Last Known Activity|
At 1335 hours on 23 August 1967, Major Charles R. Tyler, pilot; and Capt. Ronald N. Sittner, weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of an F4D (aircraft #66-0238), call sign "Ford 01," that departed Ubon Airfield as the lead aircraft in a flight of four. Captain Larry E. Carrigan, pilot; and Capt. Charles Lane, Jr.; weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of the #4 aircraft (aircraft #66-0247), call sign "Ford 04." Ford flight was conducting a strike mission against the Yen Vien railroad yard located in a densely populated and heavily defended area approximately 36 miles north of Hanoi. Weather conditions consisted of scattered with towering cumulus clouds over near by Thud Ridge. The cloud bases were at 15,000 feet and the pilots had clear visibility during this afternoon mission.
At 1515 hours, while ingressing the target, the flight was attacked from the rear by a flight of 2 MiG-21s armed with air-to-air missiles (AAMs). In the ensuing dogfight, Ford 04 was struck by an air-to-air missile (AAM) and Ford 01 was struck by another AAM immediately afterward. Other pilots in the flight saw three parachutes leave the two fireballs. Within minutes of the shootdown, other flight members heard three strong emergency beepers and 1 weak beeper. Voice contact was also briefly established only with Larry Carrigan, the pilot of Ford 04. When voice contact could not be established the other downed pilots, beeper confirmation was requested.
The order in which acknowledgement was requested and the response received is as follows: "Ford Lead frontseater - short beep, strong signal; Lead backseater - short beep, strong signal; Ford 04 frontseater - short beep, strong signal; Ford 04 backseater - short beep, weak signal. The weak signal was in response to asking Capt. Lane to signal.
Ford 02 and 03 heard the beepers before leaving the area to rendezvous with an airborne tanker to refuel. At 1700 hours, they returned, and upon approaching the area, beepers were again heard. One of the pilots was immediately able to reestablish voice contact with Larry Carrigan, and he was able to give his relative position in relation to the pilot he was talking to. Again a beeper confirmation was requested. This time the only one not to respond with a short beeper was backseater of Ford 04, Charles Lane.