Just an American POW

In January of 1964, Captain Harlan Chapman reported to Marine Fighter Squadron 212 based at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, Hawaii.  In 1965, his Squadron deployed with Carrier Air Wing 16 aboard the USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) for combat operations from the South China Sea.  Harlan flew his first combat mission over Vietnam in May 1965.  By November 5, 1965, he had flown approximately 100 combat missions.

Harlan’s flight log entry for November 5, 1965, with planned flight hours recorded in his log just prior to takeoff.  Harlan’s F8-E Crusader on ORISKANY on the right.

Shot Down

On November 5, 1965, Harlan catapulted off the flight deck of ORISKANY in his F-8E Crusader,[1] bound for North Vietnam.  He wouldn’t see the homeland again until February, 1973.

Harlan’s target was the Hai Duong, North Vietnam railroad and highway bridge.  The bridge was located on a main supply route used by Russia and China to get weapons and equipment to the Viet Cong (VC).  By this time, North Vietnam’s air defenses had become heavily fortified with Russian supplied SA-2 missile systems as well as light and medium anti-aircraft artillery and radar.  With these Russian systems, the VC began shooting down more and more US aircraft.  


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