.S. Navy Band's Sea Chanters (668 kbytes - WAV file)

"Brunswick Mourns The Loss Of Crew Eight"

Contributed by Anthony Roller a_roller@Hotmail.com
WebSite: http://www.freeyellow.com/members2/aroller/ [E-Mail Updated 19SEP98]

The Patrol Newspaper


In a simple memorial service Thursday, NASB paid tribute to the memory of VP-26's Crew Eight, lost at sea February 5.

Speaking for the shipmates, families, and friends that filled the Chapel to overflowing, CAPT I. J. Gersuk, Commander, Fleet Air Wing THREE, said, "I'm wondering if we are here merely to honor these people. I'm wondering if we are not also here to thank God our nation can produce men like those in VP-26."

He spoke of the high price we must pay for freedom: "…it wasn't a gift - it was dearly paid for…it was paid for by men like those we honor today."

Seeking to find comfort for those Crew Eight left behind, CAPT Gersuk said, "I wish God had given me the wisdom to say one word, one little word to ease the pain in your heart." Perhaps he found it when he offered the hope that the "grief may turn to pride" for the men who offered their life for freedom.

NOTE: "...read with great interest the comments made by my father, Capt. Gersuk, at the memorial service. You and your colleagues may wish to know that my Dad died, peacefully and at home in McLean, Va., on Nov. 1, 1996. He's buried at Arlington National Cemetery...John Gersuk jjgersuk@bechtel.com..."

VP-26 was deployed to Southeast Asia last fall and has been engaged in patrol duty out of the Philippines.

Wreckage of the lost P-3B was located in 100 feet of water off the southeast tip of South Vietnam and two bodies recovered. The plane was carrying the full complement of four officers and eight enlisted men:

Crew members were:

LCDR Robert F. Meglio, Brunswick

LTJG Thomas P. Jones, Brunswick

LTJG Roy A. Huss, Abbotsford, Mich

LTJG Lynn M. Travis, Brookfield Center, Conn

AX3 William F. Farris, West Salem, Ill

AE1 Melvin C. Thompson, Jacksonville, Fla

AX33 Armando Chapa, San Jose, Calif

AXC Donald F. Burnett, Brunswick

AOC Donald L. Gallaher, Sheloythan Falls, Wis

ADR1 James C. Newman, Brunswick

AMH2 Homer E. McKay, Brunswick

AX1 Billy W. McGhee, Rockwood, Tenn

Banking the altar at the interdenominational service were floral wreaths set around the insignia of VP-26. Immediately following the ceremony the wreaths were cast into the sea from a FAW-3 aircraft.

Among those attending the service were Rear Admiral William M. McCormick, Commander, Fleet Air Wings, U. S. Atlantic Fleet; Major General Edwin W. Heywood, Maine's adjutant general representing Governor Kenneth M. Curtis; Air Commodore William F. Newson, Commander of the 36th NORAD Division at Topsham Air Force Station; Colonel Raymond M. Gehrig, Commander, 26th Air Division, Topsham Air Force Station; and Captain Charles L. Whyman, NASB Commanding Officer.
"Mishap Report"
http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/t/t075.htm [30DEC2004]


Unit: Patrol Squadron 26, U Tapao Airbase, Thailand
Date of Loss: 06 February 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 093050N 1040730E (VR040520)
Category: 5
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: P3B
Refno: 2022

Source: Compiled 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 in 1998.

Other Personnel in Incident: Armando Chapa, Jr.; William F. Farris; DonaldL. Gallagher; Roy A. Huss; Thomas P. Jones; Homer E. McKay; James C. Newman,

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: At 0900 hours on February 5, 1968, a P3 "Orion" aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron 26 at U Tapao Airbase, Thailand, left on a "Market Time" mission over the Gulf of Thailand (Gulf of Siam). They were scheduled to return to their base at about 0900 hours the following morning.

