‘I wasn’t supposed to get shot down’ (Leo Hyatt)

Capt. Leo Hyatt, USN (Ret.), held as a Vietnam prisoner of war for more than five-and-a-half years, was the keynote speaker at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay POW/MIA commemoration, held at the Subase Chapel.

It was on Aug. 13, 1967, during a high-speed photo reconnaissance operation over a railroad bridge just south of the China border, when then Lt. Cmdr. Hyatt and his radar/navigation officer, Wayne Goodermote, were shot down by a barrage of fire from 37mm anti-aircraft guns.

At the time, Hyatt was attached to Reconnaissance Attack Squadron 12, homeported at NAS Sanford in central Florida, flying RA-5C Vigilante missions over North Vietnam off the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV 64).

I wasn’t supposed to get shot down because I was good,” Hyatt said.

He had already piloted 33 high-speed reconnaissance missions, but he told his audience that he believed, given the nature of the mission he was about to fly, that he probably wouldn’t make it back to the aircraft carrier.

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