Korean Conflict

November 19, 1952 John (Jack) T. Downey and Richard Fecteau were non-aircrew aboard an Air Force C47 intelligence plane flying just over the Chinese border when they were shot down. Both parachuted to safety but were quickly captured by the Chinese. Both were CIA flying a classified mission. 

Downey was held in solitary confinement (20 years, 3 months, 7,409 days) until his release 3/12/1973 as part of Operation Homecoming for the Vietnam POWs. He was flown from Hong Kong to Clark Air Force Base where he joined other recently released POWs. John  Downey

Fecteau was in the same prison as Downey. He was released 12/13/1971 (19 years, 25 days, 6,964 days): Richard Fecteau 

Fecteau and Downey deserve special recognition because they were held in the same Chinese prison with Vietnam POW Col (then Captain) Philip E. Smith, USAF, 9/20/1965 to 3/15/1973 (7 years, 5 months, 2,734 days). Both are valued members of NAM-POWs, Inc. Both names were in the PMSEA list until 2009. Their names were removed from the PMSEA list when DPAA converted their hard-copy list to digital: Journey into Darkness: The Gripping Story of an American POW’s Seven Years Trapped Inside Red China During the Vietnam War

Vietnam Conflict

During the Vietnam Conflict, 495 pilots, B-52 air crewmen and helicopter rescue crewmen were shot down, captured and held in North Vietnamese prisons.  Seven pilots were captured by Chinese military near the Vietnam-China border. Their untold story is told here.

(1) Philip E Smith: Journey into Darkness: The Gripping Story of an American POW’s Seven Years Trapped Inside Red China During the Vietnam War

(2) Robert J. Flynn: Bio

Background: During the Vietnam Conflict, the northern border of North Vietnam was heavily defended by Chinese artillery and possibly SAM sites. These defense positions extended deep into Vietnamese territory. 

(1) Capt Philip E. Smith, USAF, F104C, was shot down by Migs over Hainan.  9-20-65 to 3-15-73.  Phil lost all instruments in bad weather. Disoriented. Intercepted and shot down. 

(2) Lt Robert J. Flynn, USN, A6A RIO, shot down over China border by Chinese Migs. Disoriented by bad weather as they were exiting after a mission. 8-21-67 to 3-15-73.  Two A6s down, three pilots KIA.  Bob survived. His pilot, LCdr Jimmy Lee Buckley, USN was KIA. His remains were repatriated 12/16/1975.

(3) 1Lt Dave Gray, F4C, near China border. Captured by Chinese. Front seater Barry Bridger was captured by the NV. 1-23-67 to 3-4-73. Dave was Turned over to the VN by the Chinese.

(4) Capt Jay Hess, F105D, near China border. 8-24-14 to 3-14-67. After interrogation by Chinese, he was turned over to the NV. While marching down a trail, a soldier pulled out a pistol and tried to execute Jay by shooting him in the back of the head. Luckily, Jay was a hardheaded Mormon. The bullet bounced off his skull behind the right ear. Jay was knocked down, lots of blood. After the VN revived him, he was forced to continue marching down the trail with blood-soaked clothes. He moved in with me. I got to see the open wound on his head. It healed with time. He’s still a hardheaded Mormon.

(5) LCDR Arv Chauncey, near China border, 5-31-67 to 3-4-73. After capture, between interrogations, Arv made a short-lived escape. He was quickly re-captured.

(6) 1Lt Don Spoon, back seater for Bill Baugh in an F4C, 1-21-67 to 3-4-73. Bill was captured by the NV. Don was captured by the Chinese but turned over to the NV.

(7) Maj Wayne Waddell, flying his F105D was shot down on 5 July 67 by Chicom AAA on the NE RR near the Chinese Buffer Zone. He spent 24 hours with them. “The Commandant said if I cooperated with them, I would be taken to Beijing and treated well. I declined his kind offer and asked to go to Hanoi. The next day I was taken to several gun sites in the complex to be shown off plus a trip to a larger Chicom complex before turnover to NVA for truck, jet-helo and truck rides and truck rides to Hoa Lo.”

Arv Chauncy at time of capture