The crew on board the aircraft included Lt. Thomas P. Jones; LtJg. Lynn M. Travis; LtJg. Roy A. Huss; AXCS Donald F. Burnett; AX3 Armando Chapa Jr.; AX3 William F. Farris (AX designates Antisubmarine warfare technicians and related duties); AOC Donald L. Gallagher; AMH2 Homer E. McKay; ADR1 James C. Newman Jr.; AE1 Melvin C. Thompson (A designates in many cases, aviation personnel, i.e. AE1 is Aviation Electrician's Mate First Class).

As antisubmarine warfare was all but unknown in Vietnam, there were a variety of duties handled by those trained in antisubmarine warfare. As marking submarines, and/or destroying them involved the use of marking buoys, electronic "ears" and other technical equipment suited for target marking, antisubmarine teams were frequently used for search missions. They also sometimes assisted in attacks on small enemy water craft.

Shortly after midnight on February 6, the Orion reported a surface contact. Some two hours later it reported another contact somewhat further east. The last report received from the Orion was after 0300 hours. No subsequent communication was received.

An emergency communication alert for the aircraft was declared shortly after daybreak and a full search and rescue (SAR) was declared. In the late afternoon of February 6, wreckage and debris were sighted and identified.

On February 7 search and rescue operations were terminated at sundown. Salvage operations were conducted from February 11 through March 21. The investigating officer concluded that the Orion had impacted with the water, and that the aircraft had been completely destroyed, and that all of the crewmembers had died instantly.

The Orion went down about 50 miles off the shores of South Vietnam's An Xuyen Province in the Gulf of Thailand. Presumably, all the crew aboard are "buried" at sea - an honorable burial for a naval man. This crew is listed with honor among the missing because no remains were ever found.


UPDATE History ThumbnailCameraAE1 Melvin Carl Thompson "...A Man is Not Dead Until He is Forgotten - "Father's Day Past" - The Story of Melvin C. Thompson - By Ray Davidson..." Contributed by Ray Davidson rayd45@aol.com WebSite: http://www.virtualwall.org/dt/ThompsonMC01a.htm [22AUG2006]

Melvin Thompson, a native son of Colquitt, Georgia was lost at sea on February 6, 1968 in the Gulf of Siam (Thailand). His wife and four children were in Jacksonville, FL. In Colquitt were his mother, who never recovered from his loss, seven brothers and two sisters. Thompson and eleven of his fellow crewmembers were casualties of Vietnam and Operation Market Time.

The primary objective of the Operation Market Time was to prevent the enemy from strengthening his forces in South Vietnam through seaborne infiltration of supplies and munitions. The U.S.-South Vietnamese effort was established on 11 March 1965. North Vietnamese Naval Transportation Group 125 used steel-hulled, 100-ton trawlers and seagoing junks, to infiltrate the South. The Viet Cong operated smaller junks, sampans, and other craft within South Vietnamese coastal waters, and limiting this movement also became a responsibility of the Market Time forces.

Shortly after 0900 hours on Monday 5 February 1968, Thompson with "Combat Aircrew (CAC) 8," departed U-Tapao Royal Thailand Air Force Base, Thailand for a 24-hour Market Time shipping surveillance mission over the Gulf of Thailand along the coast of extreme southern and western South Vietnam.

Soon after midnight, the radio operator reported the first of a small number of surface contacts. The third and last radio contact was transmitted at 0300 hours on 6 February, at which time the radio operator stated they had another surface contact somewhat farther east. The crew failed to make its scheduled position report at 0400 hours.

Then, right after daybreak, the aircraft was declared overdue. At the same time, an emergency communication alert was issued and an extensive search and recovery (SAR) operation using three patrol squadrons from the Seventh Air Force SAR Command based at Tan Son Nhut Airbase along with multiple surface vessels was initiated. Late in the afternoon the aircraft's wreckage was located in the Gulf of Thailand in 100-foot deep water approximately 17 miles due west of the coastline at a point near the general area where the last radio transmission was made.

