Beloit’s native son, Vietnam POW shares heart and soul of defending freedom (Mastin, Storey)

The engineered violence U.S. Air Force pilots Ron Mastin and Tom Storey felt ejecting from an F-4 Phantom at 500 miles per hour was more shocking than impact of North Vietnamese ordinance that sent their jet crashing to the ground on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

On Mastin’s 34th aerial reconnaissance mission out of Thailand on Jan. 16, 1967, he was to photograph a modest bridge northeast of Hanoi. Their twin-piloted jet was cruising over rough terrain at 1,000 feet when it sustained the lethal blow while crossing over a deep valley.

“All of a sudden we felt a ‘thump, thump.’ Nothing more. I wish I could tell you a good shoot-down story. That’s all it was. We started losing hydraulic pressure. We started losing fuel. We started to get smoke in the cockpit. Before long, the aircraft went into an uncontrolled right turn. We had to punch out.”

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