Last Known Activity 1st Lieutenant Earl P. Hopper, Jr., was reported missing on 10 January 1968 while on an operational mission in North Vietnam.The F-4D aircraft he was copiloting was struck by intense hostile fire.Parachutes were not seen, nor were beepers heard; however, voice contact was established with one crew member from the aircraft who stated he was located in a wooded area and was in good condition.Search and rescue efforts were terminated due to weather and approaching darkness.The pilot of the aircraft was later listed as captured.Lt. Hopper was promoted to Lt. Colonel while on Missing in Action Status.His status was changed to Killed in Action on 14 July 1982.He was the last remaining American serviceman carried as MIA in North Vietnam.
Jul. 21, 1943
Jan. 16, 1968, Vietnam
Earl Hopper was the son of Earl Sr. and Bette Lee Hopper. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1965 shortly afterwards he joined the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron assigned to Udorn Airbase in Thailand. On January 10,1968, Capt.Keith Hall and 1Lt.Hopper were flying in an "air cap" 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. Both Hall and Hopper ejected from the plane somewhere in the Hoa Binh Province. Hall was captured shortly after touching to the ground. Hopper however was never seen or heard from again after ejection from the plane. During the time Hopper was missing he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel . On July 14,1982 due to the length of time missing and no proof that he was alive,Lt Col Hopper's status went from Missing in Action to Killed in Action . On January 16,2002 Lt.Col. Hopper's remains were positively identified and returned to his family.
Comments/Citation LtCol Hopper, Earl Pearson Jr 10 January 1968
F-4D 66-870413 TFS, 432 TRW, USAF, Udorn
Capt Keith Norman Hall (POW) 1Lt Earl Pearson Hopper (KIA)
On the 10th the USAF flew a raid on the Hoa Loc airfield, 15 miles west of Hanoi. As the TARCAP flight approached Hai Duong en route to the target, it came under attack from a SAM battery. Capt Hall?s aircraft was at 20,000 feet when it was rocked by a nearby explosion from an SA-2 missile. The aircraft?s hydraulic system was badly damaged and Capt Hall ejected. . Capt Hall and 1Lt Hopper were on their first mission together when they were shot down although Keith Hall had flown 58 missions with other WSOs during his tour in Southeast Asia. He was released on 14 March 1973. Classified information was received in the early 1980s that implied that Earl Hopper was still alive and imprisoned by the Pathet Lao. However, attempts to obtain further information from Laos have come to nought. This was the first Phantom lost by the 13th TFS since the Squadron had converted from the Thunderchief in October 1967 and moved from Korat to Udorn to become part of the 432nd TRW.
Narrative author: Charles Louis Weinert, USAFA 1969.He compiled the information from the AOG Register of Graduates and fellow graduates as well as excerpts from Vietnam Air Losses by Chris Hobson, Midland Publishing.Sent by Charlie to the AOG in 2000.