The on-scene SAR commander reported finding a partially inflated raft (more than likely ejected upon impact), two bodies, wreckage, including wheels in the water … The aircraft debris indicated severe impact and survivor probability was extremely remote … Though intensive efforts were expended, no further remains of the aircrew were recovered. The two bodies were recovered and transported to the US military mortuary at Tan Son Nhut where they were subsequently identified as Lt. Cmdr. Meglio and ADJ2 Billy W. McGhee. The initial search effort was terminated at sundown on 7 February 1968. No evidence was ever found to indicate whether enemy action or mechanical failure caused the crash.

What happened to cause the plane to crash? An incident two months later, described by the pilot of CAC-12 (Lt A. Scott Wilson), may give a clue. CAC-1 was operating in the same area as Thompson's aircraft and, it too, was shot down.

"Soon after starting their patrol, CAC-1 went into the area near the Cambodian coast. There they located a suspicious target and proceeded to investigate. It was a steel gray vessel that appeared to be some kind of landing craft. (As it turned out, it was a W.W. II vintage LCM, built in the US, given to the French, and acquired by Cambodia when France pulled out of Indochina in 1954.)

While making a low pass, the unarmed P-3 was fired on by the LCM with its .50 caliber antiaircraft gun. Several rounds ripped into the outer portion of their starboard wing, knocking out #4 engine and starting a fire. They pulled the emergency handle and succeeded in feathering the prop, but could not extinguish the flames. It was unclear whether the fire originated from the engine nacelle or from within the wing itself.

They were too low to bail out.

So CAC-1 flew outbound from the coast, while preparing for a forced landing. Flames were still visible, but the fire didn't appear to be extending. Then, realizing they were headed directly for Phu Quoc, with its small airfield less than 20 miles away, Stu apparently thought they could make it there.

Suddenly,... abruptly,... the wing tore off between #3 and #4 engine, and the aircraft tumbled uncontrolled as it plunged into the sea."


As in the case of CAC-8, there were no survivors of CAC-1.

The hard reality is there is virtually no chance that any of the crew of CAC-8 survived or that their remains can ever be recovered (with the exception of Megilo and McGhee).

God's roll call for Southeast Asia holds 58,147 names. Their average age was 19 (compared to 26 during WWII). A generation of young men and women whose deaths broke many hearts and their lives mattered deeply to the people who loved them As for Thompson's children, on Fathers Day they look back and dream, dream that maybe, maybe he really did come home to be with them, for he would have been the best daddy in the whole world.

Petty Officer 1st Class Melvin C. Thompson and his crewmates names are in the heart of God and on panel 37E 072 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Author's note: Thompson's daughter, Cindy is searching for memories of her dad. She asks that anyone that knew him and will share those memories with her and her siblings to please contact her at cp4dh@aol.com or P O Box38, Ft McCoy, FL 32134

UPDATE "...I was wondering if anyone knew my Father, Melvin C. Thompson, Crew 8 VP-26? My Father and crew were lost in the South China Sea northwest of Ca Mau, South Vietnam February 5th, 1968 (SEE: In Memorial for lost friends Crew EIGHT "Lost at Sea" 05 FEB 68). I would like to contact the family of each person in Crew 8...Cindy Thompson cp4dh@aol.com..." [30DEC2004]

UPDATE "...I wanted to keep you updated on my search for info about my dad AE1 Melvin C Thompson VP-26 CREW 8. I have had alot of info come my way here lately all because of your great web site. I have just recently heard from another crew member's son. Also I have had numourous e-mail's from men who served in Vietnam and they told me so much info, it was great. Thank you so much!...Cindy Thompson cp4dh@aol.com..." [08FEB2006]

UPDATE "...I have had contact with a few of the crew members families! Donald Burnett's widow and daughter, James C Newman's Son & nephew and Armando Chapa's fiancee', Pauline Suter. Also I heard from a few men who worked with my Dad when he was with VP-16 in NAS Jacksonville, Florida and they sent me a picture of him :) that no one else had! Its been great! Thank you...Cindy Thompson cp4dh@aol.com..." [07OCT2005]

UPDATE "...I received another response - this time from the widow of LT(jg) Roy A. Huss (another crewmember). Thank you!...Cindy Thompson cp4dh@aol.com..." [21NOV2005]

