Pacific Stars and Stripes information

For date 680509

Primary service involved, US Navy
South Vietnam
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "'Perfect Navy Coordination' Fliers Rescued in Mid-Ditching" with the 7th Fleet in the Tonkin Gulf . A rescue helicopter from a 7th Fleet guided missile frigate was airborne in three minutes after receiving a distress call from a Navy jet in a "classic rescue" of the plane's pilot and bombardier-navigator in the Gulf of Tonkin. Lt. Cmdr. Duke Hernandez of San Diego, Calif., and Lt. (j.g.) D. J. Lortscher of Rhinelander, Wis., were flying a Navy F4 phantom jet in a bombing mission over North Vietnam's southern Panhandle when their plane was hit by antiaircraft fire and burst into flames. They turned seaward and prepared to ditch as they sent out a distress call to Navy ships operating in the area. Radarman Glenn R. Newson of Chula Vista, Calif., picked up the "Mayday" signal aboard the frigate. As the helicopter took off from her deck three minutes later the ship increased speed and changed course in the direction of the failing aircraft. Planes from 7th Fleet aircraft carriers circled the area to mark the spot for the rescue team. The helicopter, piloted by Lt. (j.g.) Skip Yates and copiloted by Lt. (j.g.) Lennie Devires, skimmed over wave tops at maximum speed. When it neared the downed pilots. Yates radioed, "Both men are okay and in their life rafts." They were hoisted into the hovering helicopter and taken to the frigate where a Navy doctor said, "Both men are in good shape, considering their exposure." "The helo was on the scene before I had time to complete my "ditch" routine," Hernandez said. "It was terrific." The entire rescue operation took-less than 30 minutes.
Comments: LT Yates, Skip; pilot; ; LT Devires, Lennie; pilot; ;

The source for this information was 6805pss.avn supplied by Les Hines

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023