UPDATE "...VP-26 A more exact location for the Orion crash on 06feb68 was in South China Sea northwest of Ca Mau, South Vietnam..." Contributed by Jan van Waarde jwaarde@chello.nl, Navy/USMC/USCG/NASA Updates Editor WebSite: http://www.scramble.nl Dutch Aviation Society / Scramble [01DEC2004]

UPDATE "...VP-26 ACFT P3B...Country: RVN...Name: MELVIN CARL THOMPSON...Subjects: Aircraft downed; Killed...Comments: INCLUDES RELATED MESSAGE...Reel: 170...Reference Number: 2022-0-10...Page: 22-24...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 13...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 131540ZFEB68...Originator: BUPERS...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "RVN: PERS CASUALTIES RESULT CRASH OF VP-26 ACFT P3B 153440 6 FEB 68...Country: RVN...Name: DONALD FREDERICK BURNETT...Subjects: Aircraft downed...Reel: 170...Reference Number: 2022-0-01...Page: 17-18...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 13...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 131540ZFEB68...Originator: USN BUPERS...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "PERSONNEL CASUALTY REPORT MESSAGE - REQUEST PROGRESS OF SALVAGE EFFORT OF VP-26 AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT...Name: FARRIS, WILLIAM F...Subjects: Crash site; OVER WATER; SOUTH CHINA SEA; Killed...Reel: 243...Reference Number: 2022-0-03...Page: 21...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 16...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 161805ZFEB68...Originator: USN...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "SUPPLEMENTARY MESSAGE REPORT - AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT...Name: FARRIS, WILLIAM F...Subjects: Aircraft downed; Crash site; OVER WATER; SOUTH CHINA SEA; VP -26; Missing...Comments: Includes related casualty messages...Reel: 243...Reference Number: 2022-0-03...Page: 1-16...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 06...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 060635ZFEB68...Originator: PATRON TWO SIX...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [URL Updated 31JUL2002 | 26DEC97]

UPDATE "...I was a pilot in VP-26 from 1965-68, and left the squadron after our WestPac deployment where we lost 2 crews on Market Time patrols off Vietnam -- (they went down not in the South China Sea as indicated in the reports posted on your web site, but in the Gulf of Siam near Phu Quoc Island). ..." Contributed by A. Scott Wilson ASCTWILSON@aol.com [31OCT98]

UPDATE "VP-26 ACFT P3B...Country: RVN...Name: MELVIN CARL THOMPSON...Subjects: Aircraft downed; Killed...Comments: INCLUDES RELATED MESSAGE...Reel: 170...Reference Number: 2022-0-10...Page: 22-24...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 13...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 131540ZFEB68...Originator: BUPERS...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "RVN: PERS CASUALTIES RESULT CRASH OF VP-26 ACFT P3B 153440 6 FEB 68...Country: RVN...Name: DONALD FREDERICK BURNETT...Subjects: Aircraft downed...Reel: 170...Reference Number: 2022-0-01...Page: 17-18...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 13...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 131540ZFEB68...Originator: USN BUPERS...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "PERSONNEL CASUALTY REPORT MESSAGE - REQUEST PROGRESS OF SALVAGE EFFORT OF VP-26 AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT...Name: FARRIS, WILLIAM F...Subjects: Crash site; OVER WATER; SOUTH CHINA SEA; Killed...Reel: 243...Reference Number: 2022-0-03...Page: 21...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 16...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 161805ZFEB68...Originator: USN...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

UPDATE "SUPPLEMENTARY MESSAGE REPORT - AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT...Name: FARRIS, WILLIAM F...Subjects: Aircraft downed; Crash site; OVER WATER; SOUTH CHINA SEA; VP -26; Missing...Comments: Includes related casualty messages...Reel: 243...Reference Number: 2022-0-03...Page: 1-16...Type of Document: Message...Date of Report: 68 02 06...Date of Information: 68 02 06...Document Number: 060635ZFEB68...Originator: PATRON TWO SIX...Category: Casualty files..." http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ [26DEC97]

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